- The Washington Times - Thursday, August 8, 2002

BALTIMORE (AP) Morgan State University has been very successful at getting state money for building projects, a survey shows, despite complaints from university administrators that it has been shortchanged.
A debate is emerging among Maryland's black leaders over whether Morgan State can claim that it continues to be treated unfairly in comparison with the state's majority-white campuses.
"I would not say it has caught up from its history of underfunding, but I would say it has been treated fairly in my tenure in the assembly," said Delegate Salima Marriott, a Morgan State graduate who taught at the university for 24 years and has represented northeast Baltimore since 1991.
Delegate Howard Rawlings, chairman of the House Appropriations Committee, was more critical of Morgan State's claims.
"It's part of the victim mentality that's prevalent in the mind-set of so many people today," said Mr. Rawlings, a Baltimore Democrat and Morgan State alumnus.
Morgan State President Earl Richardson denies that the university's claims of unfair treatment are unjustified, saying the campus still lags far behind the state's leading public campuses.
"Though things seem to be going well here, because the neglect was so long, the urgency of the need is still compelling," said Mr. Richardson, now in his 18th year as president.
A survey by the Department of Legislative Services at the close of this year's General Assembly session shows that Morgan has received $185 million in state capital funding since 1989.
That places it in a virtual tie for third among the state's 13 public campuses, behind the College Park flagship campus and the University of Maryland at Baltimore.
The tally puts Morgan State, with an enrollment of slightly more than 6,000 students, almost equal with the University of Maryland Baltimore County, with 10,000 students, and well ahead of Towson University, with about 14,000 students.
Morgan State administrators, lawmakers and state higher-education officials agree that the high level of funding has been needed to rebuild a campus that was neglected for most of the 1980s.
The money has paid for, among other things, an engineering complex, dormitories and an arts center.
Still, lawmakers and educators say the time might soon come when Morgan State will have mostly made up for past neglect, and policy-makers will have to decide whether it still needs extra state attention.
The question has increasing relevance now, with the state facing budget constraints and with other campuses notably, Coppin State and Towson saying that they need the kind of concerted support Morgan received for the past decade.
Complicating the debate are shifting personal dynamics.
The library-funding dispute that erupted during the last legislative session exposed the growing tension between Mr. Richardson and Mr. Rawlings.
The House Appropriations Committee, led by Mr. Rawlings, had cut $3.1 million in planning funds for the library from the 2003 budget because Morgan hadn't submitted required proof that the site was free of drainage problems.
Mr. Richardson passed on word of the cut to Morgan students, who have long agitated for a new library. That week, Morgan shut its campus so busloads of students could protest the cut in Annapolis.
Mr. Rawlings tried to point out to students that Morgan was receiving $21 million in new capital funds in a tight budget year, more than any other campus.
The final budget did not include the $3.1 million, but it did include an unusual promise that next year's budget would provide the full $53 million for the library, thereby keeping the project on schedule.
Mr. Richardson said last week that he was still upset about the cut because he believed other state campuses would not have been required to have the drainage paperwork. He also questioned how UMBC won last-minute approval of $15 million for a public-policy building as Morgan's money was being cut.

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