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Base Realignment & Closure
Higher Education in Maryland

December 2007 Press Release




Governor’s Friday Night Facts Profiles Secretary Lyons



ANNAPOLIS, MD (December 10, 2007) As a young child, Dr. James Earl Lyons, Sr. -- Maryland’s Secretary of Higher Education -- visited a friend at a decidedly different home than young Jim Lyons was living in. It changed his life for the better.

The son of a loving mother who was a domestic, Dr. Lyons was living in a public housing complex. His friend’s father was a dentist and his home seemed palatial considering his small apartment.

After leaving his friend’s home, Dr. Lyons pondered why his friend had a bigger, nicer residence. He realized that for his friend’s father to become a dentist, he had to have plenty of higher education. It was a revelation. Dr. Lyons soon figured out that higher education was his way to a more rewarding future than he could have ever imagined. And a better future it has been for the Secretary who went on to earn his Bachelor of Arts (B.A.), Masters and Doctoral degrees at the University of Connecticut.

Dr. Lyons served stints as an administrator and a faculty member teaching education as an Associate Professor (Kentucky State University) and Professor (Fayettville State University). Eventually, his extensive experience culminated in his presidency of three four-year universities: Bowie State University (1983-92); Jackson State University(1992-99) and California State University, Dominguez Hills (1999-2007).

Just as he was contemplating retirement, Dr. Lyons received a call from the O’Malley/Brown transition team to come talk to an impressive young Governor of Maryland who shared Dr. Lyons’ passion for higher education. Governor Martin O’Malley wanted Dr. Lyons to become his new Secretary of Higher Education because of his impressive educational background and gentle, but steely leadership that was known and respected nationwide as a college president at three diverse universities.

In his capacity as Secretary of Higher Education, he was selected by the Governor to serve as a member of the Base Realignment and Closure (BRAC) Sub-cabinet, the Governor’s Sub-cabinet for International Affairs, Smart Growth Sub-cabinet, Commission to Develop the Maryland Model for Funding Higher Education, and the Maryland P-20 Partnership Leadership Council, among many other workgroups and task forces.

Under Dr. Lyons’ leadership, MHEC has established a blueprint for promoting the tremendous assets provided by Maryland’s higher education institutions and has presented it to the Governor’s BRAC Subcabinet.

“The movement of BRAC jobs into the Maryland workforce is very exciting, yet challenging for Maryland,” Dr. Lyons said. “It is my responsibility working with post-secondary leadership, the Governor, Lt. Governor, commission members and staff to ensure that those who are relocating here know we have what I strongly believe to be the best higher education system in the country.”

Maryland Higher Education Commission is also deeply involved in working with the P-20 Partnership Leadership Council, the successor to the PreK-16 Leadership Council.

“Adding the graduate level higher education piece to the P-20 council was a bold and visionary initiative by Governor O’Malley,” Dr. Lyons said. “This is the kind of leadership I expected when I came to work with the Governor. I strongly believe graduate education should be a part of this discussion. The P-20 Council is going to be very rewarding and produce results that will be beneficial to all students from pre-kindergarten to graduate school students. It’s an extraordinarily inventive process. It connects a lot of moving parts into one cohesive forward-thinking movement.”

Dr. Lyons once said, “just as education opened doors for me and enabled me to grow, we can do no less for the children of today. How they grow, and the opportunities we open to them, is how you and I will be remembered.” This serves as a tribute to Dr. Lyons and exemplifies why he is the ideal candidate to lead Maryland’s Higher Education Commission as Secretary of Higher Education.

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