The chairman of the Board of Trustees of Maryland's State Universities and Colleges quit in protest yesterday, accusing the state of "neglect and indifference" toward higher education.
Citing what he termed seven years of frustration during his service on the board, J. Carson Dowell said he is leaving because he consistently has been unable to persuade the state to provide adequate funding for its four-year colleges and universities.
Dowell announced his plans as his board received advance copies of the fiscal 1979 budget proposed by Acting Gov. Blair Lee III in which the spending program for the state's colleges and universities faced further cubacks.
The current cuts, Dowell said, are only a part of a pattern that has existed ever since he came on the board, adding that "I fear we have come to an absolute standstill."
"Consider this fact: Maryland ranks third among the 50 states in family income but 40th in state appropriations for higher education on a personal income basis," Dowell said in what he termed his swan song to a meeting of the trustees in Baltimore.
"In my opinion the state of Maryland is not meeting its obligations to its citizens."
Jean Spencer, acting aexecutive director of the board, said Dowell and other baord members and staffers have become increasingly frustrated over the years because hte share of the highes educational pie alloted to four-year colleges has dwindled.
In the current budget, the State Board of Higher Education urged that 70 per cent of the $237 million alloted to higher education go to the four-year colleges, but in fact they got only 59 per cent.
"It's becoming a grab bag and our schools are on the bottom of he heap," she said .
Increasingly, the four-year colleges have had to compete with Maryland's 17 community colleges for the higher educational dollar and in recent years with private schools that receive state.
The proposed budget, for example, suggests expenditure of $6 million in state aid to private colleges while cutting about $27,000 from the $42.5 million the state board had sought to operate the institutions is runs.
In addition to the cuts, staff members said the board is losing about $564,000 in tuition rollbacks ordered for Copping State College, Bowie State Colltge, Salisbury State COllege and Towson State University. In addition to those schools, the late hoard operates Frostburg State College and the University of Baltimore. The six schools havee at total enrollment of 34,000.
In the Maryland higher educational structure, the University of Maryland is operated by a separate board of Regents, there is a state baord for community colleges and Morgan State University and St. Mary's State University have separate boards of trustees. All report to the State Board of Higher Education.
In recent years, both the University of Maryland and the state colleges of Maryland and the state colleges and universities have been increasingly vocal about insufficient fundeing.
A major complaint, said Spencer, is that the state is required by law to make annual appropriations for both the private colleges and the community colleges based on enrollment. "There is no policy or formula with regard to what the public four year colleges get," Spencer said.
"I've been fighting this losing battle on higher education for a long time, but I can't continue seeing this system of high education go downhill," Dowell, a resident of Cumberland, said in announcing that he will quit. "I'm wasting my time. I'd Rather go fishing."
Dowell said he will hadn in a formal resignation to Lee soon.
Lee said he regretted Dowell's resignation. "He is very earnest and conscientious, but he feels misused by the budget analysts," the Associated press quoted the governor as saying.
Defending the tuition rollbacks, Lee said, "the boards have been pretty free in slapping tuition increases on students. This year we simply decided the students should have a year off from the almost constant tuition increases."