State of the University 2019

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

Fall Opening Meeting
Thursday, August 22, 2019


Each year, as the fall semester approaches, we gather 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.

About 250 campus leaders came together yesterday for our annual retreat to discuss the implementation of Our UMBC: A Strategic Plan for Advancing Excellence, including initiatives that are under way to help us achieve our goals. We are now entering the fourth year of the plan, and we are making great progress. I’ll be talking more about that in a moment.

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 9,000 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’re thrilled that the new Interdisciplinary Life Sciences Building, the ILSB, is opening in the heart of campus this fall.
  • We’ve received increased funding from the State while securing major research and training grants, and we’ve added new programs and initiatives in a number of areas.
  • Our enrollment is strong, and our students, alumni, faculty, and staff are excelling in academics, in their careers, and in research and scholarship.

I’ll be sharing a few highlights in my remarks today. Many more details are included in my formal speech, which will be posted online in the coming days.

Enrollment, Completion, and Programs

One primary goal identified in our strategic plan is to increase degree completion while shortening time to degree. We are making progress in a number of areas.

This fall we will welcome more than 1,700 new freshmen and almost 1,100 new transfer students to campus.  Our freshman class boasts a preliminary profile of a 1270 average SAT and 3.88 GPA.

The number of bachelor degrees awarded increased this year from 2,578 to 2,658, a 3% increase.

We’ve launched a number of initiatives focused on helping students make progress and complete degrees. The new Office of Academic Advocacy, under the leadership of Associate Vice Provost Amanda Knapp, will serve undergraduate students by helping them overcome various academic and institutional challenges that slow their progress or keep them from completing degrees.

Complementing these efforts, our colleagues have brought together various academic support functions under a centralized university-wide Academic Success Center for undergraduates to receive tutoring and other academic support, academic petition assistance, writing assistance, and academic ombuds services.

At the graduate level, enrollment is continuing the upward trend observed over the past few years at both the master’s and PhD levels. There is strong interest in computer science, information systems, health IT, cybersecurity and data science. In particular, the MPS in data science has grown quickly and has become one of our largest programs. Applied sociology and public policy are also experiencing growth.

In a year where many other US institutions saw declining enrollments of international students, UMBC enrolled 235 new graduate students, an increase of 48 over the previous year.  Overall, international graduate student enrollment increased from 586 to 631 in one year, an 8% increase. Similarly, international undergraduate enrollments experienced a slight increase from 454 to 460.

We are entering the third year of participation in the Council of Graduate Schools PhD Career Pathways for Program Improvement project.  Results from alumni and student surveys will be shared with faculty in the fall to determine ways to provide better support and guidance to PhD students about career pathways and outcomes.  Through participation in the Coalition for Next Generation Life Science, we are increasing transparency in career outcomes by publishing data on our website by program.

CAHSS will launch two new academic programs in Fall 2019 focused on community-based teaching, research, and partnerships: the Public Humanities minor and the Community Leadership MPS degree (in partnership with The Division of Professional Studies). Both programs are the result of more than two years of effort involving faculty working groups and input from community partners. Other new programs include a Post-Baccalaureate Certificate in the Social Dimensions of Health (SAHAP) and five new certificates in Philosophy.

The College of Engineering and Information Technology (COEIT) hosted its second annual COEIT Celebration in May.  The event had an overall attendance of over 600. There were 220 graduation candidates in attendance, in addition to faculty, staff and guests of a record senior class that was 50% larger than just five years ago. Students were recognized for outstanding academic achievement and leadership, while faculty and staff were recognized for excellence and superior service.

UMBC NROTC proudly continues its mission of commissioning officers into the US Navy and Marine Corps. There are eleven students under a Navy Scholarship, with an additional 22 seeking a commission into Naval Service. There are four students under a Marine Corps Scholarship, with an additional four seeking a commission into the Marine Corps. We have three incoming freshmen on scholarship, along an additional 17 seeking a commission in the class of 2023. In the past year UMBC saw its first three NROTC students complete degrees since the program started in the 2016 academic year, and we anticipate seeing 18 more participants complete degrees and receive commissions in the coming year.

UMBC’s Center for the Integration of Research, Teaching and Learning (CIRTL) was formally re-launched this past year, with Tracy Irish as Director. The national CIRTL Network seeks to enhance excellence in STEM undergraduate education through development of a national faculty committed to implementing and advancing evidence-based teaching practices for diverse learners. Graduate students, postdocs and early career faculty participate in a series of workshops, learning communities and courses to develop and implement teaching practices that advance STEM learning. Three levels of certification are available.

After extensive fundraising and planning the Erickson School of Aging Studies will award its first Anthony J. Mullen Scholarships this fall.  These scholars will receive mentoring from both seasoned leaders in senior housing and care and innovators in the longevity economy.  Students will have multiple opportunities to develop critical problem-solving and leadership skills, and participate in a study abroad experience in aging services to sharpen their ability to adapt and innovate in our rapidly changing environment.

  • A new 100% online Post-Baccalaureate Aging Specialist Certificate will begin this fall as well.
  • More than 500 UMBC students, staff, faculty and area high school students participated in the Fields of Opportunity week in April.  Highlights included a talk by a visiting Scholar from Korea about the intersection of technology and the longevity economy, an alumni discussion about career paths, a meeting with entrepreneurs from the Baltimore chapter of Aging 2.0, a movie viewing, and a tour of a senior living site.

UMBC continues to demonstrate a commitment to Montgomery County through our strong program presence at The Universities at Shady Grove.  We continue to grow at USG as our new program in Translational Life Sciences Technology (TLST) welcomes the inaugural class of students this fall, and we will celebrate the opening of the Biomedical Sciences and Engineering (BSE) Education Facility at USG this November. Looking forward, we are in the process of implementing the BS degree in Computer Science, to launch next fall at USG.  We also are in the planning phase to add an engineering program at USG in fall 2021. UMBC now offers seven graduate programs—including Data Science, Cybersecurity, and Industrial/Organizational Psychology—to more than 200 students at USG.

Last year, UMBC Training Centers was awarded two major contracts to deliver technical training services around the world to the National Security Agency. Under these contracts, Training Centers trained over 4,000 NSA and military personnel in Maryland, Georgia, Texas, Colorado, and Hawaii, as well as multiple international locations, in the past year. These five-year contracts, which cover topics such as software development, systems administration, networking, communications and cybersecurity, have required Training Centers to significantly scale its operations and ensure that all technical training content delivered is ADA accessible, further illustrating UMBC’s commitment to inclusive excellence.

Also in 2018, UMBC Training Centers’ Certified Cyber Analyst/Operator (CCAO) accelerated training program was approved as a Registered Apprenticeship Program in Maryland, making it the first university-sponsored apprenticeship in Maryland that combines on-the-job training with intensive technical instruction and the ability to earn college credit via the American Council on Education’s credit recommendation program and articulation arrangements.

Training Centers continues to contribute to UMBC’s promise of inclusive excellence for many people seeking to begin careers in technical fields, including active duty soldiers and veterans, career changers, and high school and college graduates. Recently Training Centers was written into Maryland State Law as a part of the Cyber Warrior Diversity Program, which provides funding to Maryland’s Historically Black Colleges and Universities and Baltimore City Community College to train students in the foundations of cybersecurity. Graduates from these programs will be recruited by UMBC Training Centers for apprenticeship opportunities with employers in the region, providing these students with opportunities to earn while they learn, obtain professional certifications and begin their careers in cybersecurity.

In the past year, Training Centers has served more than 9,000 students and, despite the significant increase in scale, continues to receive high praise for its commitment to quality, organizational outcomes, and student success.

This past year we recognized the milestones reached by a number of UMBC programs, including the Mosaic Center, which celebrated its 15th anniversary; the Center for Women in Technology, which celebrated its 20th; the Shriver Center’s 25th anniversary; and the 30th anniversary of the Meyerhoff Scholars Program. The UMBC model reflected in the Meyerhoff program continues to gain traction nationally, with an article in Science reporting the promising results of HHMI-supported replication efforts at Penn State and UNC Chapel Hill. On the West coast, UC San Diego and UC Berkeley are replicating the program with $6.9 million in support from the Chan Zuckerberg Initiative.

UMBC Accolades and Recent Achievements

UMBC continues receiving widespread attention for its distinctive culture focused on student success. In its most recent rankings, U.S. News & World Report placed UMBC is 9th on the list of Most Innovative universities and 8th among national universities with a “Strong Commitment to Undergraduate Teaching.” This continues a period of more than a decade during which U.S News has recognized UMBC as a higher education trailblazer.

