Presidential Faculty and Staff Awards 2019


Good afternoon. I am delighted to celebrate the distinctive thoughts, words, actions, habits, character and people that make UMBC such a special community.

The Presidential Faculty and Staff Awards ceremony is a wonderful tradition. I am always inspired by our colleagues’ remarks during this event, including the notion that we at UMBC help other people. Please join the Provost and me in congratulating all of our awardees one more time.

This is also the perfect place to launch the campus’ new visual identity and brand messages — because your collective contributions are the UMBC experience and story.

Brand is more than a logo or marketing tool. It is who we are, what we say, and how we act. It is how we describe ourselves, and what we want others to think about us.

Our culture, and the experiences others have with our campus, define us far more than any marketing campaign. You are what makes UMBC UMBC.

In good times and in challenging times, we come together to address issues and listen to our students, our faculty, and our staff. We use shared governance to develop the best way to address concerns and support one another. Right now, thousands of our colleagues and students are involved in our Retriever Courage initiative, including mandatory training and external and internal reviews of our practices, all focused on preventing and responding to sexual misconduct and sexual violence. I encourage you to go to the Retriever Courage website and learn more about specific initiatives.

Thanks to you, we can say to the world with authenticity:“welcome to our community of inquiring minds.”Thanks to you, we can proudly share that we are a campus where:

  • We make big breakthroughs by asking more of ourselves and the world;
  • We inspire one another to reach our full potential and make an impact;
  • We collaborate across diverse perspectives to fuel true innovation.

We have so much to be proud of at UMBC.

Just over a year ago, during a weekend in March, the world got to know UMBC a little better. With the incredible upset win over the University of Virginia, our men’s basketball team sealed its place in history as the first number 16 seed to defeat a number 1 seed in the NCAA Men’s Basketball Tournament. And we are still seeing lots of attention this year, including the wonderful ESPN special about Coach Ryan Odom and his family.

At the time, I wrote for The Atlantic that people will remember us as the ultimate Cinderella, an overnight media sensation. But our story is far less fairy tale than it is classic American dream. Our magic comes from a collaborative culture where we reach together to ensure that students, faculty, and staff are both challenged and supported.

Across the University, this teamwork continues to produce big wins for our UMBC community and the state:

  • From mock trial and cybersecurity to swimming and diving and basketball, our students compete at the championship level and regularly finish with first-place trophies. This season, swimmer Alexander Gliese actually broke a record held for 16 years by Michael Phelps!  And after winning two prestigious regional tournaments, mock trial has earned a coveted spot in the American Mock Trial National Championship tournament. They’ll compete this month with the top 48 teams in the country. And thank you to our women’s and men’s basketball teams, who kept us cheering through the conference playoffs – and did even better academically. Please give our talented and dedicated students a hand!
  • Faculty and staff engage 86 percent of our students in applied learning experiences including internships, research, service-learning, and study abroad, and 90 percent of graduates go directly to jobs and graduate school.
  • Faculty and staff mentors also supported a record number of Fulbright student award semifinalists this past year. In fact, UMBC had more successful Fulbright applicants than half of the eight Ivy League campuses.
  • Our faculty collectively bring more than $85 million in research support to the campus, and this work has moved UMBC into the top 150 universities for federal research and development expenditures. We are 12th in NASA funding and also winning highly competitive awards from NSF, NIH, NOAA, ONR, NEH, NEA, the state of Maryland, the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation, the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, Google, IBM, Cisco, GE Global Research, and others.
  • 70 percent of our 75,000 alumni live and work in Maryland and build the economy and quality of life in the Maryland-DC-Virginia region. UMBC alumni serve in prominent leadership roles, including Jerome Adams as U.S. Surgeon General, Adrienne Jones as Speaker Pro Tem of the Maryland House of Delegates, John Olszewski as Baltimore County Executive, Matthew Clark as chief of staff for Governor Larry Hogan, Dr. Letitia Dzirasa as Baltimore’s health commissioner, Stacy l. Rodgers as chief administrative officer for Baltimore County, and Ralph Semmel as Director of Johns Hopkins Applied Physics Lab.

I also want to thank our faculty and staff donors for your personal philanthropic support for the campus and our students through the Campaign for UMBC.

  • UMBC’s second Giving Day brought in nearly $100,000 from more than 1,500 donors in 24 hours, with support from nearly 200 on-campus and alumni ambassadors.
  • “Grit & Greatness: the Campaign for UMBC” has raised over $115 million toward UMBC’s $150 million goal, and our faculty and staff have now contributed more than $1 million to the campaign. Give yourselves a hand.
  • You have also been very generous to the broader community: during last year’s Maryland Charity Campaign, UMBC raised more than $244,000 from 964 faculty and staff, surpassing our ambitious goal of 50% participation for the second year in a row. And we exceeded the USM average participation rate, which was under 20%. In fact, the funds raised by our campus accounted for 9% of the total amount of the $2.68 million raised across the state. Give yourselves a hand. Please join me in thanking Nancy Young, Jack Suess, and each of the Maryland Charity Campaign coordinators for their efforts.

