Bohanan Boosts Ed Council
By Jay Friess
Del. John Bohanan dropped by the Patuxent Partnership’s annual meeting at the Southern Maryland Higher Education Center in California Tuesday morning to drum up interest in the newly created Southern Maryland Higher Education Council.
The Council, funded in April by the Maryland General Assembly and created Oct. 1, was officially formed to “develop a strategy to improve access to higher education for Southern Maryland residents,” according to the state. However, Bohanan told the gathering of local officials and defense contractors that the council could also plot a strategy to keep more of the $6 billion flowing through the Naval Air Systems Command at Naval Air Station Patuxent River in the Southern Maryland region.
Bohanan said that the council should create a non-degree granting research university, affiliated with the University of Maryland system, which could conduct research for NAVAIR. Bohanan noted that other communities across the United States have benefited from similar arrangements, but said, “We haven’t figured that out yet.”
“That is the only way to move Pax River to the next level,” Bohanan asserted. “We could have a lot more [federal money] spent here.”
Bohanan said that the Navy will soon need a lot of research done for unmanned aircraft, and added, “We can be on the ground floor for that.”
The new wrinkle that the nascent Council brings to this effort is the inclusion of the University of Maryland system. Bohanan said the state spends about half of its $34 billion budget on education and about $1.1 billion of that on the university system. However, the region has had difficulty getting the system to work with the region’s Higher Education Center, Bohanan said.
“It has been like pulling teeth at times to get the university system to participate in the local center,” Bohanan said.
That could change with the new council, which includes as members William E. Kirwan, chancellor of the university system.
Other members of the council include Gareth E. Murray, designee of Secretary of Higher Education; Joseph R. Urgo, president of St. Mary’s College of Maryland; Susan Shaw, president of the Calvert County Board of County Commissioners; Candice Quinn Kelly, president of the County Commissioners of Charles County; Francis “Jack” Russell, president of the St. Mary’s County Board of County Commissioners; Juan M. Garcia III, U.S. Assistant Secretary of the Navy for Manpower & Reserve Affairs; Bradley M. Gottfried, president of the College of Southern Maryland; Joseph F. Anderson III, chair of the board of governors for the Southern Maryland Higher Education Center; Austin “Joe” Slater, Jr., chair of the Southern Maryland Workforce Investment Board; Tina M. Bjarekull, president of the Maryland Independent College & University Association; and Jane Walter, president of the board of directors for the Patuxent Partnership.
The council is scheduled to deliver an interim report to the governor and general assembly by Dec. 1 and a final report by Dec. 1, 2012.