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State of the University 2017

Freeman A. Hrabowski, III
President, University of Maryland Baltimore County

Fall Opening Meeting
Thursday, August 24, 2017


We are here, as the fall semester approaches, to reflect on the current state of the university and to renew our commitment to our guiding principles: supporting people, shared governance, and excellence in education, research, and service. These themes have guided us in our development into a premier public research university.

Yesterday, about 250 of our campus leaders came together for our annual retreat to reflect on the positive results of our reaccreditation by the Middle States Commission on Higher Education, the implementation of our strategic plan, and the progress we’ve made to this point. Our focus was on the execution of the UMBC vision. We also heard from external experts on issues of free speech and diversity, and we welcomed to campus University System of Maryland Chancellor Robert Caret and a number of USM colleagues, as well as our alumna House Speaker Pro Tem Adrienne Jones ’76. We are grateful to our USM colleagues and Maryland elected officials for supporting us in the work we are doing. Delegate Jones and Senator Ed Kasemeyer have been particularly effective in leading efforts to get important upgrades for our campus, including the new Interdisciplinary Life Sciences Building that is being built in the heart of campus.

The university was founded at a critical point in our nation’s history. Between 1963, when the Maryland General Assembly approved legislation for the creation of UMBC, and 1966, when we admitted our first students, the nation saw passage of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and the Higher Education Act of 1965, both of which promised greater educational access. Today, our 14,000 students come from throughout the United States and more than 100 countries, and we serve another 4,000 students through UMBC Training Centers. The achievements of our nearly 80,000 graduates represent the success our nation envisioned.

We have so much to be proud of at UMBC. We all remember the excitement we felt this past fall when we kicked off our 50th anniversary celebration. Elected officials, alumni, donors, and friends of the University joined students, faculty, and staff to celebrate our remarkable story. The weekend featured numerous events developed through collaboration with scores of programming partners. Thousands of attendees participated in the events, and many chose to make donations.

As we celebrated UMBC’s 50th anniversary, we also had a chance to reflect on the University’s history with the publication of our colleague George La Noue’s fascinating book, Improbable Excellence: The Saga of UMBC. Professor La Noue details the University’s many achievements, and he also describes challenges we have faced, suggesting ways in which overcoming them has contributed to our strengths. “UMBC has developed a new model and, perhaps, the quest for excellence may be a permanent part of the UMBC culture.”

In June we launched our Grit and Greatness Campaign with an amazing event that brought hundreds of UMBC supporters to the Retriever Activities Center, which was transformed for one magical evening into an elegant lounge, concert space, and exhibition hall. We are nearly two-thirds of the way toward reaching our $150 million goal, having raised more than $92 million.

As we celebrated our 50th anniversary, we reached the conclusion of two multi-year processes — planning and accreditation — and this convergence gave us the opportunity to reflect with great clarity on our history, values, goals, and path moving forward.

We finalized Our UMBC: A Strategic Plan for Advancing Excellence and are moving forward with implementation. This plan, which is built on our vision to redefine excellence in higher education through an inclusive culture, identifies strategic goals in the following four focus areas: (1) the student experience, (2) research, scholarship, and creative achievement, (3) innovative curriculum and pedagogy, and (4) community and extended connections. This past spring the provost and vice presidents met with faculty, staff, and student groups to provide updates, and the strategic plan was also the focus of this year’s university retreat.

We also hosted in November our 10-year accreditation site visit by the Middle States Commission. The visit was preceded by a rigorous campus self-study that was chaired by Provost Philip Rous and Associate Provost Bob Carpenter and included a review of our mission and goals and a thorough institutional assessment.

After reviewing our self-study report and spending three days meeting with students, faculty, and staff on our main campus and at Shady Grove, the Middle States review team reported that UMBC met all standards for accreditation and that they had no additional recommendations. A report from early 2017 providing formal notification of this result stated the following.

UMBC should be commended for the degree to which its various plans—academic, enrollment, facilities, research, and most important, financial—are interrelated. This is a sign of effective institutional planning.

Student success is the centerpiece of UMBC. The philosophy about and methodologies used to assess learning outcomes and student success are directly related to the statement in the mission that UMBC is committed to providing students with “a strong undergraduate liberal arts foundation” leading to “lifelong learning.”

The evaluation is, by far, the most favorable I have seen in my years in higher education. This stunning success results from the dedication and hard work of hundreds of colleagues, students, and supporters who contributed to these planning and reaccreditation efforts. Well done.

Enrollment, Completion, and Programs

As we prepare for the start of this academic year, we are welcoming our largest-ever class of entering undergraduates, with close to 1,800 freshmen and 1,200 transfer students. Our new freshmen have an average GPA of 3.8 and competitive test scores, and they represent the best of Maryland and beyond. In fact, this year’s freshman class will be the most geographically diverse ever, with students coming from states ranging from California to Florida, and from Rhode Island to Alabama, and from such countries as Bangladesh, Guyana, South Africa and the United Kingdom. Among the freshmen, we have a 35 percent increase in students planning to major in the arts, humanities and social sciences, and greater gender balance because of an almost 20 percent increase in women.

Our most recent graduating class was also the largest ever, with 2,472 students earning bachelor’s degrees. We also had 88 students receive doctorates, 631 complete master’s degrees, and 124 receive post-baccalaureate certificates.

UMBC undergraduate enrollment at the Universities at Shady Grove continues to grow at a rapid pace, increasing 12 percent from spring 2016 to spring 2017. We are adding new programs there, including the Raptor to Retriever Program to support students from Montgomery College in completing their bachelor’s degrees, and an innovative new B.S. program in Translational Life Science Technology.

The Division of Professional Studies, in partnership with the deans and a number of departments, is launching new master’s degree and graduate certificate programs in Data Science, Technical Management, Entrepreneurship/Innovation/Leadership, Project Management, and Integrated Product Design and Manufacturing.

We continue to support our students to degree completion through a number of initiatives, including our Senior Degree Completion Fund, which provides micro-grants to support seniors in their last year of study who are unable to register because of an outstanding balance, have demonstrated financial need, and have exhausted all other funding options.

Strategic policy changes, including adoption of standards requiring students to have completed, or be enrolled in, all final degree requirements to participate in the commencement ceremony, also are encouraging students to complete their degrees in a timely manner.

