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State of the University Address

Freeman A. Hrabowski, III
President, University of Maryland, Baltimore County
Fall Opening Meeting
Thursday, August 23, 2012


It’s our tradition each fall to assemble and reconnect with one another, and to review and highlight our progress and challenges.  When we gathered a year ago, I addressed the continuing fiscal challenges we faced and how we had weathered the year through sacrifice and shared governance; I also highlighted many of the exciting ways we were moving forward.  This year, we’re focused again on maintaining our sound fiscal footing, while continuing to advance in innovative ways as we approach our 50th anniversary in 2016.

Above all, we’ve again been true to our most important guiding principles – protecting and building the academic program (providing a distinctive undergraduate experience and building research and graduate education) and supporting people.  These principles were reflected in discussions among campus leaders the past two days at our annual retreat, where we focused on the roles of planning, culture, and environment in UMBC’s development.  We took stock of our progress in implementing our Strategic Framework for 2016 – the campus’s strategic plan, now almost 10 years old – and we discussed the next stage of planning to support our aspirations as one of America’s rising public research universities.

Two achievements this year demonstrate our core values.  For the fifth consecutive year, UMBC was awarded the Maryland Charity Campaign Governor’s Cup for Outstanding Performance, with a 70% participation rate among full-time faculty and staff.  Moreover, based on The Chronicle of Higher Education’s annual survey, UMBC for the third year in a row was named one of America’s Great Colleges to Work For.  As I stated when the survey results were recently announced, “We are a Great College because of the people here.  This honor… affirms what we all know: UMBC is a place that supports people, values collaboration, and fosters trust, respect, and enthusiasm for educating our students.”

A year ago, I reported to you on two important interim appointments – Philip Rous as Interim Provost & Senior Vice President for Academic Affairs (replacing Elliot Hirshman), and Bill LaCourse as Interim Dean of Natural & Mathematical Sciences (replacing Philip).  I’m delighted that we concluded the searches for those positions, that both Philip and Bill were selected (their appointments were effective July 1st ), and that both are doing superb jobs.  In another significant development, Dr. John Jeffries, who came to UMBC as a young faculty member in 1973 and has distinguished himself for the past four decades as a scholar of history, Faculty Senate leader, department chair, and Dean of Arts, Humanities & Social Sciences, is planning to retire at the end of this academic year.  Please join me in thanking John – and applauding him – for his extraordinary service and contributions over the years.  I’m delighted that Dr. Leslie Morgan, Professor of Sociology & Anthropology, has agreed to chair the search committee.

We’ve made several other key leadership appointments this year.  Charlene Uhl became our new Director of Budget & Resource Analysis, having previously served as the lead higher education budget analyst with the Maryland Department of Budget & Management.  Dr. Simon Stacey was recently appointed Director of the Honors College, having served as both Associate Director (2007-11) and Acting Director this past year.  Caroline Baker became Assistant Vice President of Careers & Corporate Partnerships, having served as Acting Director of Career Services since February, 2012, while continuing in her role as Director of Corporate & Foundation Relations.  Jess Myers was appointed Director of the Women’s Center, and Cassie Bichy became Director of the Learning Resources Center, having been Acting Director the past two years.

Also, please join me for a moment to remember someone who embodied UMBC’s excellence and aspirations – and our spirit.  LaMont Toliver, who graced UMBC and the Meyerhoff Program for the past 22 years, died suddenly in late February.  We are a better university because of his leadership, deep compassion, wisdom, wit, and determination.  His example inspires us each day, and the strong community of scholars he loved is LaMont’s special legacy.  Mr. Keith Harmon has been serving as Acting Director and is doing superbly.

Our character and sense of community are largely a reflection of our system of shared governance, and I want to thank our current Senate leaders for being full partners as we continue responding to fiscal challenges – Tim Nohe, President of the Faculty Senate; Carrie Sauter, President of the Professional Staff Senate; and Dorothy Caplan, President of the Non-Exempt Staff Senate.  Our student leaders also play important roles – SGA President Kaylesh Ramu and GSA President Doaa Rashed.

Fiscal Update

Let me now provide an overview of our budget.  As you know, despite the fiscal challenges of the past few years, the University System of Maryland, under the leadership of Chancellor Kirwan, continues to fare much better than public higher education systems in most states – and this year I’m delighted to report several bright spots.  For the first time in four-and-a-half years, full-time faculty and staff will receive a 2% cost-of-living adjustment (COLA), effective January 1, 2013, the beginning of the second half of this fiscal year.  This COLA will be annualized and part of everyone’s base salary going forward.

