Former Baltimore mayor Kurt L. Schmoke will assume the helm of the University of Baltimore in July, Maryland education officials announced May 14.

Schmoke, 64, a native of Baltimore and product of its public schools, became Charm City’s first Black mayor in 1987. In his first inaugural address, Schmoke announced his intention to make Baltimore “The City That Reads” and he created a cabinet-level agency to direct adult literacy programs across the city.

During his three-term tenure, he also successfully secured increased state funding for the city’s public schools and supported programs that assisted the growth of higher education institutions in the city. He also initiated several programs in the areas of housing, public health, community revitalization and economic development.

“Kurt Schmoke has a wealth of higher education, legal, public policy, and community service experience that will serve the University of Baltimore and the University System of Maryland extremely well in the years ahead,” said James L. Shea, chairman of the University System Maryland (USM) Board of Regents, in a statement. “With his knowledge of the City of Baltimore and the surrounding region, he will be able to have an immediate impact on enhancing opportunities for students, faculty, staff, and the city. The Board of Regents is confident that he will be an effective and successful leader.”

After deciding not to run for reelection in 1999, Schmoke—a Rhodes Scholar who holds degrees from Yale University and Harvard Law School—returned to private law practice. He also served in several capacities at Howard University over the past 11 years: He served as dean of the Howard University School of Law from 2003-2012 and currently is interim provost and general counsel at the famed historically Black university.

“I am thrilled and honored to be selected as the next president of the University of Baltimore, an outstanding higher education institution located in a great city and a great state,” Schmoke said in a statement. “Offering a high quality education at an affordable cost has been a hallmark of the university, and I am committed to continuing that tradition. I look forward to working with faculty, students, staff, alumni, and friends to make a great university even greater.”

Howard Interim President Wayne A. I. Frederick, in a letter to the school’s community, thanked Schmoke for his many contrbutions and said his appointment “fulfill Howard’s desire to disperse our talents around the nation and the world.”

“The Howard family thanks him for his extraordinary service to our University and true commitment to our students, faculty, staff and alumni. We wish him tremendous success,” the letter read.

Schmoke’s appointment follows an extensive six-month search, after UB’s current president Robert Bogomolny announced he would retire this summer. In his 12-year tenure as president, Bogomolny oversaw the revival of the school’s four-year undergraduate program and redevelopment of the school’s infrastructure and that of the surrounding neighborhoods.

Officials say they believe Schmoke is the right person to carry that torch.

“Kurt Schmoke has an outstanding record of accomplishments and he understands that the University of Baltimore’s mission is closely aligned with the advancement of the city,” said William E. Kirwan, chancellor of the University System of Maryland. “He is interested in pursuing even more UB collaborations with the city and the region. Furthermore, he wants to build on the university’s momentum made possible by the academic, infrastructure, and fundraising enhancements of the last several years.”

Zenitha Prince

Special to the AFRO