Longtime Head of Private College Group to Leave in Dec.

    Maryland’s independent colleges and universities will have a new chief cheerleader in the 2020 General Assembly session.

    Tina Bjarekull, who has led the Maryland Independent College and University Association since 2002, is retiring on Dec. 31.

    The search for a new president is underway. A successor is expected to be named in September.

    Bjarekull started her career in the Midwest, but has worked in the Maryland Department of Fiscal Services, as deputy superintendent for finance at the Maryland State Department of Education, and as assistant secretary of finance for the Maryland Higher Education Commission.

    Bjarekull said the biggest accomplishment during her tenure as MICUA president was the expansion of need-based financial aid for students at the state’s private colleges. She’s also pleased with collaborations between campuses – for academic programs and through shared pricing on contracts to keep costs down for students.

    While the education sector has been bogged down by more regulations during her 25 years in the sector, Bjarekull said the additional accountability has generally been good for institutions.

    Before she leaves, Bjarekull said she wants to set up MICUA to be a partner in the education reform recommendations from the Kirwan Commission, particularly in the area of teacher training.

    “What I will miss the most is the colleagues I work with here in Annapolis and the friends I have made through the years,” Bjarekull said. “A lot of good people work in Annapolis and I’m going to miss seeing them regularly.”

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    Danielle E. Gaines
    Danielle Gaines most recently worked for Bethesda Beat covering Montgomery County. Previously, she spent six years at The Frederick News-Post as the paper’s principal government and politics reporter for half that time, covering courts and legal affairs before that. She also reported for the now-defunct The Gazette of Politics and Business in Maryland and previously worked as a county government and education reporter at the Merced Sun-Star in California’s Central Valley.