- Maryland Governor Larry Hogan offered $100 million to the state’s historically black colleges to settle a 12-year lawsuit over unequal public funding, reports the Washington Post. The offer is double the amount proposed earlier and would supplement state appropriations to the four public historically black institutions over a 10-year period.
- The offer seeks to replace a previous order from a federal judge, forcing the state to establish a set of unique and high-demand programs at its four historically black institutions — Morgan State University, Coppin State University, Bowie State University and the University of Maryland Eastern Shore.
- Critics of governor’s proposal say it is a deceptive thwart for a more robust and fairer plan. The precedent set in a similar case in Mississippi in 2001 saw the state paying $500 million to help establish new programs, fund construction and ramp up recruitment efforts at its three HBCUs.
Filed in 2006, the lawsuit is spearhead by a coalition of alumni for the states four historically black institutions. The lawsuit alleges the state of Maryland insufficiently funded historically black colleges and depressed their enrollment by permitting traditionally white colleges to replicate their programming.
In a statement issued last week, lawyers representing the group of stakeholders who filed the lawsuit, on behalf of state’s black colleges, were supportive of the governor’s pledge of more money but say the $100 million offer does not go far enough. Monetarily, the proposed sum is only a fraction of the estimated the loss inflicted by years of unequal treatment, plus it would not repair the damage done by the state's history of duplicating the programming that made black colleges less competitive. In addition to more funds, the group seeks a remediation plan closer to what the federal judge ordered last November. That plan ordered the state to develop a set of “new unique and/or high demand programs” at each HBCU and to dedicate annual funding for marketing, recruitment, and financial aid for the next 5 to 10 years.
However you quantify the exact economic impact of historically black colleges, a collective look at data shows that they tend to punch well above their weight in the terms of student success. While many colleges are retreating from enrolling more low income and diverse students, a recent study found that HBCUs tend to enroll a significant number of low income students. Meanwhile, they also graduate a significant number of STEM graduates. For example, Xavier University, awards more college degrees in the biological and physical sciences to black Americans than any other institution in the country.