As of fiscal year 2011, only 18 percent of the first-time, full-time freshman graduated within a six-year time frame, according the Maryland Higher Education Commission, by far the worst rate in the state, which averages 63 percent overall. However, 42 percent of transfer students graduated that year. The figure was below the state average of 56 percent, but encouraging to members nonetheless.
Among the problems the committee highlighted are: Coppin spends the most per student, yet still has among the worst graduation rates; some faculty members weren't bothering to show up to teach classes; and the school continued to add programs and staff despite declining enrollment and an operating budget deficit.
The report also noted that many of Coppin's first-time students come in underprepared, with 66 percent taking remedial classes. Many also are underprivileged, with most growing up in low-income households, making them eligible for aid. More than 80 percent of the university's students received some kind of aid, yet many complained it wasn't distributed in a timely manner and that students were treated poorly in the financial aid offices.
The committee recommended that aid counseling be undertaken earlier to reach more students.
It also recommended that Coppin consider partnerships with community colleges and offer delayed admission to students who need to complete certain requirements and that it target transfer and older students for enrollment and support, knowing they're more likely to succeed.
An overhaul of the academic programs and the administration is suggested as well.
"Working together, we're determined that we can make a difference," Hrabowski said.
Reid called the report "a model" for other historically black institutions, and board member Gary L. Attman expressed confidence in Coppin's future based on the recommended changes.
"I think the future is great if in fact we take this report and move forward quickly," said Baltimore state Sen. Catherine E. Pugh, who was a member of the committee.
The regents accepted the committee report and opened a public comment period through June 10. A vote on the plan is scheduled for the board's June 21 meeting.
In an interview after the meeting, Kirwan said the board hadn't intervened before, despite a long history of issues at Coppin, because members expected the school's leadership to turn things around.
Each of the last two presidents came in with a "change agenda," Kirwan said, yet failed to execute. When the most recent president stepped down this winter, the board decided to take a deep look at the school before searching for a replacement.
He believes this effort will succeed where others haven't because "the strategy here is different," he said, "in that the board is now demanding change, and people are going to be held accountable."
Tuition and fee increases
for full-time undergraduates
Bowie State University: $332 ($343 out-of-state)
Coppin State University: $162 ($305)
Frostburg State University: $292 ($752)
Salisbury University: $428 ($428)*
Towson University: $210 ($266)
University of Baltimore: $174 ($482)
University of Maryland, Baltimore County: $304 ($817)
University of Maryland, College Park: $253 ($1,060)
University of Maryland, Eastern Shore: $285 ($655)
* Salisbury University raised in-state tuition and fee rates 5.6 percent and out-of-state rates 2.7 percent
SOURCE: University System of Maryland