“UMBC at 50: Reflections and Aspirations”
Freeman A. Hrabowski III
September 19, 2016
Welcome to all – alumni, students, faculty, staff, and friends! This is such a special moment for UMBC, one of twelve institutions in the University System of Maryland, which is led by Chancellor Robert Caret and the Board of Regents, chaired by James Brady. I invite you to read Professor George LaNoue’s new book, entitled Improbable Excellence: The Saga of UMBC, which discusses our 50-year history and has many excellent observations about where we are today and about the challenges we will face in the future.
The Maryland General Assembly authorized a new campus for Baltimore County in 1963, and it was 50 years ago today that UMBC opened in 1966 on what had recently been 432 acres of farmland. That day we had 750 students, 45 faculty members, 35 support staff, 3 new buildings, and 500 parking spaces. It was the first day of classes for those students and faculty. Staff had literally been sweeping floors and assembling desks the night before students arrived.
Albin O. Kuhn – the University of Maryland’s Vice President for Baltimore Campuses, and later UMBC’s first Chancellor—called opening day his most personally satisfying experience. “It worked,” he said. “We opened on the day we were supposed to, right on schedule. Buildings were ready to be occupied; sidewalks were installed; the faculty was here. There were blackboards and even chalk.”
This is a moment that allows us to consider what our aspirations have been over the years; reflect on 50 years of growth, grit and greatness; celebrate all that we have achieved together; and aspire yet again – as success is never final.
UMBC in the National Context
We can better understand UMBC’s growth over the past half-century if we consider the national context in which our campus was founded and subsequently grew.
Most people today are surprised when they learn that in 1940, on the brink of World War II, just 5% of whites and only 1% of blacks in America had earned a college degree. Given the stature today of our nation’s research enterprise, most would also be astonished to learn that at that time the most prestigious universities in the world were in Europe and that there was just a “handful” of American universities that could be called “research universities.” The federal government was not yet a player in higher education, nor was it a major funder of research – most research on American campuses was funded by private philanthropy.
After WWII, all of this changed, quite dramatically. In the decade or so after WWII, the GI Bill provided the opportunity for many young people—mainly white men—to go to college. Strong bipartisan support then further expanded higher education in the US. Following Sputnik, the National Defense Education Act of 1958–which provided the federal funding for students in the sciences, area studies, and foreign languages–was enacted under Eisenhower. The Higher Education Act of 1965, a key piece of Great Society legislation, was passed under Johnson, expanding federal postsecondary support. The Pell Grant program, which today provides extensive need-based federal student aid, was created in the Higher Education Act Amendments of 1972 under Nixon. All of these bills expanded access and support. The percentage of Americans with a college degree increased to 6 percent in 1950, and then to about 10 percent by the mid-1960s when UMBC was founded.
At the same time, the landmark 1954 Supreme Court case of Brown v Board of Education of Topeka and the passage of the Civil Rights Act of 1964–again under Johnson–helped ensure that the expansion of access could be inclusive, extending beyond just whites to African Americans and other minorities.
And so, with federal higher education and civil rights legislation, the percentage of Americans 25 or older who had earned a bachelor’s degree increased from 9.8 to 32.5 percent between 1966, when we were founded, and 2015. White attainment was at 10.4 percent in 1977 and the percentage of non-Hispanic whites over 25 with a college degree in 2015 was 36.2 percent. The increase for African Americans over this period was from 3.8 to 22.5 percent. As of 2015, more than half of Asians over 25 and about 15 percent each of Hispanics and Native Americans have earned a college degree.
UMBC was, therefore, founded at a time of great expansion in access to higher education, and we were expected to play a key role in facilitating that growth in Maryland. Moreover, we had a special place in this expansion. We were the first university in Maryland that welcomed students of all races and backgrounds when we opened our doors.
