UB Hopes BPD Can Cure Financial Woes

https://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/e/e3/Baltimore_Police_Officers_at_Camden_Yards.jpg
Baltimore police officers at nearby Camden Yards. Wikimedia Commons.

UB students, this past September, learned that the university had agreed to a deal with the Baltimore Police Department to the tune of more than six million dollars over a five-year period. 

The deal was not without controversy. Supporters hailed the deal as a solution to the more than 6 million dollar (6.5 million to be exact) shortfall facing the university while critics bemoaned bringing an institution with a checkered history to a campus with a high concentration of marginalized students. The deal, nonetheless, would lease the gym, classrooms, select rooms in the Learning Commons, and the Maryland Avenue garage for roughly a million dollars per year with 2% annual increases. The Baltimore Police Department also will pay over two million dollars in gym renovations. 

Among many students, a question lingers:  What purpose did this 5-year leasing deal with the Baltimore City Police Department. 

The answer lies in the structural budget deficit that the university has faced for roughly 5 years primarily due to declining undergraduate enrollment over a period of five years. 

Many steps have been taken to close this budget gap over the past three years, including mandatory furlough days,hiring freezes, travel restrictions, and limits on spending by various academic departments and both the Merrick School of Business and University of Baltimore Law School. Later, this expanded to other services either being cut or eliminated. Shuttle bus service hours were reduced. Counseling services were eliminated on campus and outsourced to a third-party agency. 

Last semester, students pushed back against a major cut proposed by administration: shortening gym hours. The SGA took action by collecting student signatures in protest to keep the gym open. Those who were international students who were on work study and contractual employment primary employment came from campus recreation and wellness, would have to forfeit those positions. Campus morale has certainly taken a hit, especially after the partnership’s final details were announced with little input from faculty and students who are most impacted by the changes. 

Beth Aymot, chief financial officer for the University of Baltimore, stands by the method in which administration notified students of these changes. 

“Real estate and partnership agreements, by nature, typically require a small team from each party who evaluate and negotiate the terms to achieve the best possible outcome,” said Aymot. “UB was not in a position, and neither was the City, to share with our communities the details of this arrangement as it was being developed.”

Aymot referred students who were interested in finding out more information to visit the Baltimore Police Education and Training center website. More importantly, she stressed that this deal would have a direct impact on closing the budget shortfall.

However, the university is now focusing its resources on a smooth transition with a UB representative scheduling talks with students about changes in recreation and parking.

At this point, much of the changes that will impact students regarding this agreement has yet to be announced. Students, however, have another opportunity to make their concerns on this issue heard. 

On December 4th, UB President Kurt Schmoke and Baltimore Police Department commissioner Michael Harrison will host a town hall forum co-sponsored by the SGA allowing for students to ask questions and address their concerns about the partnership. 

Officers are expected to arrive on campus sometime early next year. 

Charles Rhem is a staff writer for the UB Post. 


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Lawsuit seeking to merge UB, Morgan State dismissed

Judge calls proposal “neither educationally sound nor practical”

A U.S. District Court judge has dismissed a 2007 lawsuit over duplication of degree programs, brought by a group of current and former students of Maryland’s Historically Black Universities (HBUs), against the Maryland Higher Education Commission and the former state Secretary of Higher Education. While not named as a defendant in the lawsuit, the University of Baltimore was mentioned several times in the plaintiffs’ arguments.

The Coalition For Equity and Excellence in Maryland Higher Education, a group composed of current and former students from Maryland’s four HBUs – Bowie State University in Prince George’s County, Coppin State University and Morgan State University in Baltimore, and the University of Maryland-Eastern Shore in Princess Anne (Somerset County) – filed the lawsuit on Dec. 31, 2007 in the U.S. District Court for Maryland. Joining the coalition as plaintiffs in the suit was a group of nine students from Morgan State and UMES. The Maryland Higher Education Commission (MHEC) and then-Chairman Kevin O’Keefe, along with James Lyons, the Secretary of Higher Education under former Gov. Martin O’Malley, were named as the defendants in the class-action suit.