Consistent with our strategic plan and recommendations from the Middle States Self-Study, the University has been placing increasing emphasis on the use of analytics to understand the challenges facing different groups of students, to develop evidence-based programs and initiatives to provide these students with support, and to assess the impact of our planning decisions. Under the leadership of Provost Rous and Associate Provost Carpenter, and in collaboration with our vice presidents and deans, we are implementing new student success tools to identify groups of students needing additional support and to develop interventions to help them succeed. This work leverages existing data warehousing capabilities that IRADS (Institutional Research, Analysis, and Decision Support) and DoIT (Department of Information Technology) have developed over the past few years.

As we welcome new undergraduate and graduate students and support them in their transition to UMBC, we are committed to ensuring that they are successful in all of their pursuits, including the critical skill of managing money. I am delighted to share that this summer, all 2,900 of our new undergraduate students participated in a financial literacy introductory session as part of our mandatory new student orientation program. Graduate students also receive financial literacy training as part of the professional development series offered by The Graduate School and the PROMISE AGEP.

This summer, the Division of Professional Studies brought 273 K-12 students to campus to attend 17 academic Summer Enrichment Experiences. Students were guided by faculty as they explored topics such as Japanese anime, cybersecurity, chess, energy harvesting, and guitar performance. How Girls Code, a program that combines computer science and problem solving with with instruction in yoga, meditation, and other health-oriented activities, this year involved more than 130 girls.

The Hrabowski Fund for Innovation funded five new teams during the 2016-17 academic year, supporting projects to support veterans in their transition to UMBC, work with immigrant communities in producing digital stories, study the mindset of students from non-STEM disciplines as they take STEM courses, redesign our introductory microeconomics course, and explore the use of virtual and augmented reality technologies to engage students.

UMBC Accolades and Recent Achievements

The University continues to receive national recognition for our culture of embracing inclusive excellence, academic innovation, and support for students and colleagues.

  • For the eighth consecutive year, Kiplinger’s Personal Finance named UMBC a “Best Value College,” and the University was named to a list of the world’s top universities by Times Higher Education.
  • The 2017 U.S. News & World Report Best Colleges Guide ranked UMBC in the top five on its closely-watched most innovative schools list, joining Stanford, MIT, Arizona State University, and Georgia State.
  • Princeton Review again selected UMBC as one of the nation’s top universities for undergraduate education, featured in its flagship guide, The Best 381 Colleges.
  • UMBC was named an outstanding workplace for the seventh consecutive year by the Chronicle of Higher Education, recognized as an “honor roll” university in nearly every category. We are one of only a handful of universities to receive this distinction, and the only four-year institution in the State of Maryland to be recognized.

We recently received a report from the Sage Policy Group detailing the economic impact the University and our alumni have had on the state and region in the past five decades. The total economic impact is in the billions. This is derived from the direct and indirect employment produced by the University, from the activities of current students and alumni, and from our bwtech@UMBC Research and Technology Park, which is home to more than 130 early stage and established companies in cybersecurity, clean energy, and the life sciences.

This fall we welcome a number of new campus leaders, including Keith Bowman, who will become our next dean of the College of Engineering and Information Technology, and Katharine Cole, Vice Provost and Dean of Undergraduate Academic Affairs (UAA). We are grateful for the exceptional service and leadership of former COEIT Dean Julia Ross, and the interim dean of UAA, Simon Stacey, who now returns to his position as director of the Honors College.

We also welcome David Di Maria, who joins us as Associate Vice Provost for International Education, and Susan Sterett, the new director of the UMBC School of Public Policy. We are grateful to our colleague Brian Souders, who is returning to his position as associate director for Study Abroad after serving as interim director of International Education Services. We also appreciate the long service of Donald Norris, former director of the School of Public Policy, and wish him the best in retirement.

Research, Scholarship, and Creative Achievement

The late Hugh Graham, historian and graduate school dean, documented in his 1997 book, The Rise of American Research Universities, that UMBC faculty ranked 13th nationally at the time based on scholarly awards per capita in the humanities and social sciences. However, at that point UMBC was securing funds for annual expenditures of only about $10 million.

The increase in research funding and expenditures in the past 20 years has been dramatic, and today we are designated by the Carnegie Foundation a Doctoral University with Higher Research Activity, placing us among the top research universities in the nation.

In FY 2017, for the first time, our extramural awards reached nearly $100 million ($99.2M), an increase of 16 percent above the prior year and 24 percent since 2013, and we had research expenditures of nearly $80 million.

Our research activities are well aligned with regional and national priorities, with strengths in environmental sciences and engineering (especially atmospheric physics, remote sensing, and contaminant remediation); in life sciences and biotechnology (including marine biotechnology and health sciences); in computer information systems and engineering (with special emphasis on cybersecurity and cognitive analytics); and also in health equity, policy studies, public humanities, and intercultural communications.

Our research motto — “Innovation That Matters” — reflects our strengths in translational and applied research areas, and our commitment to work that improves lives and solves real-world problems. Our most impactful research efforts are frequently based on successful collaborations across the campus, with other academic institutions, or with external partners.

In May 2017, we hosted our sixth multidisciplinary UMBC Research Forum on Campus, this one focused on “Reimagining Aging Research,” bringing together colleagues from such diverse areas of expertise as sociology, biology, information systems, and public policy. In connection with the 50th anniversary celebration, we also launched a new event titled “GRIT-X: Global. Research. Innovation. Trends. Excellence,” to highlight the impact of research on our campus and our communities.

Other highlights include the following.

