Over the past seven years, even as other states have cut higher education budgets, Maryland has led the way in ensuring the strength and diversity of our public colleges and universities. We believed – and continue to believe – that college should be accessible to every Marylander who wants to get an education and prepare themselves for the jobs of today and tomorrow.

We’ve supported that belief by being the only state in the nation to freeze in-state tuition for four years in a row. As a result, we’ve seen a 22 percent increase in bachelor’s degrees – along with a 49 percent increase in associate’s degrees – awarded by all of our public colleges and universities.

We’ve also made record investments in our historically Black colleges and universities (HBCUs). These schools have been the foundation on which so many Marylanders have built their futures–whether it’s studying business at Morgan State, preparing for a career in Coppin State’s award-winning IT program, working every day in Bowie State’s cutting-edge mobile journalism lab, or conducting research in one of the UMES offshore fisheries that travel the entire Eastern seaboard. Our HBCUs must remain a critical part of Maryland’s economy and future, as they train and educate our next generation of leaders.

But for all of our efforts, successes, and accomplishments, I know that there is still work to be done.

We were reminded of that recently when a Federal District Court ruled that while we were upholding our responsibility to appropriately fund our HBCUs, Maryland hadn’t done enough to avoid the unnecessary–and potentially damaging – duplication of academic programs among our universities. I agree with the court in this regard; we must do all that we can to strengthen the unique academic offerings at our HBCUs, and avoid duplicating our efforts (and our expenses) by creating academic programs whose demand is being met by existing institutions.

I believe that this ruling is an opportunity for Maryland to look to the future.

I look forward to working together with leaders from across our state in order to find common ground through mediation. And while it will likely be a long and difficult process, I know that by working together, we can achieve our essential mission to educate all of Maryland’s students, and allow our already strong higher education system to continue to thrive.

Click for related articles:

Maryland Disagrees with Court Ruling and Orders Study to Prove its Point
“Michael Steele on Why HBCUs are Hanging by a Thread”
“Mediation Will Solve HBCU Funding Inequities”
“Judge Blake Issued a Bold, Risky and Wise Opinion”

“‘Program Duplication’ At Last- -Acknowledged”