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U. Maryland Faculty Mostly Donate To Democrats

This story was written by Marissa Lang, The Diamondback

An overwhelming majority of University of Marylandfaculty, staff and administrators who donated money to presidential campaigns this election cycle opted to support Democratic candidates, with just one of at least 80 donating to a Republican campaign.

Though donations ranged in both amount and frequency - finance professor Dilip Madan donated to campaigns on seven occasions, totaling $3,000 to Sen. Hillary Clinton (D-N.Y.) and $500 to Sen. Barack Obama (D-Ill.) - most were consistent in their political leanings.

An online searchable database from the Center for Responsive Politics shows more than 80 people who donated money since the primaries listed the university as their employer. All but one of them gave money to Democrats, with more than 60 donors doling out money to support Obama's campaign. English graduate student Adam Lloyd is the only university employee who donated to a Republican campaign this election cycle - Lloyd donated $1,000 to Sen. Fred Thompson (R-Tenn.) during the primary season. None donated to Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.).

Linguistics department chair Norbert Hornstein topped the list of donors with three installments of $2,300 to support Obama's campaign.

Despite the hyper-political nature of such donations, professors say giving money to campaigns is a private decision that will not influence young voters as long as long as they are careful not to advocate their views in the classroom.

"I don't discuss any of this with my students," said education professor Rebecca Oxford. "I've worked [for the university] for about nine years, and I have never really talked about politics with anyone on campus. I've never felt the need to."

Despite her demure approach to politics, Oxford has donated $2,094 since July to Obama's campaign, a decision she said is unique to this election.

"This is the first time I have ever donated in my life," she said.

Though university President Dan Mote has said that university employees are "free to participate in political activities," he has frequently said that administrators' religion and politics should be higher education.

While Mote was not listed in the Center for Responsive Politics database, he donated money to support Sen. Barbara Mikulski's (D-Md.) reelection campaign in 2004.

Mote's chief of staff, Ann Wylie, who will take over as interim vice president for academic affairs on Nov. 8, was one of the many who gave money to Obama's campaign this year - $500 in February.

Wylie said she hadn't given the decision much thought.

"I think it's a right of every citizen of the country to support a political campaign," she said. "I think that private individuals at the university can give money to a political campaign if they wish."

Students said regardless of the political message donations send, professors are entitled to do whatever they want with their earnings.

"What they do with their money is their business," sophomore anthropology and studio art major Larisa Hohenboken said. "It shouldn't matter if they work here or not. It's not like they're donating money on behalf of the university. No one is going to decide to vote Obama when they were already leaning towards McCain just because some professors donated money."

Senior staff writers Kevin Robillard and Brady Holt contributed to this report.

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