In addition, the U.S. News Best Graduate Schools rankings recognize several UMBC graduate programs, across all three colleges, as among the best in the nation. New top program lists for 2020 highlight UMBC’s chemical engineering and public policy programs.

Among the University’s international honors, the London-based Times Higher Education has named UMBC #3 among U.S. universities and #62 worldwide in global social and economic impact. UMBC has also been recognized as one of the best universities globally by both the QS World University Rankings and the Center for World University Rankings.

UMBC also received recognition from such publications and organizations as Forbes, The Wall Street Journal, Business First, Kiplinger, and The Princeton Review.

For the sixth year in a row, The Baltimore Sun has named UMBC one of the top large employers in the region—the only university and only government institution featured on the list.

Research, Scholarship, and Creative Achievement

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

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 across Maryland, the nation, and the World.

UMBC research and expertise regularly reach broad national and international audiences through The Conversation, a website where faculty address today’s pressing issues. This past year, UMBC faculty published 44 Conversation articles on topics from gerrymandering and teaching children math to LGBTQ rights in India, antibiotic resistance, and protecting the U.S. voting system. The articles were picked up by such outlets as Smithsonian Magazine, Fast Company, Business Insider, Scientific American, Channel News Asia, PBS, and Public Radio International. This year, UMBC articles received over 1.5 million views. To date, 138 articles by 91 UMBC authors on The Conversation have received more than four million views.

With the upcoming dedication and opening of the new Interdisciplinary Life Sciences Building, we are looking to major advances in both research and education. The ILSB will seamlessly connect teaching and research activities to enhance and further stimulate collaborative approaches to advancing the State’s biotechnology industry, increasing the number of STEM graduates, and promoting the health of Baltimore’s ecosystem and its inhabitants.  The ILSB will provide exciting research space for faculty as we continue to build meaningful partnerships across departments and colleges within UMBC as well as with our colleagues at the University of Maryland, Baltimore.

According to NSF’s current Higher Education Research and Development (HERD) survey, UMBC currently ranks in the country’s top 150 universities in federal research and development expenditures. During Fiscal Year 2019, UMBC secured $90 million in extramural awards, with research expenditures during the same period exceeding $75 million.

We are especially proud of the fact that our faculty are among the best in a key measure of faculty scholarship – citations per faculty member. According to the 2020 QS World University Rankings, UMBC is ranked #48 globally – #17 nationally – and #1 in the State of Maryland – in citations per faculty member. In addition, Times Higher Education has again recognized UMBC as one of the world’s top young universities as part of the Golden Age University Rankings. This year, UMBC ranks #86 on the list—one of just 12 U.S. universities in the world’s top 100.

Interdisciplinary Initiatives and Partnerships

We continued our annual series of events focused on bringing UMBC researchers and scientists together with external partners to promote campus-wide dialogue and establish collaborations around common research themes.

  • In partnership with the Center for Social Science Scholarship, we hosted a UMBC Research Forum this spring focused on “Immigration and Mobility in Higher Education.” This event involved colleagues from such diverse areas of expertise as Political Science; Economics; Public Policy; Modern Languages, Linguistics and Intercultural Communication; Gender, Women’s, and Sexuality Studies; Information Systems; and Social Work.
  • In connection with the UMBC50 Anniversary Celebration, we launched “GRIT-X – Global. Research. Innovation. Trends. Excellence.”  GRIT-X is an annual event highlighting the impact of research, scholarship, and creative achievement on our campus and across our communities. The third GRIT-X event, held in October 2018, featured three UMBC alumni, five current faculty members, and a graduate student. All shared their stories and passion with the annual homecoming audience in the UMBC Dance Cube.

UMBC has continued to pursue key partnerships to expand our regional, national and international research profile. Key initiatives include the following.

  • UMBC is becoming a partner in UMB’s Institute for Clinical and Translational Research (ICTR), a clinical translational research initiative that supports the entire UMB campus community.  Under the partnership agreement UMBC will provide a new Cybersecurity and Artificial Intelligence (Cyber & AI) Core to the ICTR research community. In turn, UMBC faculty will become eligible for many of the ICTR initiatives, providing the infrastructure, environment, training, and workforce to invigorate and accelerate clinical translational research and improve patient and community health.
  • UMBC is one of six Charter Members in the International Cybersecurity Center of Excellence (INCS-CoE) to create a global network dedicated to securing critical systems against cyber threats. Other Charter Members include: Imperial College London and Royal Holloway University of London from the U.K; Keio University and Kyushu University from Japan; and Northeastern University from the United States.
  • UMBC entered a partnership with the Applied Physics Laboratory to create the Institute for Trusted Space Systems (ITSS) to ensure robust, reliable, and trustworthy operations of manned and unmanned satellite missions.

UMBC’s Center for Social Science Scholarship launched in the fall of 2018, under the leadership of Director Christine Mallinson, Professor of Language, Literacy, and Culture. The new research-focused center is the result of years of collaboration, planning, and dedication to transformative scholarship in the social sciences at UMBC. Among many other initiatives during its inaugural year, CS3 organized a Research Summit on Violence Prevention and Community Engagement that was hosted jointly by UMBC and the University of Maryland, Baltimore in December 2018. Mallinson worked with UMB’s Kate Tracy ’03 Ph.D. and ’01 M.A., psychology and human services, an associate professor of epidemiology and public health and director of The Richard and Jane Sherman Center for Health Care Innovation, to organize the event. More colleagues will have the chance to work with Dr. Tracy in the year ahead as she completes an ACE fellowship at UMBC.

In March 2019, UMBC was one of six universities nationwide to host the “Engaging Scientists in the Science and Religion Dialogue” project, administered by the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) Dialogue on Science, Ethics, and Religion.

Kudos to the School of Public Policy and the school’s director, Susan Sterett, for hosting the Association of Public Policy and Management (APPAM) Public Policy Camp on campus in March 2019.

Major Research Awards 

Major research awards include the following.

