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Hogan Signs HBCU Bill

MORGAN STATE U.jpg
Baltimore Heritage
/
Wikimedia Commons
Holmes Hall at Morgan State University

The measure would help settle a 15-year-old lawsuit and pump $577 million into Maryland's historically Black universities

Gov. Larry Hogan signed a measure Wednesday aimed at settling a 15-year-old lawsuit by pumping $577 million over a decade into Maryland’s four historically Black universities.

In a suit filed in 2006, Copping and Morgan State Universities in Baltimore, Bowie State University and the University of Maryland Eastern Shore argued that they had been shortchanged for decades by the state’s higher education policies, which included allowing other institutions in the state system to offer duplicative programs.

In 2013, a federal judge found that the state had maintained a “dual and segregated education system” in violation of the Constitution.

Four years later, a federal judge ordered Maryland to end the disparity by establishing a set of unique programs at each of the schools and providing money for marketing and scholarships. The state appealed and was ordered into mediation.

In 2019, the 4th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ordered a fourth attempt at mediation but the case remained unresolved.

Hogan, who took office in 2015, previously rejected a more than half billion-dollar settlement and last year vetoed a bill nearly identical to the one he signed Wednesday, citing the state’s pandemic related economic difficulties.

In the ceremony at Bowie State, he said Maryland’s improved fiscal situation made it possible for him to sign.

“Together, we are all ensuring that any student in Maryland who wishes to pursue a degree will have access to world class programs and the highest quality institutions for many years to come,” he said.

The payments, which would not begin until fiscal year 2023, are to be sued for scholarships and financial aid support services, as well as faculty recruitment and development. They also could be used to expand and improve existing academic programs, including online programs, as well as the development and implementation of new academic programs.

The bill’s provisions are contingent on the state reaching a final settlement with the Coalition for Equity and Excellence in Maryland Higher Education, a group of graduates of the historically Black institutions, by June.

House Speaker Adrienne Jones said at the signing ceremony she anticipates “an early spring meeting” to complete the settlement.