On a parallel track, the federal-university partnership—with funding from such new agencies as NSF, NIH, and NASA—grew significantly. Clark Kerr once summarized this development when he wrote, “At the end of World War II, perhaps six American universities could be called research universities, in the sense the research was the dominant faculty activity … By the early 1960s, there were about 20, and they received half of all federal research and development funds going to higher education. In the year 2000, there were at least 100 and many more aspiring to this status.”
With more than $80 million in training and research grants, UMBC has solidified its place among our nation’s research universities as Carnegie has classified our institution as a Doctoral University with Higher Research activity.
As a nation, we have much more work to do. Just 56% of students who start a bachelor’s degree in this country complete within six years. Strengthening pre-K through 12 education, and improving teaching and learning, advising and mentoring, and student support on our campuses can elevate this rate and improve overall student success. What is even more challenging is that while more than half of students from families in the highest income quartile earn a bachelor’s degree by age 24, only about one in 10 of those from the lowest income quartile do. America is failing these lower-income students; we must continue to elevate not just college readiness but the work we do on campuses to ensure these students succeed when they get here.
The good news is that more people of every race, ethnic group, and gender are educated today than ever before. And UMBC is widely regarded as a national model for inclusive excellence in a research university.
UMBC: Reflections on 50 years
How did we become an institution that others are seeking to emulate?
In the early 1960s, the case for a new campus in Maryland was growing. It was clear that the State needed more capacity for high-achieving students. And the case for putting that campus in the Baltimore region was growing as well. More than half of the state’s population then lived in the Baltimore metropolitan area. And Baltimore needed another public research university that would play a role in the region’s economic growth and civic life.
In 1963, the General Assembly authorized a new campus in Baltimore County.
At our opening in 1966 Albin Kuhn said, “Just like a youngster, we don’t have all the answers, but we do want to develop our own personality and become part of the Baltimore metropolitan area.” Over the next 20 years, after Dr. Kuhn had laid a solid foundation, the campus was steered through a challenging period of growth by Calvin Lee, UMBC’s second chancellor; Louis Kaplan, interim chancellor; and John Dorsey, third chancellor.
Michael Hooker began to expand UMBC’s aspirations at his installation as fourth chancellor in 1986 when he said, “My [vision] …is for UMBC to be a model university for the twenty-first century, and to be the best public university of its size in the country.” Hooker argued that to capitalize on the university’s potential and make this vision a reality, the campus should:
• Be progressive – forward looking
• Be responsive – embracing our community and its needs
• Be selective—realizing that it would not be realistic to try to be all things, excellently, to all people, but that it could grow selectively to be excellent in key areas
• Be metropolitan—be a partner for the region, a force for addressing its social problems and economic development needs.
At my own installation in 1993, I remarked that at the founding of Stanford University or even at its 25th anniversary, no one could have envisioned what it would one day become. Its transformation lay in the future during WWII, the Cold War, and the tech boom in Silicon Valley.
Similarly, at our founding no one could then have fully envisioned what we one day could become. My point was that we needed to set our sights high. “We are a university on the move. We know what we want to become and how to get there. We will work to become one of the best research universities of our size in the world, and we are determined that our dream will not be deferred.”
Today, I am here to tell you that we still embrace this goal and that, along with such great universities as Stanford, MIT, Carnegie-Mellon, Arizona State, Georgia Tech, and the University of Michigan, we are on a list of the most innovative national universities in the nation! UMBC, since its founding, has been a place for people of all backgrounds to participate equally in higher education, preparing them for meaningful lives and careers, working to solve the problems of humanity.
Our emergence as a model research university can be traced to many factors. We have an inclusive notion of leadership and shared governance—and many of our administrators today were once leaders in our senates. We also have a community based on shared values. Most of all, we believe in hard, sustained work for student success. It has taken grit to achieve our goals.
For our first twenty years, UMBC played its original allotted role as an institution whose students were primarily commuters. It was a wise bargain for a new university: commuters saved their money by living at home; the state saved money by forgoing the cost of residence halls. Only a small number of students lived on campus. (Until the 1980s, the diplomas of our graduates did not yet say “University of Maryland, Baltimore County,” but just “University of Maryland,” reflecting a particular mindset about who we were.)