  • UMBC secured an additional $8.7 Million over the next 5 years from the National Institutes of Health (NIH) under its renewal of the STEM BUILD@UMBC program to implement, scale, and sustain the interventions and best practices found to enhance undergraduate academic success, persistence, and readiness to matriculate into science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) graduate programs and/or employment opportunities, especially those related to biomedical research. The STEM BUILD@UMBC program is led by Provost Philip Rous and CNMS Dean Bill LaCourse.
  • Through a grant to UMBC from the Charlesmead Foundation, CAHSS has launched a five-year program to support arts partnerships with Baltimore-area public schools and organizations working with PK-12 students. The first grants were awarded in spring 2019 and went to Alan Kreizenbeck, theatre, for partnership with WombWork Productions; Brian Kaufman, music, for work with OrchKids and to explore establishing a Maryland Music Education Fringe Festival; Steve Bradley, visual arts, for work with Young Audiences of Maryland; Charlotte Keniston, Shriver Center, for collaboration with Wide Angle Youth Media; and Sandra Abbott, CADVC, for curricular collaboration with the Joseph Beuys Sculpture Park.
  • Zhibo Zhang, Associate Professor of Physics and leader of the Aerosol, Cloud, Radiation-Observation and Simulation (ACROS) Team, received a $600,000 research grant from the Department of Energy. Zhang’s team will use observations from satellite instruments and aircraft to improve how climate models incorporate the effect of clouds. They’ll investigate how clouds behave at smaller geographic scales than existing models consider. Qianqian Song, a PhD student who is part of this team, was awarded a three-year Future Investigators in NASA Earth and Space Science and Technology (FINESST) fellowship from NASA. NASA also awarded Zhang’s group a three-year grant (~ $580,000 total budget) to investigate whether dust particles in the atmosphere are cooling or warming our planet through their radiative effects. In the next few years, the ACROS group will bring in about $1.8 million in federal research funding.
  • A low-cost infant incubator, an invention from the UMBC Center for Advanced Sensor Technology (CAST), which is led by Professor Govind Rao (CBEE), earned the 2019 Global Health Research Award from the Academic Pediatric Association. Dr. Rao was also named UMBC’s 2019-2022 Presidential Research Professor.
  • UMBC proudly continues its strong partnership with NASA Goddard. With more than $100 million in active multi-year research programs with NASA, UMBC is among the space agency’s top 12 academic institutions receiving research funding.
  • UMBC’s Hilltop Institute, with more than 50 statisticians, economists, attorneys, clinicians, and social scientists, continues to provide a remarkable service to the State of Maryland, providing expertise regarding Medicaid and strategies for improving publicly financed health care systems. Close to $9 million in annual support, provided primarily by the Maryland Department of Health, sponsors Hilltop’s work.
  • Alan Sherman, Professor in Computer Science and Electrical Engineering (CSEE), and Rick Forno, Assistant Director of UMBC’s Center for Cybersecurity, secured a $5 million NSF CyberCorps: Scholarship for Service (SFS) award that will fund 34 cybersecurity scholars over five years and support research to study cybersecurity through UMBC degree programs in computer science, computer engineering, cyber, or information systems.
  • Aaron Smith, Assistant Professor of Chemistry and Biochemistry, received an NSF CAREER Award in 2019, bringing to 36 the number of UMBC junior faculty members who have received these prestigious awards since the program was launched in 1995. Smith’s $550,000 award for “Structure, Mechanism, and Selectivity of Microbial Ferrous Iron Transport” has the goal of providing targets for the design of small molecules to control iron transport, a process essential for bacteria.
  • Aaron Smith also secured an additional $195,000 award from the NIH in support of his research toward developing new antibiotic targets to stop bacteria that cause diseases like food poisoning, sepsis, pneumonia, or tuberculosis.
  • Hamed Pirsiavash, Assistant Professor in CSEE, secured a Major Research Instrumentation (MRI) award from the NSF totaling $300,000, with an additional $128,500 in institutional support to facilitate deep learning research at UMBC. This is UMBC’s fifth NSF MRI award since 2013.
  • Minjoung Kyoung, Assistant Professor in Chemistry and Biochemistry received a $1.6 million R01 award from NIH for her work on “4D Functional Mapping of Glucose Metabolism in Living Cells.”
  • Yonathan Zohar, Professor and Chair of Marine Biotechnology, and Ten-Tsao Wang, Assistant Professor of Marine Biotechnology, received two major grants from NOAA, for $670,000 and $740,000, respectively, to address some of the most persistent hurdles in the aquaculture industry: fish escaping from net pens and dying of disease.
  • Rachel Brewster, Associate Professor in Biological Sciences, received a $240,000 NIH grant for her work on “Signaling Mechanisms that Mediate Anoxia-Induced Cellular Arrest.” The proposed research could lead to the development of new therapeutic treatments for the prevention or treatment of ischemic/hypoxic injury.
  • Mohamed Younis, Professor in CSEE, received a $480,000 award from NSF to access and optimize the topology of underwater acoustic networks through aerial mobile units.
  • Bradley Arnold, Professor of Chemistry and Biochemistry, received a $480,000 award from the U.S. Army to develop laser-based technology to safely and quickly detect IEDs and other hazards in combat zones.
  • Jeffrey Leips, Professor in Biological Sciences, received an NIH award to support his work on “Signaling Mechanisms That Mediate Anoxia-Induced Cellular Arrest,” to explore how genes affect the immune system function as we age.
  • Can Ataca, Assistant Professor in Physics, together with collaborators from Brown University, received a $90,000 NSF Grant to develop a quicker, cheaper way to create novel, one-atom-thick materials.
  • Kevin Omland, Professor in Biological Sciences, received a $300,000 NSF award to support collaborative teams comprised of students and scientists from both UMBC and the Bahamas to study the critically endangered Bahama Oriole.
  • Jason Schiffman, Professor of Psychology, received a $390,000 award from the Maryland Department of Health for a community program for outreach and intervention with youth and young adults at high risk for psychosis.
  • Sarah Stellwagen, Postdoctoral Researcher in Biological Sciences, and her co-author Rebecca Renberg at the Army Research Lab published the first-ever complete sequences of two genes that allow spiders to produce glue—a sticky, modified version of spider silk that keeps a spider’s prey stuck in its web. The research story went viral on the internet, including taking the top spot on Reddit’s homepage shortly after its publication. Coverage of Stellwagen and Renberg’s work received more than 52,000 views on the UMBC News site, and over 1.5 million views on Reddit.
  • A team led by Helena Mentis, Associate Professor of Information Systems and COEIT’s Associate Dean for Academic Programs and Learning, was one of seventeen from around the world selected as winners of the Responsible Computer Science Challenge, a competition supported by the Mozilla Foundation and collaborators.

Economic Development

  • In July, the Office of Technology Development (OTD) signed its tenth Express License Agreement, this one with SofThread Inc., a startup led by CSEE and Information Systems faculty Yelena Yesha, Haibin Zhang and Sisi Duan. The Express License Agreement was created in 2015 to significantly reduce the burden to start a company based on technology licensed from UMBC. Universities in the US and in Europe have contacted OTD on this innovative process to facilitate licensing negotiations.
  • UMBC Faculty have secured 35 awards under TEDCO’s Maryland Innovation Initiative (MII) program since it was established in 2012. During 2018, five UMBC faculty teams received MII funding for a total of $660,000, and so far in 2019, four faculty—Charles Bieberich, Biological Sciences; Yonathan Zohar, Marine Biotechnology; Soobum Lee, Mechanical Engineering; and Meilin Yu, Mechanical Engineering—have received $515,000 in support for their innovation proposals.
  • UMBC awarded $315,000 for nine Strategic Awards for Research Transitions (START) and 15 Summer Research Faculty Fellowship (SURFF) awards to support faculty representing a broad range of departments across all UMBC colleges. The START awards offer up to $25,000 to help faculty who plan on pursuing new areas of research compete more effectively for external funding and support. SURFF awards offer up to $6,000 to non-tenured, tenure-track faculty pursuing research and other summer projects.

Faculty and Staff Achievements

UMBC faculty and staff have received national and international recognition for a range of activities and achievements.

  • Christopher Tong, assistant professor, Modern Languages, Linguistics and Intercultural Communication, received a Fulbright Fellowship and will work on his book manuscript on the emergence of environmental ethics and aesthetics in early 20th-century China.
  • Maurice Berger, research professor and chief curator, Center for Art, Design and Visual Culture (CADVC), received the 2018 International Center of Photography (ICP) Infinity Award, for his acclaimed “Race Stories” column for the Lens section of the New York Times. The award is widely considered the leading honor for excellence in the field of photography and visual culture.
  • Jessica Berman, professor of English and director of the Dresher Center for the Humanities, was named the 2019-2020 Lipitz Professor in recognition of her original research on differences across cultures in the use and production of radio programming, as well as her impactful work leading the Dresher Center.
  • Tim Finin, professor of CSEE, has been named a Fellow of the Association for Computing Machinery (ACM), a distinctive honor granted to less than one percent of all ACM members.
  • Mejdulene Shomali, assistant professor in the Department of Gender, Women’s, and Sexuality Studies, was selected by the Woodrow Wilson Foundation as one of just 32 faculty across the country for a Career Enhancement Fellowship.
  • Susan McDonough, associate professor of history, received a 2019-20 National Endowment for the Humanities fellowship to advance research that is more inclusive of women’s experiences in the medieval Mediterranean.
  • Tom Cronin, professor of biological sciences, and his longtime colleague Justin Marshall, professor at the University of Queensland in Australia, have received the 2020 Rank Prize for Optoelectronics. The prize honors their pioneering discovery of new ways that eyes can perceive color and a rare type of light that has twisted electromagnetic waves, called circular polarization. The work has applications ranging from military navigation and defense systems to medical diagnostics and surgery.
  • The Baltimore Traces project, created by American Studies, has been featured nationally by the National Humanities Association as one of the premier public humanities projects.
  • Roy Meyers, political science, won the 2018 Aaron Wildavsky Award for lifetime scholarly achievement from the Association for Budgeting and Financial Management.
  • Amy Froide, history, won the Best Book Award from the Society for the Study of Early Modern Women, for her book Silent Partners: Women as Public Investors During Britain’s Financial Revolution.
  • Nate Sinnott, theatre, was nominated for a Helen Hayes Award for his set design for You’re A Good Man, Charlie Brown, at Imagination Stage.
  • Stephen Freeland received the Trotter Prize for his pioneering origins of life research and his outreach efforts at the interface of science and religion. Past winners have included Nobel laureates and a former director of the NIH.
  • Brad Arnold has been named a fellow of the Royal Society of Chemistry.
  • Chengpeng Chen has been named to the Early Career Board for ACS Biomaterials Science and Engineering.
  • Cynthia Matuszek, CSEE, was recognized as one of the top 10 rising stars in Artificial Intelligence by IEEE Intelligent Systems.
  • Antonio Moreira was named an International Honorary Member of the Brazilian Academy of Pharmaceutical Sciences/Brazilian Academy of Pharmacy.
  • Tim Finin, CSEE was named a fellow of the Association for Computing Machinery for contributions to the theory and practice of knowledge sharing in distributed systems and the World Wide Web.
  • Dean Dana Bradley presented papers on the longevity economy at the Dead Sea Institute and the Healthy Aging Conference in Israel in March.
  • Sonya Crosby participated in the Institute for Management and Leadership in Education at the Harvard Graduate School of Education in June 2019.
  • Candace Dodson-Reed and Christopher Steele participated in the Institute for Educational Management (IEM) at the Harvard Graduate School of Education in July 2019
  • Tyson King-Meadows, Associate Professor of Political Science and until July 2019 Associate Dean of the College of Arts, Humanities, and Social Sciences, is an American Council on Education Fellow for 2019-20, based at Case Western Reserve University.
  • Laila Shishineh, Director of Academic Engagement and Transition Programs, is serving as chair of the University System of Maryland Council of University System Staff (CUSS).