The suit alleges that certain degree programs referred to as Predominantly White Institutions are duplicating what is offered at the Historically Black Universities, in violation of the 14th Amendment’s Equal Protection Clause, the landmark 1954 Brown v. Board of Education Supreme Court decision, Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, and the 1992 Supreme Court decision in United States v. Fordice out of Mississippi. The plaintiffs also accused the state of failing to live up to its obligations in a 2000 agreement with the U.S. Department of Education’s Office of Civil Rights to “enhance Maryland’s historically Black colleges and universities.” On Feb. 2, U.S. District Court Judge Catherine Blake dismissed the lawsuit, and ordered both sides to mediate out of court. Judge Blake ordered attorneys for each side to file proposals for remedies by Feb. 19. After that, she scheduled a conference call or a meeting in her chambers to discuss the schedule for a possible trial.

One of the remedies the Coalition proposed in its filing was for Morgan State to take over the University of Baltimore. UB President Kurt Schmoke says this proposal went beyond the focus of the lawsuit, which was the duplication of programs, in the view of Judge Blake.

“A proposal to merge two universities together, in her view, went beyond the narrow focus on program duplication. That was just an extreme response to the program duplication issue,” President Schmoke said. In her ruling, Judge Blake wrote that, “any numerical benefit as to the racial identifiability of the resulting student body would be outweighed by its academic and financial cost.”

“We were asked to submit an affidavit responding to the plaintiffs’ proposed remedies, and we showed how there would be a detrimental financial impact on the university by this merger,” President Schmoke said. “For example, the fact that we currently have a relationship with the UB Foundation, which is a separate nonprofit entity, which provides things like the Fund for Educational Excellence and it provides grants. If we were to merge into Morgan, the UB Foundation has no obligation to continue to support us. They are a separate entity, and so we would lose access to a foundation that has been working with us historically, providing substantial resources to faculty and students, and that would be a financial detriment to the university.”

Morgan State University has had a Master’s in Business Administration program since 1964. In 2005, the MHEC approved the UB/Towson MBA, which started in 2010. President Schmoke explained that the Morgan administrators’ argument wasn’t with UB, but instead with Towson getting an MBA. He said Morgan wanted business students who graduated from Towson to enroll at Morgan for its MBA program.

“The only way that the state allowed Towson to do that was to attach itself to the existing UB MBA program,” President Schmoke said. The plaintiffs cited the approval of the UB/Towson MBA as one of several examples going back to the late 1970s of the MHEC approving degree programs at PWI’s. These include the approval of the undergraduate marketing and exercise science programs in 2001, and the business program in 1978 at Salisbury University, which allegedly duplicated the programs offered at UMES. The graduate Public Health program at University of Maryland-Baltimore was approved in 2006, and the plaintiffs allege that program duplicates the program offered at Morgan State. However, President Schmoke described how UB has formed a partnership with Coppin State for a joint Master of Science program in Human Services Administration, a program that UB doesn’t offer on its own.

Continuing the discussion of diversity with President Kurt Schmoke

Before the end of the last semester a petition was sent to the President of University of Baltimore challenging aspects of diversity on the UB campus. The petition focused heavily on racial diversity, encouraging opportunity for students and faculty of color.

With the start a new semester the issue of diversity continues to be on the forefront, and it seems the petition and ideas are still in the air. The UB Post was able to speak with President Kurt Schmoke about his perspective on diversity and the petition. President Schmoke wants the campus to be aware the diversity is a broad spectrum. “Diversity means more than black and white,” said Schmoke. “If we can all agree to that then we can have a better conversation about diversity. There are a lot of groups underrepresented in the academy, and we should be sensitive to that.” Below are the questions provided by the UB Post and the answers from President Schmoke.

How do you feel about conversations surrounding diversity before the PoC coalition’s petition?

KS: There were many conversations about diversity. From students, faculty, staff and alumni prior to the drafting of the petition.

Do you think this petition grew from the conversations already happening, or more so grew from the events happening in Baltimore and Mizzou?