Strong enrollments continue to be another bright spot, including both an increase in the number of new students and higher retention rates among continuing students.  Increased enrollments translate into higher revenues that are helping the campus address its priorities.

We have completed the development of our FY-2013 budget, which totals $370 million, including funds from State, Federal, and other sources.  Our State operating working budget totals more than $204 million, a net increase of more than $6 million over our adjusted FY-2012 budget.

Strong enrollments accompanied by modest tuition rate increases approved by the Board of Regents (3% for in-state undergraduates, 5% for out-of-state undergraduates, and 5% for all graduate students) have contributed almost $2.7 million to the net increase in our State operating budget.  The campus’s divisions and colleges agreed to absorb a 1% base-budget reduction totaling $1,250,000.  By combining new tuition funds, additional State dollars, and reallocating some current resources, we have invested more than $8 million to support our priorities and mandatory costs, as follows:

  • more than $5 million in increased mandatory costs, including $3 million in fringe benefits (health insurance and retirement), the 2% COLA, and $1.6 million associated with opening the new Performing Arts and Humanities Building;
  • more than $1.5 million to enhance our academic programs, including approximately $700,000 for new faculty positions, $400,000 for new academic-support staff, $255,000 for new programs and enrollment growth, and $155,000 for the Library;
  • more than $1 million to support student success, including almost $800,000 for financial aid and tuition assistance.
  • approximately $450,000 for staff positions in critical areas campuswide.

Reflecting on this year’s budget, it is clear that the strategies we’ve followed in recent years have allowed us to continue moving forward despite very challenging economic circumstances.  We have benefited from campuswide discussions leading to agreement on our priorities; from a spirit of cooperation and collaboration as we’ve reallocated resources to meet mandated budget reductions; from conservative budget practices ensuring the reliability of our resources; and from the campus community’s willingness – and determination – to work hard to move forward under trying conditions.

Early indications are that our FY-2014 State budget may offer us opportunities, and challenges, and we are already discussing how we will continue to align our budget with campus priorities.  We were encouraged to hear Chancellor Kirwan say during the retreat that there is reason to be optimistic about the FY-2014 budget, and that if the economy remains on a stable course, there are plans for a 3% COLA for January, 2014, and a 2.5% merit pool effective April, 2014.

Enrollments & Programs

Fall enrollments remain strong, reflecting our continuing recruitment and retention efforts and our work to build a number of academic programs approved in recent years.  We also continue promoting UMBC’s selection by U.S. News & World Report the past three years as America’s #1 “Up-and-Coming” university, as well as our designation over the past two years as a “Best Value” campus by both the Princeton Review and Kiplinger’s Personal Finance.

This year, we will enroll approximately 13,600 students, an increase of about 400, including 1,550 new freshmen, approximately 130 more freshmen than a year ago, with SAT math and verbal scores about 20 points higher than this past year, and the three-part scores (including writing) above 1800.  The new class includes National Merit and National Achievement Scholars, Regents and Maryland Distinguished Scholars, many valedictorians, and new Sondheim, Linehan, CWIT, Sherman, Meyerhoff, and other special scholars.  We also expect to enroll approximately 2,675 graduate students, a slight increase over this past year, and approaching twice the number enrolled a decade ago.  Overall, we continue to attract students from every state and nearly 150 countries and to send many to study abroad.  We’re also enrolling about 1,280 new transfers, slightly fewer than this past year.  Our residence halls are again at capacity, housing nearly 4,000 students, including more than three-quarters of all new freshmen and nearly half of our full-time undergraduates.  Also, we have completed the first phase of the $20-million renovation of Hillside and Terrace Apartments and have begun phase two.  We’ve also broken ground on the new, 10,000-square-foot Community Center for our residents and expect the Center to open next fall.  (Completion of the 200-bed, $17-million addition to Patapsco Residence Hall a year ago made it possible for us to begin renovating our older apartments without reducing the number of students living on campus.)