  • With more than $100 million in active multi-year research programs with NASA, UMBC is among the agency’s top 20 academic institutions receiving research funding. Most recently, under the leadership of physics professor Jane Turner, UMBC renewed the Center for Research and Exploration in Space Science and Technology (CRESST II), our third major research center with NASA Goddard Space Flight Center. UMBC and UMCP are the lead institutions on this five-year renewal worth $87.5 million, with a likely 5-year renewal of another $87.5 million.
  • UMBC’s Dresher Center for the Humanities and College of the Arts, Humanities, and Social Sciences are launching a major new five-year initiative to promote diversity and inclusion in the humanities through a $750,000 grant from the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation. Under the leadership of Jessica Berman, director of the Dresher Center, and CAHSS Dean Scott Casper, the Inclusion Imperative will cultivate a supportive regional community of scholars committed to diversity in the humanities and to expanding community-engaged humanities research, teaching, and learning focused on issues of race, equity, inclusion, and justice.
  • In Summer 2017 UMBC secured another major NSF Major Research Instrumentation (MRI) award. Matthias Gobbert, professor of mathematics, serves as the PI of a $552,000 award from NSF for a new High Performance Computation Cluster. UMBC will provide an additional $165,000 in institutional match to purchase this major upgrade to our research computing infrastructure. This is an ongoing partnership between DoIT and the offices of the vice president for research and provost.
  • Our colleagues and students are working to address the challenges facing Baltimore and other cities through such efforts as the IRC’s Art of Transformation project, a multimedia “ecosystem” designed with the goal of building community and facilitating change.
  • For the second year, UMBC was major contributor to the annual Light City Baltimore festival, that was held around the Inner Harbor in Baltimore in March and April this past spring. Eric Dyer and Tim Nohe, both visual arts faculty, were among the major artists featured on the BGE Light Art Walk. Gymama Slaughter, CSEE; Lee Boot, director of the Imaging Research Center, Chris Swan, geography and environmental systems; and Kimberly Moffitt, American studies, were among the UMBC faculty speaking at the EduLab events, scheduled concurrently as part of Light City Baltimore.
  • UMBC’s PI^2 Immersive Hybrid Reality Lab opened this year, giving students and faculty the ability to interact with data in a more visual way, thus reducing the distance between researchers and the information they work with, whether they are studying wind farms or blood flow in the human body. The lab was funded by a major NSF grant and secured additional private-sector support from the Next Century Corporation.
  • Erin Green, assistant professor of biological sciences, received a National Institutes of Health (NIH) grant for nearly $1 million over five years to study how cells respond at the molecular level to signals from the environment.
  • Helena Mentis, assistant professor in information systems, and Galina Madjaroff, clinical assistant professor, in the Management of Aging Services program, received a $500,000 grant to develop guidelines for caregivers to negotiate safe and secure access to cyber systems for older adults with mild neurocognitive disorder.
  • UMBC has established an Education Partnership Agreement with the Department of the Navy, Naval Surface Warfare Center, Carderock Division. This agreement focuses on collaborations in cybersecurity and additive manufacturing, and it also involves educational guidance and assistance.
  • Under Vice Provost of Academic Affairs Tony Moreira’s guidance, UMBC and Tel Aviv university signed a memorandum of understanding to formalize an academic collaboration between the two institutions. The agreement establishes a framework for joint research as well as academic exchange opportunities for postdoctoral students, faculty, and staff.
  • An impressive 34 UMBC junior faculty members have received prestigious NSF Career Awards, including three this past year: Lee Blaney, CBEE, for work to improve water quality using environmental forensics; Tinoosh Mohsenin, CSEE, for developing new machine learning technologies for wearable devices; and Ting Zhu, CSEE, for work enhancing the ability of internet-connected devices to transfer information efficiently.
  • Other faculty recognition includes a 2017 Guggenheim Fellowship for Deborah Rudacille, English, and 2016 Berlin Prize Fellowship for Kate Brown and Rebecca Boehling, history.
  • Public policy assistant professor Chris Curran received a $620,000 comprehensive school safety initiative grant from the National Institute of Justice for the study “Understanding the Adoption, Function, and Consequences of School Resource Officer Use in Understudied Settings.”
  • Several faculty were awarded Fulbright awards, including Charissa Cheah, psychology, for research in Italy; Guenet Abraham, visual arts, for research in Ethiopia; and Chuck Eggleton, mechanical engineering, to teach two engineering courses and conduct research in Colombia.
  • Lisa Moren, visual arts, received a $70,000 award from the Saul Zaentz Innovation Fund for the collaborative project “NONUMENT,” to develop augmented reality app.
  • Christine Mallinson, language, literacy and culture, has been developing the smartphone app “Valuable Voices” to provide exercises for students and teachers to build awareness of linguistic diversity.
  • Whitney Schwab, philosophy, won a prestigious fellowship from the National Endowment for the Humanities to research the origins of philosophical study of knowledge in the Western tradition.
  • UMBC and the University of Maryland, Baltimore (UMB) have a long-standing partnership that goes back several decades. Sarah Chard and Kevin Eckert, sociology, anthropology, and health administration policy (SAHAP), are now working collaboratively with faculty researchers at UMB School of Medicine on two studies, focusing on medical care experiences of patients with irritable bowel syndrome and with hip fractures.
  • The UMBC-UMB Research and Innovation Partnership Seed Grant program, which is designed to promote and enhance inter-institutional research collaborations among faculty from our sister institutions, is in its fourth year. Since 2013, 17 seed grants have provided 38 faculty at the two institutions with more than $1.5 million in internal funding. I was delighted to hear this morning from Nirmalya Roy, information systems, that his research with a UMB colleague, started with a seed grant, will continue moving forward through a three-year, $150,000 grant from the Alzheimer’s Association to conduct research on cognitive health assessment.
  • UMBC’s research office has awarded $300,000 for Strategic Awards for Research Transitions (START) and Summer Research Faculty Fellowships (SURFF) to support 24 UMBC faculty across all of UMBC’s colleges as they pursue new areas of research with the goal of securing external funding and support.
  • Three UMBC faculty have been awarded new grants announced by the National Science Foundation (NSF) under the Neural and Cognitive Systems (NCS) program to support multidisciplinary research related to the brain and behavior.
      • Fow-Sen Choa, CSEE, will receive nearly half a million dollars over three years from the NSF to develop technology that will allow very targeted stimulation to be delivered to any area in the brain.
      • Seung-Jun Kim and Tulay Adali, both of CSEE, and  partner Vince Calhoun Ph.D. ’02, electrical engineering, of the University of New Mexico, have received a four-year grant of nearly half a million dollars to better understand how individual brains function.
  • UMBC faculty continue to contribute significantly to TEDCO’s Maryland Innovation Initiative (MII), with a 47% application success rate over the past four years resulting in 27 awards for a total of more than $2.6 million to support work to commercialize research in biofuels, genetic analysis, cybersecurity, and other areas. In FY 2017 alone, UMBC faculty have been awarded $845,000 through the MII program. Karl V. Steiner, vice president for research at UMBC, serves as vice chair of the MII program.
    • Recent UMBC recipients include Jeffrey Gardner, giology; Chris Geddes, Director of the Institute of Fluorescence; and Gymama Slaughter, CSEE. Linda Dusman, music, and Eric Smallwood, previously of visual arts, recently also received another MII grant of $150,000 to further develop their tablet app “EnCue” (formerly “Octava”), which provides information to support the audience experience during live performances. This is their third MII grant, bringing their total MII support to $315,000.