KS: You’d have to ask the people that drafted the petition. But I think people who have been around a while recognize there was a Culture and Diversity Committee created at UB four years ago because the UB community recognized the need to focus in more clearly on the issue of diversity.

What does diversity mean to you or University of Baltimore?

KS: For me, diversity is broader than just the concept of race. It involves creating a welcoming environment on campus for people of different backgrounds, different gender orientation, different races, and ethnicities and points of view. So diversity is a broad concept but primarily the goal is to make this a welcoming environment for people who have differences—whatever those differences may be.

Do you feel the conversation in regards to diversity have differed since the petition has come from the students, or is it about the same?

KS: There has been some in- creased focus on issues, not only because of the petition, but what happened in Baltimore last April.

And then following other issues at other universities, like Missouri. But I thought the petition raised some important issues that needed further investigation, that’s why I responded to it the way that I did, in writing, saying that I thought points that they raised needed further investigation. I promised that I would take an initial step in meeting with the cultural and diversity committee, and I did that last Monday morning.

When you say further investigation, you mean points in the petition need further investigation?

KS: Yes. For example, one of the points they raised in the petition was that there was a disproportionate discipline of African-American students rather than white students for similar offenses. They didn’t provide details. They made the allegations but they didn’t provide any evidence to support it. I didn’t dismiss the allegation, but I said we need to find out whether it’s true or not and the only way to do that is through further investigation. That’s just an example, but there were some others that were in the petition. As I said it raised questions but there was a need for further work to determine the answer to those questions.

So should students put more work into investigating?

KS: No. I thought the best way of doing it [was] for the community together. That’s why I wanted to meet with the Culture and Diversity Committee because it has as its members: students, faculty, and staff. I thought that would be the appropriate group to begin this process of investigation. I’ve asked them to have more regular meetings and to raise their profile a bit so people who were interested in diversity issues at UB would know of them, and know about their work, and would find an easy way to raise their concerns.

I know the Culture and Diversity Committee’s goal is to increase diversity and make known diversity issues on campus. That is their mission right?

KS: It’s to make sure the issue of diversity is viewed as an important priority.

 

How did you feel when you received the petition from the student? Would it have been different coming from faculty?

KS: No, as I said I think the petition raised important questions. Had it come from faculty, I would have reacted the same way. I didn’t dismiss the petition. I just, in my response, said “you raised some important issues.” We need to do further work.

Did you feel the need to meet with the people of color coalition?

KS: I didn’t feel compelled. What I felt was compelled to respond to the petition. And I also wanted the petition to be public, so that I could get input from all aspects of the community because initially it just came to me and nobody heard about it, except a few other students. I wanted the petition to be public so that I could get input from those with knowledge about the issues that are raised. I want to hear from faculty members about their response. I wanted to hear from other students, and I must say the responses that I got from other students vary widely. They were not all supportive of the petition. So it was important for me to get input from those who might be affected by what the petition said.

When you made it public, and you were hearing responses from faculty and students, how did you respond to that?

KS: It confirmed my view that there needed to be more investigation

of what was alleged in the petition.

I have sat in on an SGA meeting in which the PoC Coalition mentioned racial diversity in faculty and staff. Many people on campus, pose the question, “what if there aren’t any qualified candidates?” “What if we can’t find people of color who qualify?” How do you feel about people raising the question, “What if there are not enough qualified candidates of color?” More so, your response to that statement.

KS: Well… first of all, I have to look, in the sense I have only been here a year and a couple of months, I have to find out whether in fact what they said was correct. I know, for example, in our Dean’s search for College of Public Affairs there were people of color in that pool of candidates. And that in the search for the provost there was not a person but there was gender diversity, so I had to go back and find out whether we had a history recently of no persons of color being in the pools of candidates.

So that requires further inquiry. I’ve encouraged the consultants that we use in the search committees to make sure they search broadly for qualified people. To the best of my knowledge nobody has been discouraged from pulling in people of color in the pool. So the bottom line is you can’t disagree with what they are suggesting. It’s just that, they may not have known that indeed there were people of color in some of these searches. They may not have been selected but they were in some of the searches. Again, it’s the type of general statement that needs further inquiry.

