Revitalization of an Historically Black College: A Maryland Eastern Shore Case


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Virginia Tech


This study comprises a multi-faceted case study of the growth and development of the University of Maryland Eastern Shore (UMES), with an emphasis on the leadership of Chancellor William T. Hytche during his tenure from 1975 to 1995. The study takes into account the complex, dynamic, and interrelated internal and external forces that led to the survival and subsequent development of UMES. An attempt was made to describe the relationship of Chancellor Hytche's leadership behavior and the resolution of critical problems affecting the growth and development of UMES during his period as chancellor.

The University of Maryland Eastern Shore is an historically black university that has been able to overcome its historical and environmental roadblocks and situate itself squarely in the mainstream of higher education, even though, like other small historically black colleges, UMES faced an uncertain future. Historically black colleges and universities (HBCUs) are among America's most valuable resources, but for more than 130 years, these institutions of higher learning had to overcome the obstacles of limited financial and structural resources to provide quality education to hundreds of thousands of Americans of all races and socioeconomic strata.

The literature on historically black colleges is limited and significantly devoid of research in the area of black college leadership. The majority of the research on black colleges focuses on issues such as student recruitment, the lack of black males, black college culture, and the effect of court decisions on desegregation and affirmative action.

This research utilized the case study method. It can be characterized as primarily a descriptive case study, in that it describes the key events affecting the evolution of UMES, key events that influenced Hytche's decisions as chancellor of UMES, and also those key events directly initiated by Chancellor Hytche. Case study research is holistic, providing researchers with descriptions of total phenomena. According to Robert K. Yin, in Case Study Research: Design and Methods, "A case study is an empirical inquiry that investigates a contemporary phenomenon within its real-life context, especially when the boundaries between phenomenon and context are not clearly evident (p. 13)."

In each of the identified critical events during Hytche's tenure as chancellor, the researcher describes and analyzes the overall vision and strategy used by Hytche. Internal and external relationships that were established or fostered (e.g. "town and gown," political, and faculty) are explored to determine their effect on the growth and development of the institution.

It is postulated that Hytche's effective leadership of UMES was a significant contributing factor to its success. Among the most significant findings of the study was the fact that UMES had failed to flourish in the absence of strong advocacy, and its fortunes only changed when State leadership in higher education changed. This case illustrates a situation in which major cultural and political issues were at stake (in this instance, the segregation of Maryland's institutions of higher learning), and in which institutional and systems leaders within the state had limited ability to shape events affecting their dependent institutions. However, when those prevailing political and cultural values were challenged by a powerful, controlling outside authority (in this case, the Federal judiciary), the resulting stalemate and accompanying chaos offered those same institutional and system leaders an opportunity to influence subsequent events, particularly if they act in concert, which in this case was found to be the combination of Hytche and the president of the University of Maryland System.



Historically Black Colleges and Universities, Leadership, Economic