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Towson Business Ph.D. Program Duplicates Morgan State Offering, HBCU Advocates Allege

HBCU advocates have voiced concerns to Maryland officials about how approving a doctoral business analytics program at Towson University violates a 2021 federal ruling, The Baltimore Banner reported.Towson University

The advocacy group claimed that this move from the Maryland Higher Education Commission (MHEC) “duplicates a well-established, functionally identical business analytics administration program at Morgan State University,” said spokeswoman Sharon Blake.

They sent a letter with these complaints to Gov. Wes Moore, the MHEC, Appointments Secretary Tisha Edwards, Senate President Bill Ferguson and Sen. Charles Sydnor III.

Towson’s Ph.D. program request was initially rejected by Dr. Emily Dow, MHEC assistant secretary of academic affairs, who said the program could result in “demonstrable harm” to Morgan State by causing a shift in enrollment away from the historically Black college. But months later in June, her decision was overturned by the MHEC.

In a June 28 letter to Towson, Commission Chair Dr. Mary Pat Seurkamp wrote that the majority of MHEC commissioners decided that the proposed program was “not unreasonably duplicative of Morgan’s Ph.D. in Business Administration generally or of the concentration in Supply Chain and Logistics Management.” There was “insufficient evidence of demonstrable harm” to Morgan’s program, Seurkamp wrote.

“TU’s STEM-centered Ph.D in Business Analytics differs in admission requirements, course content and program outcomes from Morgan State’s excellent Ph.D in Business Administration,” Sean Welsh, Towson vice president of university marketing and communications, said in an email. “TU took great effort to try to address any concerns as directed through the program review process. We look forward to continuing to work in collaboration with our fellow state institutions to serve the citizens of Maryland in fulfilling workforce needs.”

Blake argued that the issue of STEM was not in Towson’s original proposal, so it should not have been mentioned as a reason for approval.

“MHEC is working with counsel to conduct a review of the process in regulation to examine the issues and questions surrounding the outcome of the June 14 meeting,” MHEC spokeswoman Rhonda Wardlaw said. “MHEC is also eager to engage with the Maryland General Assembly’s workgroup that will provide recommendations regarding the MHEC academic program review process, due December 1 of this year.”

Morgan State is looking to address the issue with elected officials, said Larry Jones, assistant vice president for public relations at Morgan State.

In 2021, a 13-year lawsuit alleging that Maryland underfunded four HBCUs while investing in predominantly white schools was settled, leaving the state to pay $577 million to the schools.

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