Gov. Hogan signs bills to provide more funding, support for HBCUs in Maryland
MARYLAND – Wednesday Maryland Governor Larry Hogan signed Senate Bill 1 and House Bill 1. The bills allocate $577 million to the state’s Historically Black Colleges and Universities through Fiscal Years 2023 and 2032. “I believe that we’re sending a very clear message that we can work together in a bipartisan way and deliver real results,” said Gov. Hogan.
The bills would also require the Maryland Higher Education Commission to create a new unit, which would evaluate proposals for new and existing programs. University of Maryland Eastern Shore Chief of Staff Dr. Robert Mock says this funding and unit will pave the way for HBCUs to flourish and thrive. “It’s an opportunity for us to improve our infrastructure and to improve our academic offerings, and to once and for all have an opportunity to expand and grow,” said Dr. Mock.
Dr. Mock says that growth will include expanding academic programs like veterinary science, and improve infrastructure and equipment for students. “We’ll be able to have better internet access, better equipment, better facilities, hopefully expand our new pharmacy building that’s already under construction,” said Dr. Mock. “As we continue to expand our academic offerings, it’s only going to help us attract a higher and better quality of student over time.”
Dr. Robert Mock with UMES adds they’re hoping to bolster their health care programs. “Our intent is for some of those graduates to ultimately call the Eastern Shore their home, and thereby improving the healthcare disparities on the Eastern Shore,” said Dr. Mock.
The bills also help HBCUs avoid duplication of degree programs between them and other higher education institutions. This is something that UMES is already working on, as they’ve been partnering with Salisbury University to make sure each institutions programs are unique. “We felt a little inhibited, to be honest, over the years when we were struggling with duplication issues. Now those things are behind us. The sky is the limit,” said Dr. Mock.
The journey to this point was long, and full of ups and downs. In 2006, a coalition of HBCU students, alumni, and advocates filed a lawsuit in the Maryland Federal District Court. The HBCUs, as institutions were not formal plaintiffs in the case. However, in the suit, the plaintiffs alleged that Maryland was failing to make HBCUs comparable and competitive with other higher education institutions. “It took 15 years for us to get here. So lots of people who have retired and moved on and all of the students that have graduated. But we’re so excited about this,” said Dr. Mock.
Governor Hogan says now that the bills are signed, it’s the time for the state to follow through, and ensure that HBCUs are at the same priority level as other higher education institutions. “Any student in Maryland who wishes to pursue a degree will have access to world class programs and the highest quality institutions for many years to come,” said Gov. Hogan.