- A federal judge has already ruled that the Maryland Higher Education Commission perpetuated segregation by duplicating existing HBCU programs at predominantly white institutions, but the case could be appealed all the way to the Supreme Court.
- Inside Higher Ed reports that the plan by both sides to appeal any decision may be the cause of a refusal to compromise on a remedy — HBCU advocates have offered sweeping proposals to transfer programs from predominantly white institutions to HBCUs, and the state has wholeheartedly disagreed, suggesting instead a $10 million fund to create joint and dual programs between the two types of institutions.
- Those defending the state argue that Maryland’s predominantly white institutions serve high numbers of black students and serve them well, achieving high graduation rates, while arguing the HBCU supporters are interested in saving the institutions themselves rather than best serving black students.
The complete opposition to proposals by the Coalition for Equity and Excellence in Maryland Higher Education has surprised many. In other higher education desegregation cases, the idea of starting new programs at HBCUs to provide a draw for students of all races has been standard. In Maryland, the state commission argues it won’t help enrollment.
The original lawsuit was brought in 2006, after the University of Baltimore and Towson University created a joint MBA program, duplicating one at Morgan State University, an HBCU. The judge cited that program in 2013 when she ruled unnecessary duplication had hurt the state’s HBCUs. One concession the state has made was offering to discontinue that joint program. The judge’s ruling on the best path forward is forthcoming but it almost certainly will not be the end of the fight.
Nationwide, many HBCUs are struggling with declining enrollment and low student outcomes. They argue they serve a lower-income population that traditionally has lower outcomes, but the Obama administration’s new College Scorecard and other comparison tools do not give prospective students the context for such metrics, perhaps contributing to recruitment challenges.