Coppin’s President Neufville gave a glowing report, Feb. 14, regarding the success of a 50-point plan to change the culture at Coppin. The 50-point plan came from a special committee that UMBC President Freeman Hrabowski chaired January 2013. Chancellor Kirwan of the University System of Maryland (USM) created this special committee. May 2013, it reported out its findings on Coppin’s “underperforming.” Along with it, a 50-point plan to remedy issues was put forth. To be honest, many of the 50-point plan proposals replicated many recommendations that already existed. CSU faculty, staff, and students proposed them over the years well before the special committee was ever convened. This erroneous out-of-context depicting serves to hide the bigger issue.
Judge Catherine Blake ruled Oct. 7, 2013 that the State of Maryland was in violation of the U.S. Constitution that operated a system of higher education that was still segregated. The Coalition for Excellence and Equity in Higher Education on behalf of students and alumni of Maryland’s four HBCUs won the civil rights case. Judge Blake put the state of Maryland on notice. It violated the U.S. Constitution because it continued to run a higher education system rooted in segregation.
Blake said that Maryland’s higher education policies facilitated a detriment to these HBCUs. She stressed that “remedies will be required.” This meant “the wide use of resources to enhance the quality of current and newly developed programs.” The lead plaintiff’s lawyer interpreted this to mean the transfer of “academic programs illegally placed at the Traditionally White Institutions (TWIs)” would be included in the remedies.
Blake’s ruling has drawn little Coppin activity to prepare for a remedy. “Much to do” has been made over changing a few names and reorganizing a few structures. A few so-called academic program growth plans have been requested. They remain insufficient in quantity and quality to be called a comprehensive academic strategic plan that addresses Blake’s ruling. No far reaching scan has been done to examine TWI duplicative programs adversely impacting Coppin. President Neufville continues to follow USM’s script similar to HBCU presidents’ testimony at the hearing. Stay neutral. Stay supportive of USM. Maintain the onus on the HBCUs. Do little to carry out the ruling.
USM’s Chancellor Kirwan’s actions prove his concern of minimizing TWIs’ losing programs to HBCUs. He remains hell-bent on making Coppin the “dysfunctional poster child college.” This deflects the onus from USM, MHEC … the state of Maryland. For twelve years now he has served as overseer. His job is to make sure the ships are steered straight under his watch. For twelve years he continued to steer a segregated higher education operation as evidenced by Blake’s ruling.
Dr. Kenneth O. Morgan is Asst. Professor Urban Studies at Coppin State University, member of the Coppin State University Faculty Senate, past member of the Faculty Senate Executive Committee and a member of the Coppin Chapter of the AAUP.