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Higher Education in Maryland

September 2008


For immediate release: September 8, 2008
Media Contact: Christopher Falkenhagen
Communications: (410) 260-4511

Higher Education Secretary to honor HBCU week at national conference

(Annapolis, MD) September 8, 2008 – Higher Education Secretary James E. Lyons, Sr., is celebrating Historically Black Colleges and Universities Week by attending the 2008 National HBCU Week Conference in Washington, D.C., Monday and Tuesday. He will present a proclamation commemorating the event from Governor Martin O’Malley.

Maryland’s four outstanding HBCUs include Bowie State University, Coppin State University, Morgan State University and the University of Maryland Eastern Shore.

Secretary Lyons was President of Bowie State from 1983-1992 as well as another HBCU -- Jackson State University in Mississippi – from 1992-1999.

“Having been a president at both Bowie and Jackson State University, I realize the unique opportunities Historically Black Colleges and Universities have provided millions of underserved students,” Secretary Lyons said. “There is great pride among the students who attend and flourish at these institutions. Many of America’s greatest citizens are products of HBCUs.”

Secretary Lyons stressed that while African-American enrollment is the largest at HBCUs, they are open to students of all races, nationalities and gender.

He praised the early work of notable civil rights and higher education advocates such as Booker T. Washington and W.E.B. DuBois saying they paved the way for the success of HBCUs. Later, Thurgood Marshall fought successfully in front of the Supreme Court to overturn the separate but equal policy in education at all levels in the landmark Brown vs. Board of Education case. Chief Justice Earl Warren worked behind the scenes to rally his fellow jurists to issue a unanimous decision in that case.

“The road to survival and success of HBCUs was never easy and the fight continues today,” Secretary Lyons said. “But blacks and whites alike who advocated and still do for these colleges and universities are a great inspiration and should be commended for their efforts to ensure that the HBCUs celebrated this week continue to flourish and produce outstanding graduates.”

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 326,000 college students in Maryland, for the State and its needs, and for business and industry in Maryland.




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