Yet as the campus matured, it was clear that we could become an even more valuable asset to the State of Maryland and the nation. And so, since the mid-1980s, we have become something else – an inclusive, student-focused, residential, research university. In the video just shown, you saw how our numbers have grown for enrollment, degrees, programs, research, buildings, budget, and endowment. Let me talk here about the meaning of this growth.
Where we are today
We have just completed our self-study for the upcoming Middle State Accreditation and we are implementing our new strategic plan (greater detail about my comments can be found in those two documents). Our recommendations reflect our willingness to be honest with ourselves. For example, we know we must continue our work to develop a more diverse faculty and staff—particularly African Americans, Hispanics, and women—in selected areas.
• The aerial photos in the video showed how our campus has grown physically over time.
• In our earliest years we built out the academic core, completed the Albin O. Kuhn Library, built the RAC, and began construction of our first dorms.
• The State of Maryland and other sources have generously provided almost three-quarters of a billion dollars in developing and building state-of-the-art facilities for instruction, research, and student life for the 20-year period from 2000 to 2020. These facilities include the following.
o The Commons (2002); Information Technology and Engineering (2003); Public Policy (2004), and state-of-the-art Performing Arts and Humanities Building (2012 and 2014). This last building is critically important to advancing those fields on our campus, and we thank Maryland’s public officials and its citizens for supporting its construction.
o We have become a highly residential campus, with new and renovated residence halls and the Apartment Community Center (2013).
o We have completed our new Campus Gateway providing a more attractive welcoming entrance to the campus.
o We celebrate the establishment of bwtech, our research park, which serves as an economic development link between campus and the Baltimore-Washington corridor. The park hosts more than 130 companies and provides more than 2,500 direct and indirect jobs with associated annual income of $165 million. Sage Policy Group estimates, “The state business community generates $340 million in additional revenues because of the operations of bwtech and it tenants.”
o Going forward, we have broken ground on the new Events Center, and we are in the planning stages for the new Interdisciplinary Life Sciences Center, which will be important for teaching and research in the life sciences and for innovation supporting Maryland’s biotech industry.
• Our infrastructure now includes, in addition to our buildings, an investment in information technology (IT).
• As we celebrate our 50th anniversary, it is important to recognize how far we have come over the past 25 years with regard to information technology on campus. In 1991, we had four separate offices that reported to three different leaders providing support for technology. We had two incompatible networks and two email systems that made it difficult to communicate between academic and administrative staff. All our administrative work was done via paper, and even the most basic level of data analysis was difficult and time consuming. Now we have integrated those four offices into the Division of Information Technology.
• UMBC’s IT operations are now regarded as a model of innovation in higher education. We were among the first 75 institutions to connect to the Internet at 100 Gigabits/second, and UMBC finds itself among the best in the nation in student analytics – the use of technology in teaching, computer security, and research computing.
• We are now developing a systematic, integrated approach to using analytics in decision-making.
• We have just welcomed 2,800 new students to campus this fall, including 1,550 new freshmen.
• As we saw in the video, we have grown significantly over the years, from 750 students on this day on 1966, to almost 14,000 students – 11,000 undergraduates and approaching 3,000 graduates—today.
• With an increase of 24 percent in applications over the past five years, we have become more selective.
• We anticipate that, with winter, spring, and summer enrollments, as well as students in UMBC Training Centers, we will serve a total of more than 20,000 students in the coming academic year.
• We will be increasing enrollment as we attract more resources to hire needed faculty and staff. It is encouraging that recent legislation calls for multi-year increases to our base budget to make this possible.
Academic Programs and Success
• Today we have 1,020 faculty (527 FT and 298 PT instructional) and 158 FT and 37 PT non-instructional) and 1,288 staff.
• For each of us, academic success is at the core of our mission.
• We have been changing attitudes about who can succeed as we continue focusing on improving undergraduate teaching.