Coupled with our successful recruitment efforts, we also have strong retention rates (85% first to second year) and are working to increase our six-year graduation rate (now 55%, but expected to increase at least a couple of percentage points this year).  (Our latest six-year graduation rate – based on the Association of Public and Land-Grant Universities’ Voluntary System of Accountability Program, which tracks UMBC new freshmen who graduate here or from another college or university, or are still enrolled in college – is slightly more than 75%.  An additional 14% of the latest freshman cohort remain enrolled.)  We’re relying on a variety of curricular and co-curricular initiatives reflecting progressive pedagogy designed to help students succeed.  At the undergraduate level, for example, we continue emphasizing innovation and course redesign – from First-Year Seminars and sections of Introduction to an Honors University to active learning in science and math involving the Chemistry Discovery Center and CASTLE.  Other efforts include redesigned Psych 100, which has an online component complemented by peer mentors facilitating in-class small-group discussions, and the Department of Mathematics & Statistics’ introductory courses offering hybrid modes of delivery combining face-to-face instruction with online learning tools.  And a year ago at this time, we opened the heavily used Retriever Learning Center – an 8,000-square-foot area on the first floor of the Kuhn Library, accessible 24 hours a day, seven days a week, to facilitate student success through peer-to-peer teaching, group learning, tutoring, and informal interactions among students and faculty.  At the graduate level, Ph.D. Completion Project initiatives ranging from Dissertation House, the Summer Success Institute to the Professors-in-Training Program, and the PROMISE Program continue to make a real difference in student support.

Our innovative initiatives are attracting national attention and external support – from the Howard Hughes Medical Institute for our National EXperiment in Undergraduate Science Education (NEXUS) initiative, exploring the introduction of a competency-based curriculum in the life sciences; support from NSF for our Innovation through Institutional Integration (I-Cubed) grant for research using a randomized controlled trial to test and compare the effectiveness of five different intervention techniques targeting freshman success and retention; and support from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation to study best practices and develop materials and programs to increase the success of transfer students from community colleges.  And with major support from the Carnegie Corporation of New York to create the Fund for Academic Innovation, we have just launched the inaugural competition to support campus initiatives to enhance teaching and learning, with specific emphasis on innovative approaches to increase the success of undergraduate and graduate students – from redesign of courses or other learning experiences to innovative course and/or curriculum development and other projects designed to strengthen or understand student-learning outcomes at UMBC.

We also continue building the academic programs we’ve introduced in recent years, including undergraduate programs in Asian Studies, Media & Communications Studies, Gender & Women’s Studies, Management of Aging Services in the Erickson School, and the Public Health track in Health Administration & Policy, as well as new graduate programs in Geography & Environmental Systems, Aging Services, and Systems Engineering.  And new programs recently approved by the Maryland Higher Education Commission – an Upper-Division Certificate in Management Accounting, and the nation’s first Post-Baccalaureate Certificate program in Music Entrepreneurship – will also help to strengthen enrollments and retention and graduation rates.

Our Continuing & Professional Studies Division continues to play a vital and growing role, working with departments to attract and support hundreds of students in programs offered on campus, at UMBC’s South Campus, and in five Maryland counties.  Among these programs are master’s degree programs in Cybersecurity, Engineering Management, Systems Engineering, and Instructional Design.  At Shady Grove, we’re offering bachelor’s programs in History, Management of Aging Services, Political Science, Psychology, and Social Work, and applied master’s programs in Geographic Information Systems and Industrial & Organizational Psychology.  The Division also has attracted nearly 800 graduate students to its professional master’s, certificate, and closed cohort graduate courses this fall.  And UMBC Training Centers are offering instruction to more than 3,000 professionals this year in Maryland and beyond, including 700 students in its Center for Cybersecurity Training from its new location in Columbia Gateway.  Congratulations to Training Centers on having just been named by Inc. Magazine to its 2012 Inc. 500/5000 list of the fastest-growing private companies in America, the second year in a row they’ve achieved this distinction.

On a recent campus visit celebrating the 22nd anniversary of the Americans with Disabilities Act, Governor O’Malley announced that UMBC is launching the SUCCESS (Students United in Campus Community Engagement for Post-Secondary Success) Program, Maryland’s first four-year, post-secondary education (non-credit) program for students with intellectual disabilities.  A partnership between the Maryland Department of Disabilities and our Shriver Center, SUCCESS is a pilot program designed to enable Marylanders with intellectual disabilities to develop their independence, critical thinking, problem-solving, and employment skills in a university setting.  UMBC students, working alongside the SUCCESS participants, also will gain valuable skills.  We are excited about this new initiative, which reflects our emphasis on wide-ranging innovation and creativity in teaching and learning.