Faculty and staff have also been recognized within the campus community for a range of achievements and activities.

  • Lorraine Remer, Research Professor in UMBC’s Joint Center for Earth Systems Technology (JCET) and affiliate professor in the departments of Physics and Geography and Environmental Systems (GES), was selected as the 2019 recipient of the UMBC Research Faculty Excellence Award. The award recognizes overall excellence in research, and where appropriate, significant contributions to teaching and service/leadership while at UMBC.
  • Phyllis Robinson has been named Robert and Jane Meyerhoff Chair.
  • Preminda Jacob, Associate Professor of Visual Arts, has been named Associate Dean of the College of Arts, Humanities, and Social Sciences, with a portfolio including research and community engagement.

Four UMBC colleagues were among the ten staff members from across the University System of Maryland who were selected to receive USM Board of Regents staff awards this year.

  • Rachel Brubaker, assistant director for grants and program development in the Dresher Center, was recognized for her exceptional contributions to the university’s mission through her work advancing faculty research in the arts and humanities.
  • Larry Hennessey, associate director of Facilities Management, was recognized for his extraordinary public service, as demonstrated in his efforts to care for the Chesapeake Bay watershed and other environmental resources on our campus, and his leadership mentoring students to do the same.
  • Celso Guitian, a campus planner in Facilities Management, was recognized for his leadership and creativity in providing in-house master planning services—normally contracted out at much higher cost—as well as his leadership over many years in securing much-needed state funding to support enhanced accessibility measures on campus.
  • Jess Myers, director of the Women’s Center, was recognized for her outstanding creativity and leadership over many years, and especially in the past year with the Retriever Courage initiative.

Diversity and Inclusion

We are pleased to welcome all of our new faculty as we continue our commitment to recruit and retain a diverse and accomplished faculty. Through our combined efforts, 41% of our incoming tenure/tenure track faculty this year are from underrepresented minority groups. Four of these new faculty were converted to Assistant Professors from our successful Postdoctoral Fellowship for Faculty Diversity and CNMS Preprofessoriate Fellows programs. Members of Cohort V of the Postdoctoral Fellowship for Faculty Diversity, Fernando Tormos Aponte (Public Policy), Emily Perez (English), and Blake Francis (Philosophy), just started their two year fellowships.

The UMBC STRIDE team also continues their work to help us recruit and retain a more diverse faculty. Last year, STRIDE facilitated eight campus-wide conversations and consulted with 15 search committees. STRIDE is also having a broader impact nationwide, with fellows Susan McDonough and Nilanjan Banerjee, and director Autumn Reed, leading an invitational workshop at California State University Long Beach Academic Affairs and BUILD Program faculty diversity retreat.

We also want to acknowledge the members of our Community Based Faculty groups, the Black Faculty Committee, Latino/Hispanic Faculty Association, Asian and Asian American Faculty and Staff Council, LGBTAQ Faculty Staff Association Women in Science and Engineering, and Women’s Faculty Network. These groups  provide an important sense of community for our faculty, staff, and students, and they are leaders in advocacy around diversity and inclusion, whether hosting events such as the Day of the Immigrant or ensuring access to all-gender restrooms on campus. Members of these groups also meet informally with candidates for our faculty positions as part of the interview process.

The College of Engineering and Information Technology received a bronze award, the current highest level possible, from the American Society of Engineering Education’s Diversity Recognition Program.  This award is part of the first round of recognitions for an engineering college’s commitment to diversity and inclusion.

The Center for Women in Technology, (CWIT) hosted a year-long 20th birthday celebration including events for faculty, staff, and students, a formal reception, distinguished speaker series, and volunteering with local schools in Baltimore. The celebration consisted of ten events throughout the academic year, including nearly 100 attendees at the CWIT 20th Birthday Party this past fall.

UMBC is the lead institution for a five-year $1.3 million NSF grant “The AGEP Alliance State System Model to Transform the Hiring Practices and Career Success of Tenure Track Historically Underrepresented Minority Faculty in Biomedical Sciences.”  This grant builds on the success of the Postdoctoral Fellows for Faculty Diversity and the CNMS Pre-Professoriate Fellows program to develop, implement, study, evaluate, and disseminate a USM-wide model for diversifying faculty in the biomedical sciences.

The Student Experience

UMBC is committed to creating a safe, caring, and inclusive culture for recovery and sobriety, and is collaborating with the Haven at College, a national provider of treatment services and recovery support, to offer inclusive recovery and sober living services to students. These include mentoring and monitoring, as well as a peer-led recovery residence (available this month) and an outpatient center (opening in October), both in Catonsville.

The Division of Student Affairs has entered into a partnership with the United Way of Central Maryland 211 helpline to provide greater connections to human services in Maryland for all members of the UMBC community.

UMBC received the 2019 Best Practices in International Education Award from the NASPA International Education Knowledge Community.  This global honor highlights collaborative endeavors undertaken by the Career Center, International Education Services, the Graduate School, and local employers to support the career success of UMBC’s international students.

The Career Center was recognized by the Eastern Association of Colleges and Employers (EACE) as Spring 2019 Digital Champions for innovative use of social media and technology in UMBC’s Career Month programming: “Your Future Selfie.”

  • In the Career Center’s first year of launching and administering the Maryland Technology Internship Program (MTIP), the program has successfully supported 234 internships within 93 organizations across the state. MTIP helps Maryland retain top talent by increasing the number of paid internships at technology-based businesses, as well as state and local agencies. Strong support from State Delegate Sandy Rosenberg and our alumna Speaker of the Maryland House of Delegates Adrienne Jones, $340,000 was included in Governor Hogan’s FY19 budget to launch this program.

The Division of Student Affairs launched the Center for Democracy and Civic Life, led by Director David Hoffman and Assistant Director Romy Hübler. In collaboration with campus, local, and national partners, the Center helps people develop the knowledge, skills, and approaches to solve problems and create healthy communities.

  • Center staff are also engaged in national leadership roles: David Hoffman was chosen as Chair-Elect of the Steering Committee for the American Democracy Project, a network of more than 250 state colleges and universities preparing students for informed, engaged participation in our democracy, and continued to serve on Imagining America’s National Advisory Board. Romy Hübler was invited to serve as a program reviewer for Bringing Theory to Practice’s Multi-Institutional Innovation Grants program. With partners from the American Democracy Project and NASPA, Hoffman and Hübler are leading a national initiative to develop and share the Civic Learning and Democratic Engagement Theory of Change, which is influencing the philosophy and practice of civic engagement in higher education.

The Mosaic Center in the department of Campus Life celebrated its 15th anniversary, and more than 100 students, staff, faculty, and alumni participated in the anniversary events. In 2018-19, the Center certified 54 students, staff, and faculty members in SafeZone LGBTQ+ Allyship Development Training.

UMBC is an innovator and a regional thought leader in restorative justice and restorative practices, as alternatives to exclusionary discipline. Over the past several years, staff from Student Conduct and Community Standards and Residential Life have worked together to train more than 200 students, staff, and faculty to use affective tools and methods to resolve conflict, repair relationships, and defuse critical incidents where conscious or unconscious bias created community divisions.

  • In support of the Student Experience and Community and Extended Connections priorities in the UMBC Strategic Plan, UMBC hosted a statewide, two-day restorative practices conference in fall 2018 attended by over 185 educators, criminal justice personnel, and non-profit leaders. Forty UMBC faculty, staff, and students volunteered for the conference and 20 presented UMBC’s innovative advances in restorative practices.

Off Campus Student Services (OCSS) is creating programs to support commuter, transfer, and military-related student success, and to increase connections to area communities with high concentrations of commuter students.