• The key point is that more students are succeeding today than ever.
• We now have prestigious scholars programs in addition to Meyerhoff that address a range of key areas: Sondheim Public Affairs Scholars; Humanities Scholars; Linehan Artist Scholars; Sherman STEM Teachers Scholars, Cyber Scholars; and CWIT Scholars.
• We are helping to change the culture of STEM education in the nation from “weeding out” students to supporting success for all students. With support from the Howard Hughes Medical Institute (HHMI), we are replicating our approaches at Pennsylvania State University and the University of North Carolina Chapel Hill.
• Through an $18 million BUILD grant from the National Institutes of Health, we are extending best practices from our scholar programs to the entire student population.
• As always, we are embracing and emphasizing the power of grit: high expectations and hard work.
• And, at the same time, we have become more international, both in our student body and faculty and in our teaching, research, and engagement.
o We have students from more than 100 countries—although the majority of our students are from Maryland.
o We offer programs in Ancient Studies, Africana Studies, Asian Studies, Global Studies, and Modern Languages, Linguistics, and Intercultural Communications.
o Many of our students—including those in the Humanities Scholars Program—spend at least a semester in study abroad.
o Global dimensions are hallmarks of many other departments and programs, ranging from economics to philosophy to visual arts to engineering. Faculty are using technology to teach across borders from Portugal to India.
o Engineers without Borders extends what we learn on campus to those in need around the world.
You can see the progress we are making in our numbers.
o The latest one-year retention rate for full-time, first-time freshmen from the first to the second year is the highest ever at 87.2 percent—with little variation among racial/ethnic groups.
o The six-year graduation rate has exceeded 60 percent for the third year in a row; the rate for the 2009 cohort of full-time, first-time freshmen was 62.3 percent.
o Indeed, we can report that for the 2009 cohort, after six years:
♣ 67 percent graduated from UMBC or another four-year institution in Maryland;
♣ 75 percent earned a postsecondary degree; and 15 percent are still enrolled.
♣ So, six years after matriculating, 90 percent of students in the 2009 cohort had earned a postsecondary degree or were still enrolled in college.
o During the 2015-2106 academic year, we awarded the most degrees ever in our history, with 3,429 total degrees awarded, an increase of almost 10 percent over the past two years, and 2,521 bachelor’s degrees awarded, an increase of 12 percent over the past two years.
Research, Scholarship, and Creative Achievement
• As we celebrate, we can look back at significant achievements and tremendous growth in our capacity to conduct meaningful research across our entire campus community.
• From modest beginnings, we have solidified our place as a Doctoral University with Higher Research Activity, as designated by the current Carnegie Classification.
• We had just $4 million in research in the late 1970s and $22 million at the end of the 1980s. Our social science research productivity, though, was much greater than would be reflected in the dollar amount when taking into account the number of publications per faculty member. We were in the top the top 20 nationally in research in these fields.
• In FY 2016, UMBC secured $82.3 million in extramural awards, an increase of 12% above the prior year. According to current data from NSF, UMBC ranks #151 in federal research and development expenditures — out of more than 3,000 four-year colleges or universities. We are among the top 20 universities receiving NASA funding.
• We now have 15 major research centers on campus that report to either the provost or the vice president for research, and another 10 established by our colleges and departments. These are key assets for our research, scholarship and creative achievement.
• We are looking to build on these strengths with key research priorities—well-aligned with state and national priorities—in environment, health, national security, education, and public policy.
• Our research motto, “Innovation That Matters” reflects the fact that our faculty and students are particularly strong in translational and applied research areas. We want to ensure that our work has direct impact—on the scientific and engineering fields, on our students, and on the many communities that we touch.
• We have a strong national reputation for integrating undergraduates in mentored research.
• Our most successful and impactful research efforts are frequently interdisciplinary and based on successful collaborations across the campus, with other academic institutions, and with external partners.