 And I am particularly delighted to share that your collective achievements are noticed more than ever by our state leaders: we are very grateful that the governor and legislative leaders are supporting a substantial base operating budget increase for UMBC beginning in FY 2020 to address investments in instructional capacity in high-demand programs, student success initiatives, expanded research capacity, improved student support services, and administrative and infrastructure improvements. Please join me in thanking Governor Hogan, Speaker Pro Tem Jones, and Senators Nancy King and Bill Ferguson for their strong support.

We will have more details to share after the legislative session. For now, I will just say I have never been more encouraged about how our elected officials value UMBC’s role in the state. Thank you for inspiring such confidence in our community. 

UMBC Achievements

Claim your Future

Grit – defined by hard work, courage, and commitment – goes a long way at UMBC and beyond. Students, faculty, and staff who join our community learn to claim their futures, challenging one another and themselves to achieve excellence. Our grit leads us to moments of greatness and increasing national recognition.

In fact, I’ve got some breaking news in this area. Earlier today, Times Higher Education released its first University Impact Rankings, which measure institutions’ social and economic impact against United Nations sustainable development goals. Of the more than 450 schools from 76 countries on the list, UMBC ranked #62 in the world. The top-rated U.S. school on the University Impact list was the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill at #24. The second-highest ranked U.S. school was Arizona State University at #35. And UMBC was the third-highest ranked of the 31 U.S. schools on the list.

We’ve also received a number of other accolades:

  • U.S. News & World Reporthas again named UMBC a top-10 national leader in both innovation and undergraduate teaching, alongside such other research universities as Stanford, MIT, Carnegie Mellon, UCLA, and Berkeley.
  • Times Higher Educationhas recognized UMBC as one of the world’s top universities.
  • Princeton Review, Kiplinger’s Personal Finance, Forbes, Money, and The Fiske Guide to Collegeshave named UMBC a best value university.
  • The latest U.S. News best graduate schools rankings include a dozen UMBC graduate programs as among the best in the nation. The 2019 U.S. News global university rankings highlight UMBC’s strength in geosciences and space science.
  • U.S. Newsranks UMBC’s online master’s in information systems among top 20 in the nation.
  • Students continue receiving highly competitive awards, including numerous Fulbright awards, Goldwater scholarships, a record number of NSF graduate research fellowships, an RWJF health policy research scholar award, and the top prize at the iOme National Challenge economics competition.
  • NASPA – Student Affairs Professionals in Higher Education recognized UMBC International Education Services and the UMBC Career Center with an international education best practice award for creating innovative programs to support international students in their career development.
  • UMBC continues to be the nation’s #1 producer of African American undergraduates who go on to complete combine M.D./Ph.D. programs, and the university is #2 nationally in preparing African American undergraduates who go on to complete doctorates in the natural sciences and engineering.
  • The Chronicle of Higher Educationhas named UMBC one of the best colleges to work for nine years running.

Explore Every Angle

UMBC values people in all dimensions — their perspectives, knowledge, ideas, and experiences. As students, faculty, and staff explore every angle, our environment of curiosity and constant learning leads to important breakthroughs in labs, studios, and classrooms.