Faculty and Staff Achievements

We are delighted to have colleagues serving on and leading a range of national organizations. Examples include the following.

  • Lynne Schaefer, vice president for administration, is vice-chair of the National Association of College and University Business Officers (NACUBO) board, and is also chair of the Eastern Association of College and University Business Officers (EACUBO) board.
  • Theo Gonzalves, American Studies, has been elected to serve as president of the Association for Asian American studies (AAAS).
  • UMBC athletics director Tim Hall was appointed president of the Division I-AAA Athletics Directors Association (ADA), a professional organization composed of Division I athletics directors and administered by the National Association of Collegiate Directors of Athletics (NACDA).
  • Kim Leisey, associate vice president for student affairs, was appointed to board of the Coalition of Higher Education Associations for Substance Abuse Prevention.

Our colleagues continue gaining valuable insights and experiences through participation in the American Council on Education’s ACE Fellows Program.

Sarah Shin, special assistant to the provost for academic initiatives and professor of education, will complete an ACE fellowship the upcoming year at the University of Maryland, Baltimore.

  • Anne Brodsky, an associate dean of the College of Arts, Humanities, and Social Sciences and professor of psychology, completed a 2016-17 ACE fellowship at Swarthmore College.

Congratulations, again, to colleagues we recognized this past spring as recipients of UMBC awards and honors from the University System of Maryland Board of Regents.

  • Our 2017–2020 Presidential Teaching Professor is Marc Zupan, mechanical engineering, and Sarah Shin, education, was named 2017–2020 Presidential Research Professor.
  • Wendy Martin, director of the Office of Technology Development, received the 2017–2018 Presidential Distinguished Staff Award for Professional Staff. Amir-Ali Shahegh, accounting associate in Residential Life, received the 2017–2018 Presidential Distinguished Staff Award for Non-Exempt Staff.
  • Katherine Seley-Radtke, chemistry and biochemistry, was awarded a 2017 University System of Maryland Board of Regents’ Faculty Award for Excellence in Research, Scholarship And Creative Activity.Donald Snyder, media and communication studies, received a 2017 University System of Maryland Board of Regents’ Faculty Award for Excellence in Teaching.
  • University System of Maryland Board of Regents’ Staff Awards went to Denise Atkinson, executive administrative assistant for the Graduate School, and to Paul Dillon, deputy chief of police, for Exceptional Contributions to the Mission of UMBC; and to Mildred Homa, research administrator at the Institute of Marine and Environmental Technology, for achievements in the category of Effectiveness and Efficiency.
  • Janet McGlynn, director of communication and outreach emerita in the Office of Undergraduate Education, received the 2016 – 2017 Jakubik Family Endowment Staff Award, and the Karen L. Wensch Endowment Award for Outstanding
 Non-Exempt Staff went to Abigail Granger, program management specialist in media and communication studies.
  • Kevin Eckert, sociology, anthropology, and health administration and policy, received the 2016 – 2017 Marilyn E. Demorest Award for Faculty Advancement.

Congratulations to John Fritz, Kevin Joseph, Jack Suess, and their DoIT colleagues on winning the 2017 Blackboard Catalyst award for their work in developing and advancing the use of learning analytics.

The American Democracy Project selected Provost Philip Rous to receive the 2017 William M. Plater Award for Leadership in Civic Engagement in recognition of his sustained personal leadership in providing opportunities for undergraduates to build knowledge and skills while contributing to their communities and democracy.

Connected World selected Govind Rao, director of the Center for Advanced Sensor Technology (CAST) and professor of chemical, biochemical, and environmental engineering, for a 2017 Pioneer Award for his work creating technologies that have revolutionized how doctors and hospitals provide care to patients of all ages and from around the world.

Belay Demoz, professor of physics and director of the NASA-funded Joint Center for Earth Systems Technology (JCET) was named a fellow of the American Meteorological Society (AMS), a recognition that only 0.2% of the AMS members receive each year.

The new campus-wide recreation wellness initiative, led by our human resources department, has made a positive impact across the campus with students, faculty, and staff. This past year the RAC was visited more than 200,000 times.

The Women’s Center is celebrating its 25th anniversary through special engagement events all year long. The Center hosted a week of critical social justice events in October. Director Jess Myers and colleagues also co-authored a chapter in the recently published book Theorizing Women and Leadership. Their chapter focused on the work of CWIT and the Women’s Center’s returning women students program.

Katherine Seley-Radtke, chemistry and biochemistry, was selected by the Maryland section of the American Chemical Society as the Maryland chemist of the year.

COEIT Associate Dean Marie DesJardins was the 2017 recipient of the A. Richard Newton Educator ABIE Award, which recognizes educators who develop innovative teaching practices and approaches that attract girls and women to computing, engineering, and math.

Renetta Tull, associate vice provost, was awarded the Claire l. Felbinger diversity award from ABET, the engineering accreditation organization.

Conductor E. Michael Richards, professor of music, and the UMBC symphony were awarded honorable mention in the college/university division of the American Prize’s Ernst Bacon Memorial Award for their 2016 performance and recording of William Grant Still’s “Afro-American Symphony.”

Pengwang Zhai, physics, was appointed associate editor of Optics Express in recognition of his expertise in light scattering, radiative transfer, and remote sensing of the environment.

The Baltimore Sun named Michael Summers, Distinguished Professor of Chemistry and Biochemistry and Robert E. Meyerhoff Chair for Excellence in Research and Mentoring, as the region’s “Best Academic” for 2017.

I was delighted to accept the Society for Developmental Biology’s 2017 Viktor Hamburger Outstanding Educator Prize on behalf of the University and our colleagues in biological sciences, who are working to support students from all backgrounds.