In another innovative campus initiative being launched this fall – BreakingGround – UMBC is helping to lead an exciting national movement in higher education focused on civic engagement – an already deeply imbedded aspect of our campus culture and character.  Through informal networks, we will be working to link the various civic engagement projects that have been developed over the past decade by student organizations and other units.  Promoting these connections – that foster community, embrace diversity, and celebrate innovation – BreakingGround seeks to empower our students, faculty, and staff as agents of substantive change.  This past spring, for example, the Provost’s Office awarded BreakingGround grants for creating new courses and modifying existing ones to focus students’ attention on processes related to change.  As well, student organizations and campus departments were encouraged to apply for modest implementation grants designed to transform what otherwise would be one-time community service projects into forums focused on civic engagement and change.

Faculty & Staff Achievements

Members of the faculty also have continued to distinguish themselves this year.  In the spring, we recognized Presidential Teaching and Research Professors Terry Bouton (History) and Tim Finin (Computer Science & Electrical Engineering), respectively, whose work reflects the faculty’s commitment to students in the classroom, to research, and to mentoring.  Also, Professor Bimal Sinha (Mathematics & Statistics) received the Regents’ Faculty Award for Excellence in Research/ Scholarship/Creativity, and Professor Penny Rheingans (Computer Science & Electrical Engineering) received the Regents’ Faculty Award for Excellence in Mentoring.  Professor Phyllis Robinson (Biological Sciences) received the President’s Commission for Women Achievement Award.

Many other faculty also received recognition.  For example, Marc Zupan (Mechanical Engineering) received a Fulbright award to teach and conduct research in Portugal at the Faculdade de Engenharia da Universidade do Porto; John Sturgeon (Visual Arts) also received a Fulbright, his second, to serve as Distinguished Chair at the London College of Art; Eric Dyer (Visual Arts) received a Guggenheim award for his filmmaking and experimental animation; Ray Hoff (Physics) has been awarded NASA’s 2012 Distinguished Public Service Medal; Michael Hayden (Physics) was invited to participate in the Research Corporation for Science Advancement’s Cottrell Scholars Collaborative Think-and-Do Tank;  Marie desJardins (Computer Science & Electrical Engineering) was selected as a Distinguished Scientist by the Association for Computing Machinery, the world’s largest educational and scientific computing society; Anne Rubin (History) was elected President of the Society of Civil War Historians; Bruce Walz (Emergency Health Services) received the Lifetime Achievement Award from the National Association of Emergency Medical Services Educators; Sally Shivnan, Director of Writing & Rhetoric, won the travel-writing contest at the Travel Classics International Conference; Raphael Falco (English) was named this year’s Lipitz Professor for the Arts, Humanities, and Social Science; and Rebecca Boehling (History/Dresher Center for the Humanities) has been selected to direct the International Tracing Service in Bad Arolsen, Germany, serving victims of Nazi persecutions and their families by helping them determine the locations and fates of missing family members.

Several staff members also were recognized for their work this year.  Our Presidential Distinguished Staff Award winners include Paul Ciotta (Professional Staff), Technical Coordinator and Facilities Manager in Physics, and Cheryl Johnson (Non-Exempt Staff), Grants Specialist in the Office of Contract and Grant Accounting.  Arlene Odenwald, Director of International Education Services, and Janet Magruder, Business Manager in the Center for Art, Design, and Visual Culture, both received the Regents’ Staff Award for Outstanding Service, and Michele Wolff, Director of the Shriver Center, received the Jakubik Family Endowment Staff Award.   Lynn Rehn, Assistant Vice President and Controller in Financial Services, received the National Association of College & University Business Officers’ Rising Star Award.  In Student Affairs, Dr. Lee Calizo, Director of Student Life, was recognized by the American College Personnel Association with its Women’s Research & Scholarship Award, and Jen Dress, Coordinator of Major Events & Programs, received ACPA’s Outstanding Mid-Level Professional Award.  It’s also significant that dozens of UMBC staff members, both Professional and Non-Exempt, completed university degrees; earned professional, trade, or industry certifications; were elected officials in their professional, trade, or industry associations; and presented at professional conferences.

Finally, we are pleased that so many faculty and staff are benefiting from the campus’s wellness initiative, which includes a variety of programs and training opportunities designed to support the physical, mental, emotional, and financial health of all member of the campus community.

