Bowie State University Enjoys the Present, Savors the Future

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As Bowie State celebrates its 145th anniversary as Maryland’s oldest historically Black college or university, the school is touting many new achievements as it moves forward in the 21st century.

At the top of that list is the school’s brand new bioinformatics program, which is being touted as a four-year multi-disciplinary program for honors students.

“Bioinformatics represents a new scientific field and is an outgrowth from studies related to genome projects,” said Elaine Davis,, chair of Bowie State’s Natural Science Department.  The science represents the use of software, computational tools, and databases to acquire, store, analyze and visualize the information from genomics, the branch of genetics that studies organisms in terms of their genomes.”

Bradford Braden, a professor in the department, said while the bioinformatics program isn’t unique to Bowie State in the area, its concentration is.

“As bioinformatics is such a broad field, academic programs generally have to concentrate on one area –molecular biology and genomics, database design, algorithm design, statistical methods and the like,” said Braden. “The program at Bowie State University concentrates on proteomics, the prediction and modeling of protein structure and function, particularly in the areas of molecular disease, protein-protein interactions and the development of artificial antibodies.”

The university is also excited about its new information assurance program which prepares students for careers in information security and information technology. It’s the latest change for the business department, which is trying to keep up with the transformation of the world.

“The Management Information Systems program was restructured in fall 2005 to realign the curriculum to the emerging needs of the market,” stated Anthony Nelson, dean of the College of Business in a press release.  “The Information Assurance program is the latest change to enhance the curriculum and to train cyber security talent.”

The university is equally excited about things outside of the classroom. It won a $100,000 Walmart Minority Student Success Award—one of only four HBCUs to receive the grant; its women’s bowling team won the Central Intercollegiate Athletic Association (CIAA) championship; its case study team won the Thurgood Marshall College Fund case study championship and it was named No. 1 as America’s best value for a public college or university.

Many luminaries are starting to recognize the significance of the university as well.
The university will have Radio One founder Cathy Hughes as its commencement speaker while Juan Williams, Fox News correspondent, spoke at the university on Tuesday. That came just one day after John Wilson Jr., President Obama’s appointee to be director of the White House Initiative on HBCUs, gave the keynote speaker at its Founders Day ceremony.

Though the school has many great things going on, Bowie State, like many other HBCUs, hasn’t been immune to the faltering economy. It has had to make cuts, but maintains that it’s in good shape going forward.

“Though we have suffered significant budget reductions, Bowie State University is holding its own during this recession,” Bowie State President Mickey L. Burnim told the AFRO.  “Our enrollment has continued to grow at a steady pace and that has provided some increases in tuition revenue.

“Most of our budget reductions have been taken in areas that have allowed us to maintain our operations almost as usual for the short run.  We have cut salary expense through furloughs and a hiring freeze.  In addition, we have taken big reductions in our fund balance.  At this point, we still have some fund balance intact, we have had no forced layoffs, though we are operating shorthanded.”

Despite the budget, Bowie State has never been more popular. Last year, the school saw the largest class of students ever.

"We have met or exceeded our enrollment targets for three years consecutively," said Burnim in a press release. "I firmly believe that the future of Bowie State University depends upon our ability to attract new students and retain more of those students through graduation."

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