A continuing controversy over discrimination charges against the University of Maryland was sharpened yesterday when black faculty members and two community groups held a press conference accusing the university of "racism."
The controversy began a year ago with the dismissal of Andrew L. Goodrich as director of the university office of minority student affairs.
Since, Five other black faculty members and administrative employes have been fired, demoted, turned down for tenure, or forced to quit, according to a statement signed by the six men involved.
Spokesmen for the Montgomery County chapter of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People and the Montgomery chapter of Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity, said yesterday that the personnel actions were part of a "systematic pattern of racial discrimination."
They said similar discrimination exists at most predominantly white universities across the country.
In interviews later, top officials of the University of Maryland strongly denied the charges of discrimination, and said that in each case the blacks involved had been treated fairly. They said the university was committed to increasing the number of black professors and administrators, but said it often had trouble recruiting and holding them because of the university's relatively low salaries.
"If we get people who are really good and they are black, they get offers from all around the country," said nancie Gonzales, vice chancellor for academic affairs. "Often they leave because Maryland cannot pay high salaries, and you have to replace them.
"The ones who aren't so good then are denied tenure, in the interests of quality," she said, but then we're blasted for racism. It's a very awkward situation."
Patrick J. Hunt, director of university relations, said that even though the university wanted more blacks on its faculty and in administration posts it would not establish a "dual standard" in which blacks are expected to achieve less than whites to get comparable jobs. "That would be a very bad form of racism in itself," Hunt declared.
Last fall there were only eight tenured black faculty members compared to 814 tenured white professors. There was no increase in the number of black tenured professors has ranged from six to nine since 1974, according to a university report.