Panel rejects college's bid for state subsidy


The Baltimore Sun, December 12, 1996

The Maryland Higher Education Commission turned down a bid yesterday by Columbia Union College to receive a state subsidy given to other private Maryland campuses under a 25-year-old program.

The administrative appeal was filed at the behest of a federal judge who is hearing the college’s lawsuit, which claims religious discrimination. The college sued the state in June. The commission ruled in a special meeting at St. Michaels.

The commission ruled the school, affiliated with the Seventh-Day Adventist Church, was not eligible to receive the roughly $1,070 given for each Maryland student at private campuses because of the pervasively religious nature of its instruction. The college, based in Takoma Park, has asserted for the past five years that it has been unjustly excluded from the program because it embraced religious, community-centered” values.

Three Roman Catholic-affiliated colleges in the state -Loyola, Mount St. Mary’s and Notre Dame — receive subsidies under the program, for which more than $31 million was appropriated last year.

But state attorneys say religion is markedly less influential in the operation of those campuses. For Columbia Union, with a $12 million annual operating budget and more than 1,000 students, the approximately $750,000 a year would be a significant portion of revenue.