  • The Transfer Student Network Mentoring Program for incoming transfer students equips students with academic and social tools designed to address the challenges of transferring to a new institution.
  • The Transfer Engagement and Mentoring (T.E.A.M.) program is dedicated to increasing the persistence and retention of underrepresented male students at UMBC, with an emphasis on African-American men. OCSS supports T.E.A.M. alongside faculty and staff across campus.
  • Campus Life officially recognized the RetrieVETS Student Veteran Association in spring 2019. The organization is dedicated to creating community among military-affiliated students at UMBC, and it will work with OCSS to support student veterans establish and help them build connections.
  • Off-campus programming is being developed in communities with high concentrations of commuter students. Two events have been held so far, with several planned for the coming academic year.

UMBC is committed to ensuring the financial capability of our students. UMBC’s FinancialSmarts program offers a range of online courses, workshops, tools, and resources to assist students in developing critical personal financial management skills like budgeting, saving, investing, and credit and debt management.  This year, UMBC’s FinancialSmarts program was recognized by Maryland Cash Campaign, Maryland Council on Economic Education and Maryland State Department of Education as a 2019 Financial Education and Capability Award recipient.

As we think about additional ways to support our students and prepare them for the future, we must also recognize that some face challenges just getting enough to eat or meeting other basic needs. Please consider supporting Retriever Essentials, our on-campus food pantry for students in need.

Student Achievements

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

  • UMBC celebrated the Rhodes Trust’s recognition of Linda Wiratan ’19, biochemistry and molecular biology, as a Rhodes Scholar finalist. This honor comes a year after Naomi Mburu ’18, chemical engineering, was selected for a Rhodes Scholarship. Wiratan was also a Goldwater Scholar and a member of the Honors College.
  • Sondheim Scholar Maheen Haq ’20, global studies and economics, was named a Newman Civic Fellow in recognition of her work with several communities in Baltimore and beyond, including Syrian refugees, women survivors of violence in Pakistan, and those seeking support at Baltimore’s Esperanza Center.
  • UMBC’s Mock Trial Team had its most successful season in the team’s eight-year history, placing eighth at the American Mock Trial Association’s National Championship Tournament. This impressive ranking concludes a season where over 750 teams competed across the nation. Sydney Gaskins ’21, political science, received the All-American Attorney Award, the highest individual honor in college mock trial. She also earned two attorney awards at the National Opening Round Championship. Ethan Hudson ’21, English, received the All-Region Attorney Award in the 2019 regional competition.
  • UMBC Engineering and Information Technology students won the 2018 Maryland Cyber Challenge. The team included Cyber Scholars Niara Richards ’22, computer science, Nithya Prakash ’22, information systems, and Swathi Krithivasan ’22, computer science; Cyber affiliate Josh Mpere ’19, computer science; and CWIT Scholar Seamus Burke ’20, computer science.

More students are participating in SGA elections, with a 23% increase in voter turnout in 2019 over the previous year.

When it comes to post-graduation employment status and continuing education plans within six months of graduating, UMBC graduates continue to surpass national averages.

From the class of 2018:

  • 87% of degree recipients reported they had job offers and/or would be attending graduate school.
  • 86% of employed undergraduate degree recipients are in positions directly related to their career goals.
  • UMBC degree recipients reported working in 35 states and 22 countries (including the US)
  • 83% of undergraduates engaged in applied learning, such as internships

Economics and political science major and Sondheim Public Affairs Scholar Evan Avila won a Truman Scholarship, the premier graduate fellowship in the US for those pursuing careers as public service leaders.

Zachary Little, graduating senior in GES, landed an NSF Graduate Research Fellowship to pursue his graduate studies at NC State University.

GES PhD student Laura Riddering completed a year-long research project in Guatemala supported by a Fulbright-Hays award. Another GES PhD student, Mariya Shcheglovitova, received a GROW supplement to her NSF Graduate Research Fellowship to spend spring semester doing research in Amsterdam.

Junior dance major Teresa Whittemore’s choreography, entitled “When Adam and Eve Bit the Apple,” was selected for the American College Dance Association’s MidAtlantic North Conference Gala Performance—the highest honor possible this year.

Fourteen UMBC students and recent alumni received Fulbright awards this year.

Anna Gifty Opoku-Agyeman, M26, ’19, mathematics, co-founded the Sadie Tanner Mossell Alexander Conference for Economics and Related Fields. It is the first formal space in the U.S. for Black women in economics to convene and benefit from the resources of a supportive network. Opoku-Agyeman is now conducting research at Harvard University.

UMBC’s chapter of the National Society of Black Engineers (NSBE) was a recipient of two awards in 2019. At the National NSBE Conference in Detroit, Michigan they were recognized as the Distinguished Chapter of the Year for Region II and, closer to home, they received the Collegiate Chapter Excellence Award at the NSBE Professional Baltimore Metropolitan Area Chapter awards gala in June.

Two COEIT graduates, Adrian Davey ’18, CBEE, and Elise Adamson ’17, CBEE, were recipients of 2019 National Science Foundation Graduate Research Fellowships.

Mechanical engineering PhD student Mustafa Al-Adhami placed second in the Conference of Southern Graduate Schools Three-Minute Thesis competition, earning him one of eight slots in the Council of Graduate Schools national Three-Minute Thesis competition in December 2019.

Mustafa Al-Adhami Ph.D. ’22, mechanical engineering; David Burgenson ’17, Ph.D ’21, chemical engineering; and Benjamin Punshon-Smith M.S. ’17, Ph.D. ’22, electrical engineering, won the 2019 BMEidea competition in the biomedical and bioengineering innovation student category for their device called ASTEK, which allows physicians to more quickly and effectively treat bacterial infections.

Computer science graduate student and past GSA president Roy Prouty served as president of the 2018-2019 University System of Maryland Student Council.

Graduate student Sabeen Ikram, in Erin Green’s lab, received the Chateaubriand Fellowship and will be working on her research with a collaborator in France for four months.  From the award website: “The Chateaubriand Fellowship is a grant offered by the Embassy of France in the United States. It supports outstanding Ph.D. students from American universities who wish to conduct research in France for a period ranging from 4 to 9 months.” She’ll be working at the University Grenoble Alpes.

Athletics Highlights

UMBC is launching a national search to identify the next director of athletics. Tim Hall resigned as our director of athletics this summer to accept a similar position at the Southern Illinois University-Edwardsville. Thank you to Jessica Hammond-Graf for agreeing to serve as interim director of athletics.

UMBC welcomed Johnetta Hayes as its ninth head women’s basketball coach in school history. Hayes led Texas Southern University to four postseason appearances, including a pair of WNIT appearances (2015, 2016), the NCAA Tournament (2017), and the WBI Tournament (2018).

UMBC won four America East Championships in 2018-19, tying a school record for most won in the league in 16 years of competition. The men’s and women’s swimming and diving squads, the men’s lacrosse team, and the softball team earned titles, with lacrosse and softball earning NCAA Championship berths. The men’s soccer and men’s basketball team competed in America East championship games after outstanding playoff surges.

Freshman pitcher Courtney Coppersmith, ’22, biochemistry/molecular biology, became the first All-American in UMBC softball history. She became the first player in America East history to earn both Rookie and Pitcher of the Year and earned Most Outstanding Player honors in the league championships.

Joe Sherburne, ’18, financial economics, became the first America East student-athlete in any sport to receive the Academic All-America Team Member of the Year honors – the nation’s highest academic honor in athletics. Sherburne just completed his historic UMBC career and leaves the program as the all-time leader in games played (136) and started (128) and total minutes played (4,262). He amassed 1,563 career points, and buried 266 treys, ranking sixth and second, respectively, on the school’s all-time lists. He is a two-time First Team Academic All-American.

Graduate student Lauren McDonald, ’18, environmental sciences, was chosen as the 2019 Division I winner of the 2019 Maryland Association of Collegiate Directors of Athletics (MACDA) post-graduate scholarship award. McDonald is currently enrolled in UMBC’s geography and environmental systems master’s program and was a four-year starter and all-conference honoree for the Retriever women’s lacrosse program.

UMBC student-athletes earned three of a possible four America East Elite 18 awards in 2018-19. This award is presented to the student-athlete with the highest cumulative GPA competing at the final site at each of the America East’s 18 team championships. Basketball’s Joe Sherburne, financial economics; men’s swimming’s Connor Ganley ’19, chemical engineering; and softball’s Kennedy Lamb ’20, interdisciplinary studies, were league honorees.

The athletic department’s 2018-2019 GPA is 3.09. The volleyball program led all UMBC teams with a GPA of 3.54, and 10 of 17 programs produced GPAs of 3.00 or higher.

Campus Community

Title IX

Responding to concerns about UMBC’s process for responding to reports of sexual violence/misconduct on campus, we launched the Retriever Courage initiative to identify and implement best practices focused on improving community safety and wellbeing.