Do you think statements as mentioned previously are in the back of people’s minds and effect the hiring process? Not specifically at UB but in academia in general, that the pre-conceived notion that there may not be enough qualified people of color, do you think that effect the hiring process in academia?

KS: Some places yes and some places no. I mean I think academia knows that we need more PhDs of color in the academy generally. The numbers are pretty low. I’ll just give you a point- the president of University of Maryland, Eastern Shore which is a historically black college, [at our] last president’s meeting noted even at her school, the majority of her faculty are not African-American. They are white and people of color from overseas. So even at an HBCU (Historically Black College/University) there is a concern about getting African-American PhDs on campus.

So just to your point, I think there is a need to encourage more people of color to get PhDs and to pursue careers in the academy. I don’t think that it [has] been the mindset at UB that we can’t find any qualified people of color. In my review of things, I haven’t seen any evidence of that. So that is all I can say. The person who is occupying the College of Arts and Sciences, our interim Dean is a woman. In the academy in terms of higher education leadership women are still underrepresented. So, I feel proud of the fact that we have as our interim Dean a female PhD. No, the petition may not say that is diversity, but in my view, in the academy at least, that is diversity.

In the petition and your response, you mention cultural competency training. Is this recent?

KS: It’s interesting you should mention that because the folks in each of our departments said there is already a certain amount of cultural competency that goes on, but there has not been a single plan, like in our Title IX. There are individual issues going on, on cultural competency, but what the Culture and Diversity Committee committed to do is to review hiring procedures of our human resources department and various hiring procedures in our individual colleges and schools. They want to do a campus climate survey to get a sense from students, faculty, and staff of their concerns about diversity, and then following that develop a more…a broader cultural competency training program. They didn’t want to start doing that before they did the campus climate survey. The review of the hiring procedure is going to start, then the campus climate survey, then upgrade our cultural competency training.

One thing that I have heard from students is that they feel that they encountered microagressions in their classes and they don’t exactly know who they should talk to about that.

Do you know who they should talk to?

KS: They should go to the deans first. I would go to the teacher themselves. *Brian, for example gave us an interesting example where he felt that he was a victim of insensitivity by a professor and he actually went to that professor and said ‘Do you

realize what you are doing? How you are impacting me?’ The professor apologized, said he didn’t realize that and made a change that lead to an improvement in the class. That was one student that went directly to the professor. My view is that, the students, if they don’t feel comfortable, that they should go to the dean. If it is something that is so egregious—multiple students are having the same problem—then it’s through the Title IX coordinator, the provost, or they could email me and say ‘we got a serious problem here.’ But it [should] be at the individual school level first. I believe that is one of the things the Dean is prepared to do, is to be responsive when students feel they are being victimized.

The PoC Coalition sent another response in response to your response. Are you going to respond to that one? Have you received it yet?

KS: I am not sure if I received it yet. Was it after their town hall meeting they had? Oh! After upgrading the cultural competency training, I did commit to having a town hall meeting on diversity in the spring semester. That was the other thing… (after being provided a copy of the response mentioned) I did see [the response] and I just encouraged our Vice President of Student Affairs to continue to work with the drafters. I asked her to respond to this. I did, I remember seeing this. And she did respond. She met with them. I remember this issue of tenure/non-tenure, which lead me to meet with some faculty to members without disclosing confidential information that the issue about African-American faculty members being tenured is more complicated then set forth here.

African-American faculty being tenured is much more complicated? How so?

KS: Well that’s why I am telling you, it would involve me getting into the private business of individual faculty members and I can’t do that.

Do you think tenure effects diversity in academia?

KS: Some places yes. Some places no.

Do you think there are certain disparities that discourage people of color from certain opportunities when comes to working in academia?

