$577 Million Settlement for Maryland’s Black Universities


On Wednesday, May 12, 2021. a federal judge approved a $577 million settlement in a lawsuit over underfunding at Maryland's four historically Black colleges and universities.


The Legislative Black Caucus of Maryland championed the settlement effort over several years and House of Delegates Speaker Adrienne A. Jones, a Baltimore County Democrat, declared it a priority for the 2021 legislative session.


The Maryland General Assembly set the stage earlier this year to end the 15-year-old lawsuit by overwhelmingly passing legislation to force the state to settle and fund the deal. Gov. Larry Hogan signed the legislation this spring. This is the last major hurdle to end a legal battle launched in 2006.


The lawsuit, filed by alumni and supporters of the schools, argued the state systematically undermined the institutions even after the end of legal segregation and made it difficult for Bowie State University, Coppin State University and Morgan State University in Baltimore, and the University of Maryland, Eastern Shore, to compete with the state’s other public universities for students and resources.

U.S. District Judge Catherine C. Blake issued an order on Wednesday, May 12th, 2021 that the proposed settlement adequately addressed failings she identified after a trial in 2013 in the civil case. At that time, Blake ruled that Maryland had harmed the HBCUs by allowing nearby historically white universities to add similar degree programs. In effect, she found that the state had maintained “a dual and segregated education system” that violated the Constitution.


Here is how it will work. The state will pay the extra $555 million to the four universities over the course of 10 years beginning in 2023. The extra money will go toward creating new academic programs and enhancing existing ones, bolstering online offerings, boosting financial aid, marketing the schools, and recruiting and training faculty.


The settlement will also cover $22 million in legal costs for the plaintiffs, bringing the total amount to $577 million.


Former Morgan State President Earl Richardson said in a news release issued by the plaintiffs that the extra funding “will go a long way in helping these universities overcome decades of neglect and increase their competitiveness among other public colleges and universities.”


SOURCE: Baltimore Sun, Bryn Stole. ‘$577 Million Settlement for Maryland’s Historically Black Universities’ May 12, 2021 | https://www.baltimoresun.com/

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