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Higher Education in Maryland

March 2009 Press Release



For immediate release: March 17, 2009                                                     Media Contact: Christopher Falkenhagen

                                                                                                                             Communications: (410) 260-4511



Summit Addressing Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCU) Retention Rates Held in Ocean City

ANNAPOLIS, MD (March 17, 2009) -  Low retention rates at Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs) has been a major concern in higher education circles for several years. With statistics showing these rates getting worse, top education officials and students attending HBCUs from Maryland, Virginia and Washington, D.C. met this week to address the issue at the 13th Annual Regional HBCU Summit on Retention.

Some of the themes discussed included “Diversity and Democracy in American Education: Making Multiculturalism Work,” “Administrators’ Perspectives on Retention,” “Improving Retention and HBCUs: Everybody’s Business: Accountability and Retention.”

Breakout sessions included “Creating a Culture of Assessment at HBCUs,” “Improving Teaching Through Assessment of Learning,” “Student Retention Through Independent Learning” and many others.

Maryland Secretary of Higher Education James E. Lyons, Sr., delivered the keynote address at the summit.

“I am disappointed to say that retention of students at our HBCUs is not where we would like it to be,” Secretary Lyons said. “This summit gave us an opportunity to air our concerns and possible remedies in an open forum so we could discuss the issue in a series of meaningful forums and breakout sessions. This is an important issue for Governor O’Malley and he has shown a strong commitment to seeing that students of all economic levels and from all racial and ethnic groups are afforded the chance to achieve the best postsecondary education possible.”

In a letter to the Summit participants, Governor O’Malley wrote “In Maryland, we are blessed with some of the strongest institutions of higher learning in the nation, many of whom are represented at this annual summit. This conference provides a valuable opportunity for some of our greatest leaders in higher education to come together with students, legislators and private partners to develop new ways to expand the opportunity of learning to more of our citizens. This is a priority for Maryland, and we are grateful to have such dedicated partners in our efforts to make college education more affordable and more available to the people of our State.”

In addition to Secretary Lyons, speakers included Dr. Joan S. Langdon, Co-Chair of the HBCU Summit Steering Committee and Professor of Computer Science and Acting Director of the Office of Research and Sponsored Programs at Bowie State University, and Dr. Fellina O. Nwadike, Associate Professor, Department of Visual and Performing Arts at Coppin State University.

“I believe the Summit did a great job displaying the problems related to retention at HBCUs and offering possible solutions,” said Dr. Langdon. “This year, we were able to highlight something we haven’t before which is problems facing students with disabilities. Many have trouble navigating campuses because they are in a wheelchair or must use a cane or elevators don’t work.”

Secretary Lyons accepted special recognition on behalf of the Maryland Higher Education Commission at the event. A “Leader Among Peers Award” was presented to MHEC stating “In Grateful Appreciation For And Recognition Of The Support That Has Been Generously Given To The Summit From 1998 Through 2009.”

MHEC leaders have attended the summit every year since 1998. Secretary Lyons accepted the award on behalf of himself and former Secretaries of Higher Education Dr. Patricia S. Florestano, Karen Johnson-Shaheed, Esq., and Dr. Calvin Burnett.

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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