Again, these are just a few of the recent our recent accomplishments. Thank you all for the important work that you do.

Student Achievements

Before I talk about student achievements, let me emphasize the importance of several activities we are undertaking to ensure the safety and well-being of our community.

  • This summer our Human Relations Office sponsored a campus-wide training for UMBC leadership on our university’s Title IX sexual misconduct policies. Entering students and their parents participated in orientation sessions in which these policies and related procedures and resources were discussed.
  • This past year, the Division of Student Affairs (DoSA) developed and hosted the first statewide training on risk assessment and threat management for higher education professionals in Maryland.
  • University Health Services received three-year accreditation from the Accreditation Association for Ambulatory Health Care (AAAHC).

Our students are accomplishing amazing things in a range of settings.

  • UMBC’s Cyber Defense Team — the Cyber Dawgs — defeated nine other regional winners from across the country to take first place at the 2017 National Collegiate Cyber Defense Competition in San Antonio, Texas, this past spring.
  • The UMBC Mock Trial team outperformed hundreds of other college and university teams from across the country to win an invitation to compete in Los Angeles in the mock trial national championship tournament.
  • In addition to two faculty recipients, eight UMBC students and recent alumni received prestigious Fulbright fellowships to teach, conduct research, and study in nations from Bulgaria to Colombia.
  • I am also delighted to share with you our four winners of the prestigious National Science Foundation graduate research fellowship awards for 2017: Daniel Ocasio ’17, chemical engineering; Hollie Adejumo ’16, chemical engineering; Matthew Landen ’17, computer science; and Brandon Enriquez ’17, economics.
  • Amy Berbert, ’17, visual arts, received widespread media attention for her work documenting with photographs the victims of Baltimore murders in 2016.

Perhaps most important, our students are getting jobs.

  • Over the past academic year, the Career Center posted nearly 8,500 job and intern opportunities on its online job board, UMBCworks, and coordinated 697 employer visits (involving 323 unique employers), an increase of 9% from the previous year, to connect students with a range of companies and organizations.
  • In all, more than 6,500 individual students and alumni engaged with the Career Center through career counseling, programming/workshops, on-campus interviews, internship placements, and career fair attendance; 80% of the Class of 2017 worked with the Career Center during their time at UMBC.
  • According to the Career Center’s survey of 2016 graduates, 86% of degree recipients reported having jobs or plans to graduate school; 79% of degree recipients with jobs were employed in positions directly related to their career goals; and 84% of students receiving undergraduate degrees had engaged in such applied learning opportunities as internships, research, service-learning, study abroad, student teaching, and leadership positions while at UMBC.

Athletics Highlights

  • Our student athletes are doing well in competition and also in the classroom, with an average grade-point average of 3.01 across 17 sports.
  • Coach Ryan Odom, who was named the country’s top new Division I coach, led the men’s basketball team to its second most wins in 30 years of NCAA Division I play. The team posted a 21-13 season and came in as the third-most improved squad in the nation, and it also reached the semi-finals of the College Insider Basketball postseason tournament.
  • The women’s basketball team hosted UMBC’s first post-season tournament contest and earned a victory in the Women’s Basketball Invitational in 2016. The team, which is led by Coach Phil Stern, also earned a WBI invite in 2017.
  • UMBC’s men’s and women’s swimming and diving squads, under Head Coach Chad Cradock, each won third straight titles in their respective divisions this past winter. The team includes four swimmers who are record holders in their respective home countries: Nikola Trajokovic (Serbia), Mohamed Hossein (Egypt), Hania Moro (Egypt), and Alexander Gliese (Denmark). Swimmer Emily Escobedo became a two-time All-American, earning bronze medals at the NCAA Championships in both 2016 and 2017, and she earned a spot on the U.S. National Team.
  • The men’s lacrosse team, under new Head Coach Ryan Moran, finished second in the America East division. We’re proud of midfielder Tomas Rodriguez, who earned a place on the Puerto Rican national team.
  • UMBC baseball, coached by Bob Mumma, won its first America East Tournament Championship.
  • We are proud of our Diverse Magazine’s Arthur Ashe, Jr. Sports Scholars Award nominees Pandora Wilson (women’s basketball) ’17, health administration and policy; Elijah Wright (men’s diving) ’19, visual arts; Afees Abourlin (men’s track) ’17, political science; and Rachel Katzenberger (women’s lacrosse) ’17, biological sciences.

Fundraising and Alumni Engagement

The UMBC endowment reached more than $87.5 million at the close of the fiscal year, with existing pledges from several of our largest donors that will take us over $100 million. We’re looking forward to that day. We raised more than $14.5 million in gifts and pledges in FY 2017, with fundraising efforts directed toward institutional priorities, including student scholarships, fellowships, and internships; faculty development and research; and K-12 initiatives.

Highlights in FY 2017 included a $6 million commitment from George and Betsy Sherman. This gift will create a Center for Early Learning in Urban Communities, establish the Sherman Family Foundation Professorship for Early Childhood Education, and also provide continuing support to the Sherman STEM Teacher Scholars Program.

The University also received a $1 million commitment from IBM to launch an Accelerated Cognitive Cybersecurity Lab (ACCL) under the leadership of Anupam Joshi, director of UMBC’s Center for Cybersecurity and chair of computer science and electrical engineering.

Last year, members of our faculty and staff contributed over $500,000 back to the university by way of the Faculty/Staff Campaign, Maryland Charities, or other philanthropic vehicles. They not only contributed to UMBC with their time and talent through their work, they also financially supported academic programs and departments, athletic teams, student organizations, scholarships, and a host of other university initiatives that help to make this place great. To our faculty and staff donors—thank you. Your charitable contributions are an important vote of confidence in our campus community.

These and other gifts will count toward the fundraising goal of our Grit and Greatness campaign, which launched publicly in June. As I mentioned, I am pleased that we have raised more than $92 million toward our ambitious $150 million goal. We have been working with our deans, vice presidents, and campus leaders to develop campaign priorities that will allow us to accomplish the ambitious goals we set together in UMBC’s Strategic Plan. It is an energizing, ambitious agenda and will call on all of us to be fundraising partners working in support of our UMBC.

