Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan on Wednesday signed legislation that sets aside $577 million for Maryland’s Historically Black Colleges and Universities.
The HBCU legislation becomes law after more than 15 years of court battles, protests, and political fighting.
Alumni and boosters of the universities — Bowie State, Coppin State, Morgan State and the University of Maryland, Eastern Shore — had challenged the state’s treatment of the schools in federal court.
They alleged the historically Black schools were put at a disadvantage compared to predominantly white institutions.
The law will lead to a settlement of that lawsuit and guarantee $577 million in additional funding for the schools over the course of a decade.
“The signing of this important legislation into law, together, I believe that we are sending a clear message that we can work together in a bipartisan way to deliver real results,” Hogan said.
House of Delegates Speaker Adrienne A. Jones and Senate President Bill Ferguson, both Democrats, joined the governor in putting pen to paper on the bill.
“What we are doing here today is providing the necessary resources so that we can invest in economy-edged programs that are going to lead Maryland into the future,” Senate President Bill Ferguson said.
U.S. Sen. Ben Cardin released a statement, saying: “This landmark legislation to settle the long-standing lawsuit by boosting funding for Maryland’s four HBCUs is long overdue. The additional funding will allow Maryland’s HBCUs to provide greater levels of financial assistance for students, create new niche academic programs exclusively at their institutions, enhance existing programs at the universities and place these programs online to expand the reach of the schools.”
“I am proud of the students and alumni that first brought this case forward in 2006 and for the coalition of support amongst community and General Assembly leadership to reach a settlement and finally remove this ugly stain in Maryland higher education. Their sustained work to push to this settlement will ensure that future generations of students at Maryland HBCUs will have every opportunity to succeed.”
With the new law on the books, the next question is how soon HBCUs will actually receive the money that could come as early as the summer of 2022.