About 100 undergraduate and graduate students, faculty, and staff, are engaged with one of the Retriever Courage committees, and thousands of additional UMBC community members are participating in advocacy work and taking additional training to help prevent and respond to sexual violence/misconduct.

Since December 2018, more than 3,000 faculty, staff, graduate assistants, student leaders, and residential assistants have completed mandatory in-person Title IX/sexual misconduct awareness and prevention training.

Based on student recommendations, UMBC developed and distributed new campus ID cards that prominently display emergency resource information. Additionally, two Retriever Courage displays, including both on- and off-campus resources, were installed in The Commons. The displays are part of a pilot project proposed by the student activist/advocacy group We Believe You, and more will be added. A student “Resources for Care Guide” was posted in the residence halls, and additional posters, signs, and other information resources are being developed for all areas of campus. Facilities Management also continues to repair and add lighting in areas of concern to students and other members of the community.

In April 2019, about 200 students participated in an in-person training session as part of a pilot project to develop a plan for mandatory training for all students.

During Welcome Week, new freshman and transfer students will attend an in-person Title IX training session with Speak About It, a nonprofit organization that uses engaging and educational performances and programs to empower students to prevent sexual violence, advocate for and practice healthy relationship habits, and create positive change within their communities. The session includes the training presented by UMBC staff and/or students that was piloted in April.

Speak About It will also offer a complimentary training session for student leaders so that they can continue this important dialogue with their peers and campus partners about the issues of consent, boundaries, sexual identities, and healthy relationships throughout the academic year and beyond.

As part of this process, the campus engaged external consultants to assess our current practices, policies, and resources and recommend possible changes. The consultants returned their report in May.

We invite you to attend a community meeting on Sept. 18 to hear about these recommendations, and also learn about progress we have made and plans moving forward.

I want to thank the Implementation Team, which is made up of students, faculty, and staff, as well as the Working Groups that worked very hard during the summer to get us to this place. Thanks also to Bobbie Hoye, assistant general counsel and Title IX coordinator, and colleagues in the General Counsel’s office and the Office of Human Relations for their leadership and dedication in this work.

We’ll be announcing in coming weeks a new structure involving the creation of an Office of Equity and Compliance. This office will report to the Chief of Staff in the President’s Office and will have expanded resources to enhance campus safety, including an increase from three staff members to six who will be focused on these issues.

These are critical issues that we are confronting on our campus and that others are responding to across the country. Here is the message I will be delivering to incoming students at Convocation next week.

Part of being your best self means helping to create a community that is safe and welcoming for everyone. Over the past few years, in large part because of the #MeToo movement, we are reckoning — as a campus and as a society — with the fact that we live in a culture where sexual violence and sexual harassment have been normalized. Unfortunately, statistics show that, during their time in college, 25% of women, 21% of transgender, nonbinary, or gender nonconforming people, and 15% of men will experience some form of sexual violence, and the risk is greatest in a student’s first semester. 

Let me be clear: sexual violence and misconduct are absolutely not tolerated on this campus. Every report of sexual violence, domestic violence, and stalking is investigated, and we are dedicated, as an institution, to ensuring that our students are cared for. Because it’s so important to our campus culture, we are requiring incoming students to participate in mandatory training, in-person and online, about sexual violence prevention. However, I still want to take a moment here to define “consent.” Consent is the knowing, voluntary, and affirmative agreement between parties to participate in a given sexual behavior. Consent isn’t silence. It’s not “I don’t know” or “maybe” or a shrug. Consent can be withdrawn at any time, and consent to engage in one kind of activity is not consent to do something else. If you’re ever in doubt, stop and ask. 

The concept of consent is central to the kind of culture that we want here at UMBC, and you play a crucial role in making that culture a reality. It means asking if someone would like a hug when you’re greeting them, as I’ve learned to do, and asking for and respecting the pronouns that someone uses. It means calling in, instead of calling out, those people who are making others feel unwelcome, intervening when you see someone in a potentially dangerous situation, and knowing where to direct your friends or classmates if they find themselves in a moment of crisis. Those resources on the back of your new gold cards are there for just such moments, and I hope you won’t hesitate to use them. 

Together, we can truly make strides to create a safer, more caring living, learning, and working environment for everyone.

Fundraising and Alumni Engagement

We continue to make progress in the Grit & Greatness Campaign, which was announced during UMBC’s 50th anniversary year in 2016. We raised $14.9 million in gifts and pledges in FY 2019, bringing our campaign grand total to more than $122 million. We are more than 80% of the way toward meeting our $150 million campaign goal. Our fundraising efforts have been directed toward institutional priorities, including student scholarships, fellowships, and internships; faculty development and research; and K-12 initiatives. The UMBC endowment reached $100.6 million at the close of the fiscal year, with existing pledges from several of our largest donors that will take us over $105 million. Congratulations to Greg Simmons, MPP ’04, and all of our colleagues who have been involved in this effort.

There are several significant gift commitments I would like to highlight:

  • A $3 million pledge from the Northrop Grumman Foundation that will support several initiatives, including the Northrop Cyber Program, the Northrop STEAM Center at Lakeland Elementary/Middle School, and the Choice Program.
  • A $1 million pledge from a member of our Board of Visitors that will create an endowed scholarship fund for excellence in economics and finance.
  • We also are very grateful to alumni and emeritus faculty and staff who have made planned gift commitments as part of their estate planning in FY ’19, a total of almost $1.2 million.
  • In celebration of the Meyerhoff Scholars Program’s 30th anniversary, alumni of the program embarked on a Gesture of Gratitude Campaign, to celebrate this milestone anniversary and to honor and thank Robert Meyerhoff for his vision and generosity. At the program’s anniversary event in late May, alumni announced gifts and pledges totalling $500,000—an amount equal to Mr. Meyerhoff’s first gift to UMBC to establish the program.

In fiscal year 2019, gifts from alumni, faculty, staff, students, parents, and friends increased by 10%. For the first time, the number of alumni donors surpassed 3,000 and parent donors topped 1,000. In the past five years, overall giving from individuals increased by 49%, and revenue from alumni is up by 50%. We are also seeing an increase in the number of students giving. In FY19, the number of UMBC student donors increased by 28%. This metric is critical as we continue to work with our campus partners to focus on increasing alumni participation to be in line with our peers.

The second year of the UMBC 24-hour Black and Gold Rush Giving Day saw a record 1,554 donors contribute more than $106,000. We saw gifts from 33 states, the District of Columbia, and 18 countries. Nearly 500 students participated in Commons Main Street events and close to 100 teamed up to search across campus in the “Quest for True Grit.” For the second year, the hashtag #BlackandGoldRush trended on Twitter.  This all-hands-on-deck day would not have been a success without the continued support of UMBC faculty and staff.

I also want to share with the campus the results of our support for the 2018 Maryland Charity Campaign. UMBC raised more than $247,000 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. Our campus is one of the most generous in the state, and our generosity speaks volumes about who we are and our values.

I would like to thank co-chairs Nancy Young and Jack Suess ’80, MS ’96 for their efforts in supporting last year’s Maryland Charity campaign, as well as the support of the lead coordinator, Shelly Graham. I am pleased to announce that Dana Bradley and co-chair Jack Suess will be leading the 2019 campaign. Thank you both for taking on this important initiative.

We continue to take great pride in the achievements of our alumni. This past year alumna Adrienne Jones ’76 was chosen as Speaker of the House of Delegates; alumnus John “Johnny O” Olszewski, Jr., PhD ’17 was elected Baltimore County Chief Executive; alumna Stacy Rodgers ’83 was appointed County Administrative Officer in Baltimore County; alumna Tiffany Robinson ’97 was appointed Maryland Secretary of Labor; and alumna Dr. Letitia Dzirasa ’03 was named Baltimore City Health Commissioner.

The Alumni Association will honor a distinguished group of alumni at the Alumni Awards ceremony during Homecoming on October 2nd.