You will hear more about the campaign and its impact in the months ahead, but there is one brief message I want to share with you now: For 50 years we have called on GRIT — courage, resolve, and strength of character — to do great things. As the president of Harvard said, “UMBC, you show the world what is possible.” This campaign calls on all of us working together to do what we do best: Grit and Greatness. Together, we can make big breakthroughs. Together, we can forge true partnerships. Together, we can transform lives.

This campaign will also look to raise alumni participation to new levels, building on the energy, excitement, and engagement of our 50th anniversary year, which just ended. To date, alumni have given more toward this campaign than they did in the entirety of our last campaign. Our alumni giving reached a 5-year high in both participation and dollars raised in FY 17, and almost 5,500 alumni were engaged throughout the 50th anniversary year.

UMBC’s Outstanding Alumni of the Year Awards will be presented on October 5 to kick off Homecoming, which will run October 6 – 14. This year, the honorees include the following:

  • Engineering and Information Technology: Kafui Dzirasa ’01, chemical engineering, Associate Professor of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences, Duke University
  • Natural and Mathematical Sciences: Kate Laskowski ’06, biological sciences and chemistry, Scientist, Department of Biology & Ecology of Fishes, Leibniz-Institution of Freshwater Ecology and Inland Fisheries
  • Humanities: Dennis Williams ’14, American studies, head of content, Redbooth; Oculus Content Fellow; LinkedIn Top Voice in Marketing 2016
  • Social and Behavioral Sciences: Rear Admiral Sylvia Trent-Adams, Ph.D. ’06, public policy, former acting U.S. Surgeon General, Department of Health and Human Services
  • Visual and Performing Arts: Alejandro Cremaschi ’93, music, Associate Professor of Piano Pedagogy and Chair of Keyboard Studies, College of Music, University of Colorado at Boulder
  • Distinguished Service: Steven Storck ’08, M.S. ’09, Ph.D. ’14, mechanical engineering, Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Lab
  • Young Alumni Rising Star: Lauren Mazzoli ’15, M.S. ’17, computer science, Systems Engineer, Northrop Grumman Corporation
  • The Alumni Association’s Outstanding Faculty Award will be presented to Marc Zupan, Associate Professor and Graduate Program Director, Department of Mechanical Engineering

Here are a few examples of significant alumni achievements.

  • Jerome Adams, ’97, a physician who graduated from our Meyerhoff Program with a major in biochemistry and molecular biology, was recently confirmed as U.S. attorney general. He replaced Deputy Surgeon General Sylvia Trent-Adams, another UMBC graduate who completed her Ph.D. in public policy here and was serving as acting surgeon general.
  • The Washington Post honored Sean Pang ’09, English, M.A. ’11, education, as its 2017 Teacher of the Year in recognition of the supportive connections he makes with Rockville High School students as an educator, tutor, coach, and mentor.
  • The Baltimore-based software company Fearless (formerly Fearless Solutions), founded by Delali Dzirasa ’04, computer engineering, has been named the U.S. Small Business Administration’s Maryland Minority-Owned Small Business of the Year for 2017.
  • Matthew Clark ‘00, history, was named Governor Larry Hogan’s chief of staff. He formerly served as his communications director.
  • We presented honorary degrees to two of our graduates at commencement ceremonies this past spring. Stephanie C. Hill ’86, computer science and economics, a vice president and general manager at Lockheed Martin, was the speaker at the undergraduate ceremony, while Ralph D. Semmel ’92, computer science, director of the Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory, addressed the audience at the graduate ceremony.
  • Josiah Dykstra, Ph.D. ’13, computer science, and Olukayode “Kami” Okusaga, Ph.D. ’10, electrical engineering, received Presidential Early Career Awards in Science and Engineering.
  • Kimberly Ellison-Taylor ’93, information systems management, was appointed chair of the American Institute of CPAs’ board of directors.
  • The photography of Josh Sinn ’13, visual arts, was featured in the January issue of Feature Shoot, with a focus on his hopper-esque nightscapes of Baltimore City.

Budget Update

The UMBC FY 2018 budget totals $443 million, a 1.4% increase over the FY 2017 adjusted working budget. The budget includes a net increase of $5.4 million (or 4.6% increase) in State appropriations. Included in this amount is $2.3 million specifically for tuition relief, allowing us to hold our FY 2018 tuition rate increase for in-state undergraduate students to 2%. The campus was also able, within existing resources, to hold the FY 2018 tuition rate increase for in-state graduate students to 3%.

The additional State funding also included $3.5 million to begin increasing UMBC’s funding per student toward the State’s funding guideline goal. This supplementary funding, mandated by Senate Bill 1052 of the 2015 legislative session, will increase funding guideline attainment for UMBC from the current 61% to 63%, bringing us closer to the 75th percentile goal. This is an important step in funding UMBC at a competitive level. These additional funds have been allocated for new faculty positions, financial aid, and other initiatives tied to implementation of our strategic plan.

The budget also reflects a number of revenue increases in such areas as interest income, fees, and auxiliary overhead. In addition, a FY 2017 state imposed budget reduction of $1.27 million was incorporated into our base budget in FY 2018, as well as a further $400,000 state-directed reduction in fringe benefit costs.

Campus Construction

This is an exciting time for new construction on our campus. This past spring work started in the heart of campus on the 130,000 square-foot Interdisciplinary Life Sciences Building, which is scheduled for completion in summer 2019 and will provide dynamic classroom spaces and a range of laboratories and other spaces designed to support interdisciplinary work.

The 5,000-seat UMBC Event Center, scheduled to open in coming months, will transform campus life by providing a wonderful venue for athletics, concerts, and also Commencement ceremonies and other campus events.

The campus has invested in the renovation of two classrooms in the Sondheim building, SOND 101 and 409. These classrooms will become active learning classrooms this fall semester, benefiting from the advice of many faculty members via the Classroom Committee led by Vice Provost Moreira. This project involved a partnership with Facilities Management, DoIT and the Provost’s office.

We continue to look to the future as we develop the 2018 Facilities Master Plan which will provide a blueprint for campus development that supports our strategic vision and proactively responds to current and future needs.

Sustainability and Climate Action

UMBC’s carbon emissions have been lowered by 17% since joining the President’s Climate Leadership Commitment in 2007. During the same period, our built space has increased by 9% and student enrollment has increased by 20%, making the overall decrease in carbon emissions even more significant.

