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Higher Education in Maryland

July 2008 Press Release



For immediate release: July 30, 2008
Media Contact: Christopher Falkenhagen
Communications: (410) 260-4511


Maryland in-state tuition freeze, aid for community colleges, universities touted

(Annapolis, MD) July 30, 2008 – Higher Education Secretary James E. Lyons, Sr., spoke before a large group of college administrators and instructors where he offered them a rallying call to embrace the challenges and changes of the 21st Century and to aggressively address the problems facing higher education institutions across the country. He made his remarks at the 2008 Summer Academy of the Institute for Higher Education Policy held in Birmingham, AL, on July 23.

The theme of the 2008 Academy was “Cultivating Student Access and Success: Strengthening Institutions to Improve National Competitiveness.”

Throughout his address to the audience, Secretary Lyons emphasized the need for every state to look inward at the way they approach education challenges in 2008 and beyond.

“And what kinds of jobs will the future bring?” Secretary Lyons asked. “All the prognosticators predict they will require persons with some postsecondary education. Even the ‘blue collar’ jobs of the past which provided good wages even to high school dropouts will increasingly require some education beyond high school.”

Secretary Lyons pointed out that “trends and predictions for the future” show that students graduating from high school are predicted to be insufficient to “fill our workforce needs as the ‘Baby Boomers’ retire. Partly, this is a factor of the continuing leaks in the educational pipeline which see far too many students, especially minority students, dropping out before they even get to high school graduation.”

He pointed out that in Maryland, 3.5 million adults between 24-64 do not attain diplomas or GEDs or in “some cases, English language skills, to fill the kinds of jobs that are increasingly the ones that pay a living wage.”

Investing more time and energy in Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) at the higher education level is a must, Secretary Lyons emphasized. “Your students in the STEM fields will take a leap ahead if you have faculty mentors who believe in them and will introduce them to the joys of research and the excitement of being able to achieve,” he said.

“There is a reluctance to change, our resistance to a break in our routines,” Secretary Lyons said. “Ladies and gentlemen, I suggest to you that this is a time when we need that radical shakeup we all dread…It is likely that [students] will be happy to show you how to use streaming video in your classroom, to present their class projects on video, to ask if they could have some of their classes on-line. We will be forced into a fairly rapid change to accommodate these students who are already, most of them, ahead of us on the technological spectrum.”

The large group of educators at the forum included representatives from the Community College of Baltimore County and Bowie State University. In addition to his charge for change, Secretary Lyons spoke of the strong belief in Maryland that there is no spare American and education leaders have the responsibility of serving all children to their fullest potential.

Under the O’Malley-Brown Administration, in-state college tuition has remained frozen, and an historic $3.2 billion in State funding has been allocated to higher education operations over the past two years. This includes funds provided through the Higher Education Investment Fund, a fund created through the State corporate income tax designated specifically for higher education projects and initiatives. In addition, Maryland has provided over $575 million in State authorizations for capital improvements to State colleges and universities in the past 18 months.

The Maryland Higher Education Commission is a 12-member coordinating board responsible for establishing statewide policies for Maryland public and independent colleges and universities and private career schools. It serves as an advocate for more than 325,000 college students in Maryland, for the State and its needs, and for business and industry in Maryland.


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