  • The College of Arts, Humanities, and Social Sciences launched the Center for Social Science Scholarship, housing the Maryland Institute for Policy Analysis and Research and a new collaborative focused on health equity research.
  • Construction of UMBC’s Interdisciplinary Life Sciences building is nearly complete. The building will open this summer and connect life sciences teaching and research expertise from across the colleges in innovative active learning and collaborative research spaces.
  • The Graduate School helps students make wise career choices as a founding partner in the Coalition for Next Generation Life Science and the Ph.D. career pathways study.
  • The College of Natural and Mathematical Sciences launched the Translational Life Sciences Technology program at the Universities at Shady Grove to prepare students for biotech careers, in partnership with Montgomery College.
  • UMBC is one of six universities nationwide selected by the AAAS Dialogue on Science, Ethics, and Religion to host events focused on communicating science with faith communities and the intersection of faith and science in our community members’ lives.
  • UMBC became the second university in the nation to host an IBM university day. IBM-UMBC day brought together faculty, researchers, students, and technology leaders for a joint symposium on advanced computing.
  • UMBC launched the Center of Accelerated Real Time Analytics (CARTA), leading a     $3 million NSF-supported computing research partnership to tackle data-intensive challenges from disease tracking to online privacy.
  • A team of UMBC faculty and staff is participating in the innovative ACE Internationalization Lab, expanding our campus commitment to global engagement.
  • Our arts, humanities and social science faculty continue to win accolades.
  • Tyson King-Meadows, associate dean for research and college affairs in the College of Arts, Humanities, and Social Sciences (CAHSS), has been selected as a 2019-2020 ACE fellow.
  • Roy Meyers, professor of political science, received the 2018 Aaron Wildavsky Award for Lifetime Scholarly Achievement from the Association for Budgeting and Financial Management.
  • History faculty continue to win awards for their scholarly publications: Susan McDonough received an NEH fellowship to support her inclusive approach to research on medieval women. Nianshen Song was named one of the “New Writers of the Year” by Amazon China. Nianshen’s book Discovering East Asiawas one of the top sellers on for 2018.
  • Chris Tong, assistant professor of modern languages, linguistics, and intercultural communication, was selected for a Fulbright U.S. Scholar grant to research how written narratives shape the meaning of environmental disasters in Nanjing, China.
  • Baltimore Magazinenamed “nonument” by visual arts professor Lisa Moran as “Best Public Art.” Her work called attention to the demolition of a popular Baltimore fountain.
  • Nirmalya Roy, associate professor of information systems, became UMBC’s most recent NSF Career Award recipient for research on smart home technologies and wearable devices.
  • Tim Finin, professor of computer science, was selected as a fellow of the prestigious Association for Computing Machinery.
  • Brad Arnold, professor of chemistry, was recently selected as a fellow of the Royal Society of Chemistry, a recognition that signifies the impact of his work on the chemical sciences.
  • Govind Rao, professor of chemical and biochemical engineering, will be awarded the Global Health Research Award from the Academic Pediatric Association at the Pediatric Academic Societies meeting later this month in recognition of his work to create affordable incubators for the developing world made that make use of cardboard and rechargeable solar batteries. 

Extend Beyond

UMBC extends our culture of community across the region and around the globe:

  • The American Association of Colleges and Universities selected UMBC as one of only 10 institutions nationwide to establish a Truth, Racial Healing, and Transformation Campus Center.
  • The bwtech@UMBC research and technology park houses 130 companies and organizations that employ more than 1,800 people. The park’s iCyberCenter is now in its second year, supporting international cybersecurity companies establishing a U.S. presence in Maryland.
  • UMBC received a $6 million gift from the Sherman Family Foundation to establish the Center for Early Learning in Urban Communities and expand the Sherman STEM Teacher Scholars Program
  • UMBC’s K-12 partnerships continue to have a major impact, with three local partner schools celebrating impressive gains in math and reading performance.
  • The American College Dance Festival at the Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts featured Now Elsewhereby Linehan Artist Scholar Maia Schechter ’18.
  • UMBC continues to expand partnerships across Asia, Europe, Africa, and South America, with recent collaborations involving the University of Limpopo (South Africa), Keio Research University and Kyushu University Institute (Japan), and Imperial College London and Royal Holloway University of London (UK).
  • UMBC’s new center for democracy and civic life works with partners to help students develop knowledge and skills for deep and effective civic involvement in diverse communities.
  • Anna Gifty Opoku-Agyeman, M26, ’19, economics, and Olusayo Adeleye ’20, M28, economics and mathematics, are co-founder and co-organizer, respectively, of the first U.S. Conference for Black Women Economists.
  • With support from the Shriver Center, Maheen Haq ’20, global studies and economics, received the 2019 Newman Civic Fellowship for her work with local and international communities facing discrimination as a result of social and political issues.
  • UMBC leaders serve in prominent roles with such groups as the Association of Public and Land-grant Universities, Maryland Career Consortium, GRE Board, Maryland Association on Higher Education and Disability, National Association of College and University Business Officers, EDUCAUSE, and the National Academies.

Welcome to Our Community of Inquiring Minds

Once again, the Provost and I are delighted to honor the careers of our awardees today and celebrate the expertise and energy each of you shares with UMBC.

As you leave the awards gathering today, we are delighted to present everyone with two gifts we hope you will display with pride: a lapel pin depicting our elegant new logo designed by director of creative services Jim Lord ’99, visual and performing arts, and a poster for your office to welcome newcomers to our community of inquiring minds.

It takes a community – faculty, staff, students, alumni, and friends – to produce an environment in which these achievements are possible. The members of our community are called to this important work because it reflects our values and commitment to success for all.

Watch your thoughts, they become your words.

Watch your words, they become your actions.

Watch your actions, they become your habits.

Watch your habits, they become your character.

Watch your character, it becomes your destiny.


It is an honor to be part of this special community.