ANNAPOLIS – Gov. Robert L. Ehrlich Jr. and Comptroller William Donald Schaefer called for state university system official Donald N. Langenberg to resign Wednesday, saying he should not collect a six-figure state salary while openly criticizing the governor’s cuts to higher education.
“He should get out,” Schaefer said after the meeting. “It’s time for him to leave.”
Langenberg, chancellor emeritus and regents’ professor for the University System of Maryland, has blamed Ehrlich for layoffs and tuition hikes at state universities in published letters to The (Baltimore) Sun.
Ehrlich and Schaefer have often complained about Langenberg’s comments at Board of Public Works meetings.
Ehrlich and Schaefer reprised their complaints, then directed Department of Budget and Management Secretary James C. DiPaula Jr. to ask University System Chancellor William E. Kirwan to order Langenberg to resign.
“I don’t think anyone really believes that a person should be removed from a position because they wrote a letter,” Kirwan responded later. “The First Amendment is pretty clear that people have a right to express their opinion.”
Kirwan noted he was not at the meeting, and that DiPaula had not yet contacted him regarding any request for resignation.
Ehrlich and Schaefer said Langenberg makes $192,000, but he makes $110,000 as a regents’ professor, said Chris Hart, the university system’s public information director. In a July 13 letter, Langenberg wrote that criticizing the university system’s Board of Regents for raising tuition is like “denouncing a ship’s captain for ordering his crew into the sea in lifeboats while ignoring the U-boat captain who torpedoed the ship.”
Langenberg did not return phone calls for comment Wednesday.
At the BPW meeting, Ehrlich first brought up Langenberg’s criticism and brandished a copy of the former chancellor’s Sept. 3 letter to the editor. But Schaefer was even more vocal, demanding to read part of Langenberg’s letter out loud before stopping in apparent disgust.
Langenberg’s criticism of Ehrlich was misdirected, Schaefer said, and former Gov. Parris N. Glendening’s spending was to blame.
Schaefer suggested Langenberg’s resignation, and Ehrlich added his support. The direction to DiPaula was not an official Board of Public Works action.
Treasurer Nancy K. Kopp, the board’s third and final member, was largely silent during the exchange.
Langenberg served as University System of Maryland chancellor for nearly 12 years before retiring April 30, 2002. On July 1 of that year, the regents appointed him a regents’ professor to study student transitions between grades, especially between high school and college.
He is also a professor at the University of Maryland’s physics department in College Park, but spokeswoman Karrie Hawbaker said he has not yet taught classes there. She said he receives no salary from the University of Maryland.