KS: Again I won’t generalize but it depends. [Henry Louis ‘Skip’ Gates] was a class behind me, we were in college together. He didn’t get tenure at Yale. But he got tenured at Harvard. So what was the issue there? Well the Yale faculty viewed him as being involved more in popular culture than serious academic enterprise. Harvard on the other hand says of course this guy, he’s published some great stuff, so it’s hard to generalize about things like that. What I do know is that the decision on tenure is generally left to faculty committees. They make the primary recommendation. If there is bias on a faculty committee, yes, a person of color is likely to feel the brunt of that discrimination. If the committee is fair minded and opened to good scholarship then a person of color is not going to be discriminated against. There was a professor of classics at Yale, named Eric Segal, who wrote a book called “Love Story.” It became a movie. “Love Story,” because a great book, a popular selling book and then a movie about these two who fall in love and one of them dies, like Romeo and Juliet. This is one of the most popular books around. Yale denies him tenure because he didn’t pursue classical studies. Getting tenure is a unique process and it is not something the president does by him/herself. It has to come from recommendation from faculty. If you have bias at the faculty level you’re going to have problems.

Would the same answer you gave for the process of tenure be able to answer the question of including selected cultural studies programs (African-American studies, Asian studies, etc…) here at UB?

KS: If you don’t have the persons to teach it. Well the one thing about UB is that it doesn’t offer as broad a mix of programs as some other universities. At this point if we were to offer new programs, one we would have to have the money to fund it. Second, we would have to make sure we had enough students in it year after year to justify it as opposed to having a lecturer come in and do it one time. The third thing is we’d have to figure out whether there is a way of offering that course electronically with other schools in the system. For example: if Coppin or UMES offered that program could we use the computers, could [we] have synchronous teaching of that and have a professor at UMES give the course. I am willing to explore those courses if I see there is really a demonstrated interest sustained over time. I don’t want to go out and hire a person and find out that ten people are going to take the course. I am open to looking at that along with faculty. Because of the concept of shared governance, if we are going to create new courses, that has got to come out of discussion at the faculty of each school level. I can’t just impose a new course on them. Again, hopefully the petitioners understand they raised some important issues that need further discussion in the whole community and that’s what I’ve been trying to encourage rather than me giving some definitive answer when I know that I’d have to go back to the faculty anyway.

What is UB’s hope for the future when it comes to diversity?

KS: Right now we are viewed as the most diverse, in terms of our student population, we’re the most diverse university in the state university system. I’d like to see us produce from our student body more students who are going to pursue more careers in academia. And maybe come back here and teach.

 

University of Baltimore is making strides to provide a welcoming for various groups of people. Both students and faculty are making effort to increase diversity to avoid students feeling there is a lack of diversity, opportunity, and sensitivity in the future.

*indicates name change

Former Mayor Schmoke begins first school year as UB President

By Andrew R. Koch

Reviewing why UB became four-year institution

Kurt Schmoke has started his first year as President of the University of Baltimore. However, this isn’t the first time he’s been in the spotlight.

President Kurt Schmoke. Photo Courtesy of University Relations
President Kurt Schmoke. Photo Courtesy of University Relations

Schmoke became president of the university on July 7, taking over for Robert Bogomolny, who announced his retirement last Spring. Schmoke served three terms as Mayor of Baltimore from 1987 to 1999. Prior to that, he was Baltimore City State’s Attorney for five years. Growing up, Schmoke was recognized for his accomplishments on the gridiron as a star quarterback at Baltimore City College High School. Prior to coming to UB, Schmoke was Dean of the Howard University School of Law in Washington, D.C.

“There were a couple of graduates of the University of Baltimore who first raised the possibility of my coming here with me. I hadn’t really thought about it,” Schmoke said when asked why he chose to apply or the UB President opening after serving as the Dean of the Law School at Howard from 2003 to 2012, and then as general counsel and even interim Provost. “When I found out that President Bogomolny was retiring, and these graduates said something to me about it, I just started reading more about the University of Baltimore, and was very impressed with the progress and the energy of this place over the last few years […] I thought my experiences as an elected official plus the higher education experience could be of great benefit to a public university.”

Schmoke said that’s when he decided to apply, and he feels fortunate to have been selected as the eighth president of UB. Schmoke says while he did learn a lot about Baltimore during his time as Mayor and State’s Attorney, he’s had to relearn the city because of how much it’s changed from when he was Mayor to now.

