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College chief says downtown site will work

November 29, 1999|By SCOTT BUTKI

The University System of Maryland will make the university center work in downtown Hagerstown, Chancellor Donald N. Langenberg said Monday - even though it wasn't the site he endorsed.

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He was neither surprised nor disappointed by Maryland Gov. Parris N. Glendening's decision Wednesday to build the $11.7 million campus in the Baldwin House complex in downtown Hagerstown, Langenberg said in a phone interview Monday.

Langenberg and System Capital Planner Mark Beck have said they prefer the Allegheny Energy's Friendship Technology site off Interstate 70. At a June 16 meeting they successfully urged the steering committee to endorse that site over the Baldwin House complex.

Langenberg was asked Monday if he thought the campus would be as successful downtown as at the utility's site.

"We will do everything we can to make it a very, very successful enterprise," he said.

The system will need to reexamine which programs will be offered at the center, he said. One obvious change would be a greater emphasis on programs for Washington County Hospital employees, such as nursing classes, because the two buildings will be near each other, he said.

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Langenberg said Monday that Glendening wrote a quote attributed to the chancellor in a Glendening news release sent to reporters Wednesday. Langenberg said he approved the quote after Glendening read it to him.

While Langenberg previously expressed concern about whether a campus downtown would work, his comments in the press release were more positive.

"This site offers everything that we need to create a first-rate learning environment while offering financial savings to taxpayers and helping revitalize downtown Hagerstown," Langenberg was quoted as saying.

"We are setting a strong example that we hope other private and public educational institutions in Maryland and around the country will follow. The vitality and resources found downtown strongly support a creative learning environment for our students regardless of their area of study."

Glendening spokesman Michael Morrill confirmed that the quote came from a phone conversation between the two state leaders.

Langenberg said his attitude toward the downtown campus has changed over the last six months. In June he was focused on the opportunities at the Allegheny Energy site, he said.

"The governor has made a different recommendation and so therefore our thinking is adjusting to having a campus downtown," he said.

Langenberg said the system will probably do a new survey of companies in order to gauge who would attend a downtown campus and what classes they would take.

A prior survey was specific to the Allegheny Energy site, Campus Project Director Robert P. Sweeney said.

Sweeney had verbal agreements with seven colleges to offer classes at the campus, but the promises were specific to the Allegheny Power site.

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