ANNAPOLIS- The University of Baltimore is one step closer to becoming a four-year university after a key committee of the Maryland Higher Education Commission approved a proposal Wednesday to allow the downtown Baltimore campus to expand beyond its traditional student body of juniors, seniors and graduate students.
The approval came over the objections of Morgan State University, which said it might face unfair competition in the Baltimore area.
The proposal, which calls for the removal of “upper division” from the school’s mission statement, was approved unanimously by the higher education commission’s education policy committee. It still must be approved by the full commission before the school can start freshmen admission.
“I anticipate the full commission will affirm,” David Sumler, assistant secretary for Planning and Academic Affairs said, “but one never knows.”
If the full commission approves the plan, the University of Baltimore would admit freshman in the fall of 2007, said Peter Toran, vice president of planning at the University of Baltimore. Morgan State was the only university to formally object to the expansion.
According to a letter from the Morgan State University President, Earl S. Richardson, the motion violates state policies preventing mission duplication.
But University of Baltimore officials and Sumler say the Maryland Higher Education Commission’s role is to confirm that public university mission statements adhere to the State Plan for Higher Education, not to ensure that missions do not overlap. Every four years, Sumler said, the mission statements are circulated to state’s universities for comment before official consideration.
Clara Adams, special assistant to Richardson, said the commission goal is to ensure “complementary missions rather than competing” ones among the 13 institutions.
Because the University of Baltimore, in downtown Baltimore not far from Penn Station, and Morgan State, in Northeast Baltimore, are relatively close, Adams said both schools “are dealing with the same population.”
“We are in a growth mode just as the other schools are in a growth mode,” she said, “that’s the name of the game.
“Everyone is trying to maximize the number of students they can bring in.”
Dr. Robert L. Bogomolny, president of the University of Baltimore, said the addition of freshman to the student body is a cost-effective and efficient way to grant access to the growing number of Marylanders seeking higher education.
Because the University of Baltimore’s student population includes a high number of part-time and evening students, the existing buildings could be used to accommodate a new freshman class during the day. The University has a law school and a business school as well as its undergraduate programs.
Toran said officials anticipate the university can accommodate up to 350 freshmen.
The Maryland Higher Education Commission predicts that the total enrollment at public colleges and universities will increase by approximately 58,000 students, or by 23 percent, by 2014.
“We certainly don’t pretend that this is the one or single answer to [accommodate growth],” Toran said. “But this will let us, enable us, to do our part.”
When the University of Baltimore was founded in 1925, it was a private, four-year university. When it became a public institution in 1975, the school began serving upper-level students, Toran said. In 1997, the university got approval to admit sophomores, according to Bogomolny’s presentation. Toran said because children of the baby boom generation are now college-bound and because of increased immigration, the system needs to adapt.