“That’s been one of the exciting things about coming to this position,” Schmoke said. “The city has made a lot of progress in a number of different areas. The University has made tremendous progress, and I had to learn about those things and how we can fit in the agenda of the city as an anchor institution.”

During a June 25 ceremony at Baltimore City Hall, UB joined seven other universities, including Loyola, Johns Hopkins, Morgan State, Coppin State, and the Maryland Institute College of Art (MICA), along with the Bon Secours Health System, when it signed a Memorandum of Understanding with the city to provide jobs, investments in the community, and solutions to issues facing Baltimore.

The effort is towards a goal set by Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake to get 10,000 more families to move into the city. President Schmoke said UB will likely work together with the other universities on development projects. He says the administration would also like to work with the other institutions to develop synergies in programs such as communications design and digital entertainment, as well as other programs that are strengths for UB, such as business and pre-law.

“We really want to emphasize that we’re a career-oriented university,” Schmoke said, citing UB’s slogan, “Knowledge That Works.” “Everyday, I’m learning about another high quality that’s offered at the University of Baltimore, and I think it’s up to us now to try to let the community know a little bit more about some of these programs.”

President Schmoke says as one of Baltimore’s anchor institutions, UB will be working to not only make a positive economic development impact on the city, but also to make a positive impact on educating “Baltimore’s children.” However, changes are being discussed that could affect who can get what Schmoke called “a high-quality education at an affordable price.”

The University of Baltimore was established in 1925 as an institution for transfer and graduate students. In 2007, the University became a four-year institution when it enrolled its first group of underclassmen. However, the majority of students who enroll at UB are transfers and graduates. According to an article that appeared in the Sept. 5 edition of The Baltimore Sun, about 200 freshmen enroll at UB each fall, but that number has leveled off. In an interview that day with The Sun, Schmoke discussed how flat public funding the University is receiving is creating a need to work more efficiently. Schmoke says he was looking to start a conversation in the UB community, but wasn’t recommending changing the university back to what it used to be.

“I just wanted to understand better why the change was made, and whether the reasons that supported the change … still exist here in 2014,” Schmoke said, adding that the conversation with the University so far has been “very robust.”

“And what seems to be emerging is support for a more targeted, focused freshman admissions policy that align our admissions of freshmen with the strong upper-division programs that we offer, for example in business and accounting and forensic science.” He said he wanted to start a discussion about whether or not the University should focus more on its graduate and transfer students, or continue promoting freshmen admissions.

“What has come back from the community is that we shouldn’t consider this as an ‘either-or’ proposition,” Schmoke said. “Maybe we ought to consider it as making some adjustments to what we’re doing.”

Schmoke says there’s been support for both positions, and the administration is working on building a consensus, and he’s been talking with both faculty and students. At the most recent Student Senate meeting, he says the consensus he got from them was to keep freshmen admissions, but to align them with some of the upper-division professional and career-oriented programs so students can better distinguish what the University has to offer compared to other schools in the region, such as the University of Maryland Schmoke says a final decision about changing the type of institution UB is won’t be made until sometime in early October.

UB focuses on new freshmen program, with more professional and career-oriented approach

This fall, we have welcomed our new University President, Kurt Schmoke, along with many other exciting and new programs and services for UB’s freshmen students.

The University of Baltimore will continue to admit more incoming freshmen students to strengthen the connection between the first-year program and UB’s career-oriented focus in law, public affairs, business and the applied liberal arts.

Freshmen students will find success in the Finish4Free freshmen program that launched last spring, which offers first-time freshmen who are on track to graduate within four years free tuition in their final semester and the new advising and support feature, “one-stop shop.”  President Kurt Schmoke believes that “UB can best fulfill its mission by continuing to admit freshman students and by developing a more targeted freshman program that is closely aligned with UB’s career-oriented, professional offering,” a statement that he sent out to students, faculty and staff.

The University launched the integrated “one-stop shop” service to enhance the fulfilling UB freshman student experience.

To find out more about Finish4Free, please visit: http://www.ubalt.edu/admission/freshmen/finish4free.cfm