We knew when we published "A Consumers Guide to Area Colleges and Universities" in our April 11 Education Review that we ran the risk of leaving out important institutions. We put in many caveats: that the information was compiled not by us but by Kaplan Educational Centers and Newsweek (both of which are owned by The Washington Post Co.), that it was provided by the schools themselves and not independently verified, and that we were including only four-year, not-for-profit institutions attracting a high number of applicants. Still, we expected to hear from those who felt overlooked and undervalued, and we did.
Letters came in of several varieties. A number of institutions or alumni felt their schools had been unjustly omitted: Averett College in Danville, Va., Baltimore Hebrew University in Baltimore, Columbia Union College in Takoma Park, Eastern Mennonite University in Harrisonburg, Va., Emory & Henry College in Emory, Va., Mary Baldwin College in Staunton, Va., Southeastern University in the District and Virginia Union University in Richmond. Others argued that our criteria were misguided. Donald R. Stoddard, president of Strayer University, felt that the standard for inclusion on our list should have been regional accreditation rather than nonprofit status. The University of Baltimore argued that it should have qualified, even though it doesn't admit freshmen, because it offers courses for other undergraduates. Still others felt that community colleges should have been included because of their important role in higher education. Finally, Bridgewater College in Bridgewater, Va., reported that its current enrollment was 1,112 full-time undergraduates -- not the 613 listed in the directory. -- Glenn Frankel
THE MARYLAND-VIRGINIA RIVALRY
THANK GOODNESS MY CHILDREN GRADuated from Virginia Tech and U-Va. before the current crowd of anti-intellectual, anti-public-education politicians came to power here ["Virginia v. Maryland," April 11]. But what about my grandchildren? Are Virginians really willing to see their enviable public higher-education system degraded for the sake of empty slogans like "No car tax"? At least some Republicans in the state legislature joined Democrats to override Gov. James Gilmore's more damaging cuts to higher education and his election-year attempt to extend a 20 percent reduction in state college tuition until well into the next century. I hope that the electorate will look beyond the immediate gratification of essentially meaningless tax cuts (how much did you get back of your personal property tax?) and vote for public officials who have a vision for the future of our children and institutions.
JUDY ELLISTON COUGHLIN
JIM NAUGHTON'S ARTICLE COMPARING Maryland and Virginia universities makes a fatal mistake in underestimating Gov. Gilmore's commitment to quality in higher education. In the mind of the author there seems to be no apparent distinction between holding institutions accountable and dictating the minutiae of how a school operates. Implementing performance measures in cooperation with an institution, for example, creates quantitative measures of quality and increases accountability but does not dictate the operation of a school. Similarly, appointing board members who are more than fund-raisers with rubber stamps likely will help maintain the relatively high quality of a Virginia education.
Gov. Gilmore has indicated his willingness to spend more if necessary. But before making the difficult financing trade-offs to increase expenditures for higher education beyond inflation, shouldn't we make certain the additional spending would improve the performance of Virginia schools?
NICOLE V. CRAIN
Member, Governor's Blue Ribbon
Commission on Higher Education
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