Some Morgan State University students are taking to social media to express dismay with the announcement of Maryland Governor Larry Hogan as the university’s honors convocation speaker next month.
Hogan became just the second Republican governor in the last 50 years to win election in Maryland, and earlier this year drew criticism from black lawmakers in the state for his plans to cut funding to Morgan State and Coppin State University to help construct a new prison facility in Baltimore City.
Hogan scrapped the plans shortly after announcing them, a victory that Morgan State President David Wilson claimed as a personal legislative victory.
The Governor’s initial capital budget proposal included no support for this project this year. Instead, the Governor had proposed over $400 million to build a new jail in Baltimore City. Needless to say, I expressed strong views that an investment in Morgan should be the top priority, not a jail.
After having several meetings over the last few weeks with Lieutenant Governor Boyd Rutherford (who has been very supportive of Morgan), and with numerous elected officials to make our case for restoration of these funds, the Governor decided this past Thursday to postpone the jail project and to restore those capital funds to us. We thank the Lt. Governor and our elected officials, particularly the Maryland Legislative Black Caucus, for their support.
Student reaction on Twitter was swift and definitive.
It is not the first controversial appearance for a Republican official at the state’s flagship HBCU. In 2005, former Maryland Lieutenant Governor Michael Steele walked back comments from a gubernatorial spokesperson who said that Oreos were thrown at him during a debate on campus.
Steele, who is African American and the former chairman of the Republican National Committee, served as the keynote speaker of the university’s 2003 commencement exercises, where graduates booed and turned their backs on him during his address.