Maryland Attorney General Anthony Brown has rejected the Maryland Higher Education Commission’s (MHEC) decision to let Towson University implement a Ph.D. program that opponents claim would duplicate one at HBCU Morgan State University, the Baltimore Banner reported.
His rejection is based simply on the commission not having enough voters. The MHEC did not have enough members present when voting to overturn MHEC assistant secretary Emily Dow’s denial of Towson’s doctoral program request, Brown wrote.
“Because the Commission’s June 14 vote to reverse the Secretary and approve Towson’s proposed program was a ‘formal action’ that did not receive the necessary number of votes, the vote was of no legal effect, and the Secretary’s decision remains in place for the time being,” Brown wrote. “As I read the Commission’s regulations, the Commission is likely required to meet again and attempt to resolve Towson’s request for review, with the requisite number of votes for a decision one way or the other. Although this is not an official opinion of the Attorney General, I hope it is helpful to you.”
Critics of Towson’s effort to create a doctoral program in business analytics argue that such a program would be duplicating a business administration program at Morgan State, which may lead to drawing students away from the latter.
“This incident points to the need for ongoing oversight and advocacy to ensure equity and parity in Maryland higher education,” HBCU advocate Sharon Blake wrote. “We want to emphasize that the settlement of this case, The Coalition for Equity and Excellence in Maryland Higher Education, et al. v. Maryland Higher Education Commission, et al. is based on Federal Law; this case carries the weight and equivalency of Brown v. Board of Education for HBCUs.”
Towson has responded to Brown’s stance by holding its ground that their program would not be a duplicate.
“The finding of this administrative error on MHEC’s part does not indicate that TU’s STEM-based Business Analytics Ph.D. program is in any way duplicative of any other program, nor does it have any impact upon the merits for the program’s approval,” wrote Sean Welsh, Towson vice president of university marketing and communications. “We remain absolutely committed to supporting those students who have, in good faith, enrolled in this program as classes are set to begin in less than two weeks. When students lose opportunities, there are no winners.”