The Climate Action Steering Committee (CASC), chaired by Lynne Schaefer, vice president for administration, and Matt Baker, geography and environmental systems, is a broadly representative student, staff, and faculty advisory group that oversees efforts to reduce UMBC’s carbon emissions.

  • From 2015 to 2016, the CASC formed a special Climate Action Plan Task Force co-led by faculty and facilities to review UMBC’s 2009 Climate Action Plan and gather feedback on strengths, challenges, and recommendations. This resulted in the launch of an inclusive process to develop a new Climate Action Plan, with broader and more aggressive goals and strategies to reduce emissions.
  • Widespread outreach and engagement to encourage the campus community to make sustainable choices have become a regular part of UMBC life, including the Green Office training and certificate program with staff, the Eco Ambassadors education program and Sustainability leadership programs for students, and the annual Sustainability Across Disciplines workshop with faculty and instructors. Community events such as HarvestFest, Recyclemania, and Eco-Fest strengthen our awareness and resolve to address climate and environmental issues.
  • A new and popular Faculty Learning Community focused on Teaching Sustainability and Climate Change has been formed for the 2017 – 2018 academic year.

Diversity and Inclusion

Our colleagues and students are also working in a variety of ways to support local communities and address challenges associated with inequality and discrimination.

  • The University was awarded $3.25 million over five years to support the UMBC Classic Upward Bound Program in continuing its work preparing local high school students from low-income and first-generation college backgrounds to succeed in higher education.
  • UMBC is the lead institution on a $5 million National Science Foundation (NSF) grant that provides additional funds for the University System of Maryland Louis Stokes Alliance for Minority Participation (USM LSAMP). Universities will use the renewed funding to support students from underrepresented groups in STEM. The funding boost also allows for expanded support for transfer students and new programming focused on performance in mathematics.
  • The College of Arts, Humanities, and Social Sciences has developed a website on Race, Equity, Inclusion, & Justice to provide a calendar of relevant events, a list of UMBC courses focused on these topics, and links to the campus resources and initiatives focused on addressing these challenges.
  • The Association of American Colleges and Universities (AAC&U) recently announced that UMBC was among 10 institutions nationwide selected to establish Truth, Racial Healing, and Transformation campus centers focused on developing leaders in support social of racial and social justice. A grant to the Shriver Center will support the Choice Program’s Youth in Action group in its work bringing UMBC students together with Baltimore youth through the arts and service-learning activities.
  • The Choice Program at UMBC was chosen by Starbucks to be the community partner for their new Baltimore City opportunity cafe currently under construction in East Baltimore. Choice will be delivering Starbucks customer service excellence trainings for 100 youth in Baltimore. In addition, Starbucks also hired 25 Choice youth who came through one of our three Flying Fruit Social Enterprise small business job training platforms.
  • BreakingGround, UMBC’s campus-wide civic engagement initiative, has supported nearly 70 innovative courses and community projects since its 2012 launch. This past year’s BreakingGround-supported ventures have addressed empowering and supporting high school-age refugees and asylees; reducing the stigma associated with seeking help with mental health challenges; shoring up Baltimore’s aging infrastructure; and preserving and sharing Baltimore communities’ culture and stories, among other issues. UMBC faculty, staff, and students are at work on visionary projects and serve in leadership positions with the American Democracy Project and Imagining America.

We continue working to attract and retain diverse faculty, and also to prepare graduate students and postdoctoral fellows for the professoriate.

  • We are pleased to welcome seven new CAHSS postdoctoral fellows for faculty diversity, our largest cohort in the program’s six year history. Throughout their two-year experience, fellows will focus on growing their research and refining their teaching skills through professional development opportunities and working closely with faculty mentors, in preparation for possible tenure-track faculty positions at UMBC. We also welcome Fernando Vonhoff as the inaugural recipient of the CNMS Pre-professoriate Fellowship program, which focuses on advancing inclusive excellence within the natural sciences.
  • Changing the entrenched cultures and practices of academic departments in ways that enhance the recruitment of a diverse faculty has been an ongoing challenge within higher education. UMBC has instituted a rigorous faculty diversity hiring protocol designed to maximize diversity in the pool of candidates and minimize implicit bias in the selection process. Participation of faculty leaders has been essential to the success of these efforts. To that end, implicit bias training is provided by UMBC STRIDE, a network comprised of a number of the campus’s most distinguished faculty. STRIDE members provide peer-to-peer training on the ways that overt discrimination, implicit bias, accumulated advantage and disadvantage, and the influence of gender and racial stereotypes have inhibited the recruitment and hiring of underrepresented minority faculty. STRIDE also provides guidance on best practices that will maximize the likelihood that diverse candidates for faculty positions will be identified, recruited, and hired at UMBC.

Information Technology

  • DoIT, in partnership with Enrollment Management, has released DAD, the Degree Audit Donut, the first in a series of new advising tools that will make it easier for students and faculty to quickly see if students are on track to complete the requirements for their degrees and certificates.
  • DoIT, in partnership with Student Affairs, has purchased and is deploying a new campus-wide ticketing system that will cover all campus events. Now we will be able to know how many students have, or have not, attended the university’s ticketed events.
  • DoIT, in partnership with Athletics and CAHSS, has worked to build on the success we had in sports broadcasting in Spring 2017 to upgrade our campus TV studio to high definition. With this upgrade, students taking courses in studio production will get access to the latest technologies used in sports and TV production environments.
  • This summer, DoIT staff worked with Residential Life to update the wireless network on campus, installing 2,000 new wireless access points as part of a broader plan to update wireless across campus.
  • DoIT also focused on developing data collection systems and deploying analytics to support the assessment of our efforts in advancing the strategic plan. I’m pleased to say that three major projects have been completed and are in the process of being deployed.
    • Civitas Illume, a partnership between the Provost’s Office and DoIT and being led by Bob Carpenter, is ahead of schedule, and we are in the process of deploying all three of the Civitas Illume modules we purchased as part of our efforts to advance student success.
    • EAB Academic Performance Solutions, a partnership of the Provost’s Office, Administrative Services, and DoIT and being led by Bob Carpenter, has been deployed and is undergoing final testing. This system is designed to provide more information to the provost, deans, and chairs in support of academic planning and the assessment of strategic planning decisions.
    • REX Finance, a partnership between Financial Services and DoIT, has begun providing updated financial and payroll reports using the REX data warehouse. This reports should be the first step in providing better and more responsive financial reporting to the campus.

