Home Local Maryland Government Announcement Originally published August 09, 2011


ANNAPOLIS, MD (August 9, 2011) – Governor O’Malley today named Dr. Danette Howard as Maryland’s Interim Secretary for Higher Education.

“The more a person learns, the more a person earns, and the more jobs we create. To create new jobs, Maryland must continue to support higher education,” said Governor O’Malley. “We are pleased that Dr. Howard – a well-respected leader in postsecondary education – has chosen to continue her service to the people of our State. Her strong belief in education and her many talents will help us protect the progress we’re making for tomorrow’s leaders.”

“I am honored to have the opportunity to serve the State of Maryland as the Interim Secretary of Higher Education, and look forward to working with our partners from PreK-12 and the postsecondary segments to ensure that all Marylanders have access to a world-class education,” said Dr. Howard.

Dr. Howard served as the Director of Research Analysis for the Maryland Higher Education Commission (MHEC). She came to MHEC after serving as Assistant Director of Higher Education Policy at the Education Trust located in Washington, D.C. In her role at the Trust, Dr. Howard led the research efforts of the higher education division and was an original architect of the Access to Success Initiative. This ambitious, nationwide program includes 24 public university systems (including the University System of Maryland) committed to closing gaps in college enrollment and completion rates that separate low-income students and students of color from their peers.

She led the team that developed the data metrics that is used to gauge university systems’ progress toward meeting the goals of the Access to Success Initiative, and developed a new way of assessing graduation and degree attainment rates at historically Black institutions. She has also written extensively on issues of access and equity within higher education, and her most recent article, Underrepresentation in the Academy and the Institutional Climate for Faculty Diversity, appears in the latest edition of The Journal of the Professoriate.

Dr. Howard earned her Bachelor of the Arts degree, summa cum laude, from Howard University and her Master’s in Administration, Planning and Social Policy from the Harvard University Graduate School of Education. She has also received her doctorate from the University of Maryland, College Park.

“We have worked with Dr. Howard for the past few years and she has been a remarkable part of the MHEC team,” said Anwer Hasan, chair of the Maryland Higher Education Commission. “We believe the Governor has made a great choice in Dr. Howard and look forward to continuing to work with her.”

Dr. Howard has spent her entire professional career in higher education, first as a student affairs administrator at the University of Maryland Baltimore County (UMBC) then as a researcher and policy analyst at the University of Maryland College Park (UMCP). While pursuing her doctorate in Education Policy at UMCP, Dr. Howard worked on the Race, Equity and Diversity in the South Project, which examined trends in postsecondary enrollments and completion rates and faculty hiring and promotions. She also served as a key researcher in a multi-year project sponsored by the National Association of Black and Hispanic Physicists which studied factors that contributed to students of color succeeding in Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) disciplines.

"The University System of Maryland community applauds the appointment of Interim Secretary Danette Howard. We welcome the opportunity to work with her and her colleagues to advance the State of Maryland's goals to increase college access and success and to apply higher education's resources and expertise more aggressively to bolster economic and workforce development,” said William E. “Brit” Kirwan, chancellor of the University System of Maryland. “Together, we can strengthen the state's reputation of offering excellent and affordable higher education, helping to position Maryland as a national leader in college completion and economic innovation.”

Dr. Howard will begin her tenure as Interim Secretary effective tomorrow, August 10, 2011. She succeeds Elisabeth Sachs, who was appointed by the Governor in January. Ms. Sachs first joined the O’Malley-Brown Administration in 2007 as the Director of Policy and Planning at the Maryland Department of Labor, Licensing and Regulation (DLLR). Ms. Sachs helped to successfully implement the H.I.R.E tax credit program and the Skills2Compete initiative.

The Governor added, “I’d like to thank Elisabeth for her service to the people of Maryland. Her hard work and dedication have made her a true asset to our Administration, and we wish her all the best in the future.”