• Our partnerships have deepened and matured over the decades.
o With UMB, our strongest partnership, we continue to develop research collaborations through the seed grant program. We share equipment, our faculty are developing joint proposals to NIH, we administer a joint MD-PhD program, and we send large numbers of students to professional schools –social work, law, medicine, dentistry, and pharmacy.
o With College Park, we are collaborating (with MITRE) on the state’s Cybersecurity FFRDC, (with funding from NASA) on the Center for Research and Exploration in Space Science and Technology, and (with funding from the National Endowment for the Humanities) on Baltimore Stories: Narratives and the Life of an American City,” which seeks to use humanities scholarship to produce print and digital materials that help frame and contextualize narratives of race in American cities.
o Along with UMB and the University of Maryland Center for Environmental Science, we jointly operate the Institute for Marine and Environmental Technology. We have a growing partnership with Bowie State in cybersecurity and with UMES in the alliance for minority participation in science.
o We have a new and growing partnership with the Naval Academy, in cybersecurity research. We have many international partnerships, such as those with Kyushu University in Japan and Kassel University in Germany.
o We have partnerships with a number of public school systems and community colleges that address student and community needs.
o We have substantive partnerships with Federal agencies that provide students experiential learning through internships, lead to jobs and careers, and provide partnerships.
o We have corporate partners such as Mitre, Northrop Grumman, and IBM that allow us to advance education and research in cybersecurity and with Medimmune which facilitates key work in biomedical research. These partnerships are important to the Maryland economy and the health and defense of our nation.
o We have partnerships with generous philanthropists and such foundations as Gates, HHMI, Sloan, and Mellon that have made a critical contribution to our efforts to improve student success.
Budget and Endowment
• For FY 2017, we have our largest budget ever – $440 million, a net increase of $10 million over the previous year.
• Of that $440 million, almost $250 million comes from the State of Maryland or tuition and fees.
• From just $1 million in the early 1990s, our endowment has grown in value to more than $77 million today, with almost $14 million raised this past year. That amount includes substantial contributions from faculty, staff, and alumni. All of these gifts will be counting toward the capital campaign we will officially launch next year.
• Under current market conditions, with current gifts and pledges, we anticipate the endowment will reach $100 million by 2020. We are in the quiet phase of the capital campaign now, and we will launch the public phase for $150 million in the spring.
• The additional budget funding and income from our endowment allow us to hire new faculty and staff as enrollments grow, expand academic programs, better support our students through increased financial aid, and grow our health and wellness initiatives for the campus.
Accolades and Achievements
What have been our top achievements?
• We have been recognized by national media for excellence.
o Most recently, an article in yesterday’s New York Times provides more national exposure to our academic strengths (in research and teaching) than ever before.
o The Chronicle of Higher Education has ranked us as a “Great Place to Work” seven years in a row.
o US News has ranked as #5 on its list of most innovative national universities and among the top 20 in undergraduate teaching.
o Times Higher Education has ranked UMBC in the Top 100 of its Global “150 Under 50” Universities – a ranking we no longer qualify for as of today!
o Princeton Review named us a “College that Pays You Back” and Kiplinger’s named us a “Best Value College for 2016.”
o CBS featured UMBC and the Meyerhoff Scholars Program on 60 Minutes, noting the significance of what we have achieved as a place focused on student success.
These accolades are backed up by solid achievements. Let me give a few examples.
o This spring, Michael Summers, Robert E. Meyerhoff Chair for Excellence in Research and Mentoring, University Distinguished Professor of Chemistry and Biochemistry, and Howard Hughes Investigator, was elected to membership in the National Academy of Sciences. His doctoral student and postdoctoral fellow, Victoria D’Souza, was granted tenure as full professor in the Department of Molecular and Cell Biology, Harvard University.
o Our faculty across disciplines have won a range of impressive awards. For example, Kate Brown, professor of History, won seven prestigious national and international awards for her book, Plutopia, and has recently been named an Andrew Carnegie Fellow, a Fernand Braudel Fellow at the European University Institute, and a fellowship with the American Academy in Berlin.
