As one door closes for Baltimore Hebrew, another opens
Jewish institution set to merge with Towson University next month
Source: Baltimore Sun, 5-21-09
Megan Goldsmith is approaching her graduation from Baltimore Hebrew University with mixed emotions.
The 25-year-old Pikesville woman talks about the joy of completing her master’s degree in Jewish communal service, the honor of having been selected by her classmates to deliver the student commencement address, and the anticipation of her new career.
But she speaks also of nostalgia. With state officials expected to approve the integration of Baltimore Hebrew into Towson University next month, she and 14 fellow degree recipients Thursday night are likely to be the final class to graduate from an institution long at the center of local Jewish cultural and intellectual life.
“There’s been so many different people that have gone through that building,” says Goldsmith, who was inspired to apply to the school in part by a series of mentors who held BHU degrees. “It’s really sad that it’s ending. I mean, it’s been around for 90 years.”
The mood is bittersweet these days at Baltimore Hebrew, which was founded in 1919 to train teachers for local Jewish schools, and grew with the community to offer master’s degrees and doctorates. A high school from the 1930s through the 1980s graduated thousands of students.
But declining enrollments and rising costs made it increasingly difficult for the institution on Park Heights Avenue to remain independent, so its sole donor, the Associated: Jewish Community Federation of Greater Baltimore, directed administrators to find a new model.
They agreed to the Towson merger earlier this year. With approval by the Maryland Higher Education Commission and the University System of Maryland Board of Regents expected next month, the new Baltimore Hebrew Institute will open on the campus of the larger public university in the fall. Professors and degree programs will be dispersed among several departments and schools…..