  • Engineering & Information Technology: Paul Mangus ’86, Information Systems Management, Co-Founder and Chairman of the Board, Bart & Associates, Inc.
  • Humanities: La Jerne Cornish PhD ’05, Language, Literacy & Culture, Provost and Senior Vice President, Ithaca College
  • Natural and Mathematical Sciences: Jerome Adams ’97, Biochemistry & Molecular Biology and Psychology, Surgeon General, US Department of Health & Human Services
  • Social Sciences: Kim Shelsby ’85, Geography, Director, Supply Chain Solutions, Chemonics International
  • Visual and Performing Arts: Kimberly Patrick ’08, Music Technology, Sound Editor, Skywalker Sound, Lucasfilm, Ltd.
  • Young Alumni Rising Star: Kelsey Krach ’14, Cultural Anthropology, Product Manager & Designer, Fearless
  • The Alumni Association’s Outstanding Faculty Award will be presented to Beverly Bickel M.A. ’94, Instructional Development Systems, Ph.D. ’05 Language, Literacy, & Culture, Clinical Associate Professor, Language, Literacy, & Culture, and Affiliate Associate Professor, Gender and Women’s Studies, UMBC

UMBC has more than 80,000 alumni, and we continue to build connections with our alumni through the publication of UMBC Magazine, as well as through social media and events. In FY19, we engaged 10% of our alumni in 245 alumni, athletic, and campus events and in giving.

Over the past two years, our colleagues have been traveling around the country to strengthen UMBC’s regional alumni programming, with visits to Seattle, Houston, Durham, New York to other major cities that are home large numbers of alumni. In addition to helping our alumni reconnect with UMBC, these visits also are helping us identify major gift donors to help advance the goals of the University.

At the end of May we marked the 30th anniversary of the Meyerhoff Scholars Program with a series of events that drew hundreds of Meyerhoff alumni back to UMBC to celebrate, reflect, and continue to build support for the program and future Meyerhoff Scholars. In addition to supporting the Gesture of Gratitude campaign (which has raised more than $500,000 to date), Meyerhoff alumni have served as mentors to current students, created alumni networks throughout the country, and worked to replicate elements of the program through the graduate and professional careers.

In looking ahead to 2020, we will bring another special group of graduates back for another milestone moment when we will celebrate the 50th anniversary of UMBC’s first graduation in 1970.

Economic Development

The bwtech@UMBC research and technology park houses 130 companies and organizations that employ more than 1,800 people. Inc. Magazine,  which listed Baltimore in its “50 Best Places in America for Starting a Business,” cited bwtech@UMBC as an incubator fueling the entrepreneurship scene.

bwtech@UMBC continues to be the leader in the incubation of cybersecurity companies. ​The Northrop Grumman and bwtech@UMBC Cync Program is an elite scholarship program for startup and early-stage companies with promising cybersecurity product ideas. The program supports four to six companies at a time. Now in its ninth year, Cync has graduated 13 companies, including one international company.

The park’s iCyberCenter is now in its second year, supporting international cybersecurity companies establishing a U.S. presence in Maryland.

The artificial intelligence startup RedShred—cofounded by two UMBC alumni and housed in the bwtech@UMBC incubator—has received a rare Phase II Small Business Innovation Research Award from the National Science Foundation to expand in a new direction, in collaboration with UMBC faculty and graduate students.

An increasing number of UMBC students and alumni work at bwtech@UMBC. In the last quarter of FY19, 195 UMBC students and 184 UMBC alumni worked at bwtech companies, and bwtech has become home to several faculty start-ups.

UMBC continues to be a driver of economic development. This past year I served as co-chair of the Baltimore County Executive’s transition team for Job Creation and Economic Development, work that recognizes UMBC’s prominence as an anchor institution in this region.

Community Engagement

We are excited to celebrate the opening of OCAMocha (O-kuh, MO-kuh) this fall. Dreamed up and made real by our students, OCAMocha is going to help us build strong connections with our neighbors in Arbutus. Located less than a mile from campus, on East Drive, it is a coffee shop that we hope will quickly become a gathering space for our community. Make sure to walk, bike, or take UMBC transit to drink coffee and view the art gallery, and consider holding your next group or department meeting in their community conference room.

We are working with Baltimore County and community partners to establish an Arts and Entertainment District in downtown Catonsville. This state-designated area would help develop and promote community involvement, tourism, and revitalization through incentives designed to attract artists, arts organizations and other creative enterprises. The district promises to strengthen connections with our neighbors in Catonsville and will elevate the visibility of our public programs in the arts.

Lakeland Elementary/Middle School continues to see significant growth in both it math and reading scores, and it is one of the most improved schools in the city. Over the past five years, the percentage of students meeting proficiency in math and literacy have each increased more than 20 percentage points on the state assessment. Lakeland students across elementary and middle grades now achieve at comparable levels to peers across the state from all backgrounds. The STEAM Center, which opened in January, has served more than 1,000 students, family, and community members.

The work at Lakeland has helped us to develop a network of partner schools in south and southwest Baltimore City. After hearing what these partners need most, we are bringing as many of the university’s resources to them as possible. We now have faculty conducting research at these schools, and Shriver Center service-learning interns are working directly with students. The Sherman Scholars Program and the Sherman Center for Early Learning also are providing professional development for teachers.

One focus in working with teachers—especially in math—is to help them better understand students’ strengths and areas for growth by analyzing student learning data, and then to work with them to improve their teaching to meet their students’ instructional needs needs and rigorous standards. The UMBC Math Project, part of our Sherman Scholars Program, was expanded to five other Baltimore schools and involves more than 50 administrators and teachers focused on continuous improvement efforts in math. Participants have all seen improvement in their math scores.

The Sherman Scholars Program has graduated more than 100 teachers who have gone on to become public school teachers, with 14 currently teaching in Baltimore City. This summer, the Sherman Center for Early Learning brought 45 teachers from partner schools to campus for training in literacy development. The center has also distributed more than 400 culturally diverse books to early childhood educators in the network.

In summer 2019, UMBC hosted the first annual Maryland Arts Summit, co-hosted by the Maryland State Arts Council, Maryland Citizens for the Arts, AEMS: Arts Education in Maryland Schools, and the Maryland State Department of Education. During the three-day event, which also featured the Maryland Traditions Folklife Awards and the Maryland Individual Artist Awards, more than 500 artists and arts administrators from across the state convened on our campus. We look forward to hosting the 2020 summit next year.

Administration and Finance

Budget Update 

The fiscal year 2020 budget totals nearly $485 million, a 5% increase over the fiscal year 2019 working budget. The State operating budget—funded primarily by State appropriations and tuition and fees— totals $282, a 7% increase over fiscal year 2019. The revenue increase includes an additional $16 million in State funding and an additional $3.0 million from tuition and fee revenue, primarily driven by a tuition rate increase of 2% for resident undergraduate students and 3% for all other students.

Together, these funds will finance the following campus priorities and mandatory costs in fiscal year 2020:

  • $3.9 million for academic program enhancements and workforce development initiatives.  This includes funding for new faculty positions, faculty retention initiatives, funding for the new Quantitative Reasoning Unit in CNMS, and $1.8 million to advance degree production in areas of high workforce demand;
  • $2.5 million will focus on efforts to support student success, including $1.2 million for financial aid and tuition assistance, three new student success advocates in Undergraduate Academic Affairs, two new positions in the counseling center, and new positions in the Women’s Center and the Mosaic Center;
  • Nearly $900,000 to enhance research efforts.  This includes new animal and facility technicians for ILSB, new online serials for the library, and additional investments in research capacity;
  • An additional $1.2 million is allocated to expand outreach and marketing initiatives to support efforts underway to meet enrollment, student success, funding, and community impact goals; and
  • $11.4 million for mandatory costs.  This includes $1.9 million for operations and maintenance costs for the Interdisciplinary Life Sciences Building, $1.5 million for facility renewal, and $6.7 million for cost of living adjustments, including the 3% cost of living adjustment effective July 1st and the annualization of the two COLAs received in fiscal year 2019.  Mandatory costs also increase for items such as utilities, contractual services, and the minimum wage increase.

Not yet reflected in the budget is $2.0 million in State funding to launch several new workforce-related academic programs at the Universities at Shady Grove.

Campus Construction

This is an exciting time for new construction on our campus. The 130,000 square-foot Interdisciplinary Life Sciences Building has opened. The new building provides dynamic classroom spaces and a range of laboratories and other spaces designed to support interdisciplinary research and teaching.

Renovation design of the Retriever Activities Center is well on its way, with construction to begin in December 2019 and finish in August 2021. The renewal will expand fitness space to promote health and wellness; provide new opportunities for recreation; and be the new home of Retriever Essentials (food pantry).

This summer, Chartwells started work to expand and improve dining options across campus, adding a new Teaching Kitchen in True Grits, renovating and expanding Chick-fil-A to provide a full-service counter and expanded menu, building a new Dunkin in a space near the Yum Shoppe in the lower level The Commons, and developing an International Corner with a variety of world cuisines is in The Commons food court.

