By Gabriel Donahue, Editor-in-Chief
Towson University will resubmit its proposal for a business analytics doctoral program that has hung in the balance since April after being criticized as duplicative of a similar academic program at the historically Black university Morgan State.
Towson withdrew the proposal last week in adherence to the Maryland Higher Education Commission’s suggested pause from reviewing “contested” proposals, University Spokesperson Sean Welsh wrote in a statement.
The statement, which WBAL-TV 11 News published in its entirety, said the university will resubmit it at a later date.
“We strongly believe that our program is not duplicative of MSU’s Business Administration Ph.D., and that offering the Business Analytics Ph.D. will benefit students and Maryland as a whole,” Welsh wrote.
The program has been under scrutiny since Morgan State’s president objected to the proposal in April, accusing Towson of duplicating Morgan State’s business administration Ph.D.
Critics, including Maryland HBCU Advocates, have said that approving Towson’s program violates the 2021 settlement of a 13-year lawsuit that alleged the state allowed predominantly white institutions to duplicate the academic programs of HBCUs unreasonably.
Initially, Emily Dow, the Commission’s assistant secretary for Academic Affairs, denied the program in a letter to interim-President Melanie Perreault, considering it “unreasonably duplicative of two specific concentrations” of Morgan State’s business administration Ph.D. program.
One of these, Supply Chain and Logistics Management, is unique to Maryland, Dow said in the letter.
The Commission then approved the proposal following a special meeting on June 14.
The Office of the Attorney General told the Commission in a letter on Aug. 17 that the approval was “of no legal effect” since only seven of the 12 commissioners were present for that vote, The Towerlight reported. The vote was split 4-3.
The University System of Maryland maintained in an Aug. 18 statement that the Attorney General’s dismissal of the vote reflected an error in the voting process and was “not a statement about program duplication.”
That rejection came less than two weeks before the start of the fall semester.
In an emailed statement Thursday, Welsh wrote that the university had found paths for each affected student enrolled in the withdrawn program.
“We reached out to provide support to the impacted students as soon as we learned of the sudden reversal of the program’s approval,” he said.