o Our alumni now lead such institutions as the Johns Hopkins Applied Physics Laboratory and Clemson University, and chair the Department of Neurosurgery at Vanderbilt University.
o We now have more than 70,000 alumni who are working in Maryland and beyond as artists, social workers, policy analysts, doctors, and dentists, healthcare workers, teachers, lawyers, engineers, and computer scientists. We have educated more than one-quarter of the IT graduates in Maryland. We have 2,000 alumni working for the Navy and another 1,000 at NSA. We have just launched the first Naval ROTC program in Maryland, with special support from Senator Mikulski. Our alumni have a strong impact. They are representative of the creative class in the State of Maryland.
o In the past year, our alumni were recognized for outstanding teaching. Corey Carter ’08, biological sciences, ’10 M.A.T., was selected as the Baltimore County Teacher of the year and Shalonda Holt ’07, biological sciences, teaching certificate in education, was recognized by the Washington Post as Teacher of the Year after previously being selected as the Howard County Teacher of the year.
o We are sending our students to the most prestigious graduate and professional programs in the country and our doctoral graduates hold faculty positions at research and comprehensive universities across the nation.
o We are an institution that can place teams in the top four nationally in men’s soccer, chess, game development, and mini-Baja racing, all in one year!
Looking to the Future: Imagine what’s next
The 50th anniversary—along with our parallel process of strategic planning and Middle States Accreditation—have given us a chance to reflect on our growth, where we are today, and our aspirations for the future. We are not yet done. Success is never final. However good you are, you can always improve. We are now building on the foundation laid by our founding generation.
As we move forward we are looking in the mirror, asking questions: What are our challenges? What are our goals? How can we address the great issues of our day?
Despite our growth, accolades, and achievements, we do face important challenges as a campus, including our funding per student given our mission, the expensive nature of some of our programs, other campuses recruiting away our faculty; the need to deepen the diversity of our faculty, and the unevenness of progress across all disciplines in improving teaching and learning – a key component of our ongoing effort to improve student success.
And we have important strategic questions related to our goals for supporting students, for the life of our community, and extending our engagement with our communities:
• For our academic programs:
o How high do we want to go with enrollment? With what resources?
o How high can we go with degree completion? With what initiatives?
o Can we extend to all students the benefits of practice pioneered in our scholars programs?
o How can we provide experiential learning and greater cultural and global competence for all students?
o How can we deepen our innovation in teaching and learning, improve advising and mentoring, and more fully capitalize on student analytics and assessment?
o How do we best invest in faculty and staff to increase our capacity in multidisciplinary research, scholarship, and creative activity?
• For the life of our campus:
o Can we imagine a mixed use development on campus, with residential, commercial, entertainment and other amenities that would be co-located to enliven our campus experience?
o Might we go the way of some other campuses that have welcomed alumni, especially older and retired alums, to live on campus to enjoy campus resources and to lend their time and talents to enrich the campus community?
o Can we imagine student apartments, along with a coffeehouse, a convenience store, a dry cleaners, or other desirable commercial services, to serve the campus of the future well?
o How can we develop closer connections with Catonsville and Arbutus and create a college town atmosphere?
o What should our long-term thinking be with regard to the neighboring Spring Grove campus? How can the development of this tract support the work we do for students, research, and the community?
• For our broader engagement:
o How can we become the anchor institution for the region?
♣ Building relationships from Baltimore to Washington?
♣ Building off of improved transportation in the Baltimore-Washington corridor?
♣ Advancing our role and reputation as a vital stakeholder in Maryland’s innovation economy?
o How can we continue to build our partnerships with other research universities, within the system and beyond?
When we look ahead we are also inspired in two essential ways.
First, we seek to expand our work as a national model for others on approaches to helping students succeed, in not just a few disciplines but across the board, and to do so in ways that will impact the real world.