Concluding Remarks

This is a time in our country when many are asking, “Who are we? What are our values? What is important to us?”

Certainly, we at UMBC are asking these questions as we think about how to make the point that we will reject discrimination in all of its forms. We are determined to let people know we care deeply. As I listened to the students who spoke this morning, I couldn’t help but think to myself, “This is who we are.” They express our values.

I close with words attributed to Aristotle: “Excellence is never an accident. It is always the result of high intention, sincere effort and intelligent execution. It represents the wise choice of many alternatives.” And then he said, “Choice, not chance, determines your destiny.”

I shared those words at yesterday’s University Retreat, and afterward a colleague observed that some people don’t have the chance to make this choice. And later I thought to myself, as I begin my 26th year as president and my 31st year on this campus, that I’ve never been more convinced that the nobility of our work is that we are creating opportunity. We are helping our students, our colleagues, and people in our communities have the chance to make the choices that can help so many.

It is an honor each day to serve as president of UMBC. Thank you.


University of Maryland Baltimore County

New Faculty



Ancient Studies

Kutner, Melissa, Assistant Professor
Ph.D., Stanford University, CA 2012; Post-Baccalaureate Program, University of Pennsylvania, PA 2005; B.A., Rice University, TX 2004

Biological Sciences

Burns, Mercedes, Assistant Professor
Ph.D., University of Maryland College Park, MD 2014; B.A., Macalester College, MN 2006

Cusick, Kathleen, Assistant Professor
Ph.D., The University of Tennessee, TN 2009; M.S., Florida Institute of Technology, FL 2000; B.S., Dickinson College, PA 1997

Chemistry and Biochemistry

Bass, Sarah, Lecturer
Ph.D., University of Maryland Baltimore County, MD (expected 2017); B.A., Notre Dame of Maryland University, MD 2006

vanStaveren, Marie, Lecturer
Ph.D., University of California Irvine, CA 2012; M.S., University of California Irvine, CA 2012; B.S., University of Michigan, MI 2007

Computer Science and Electrical Engineering

Ferraro, Michael, Assistant Professor
Ph.D., The Johns Hopkins University, MD 2017; M.S.E., The Johns Hopkins University, MD 2013; B.S., The University of Rochester, NY 2011

Neary, Michael, Lecturer
M.S., University of Maryland Baltimore County, MD (expected 2017); B.S., University of Maryland Baltimore County, MD 2015

Zhang,  Haibin, Assistant Professor
Ph.D., UC Davis, CA 2014; M.S. Chinese Academy of Science, China 2009; B.S., Shandong University 2006


Abo-Zaid, Salem, Assistant Professor
Ph.D., University of Maryland, MD 2011; M.A. University of Maryland, 2008; M.A., Ben-Gurion University, Israel 2003; B.A., Ben-Gurion University, Israel, 2001


McIntosh-Allen, Keisha, Assistant Professor
Ed.D., Teachers College, Columbia University, NY 2015; M.T., Hampton University, VA 2002; B.A., Hampton University, VA 2001

Nash, Kindel, Assistant Professor
Ph.D., University of South Carolina, SC 2012; M.A.T., University of South Carolina, SC 1998; B.A., University of South Carolina, SC 1997


Brooks, Earl, Assistant Professor
Ph.D., The Pennsylvania State University, PA 2017; M.A., The University of North Carolina, NC 2013; B.A., The University of Kansas, KS 2010

Holladay, Drew, Assistant Professor
Ph.D., University of Louisville, KY (expected 2017); M.A., University of Louisville, KY 2009; B.A., Union University, 2005

Geography and Environmental Systems

Mahmoudi, Dillon, Assistant Professor
Ph.D., Portland State University, OR (expected 2017); M.S., Portland State University, OR; B.S., Georgia Institute of Technology, GA 2006

Information Systems

Duan, Sisi, Assistant Professor
Ph.D., University of California Davis, CA 2014; B.E., The University of Hong Kong 2010

Foulds, James, Assistant Professor
Ph.D., University of California Irvine, CA 2014; M.S., University of Waikato, New Zealand 2008; B.S., University of Waikato, New Zealand 2006

Gong, Jiaqi, Assistant Professor
Ph.D., Huazhong University of Science and Technology, China 2010; B.S., Huazhong University of Science & Technology, China 2004; B.S., China University of of Geosciences, China 2004

Joshi, Karuna, Assistant Professor
Ph.D., University of MD Baltimore County, MD 2012; M.S., University of MD Baltimore County, MD 1999; B.E., University of Bombay, India 1993

Mathematics and Statistics

Webster, Justin, Assistant Professor
Ph.D., University of Virginia, VA 2012; M.S., University of Virginia, VA 2010; B.A., University of San Diego, CA 2008


Siu, Joseph, Lecturer
Ph.D., University of Rochester, NY (expected 2017); M.A., Eastman School of Music, NY 2015; B.A., University of Western Ontario, Canada 2009


Ataca, Can, Assistant Professor
Ph.D., Bilkent University, Turkey 2012; M.S., Bilkent University, Turkey 2008; B.S., Bilkent University, Turkey 2007

Goolsby-Cole, Cody, Lecturer
Ph.D., University of Massachusetts, MA (expected 2017); M.S., University of Massachusetts, MA 2015; B.A., University of Southern Maine, ME 2012; B.A., University of New England, ME 2008


Khambaty, Tasneem, Assistant Professor
Ph.D., Indiana University-Purdue University, IN 2015; M.S., Indiana University-Purdue University, IN 2012; B.S., The Ohio State University, OH 2009

School of Public Policy

Sterett,  Susan,  Professor and Director
Ph.D., University of California Berkeley, CA 1987; M.A., University of California Berkeley, CA 1983; B.A., University of California San Diego, CA 1980

Sociology, Anthropology and Health Administration and Policy

Yamashita, Takashi, Associate Professor
Ph.D., Miami University, OH 2011; M.A., Ball State University, IN 2007; Tokyo Gakugei University, Japan 2003