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
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
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.