We will continue to innovate in the classroom and on campus generally. We are providing academic initiatives, student affiliation opportunities, transfer student support, assistance for near-completers, and opportunities for the kind of real-world connections afforded through the Shriver Center, BreakingGround, and the Alex Brown Center for Entrepreneurship. BreakingGround achieved the following milestones in its fourth year: 34 courses to-date created or redesigned to foster civic agency; 24 projects producing social contributions beyond episodic service; 270+ stories and reflections shared on the BreakingGround blog, attracting more than 110,000 views. Meanwhile, more than 70 courses across all our colleges have been infused with an entrepreneurial emphasis, and the minor in Entrepreneurship and Innovation currently has 120 students enrolled. These initiatives and programs are designed to ensure that students learn and make significant progress toward completion. They are working.
Second, using our research capacity we will tackle critical challenges faced by society and all of humanity in general. The National Academies, in Research Universities and the Future of America, argued that it is the role of these institutions to produce the new knowledge and educated citizens who will “drive innovation—advances in ideas, products, and processes that create new industries and jobs, contribute to our nation’s health and security, and support a high standard of living.” And so I think, for example, of the important research we are doing to increase understanding of AIDS, develop anti-cancer strategies, improve the aquaculture industry, environmental research, and contribute in such areas as the digital humanities, imaging and digital arts, and public policy.
The National Academy of Engineering has outlined 14 “Grand Challenges” for engineering in the 21st century. These challenges focus our work on carbon sequestration, improved solar energy, access to clean water, modernizing urban infrastructure, reverse engineering the brain, preventing nuclear terror, and the development of advanced personal learning. And so I think of the way we have embraced these challenges and joined NAE’s Grand Challenges Scholars Program, preparing students to tackle them.
America still faces major social challenges from economic inequality and the issues that divide us—race, ethnicity, religion, and sexuality—to criminal justice reform and heath disparities. Following the tragic death of Freddie Gray, we looked in the mirror to assess what we as a campus could do to reach out to Baltimore City. We have now created more than 140 programs, initiatives, partnerships, and organizations in which our students, faculty, and staff connect to the City and its residents. We celebrate this energy and are working to support and expand it. Meanwhile, we are addressing issues involving social justice, equality, race, gender, sexuality, and religion through a diverse range of courses, as well other research, community engagement, and learning opportunities. For example, our Humanities and Social Sciences Forums explore key issues in our society.
Across the university—across all of our colleges—we seek to educate our students and advance research in areas that meet national and global needs. We continue to build an entrepreneurial climate for economic development. Four out of the last nine awards under the Maryland Innovation Initiative (MII) went to UMBC faculty. We continue to work with children to find ways of closing the achievement gap among students of different racial and ethnic groups. We are contributing key research to help understand climate change and the ways it can be addressed. Our campus has become a leader in cybersecurity—a key tool for our nation’s security—with work ranging from information technology to ethics. We are addressing health disparities in work ranging from biomedical research on diseases that affect underserved populations, to statistical modeling in public policy to understand the causes of persistent differences in health status among disadvantaged populations such as African Americans, Hispanics and American Indians, and to identify interventions to close the gaps.
Over the past fifty years, as our nation has grown its higher education enterprise, many more Americans went to college and earned bachelor’s degrees, access to our postsecondary institutions was widened to people of all groups, and the federal government expanded its investments in university research.
During this time, UMBC has been in the midst of it all — a 50-year experiment in higher education here in Catonsville. UMBC is now an inclusive, selective, highly residential research university. We are forward-looking and responsive. We have a strong focus on inclusive excellence—teaching students how to live and work with people different from themselves.
We believe in high expectations and have a passion for learning. We are seeking ways to advance knowledge and educate our students to make a difference in our society and our world. And, most of all, we still believe in hard work.
I often quote Aristotle: “Excellence is never an accident. It is always the result of high intentions, sincere effort, and intelligent execution. It represents the wisest choice of many alternatives—choice not chance, determines your destiny.”
It takes grit to achieve greatness!