Delegates Oppose Change In St. Mary’s College Oversight - Southern Maryland Headline News

Delegates Oppose Change In St. Mary’s College Oversight


By Guy Leonard, County Times

ST. MARY'S COUNTY, Md.—Del. Anthony O’Donnell, (R-Dist. 29C), the state house minority leader, opposes plans by Sen. Roy Dyson to take away the autonomy of St. Mary’s College of Maryland and place it under the regent of the University System of Maryland.

Dyson has made threats to make changes in college oversight in the wake of controversy regarding the construction of a rowing center on Route 5 that he and some residents there say obstructs the scenic river view.

Dyson has claimed that the college leadership has not taken into account the concerns of local residents and has said the building should be moved.

O’Donnell told The County Times that Dyson’s approach would actually lessen local influence at was has become one of the best liberal arts colleges in the nation.

“I think part of the genius of St. Mary’s College is its autonomy,” O’Donnell said. “I think the board of trustees (some of whom live in Southern Maryland) have helped make it into a prominent institution of higher education.

“If you stick it in with the university system you won’t have that local input.”

O’Donnell called Dyson’s attempt to change oversight of the college “very wrongheaded.”

On the issue of moving the boathouse, O’Donnell wanted to wait for the college and community to make a decision.

“I think the community and college need to come to a resolution on that,” O’Donnell said.

Another proposal that could be up for debate in Annapolis this 2008 session is whether to give the same weight to the desires of the local community as the college board of trustees in land use decisions.

Del. John Wood (D-Dist. 29B) said that he would not support that proposal and that the board of trustees should be left to do its job.

“As long as they have public meetings I don’t support that,” Wood said. “They’ve [the board of trustees] been up front… and brought the community in.”

The legislation up for consideration only complicated things, Wood said.

“I don’t think that’s what the majority of people want either,” Wood said.

County Commissioner Thomas Mattingly (D-Leonardtown) said he would like to see the boathouse moved a short distance to relieve some of the tensions if feasible.

But he did not support Dyson’s current move to put the college under the state university system.

“I absolutely do not support that in anyway,” Mattingly said. “I think they’ve done extremely well and it would be a terrible mistake to change that.

Instead of trying to resolve the problem… it’s just put salt in the wound.”

O’Donnell said he would oppose any measure by Dyson in Annapolis to change the governance structure of the college.

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