We are expanding the number of  all-gender restrooms across campus.  A new 24/7 all-gender restroom was built this summer in the Retriever Learning Center, and the ILSB includes two muli-stall all gender restrooms. A multi-user women’s restroom was converted to a multi-user all-gender restroom in Sherman Hall. Restroom conversions continue this fall in many of our academic buildings, and the RAC Renewal project includes all-gender restrooms and all-gender locker rooms.

Over the next few years, we will be making upgrades to the UMBC Stadium Complex. There will be a new fan amenities building for our lacrosse, track and field, baseball, and softball fans. The stadium will have a new press box, and softball will have new dugouts and lights for its field.

As part of a Utility Upgrades project, we are building a new pedestrian connector to the campus from the Stadium Complex. The bridge will ford a new wetlands area that will filter surface water and protect the environment.  The project includes installation of new electric feeders and renewal of domestic water lines to improve system reliability.

As we look to the future, we are planning for renewal of Sherman Hall to extend the life of this aging building and the development of a new Teaching and Research Building to advance our strategic plan and proactively respond to current and future needs.

Sustainability and Climate Action 

UMBC’s carbon emissions have decreased by 20% since joining the Presidents Climate Leadership Commitment in 2007. During the same period, our built space has increased by 19% and student enrollment has increased by 18%, making the overall decrease in carbon emissions even more significant.  Factoring in campus growth, this equates to a 33% reduction in our carbon footprint per square foot of space.

Our 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.

  • This summer, we have hired an Assistant Director of Sustainability, Ryan Kmetz, who will further expand programs and initiatives in this area, including updating our Climate Action Plan.
  • In 2019 UMBC continued an inclusive process to develop a new Climate Action Plan, with broader and more aggressive strategies and goals to reduce emissions. This process clearly identified the need for a more focused and consistent effort towards climate neutrality.  UMBC has addressed this need by establishing a Sustainability Office and hiring our first Assistant Director of Sustainability. The Sustainability office will guide and focus our efforts towards carbon neutrality.
  • Widespread outreach and engagement continues to encourage the campus community to make sustainable choices.  Some recent positive choices include Chartwells shifting to 100% compostable cups, applying for and receiving a Make Maryland Beautiful Grant to plant native plant species, and a recent grant application to install electric vehicle charging stations. These efforts along with our ongoing outreach efforts help to strengthen our awareness and resolve to address climate and environmental issues.

Information Technology

With the support of the Provost and Deans, DoIT is making a major investment in additional staff in instructional technology to support the following:

  • Added instructional designers to work with faculty to support online/hybrid course development in applied master’s programs;
  • Added more training and support of faculty in our upgrade to Blackboard Ultra and expanded the number of faculty participating in our Ultra Ambassador program;
  • Established a major initiative on accessibility designed to support faculty in improving accessibility of course materials; and
  • Added instructional designers to work with faculty interested in using technology to support the redesign of larger courses.

DoIT, in cooperation with the Provost’s Office, and working directly with individual faculty members and departments, has developed a range of pilots to improve student success in high-DFW courses.  These pilots use state of the art analytical techniques that are combined with behavioral nudges that encourage students to use UMBC’s network of proven student support resources. Examples include: encouraging students repeating math courses to use tutoring, improving early alerts using predictive modeling, and introducing supplemental instruction to non-STEM courses.

Our partnerships grow each term as faculty recognize the value of the support offered to students and how analytics support, but do not interfere with, their important work.  Early estimates suggest the value of our analytical efforts in this area have the potential to save students and their families thousands to hundreds of thousands of dollars each year by reducing failure rates.

This July UMBC completed the upgrade of Student Administration, referred to as SA, from version 9.0 to 9.2.  This was a year-long effort to upgrade a system used by every student and faculty member and was completed on-time and under budget.  The project team, led by Arnold Foelster of DoIT and Ralph Caretti of Enrollment Management, included over thirty staff from fifteen departments that reviewed and tested the new software. Through this collaborative effort, UMBC has identified opportunities to streamline and enhance transfer credit evaluation, financial aid processing, and improve the processing of AP credit for new students. All these changes will roll out this summer and fall. In addition, as part of reviewing the functionality with the consultants, the departments identified a number of possible improvements that we are planning to discuss and bring forward as enhancement proposals to the Campus Systems Executive Committee (CSEC).

In support of the work of the Advising Task Force, a team from Enrollment Management and DoIT worked to roll out new advising tools for students to improve advisement and academic planning. The “Degree Donut” that is used to support students was extended with additional functionality of the degree planner. Students can now work with advisors to build a multi-semester academic plan that is captured and displayed by the Donut. In addition, the registration guide system was launched in fall 2018. This system was built with input of the advising task force and presents the student with step-by-step instructions to insure they are prepared and have a productive advising session with their advisor.  Finally, all these tools have been extended to faculty advisors.

DoIT worked closely with the shared services working group to reduce the number of paper forms used in business processes that require staff to walk paper forms across campus. In response, DoIT launched an initiative using DocuSign to convert paper forms to electronic documents that are routed to the appropriate person for signatures. During this year we converted approximately 200 paper forms to DocuSign that have generated 20,000 electronic forms signed by 2,000 individuals. The graduate school has completely eliminated paper forms for graduate assistantships. In addition, campus use of our service management system, RT, has continued to grow as we automated more service requests. In FY19, the campus generated almost 145,000 service requests, an increase of 35,000 over FY18.  To put this in perspective, when this project was launched in FY09 we generated 25,000 service requests in DoIT, which is still the number of tickets DoIT generates out of the total.

Ensuring the integrity and security of our data is critically important to DoIT. To support this effort we work closely with auditors and integrate their recommendations into our security practices. In FY19 we had three major audits – a USM audit of our protections for Personally Identifiable Information, a financial audit of our IT controls of financial data, and a legislative audit of IT controls for general security. The results were all quite positive, and also identified ways we can continue to enhance security. As a result we have launched an effort to expand the DUO multi-factor authentication to all faculty and staff; we have deployed Cisco Cloudlock to protect data in the cloud services we use; and we have updated our security processes to improve security in high-risk areas. In addition, DoIT collaborates closely with CSEE in advancing our cybersecurity efforts by leveraging the strong students in CSEE. This year, we had two CSEE graduate student and five CSEE CWIT Cyberscholars or Scholars for Service (SFS) working in DoIT. These strong students augment a talented professional staff to expand our reach and capability.

In close collaboration with the Colleges and the Office of the Vice President of Research (OVPR), we have worked to support research computing initiatives. The high-performance computing facility was upgraded and now has 170 updated nodes, including nodes with the latest Nvidia Tesla GPUs. In addition, there is an eight node “Big Data” cluster for distributed Data Science workloads. During this past year, DoIT worked closely with the colleges to support a proposal from COEIT for a Machine Learning Cluster that will guide our efforts in data science computation. In addition, DoIT is working closely with the OVPR and COEIT and has supplied funding for staff support of the PI**2 visualization facility. Lastly, DoIT continued its strong collaboration with the IRC that goes back thirty years to the founding of the IRC and expanded the capabilities of the New Media Studio to support video efforts in CAHSS.

In order to support the opening of the new ILSB building, DoIT is finishing up a series of campus infrastructure projects including an upgraded campus network backbone to support collaborative research efforts between the facilities within ILSB and researchers throughout the campus. These upgrades, while largely not visible, provide the foundation for all the network services the campus utilizes on a daily basis, helping to ensure a fast and reliable experience for the entire community.

A number of DoIT staff have been noted for their work nationally. In October, Damian Doyle was recognized by EDUCAUSE with the Rising Star Award.   Two DoIT staff, Damian Doyle and Sherri Braxton-Leiber, are EDUCAUSE faculty fellows. Sherri is a fellow in the Leadership of Teaching and Learning program and Damian is a fellow in Senior Director’s program.  Bob Carpenter is co-chairing the APLU-CIMA white paper committee on the strategic use of Student Analytics. John Fritz was on the faculty of the Society of Learning Analytics Research (SoLAR) Summer Institute. Mark Cather ’97, was honored by the Maryland Carey Law School with the Larry B. Shoda Graduation Award as the outstanding evening law student. Collectively, DoIT staff gave over 30 presentations nationally on how UMBC is using technology to advance the mission and goals of UMBC.

Concluding Remarks

We are a community that believes in the importance of having respect for each other, seeking the truth, and thinking deeply about our beliefs and assumptions.

Nothing we do at UMBC is more important than this search for the truth and our role teaching students how to think critically as they are bombarded with so many pieces of information.

I often 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 a recent University Retreat, and afterward a colleague observed that some people don’t have the chance to make this choice. The nobility of what we do is that we are creating opportunities for so many people, allowing them to have the chance to make that choice.

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