Research & Sponsored Programs

During this uncertain economic period, a major campus priority is maintaining a strong, diversified portfolio of research and sponsored programs.  In FY 2012, contract-and-grant awards totaled $78 million (including more than $58 million in Federal awards), compared to $82 million the year before.  The difference is attributable chiefly to the conclusion of our 10-year cooperative agreement with NASA for the Goddard Earth Sciences & Technology Center (GEST).  NIH, NSF, and NASA continue to be our three heaviest supporters.  On a very positive note, we’ve received several major awards, including most recently $2.6 million in funding to CUERE, which has played a prominent role in our emergence as a leader in environmental sciences.  Our Department of Computer Science & Electrical Engineering received a five-year, $2.5-million grant from NSF to support the production of undergraduate and graduate degrees through cybersecurity courses and mentored research, including research at partner organizations – from Northrop Grumman, Johns Hopkins Applied Physics lab, and Convergent Technologies to the Department of Defense Cyber Crime Institute and PaRaBaL (an industry leader in mobile device security).  Other substantial awards include a $600,000 grant to our Center for Women in Information Technology (CWIT), which brings the Center’s portfolio to more than $800,000; a $980,000 award from GE Healthcare to the Center for Advanced Sensor Technology; a $640,000 grant from Europharma to our new Department of Marine Biotechnology, and two new grants from the Maryland Department of Health & Mental Hygiene to our Maryland Institute for Policy Analysis & Research (MIPAR) for more than $1.5 million.

Other ongoing awards remained substantial and reflect the strong relationships we’ve built over time with external partners, from NSF and NIH to the U.S. Department of Education, National Security Agency, and Howard Hughes Medical Institute (HHMI).  These partnerships not only produce funding and major research-and-training opportunities for faculty and students, but also contribute to our rising national reputation.  For example, our Department of Chemical, Biochemical & Environmental Engineering attracted more than $1.2 million in sponsored programs in FY 2012, and the Hilltop Institute, focused on health policy analysis and research, increased its external support by more than a million dollars this year.

Other significant funding and partnering success stories include a variety of initiatives ranging from graduate education in areas of national need and K-16 math-science education, to arts exhibitions, history education, and language instruction.  These initiatives involve a number of our academic departments, the Imaging Research Center, Center for History Education, Center for Art, Design & Visual Culture, English Language Center, and the Choice Program and other Shriver Center activities.

For our work involving diversity, we continue to receive national visibility and grant support, particularly for successful initiatives focused on women and underrepresented minorities in science and engineering – from ADVANCE (which attracted NSF support for recruiting and advancing women faculty),WISE (our Women in Science & Engineering program), and CWIT to the McNair and Meyerhoff undergraduate and graduate Scholars Programs for preparing minority researchers, and our PROMISE and AGEP (Alliance for Graduate Education & the Professoriate) programs to increase the numbers of minority graduate students in STEM fields.

Student Achievements

Many of our 2012 graduates are beginning graduate and professional programs at top schools across the nation, including, for example, Harvard in virology, the University of Pennsylvania in pharmacology, Vanderbilt and Johns Hopkins in medicine, Hopkins in cognitive science, Washington University in St. Louis in planetary science, and Ohio State in biological anthropology.  Other graduates are launching careers with major corporations, agencies, non-for-profit groups, and public school systems, focusing on financial analysis, software engineering, information systems, education, human services, theatre, and multimedia and graphic design.  Many of these students benefited from internships, co-ops, and service-learning opportunities arranged through the Shriver Center, and placement support provided by the Career Services Center.  In fact, the Shriver Center placed more than 2,400 students this past year (nearly three-quarters of whom were paid), and Career Services worked with hundreds of graduates who report in surveys finding employment related to their career goals shaped by their UMBC education, including “being intellectually challenged” and “serving the greater good.”

Many students have benefited also from wide-ranging opportunities to participate in directed research and creative activities.  Particularly impressive were this year’s publications of the UMBC Review: Journal of Undergraduate Research, and Bartleby, our creative arts journal, as well as our 16th annual Undergraduate Research & Creative Achievement Day featuring hundreds of presentations by students with majors in more than 30 disciplines.  It’s not surprising that the Washington Post wrote this past spring that UMBC “combines the best of a major research center while keeping its focus on undergraduates.”

A number of current undergraduates, graduating seniors, and recent alumni distinguished themselves this year in others ways.  Five students received Fulbright Awards for 2012-13 to teach English in Laos, Malaysia, and Spain and to conduct research in Brazil and Mexico; two students competed successfully for White House internships; and another was elected to the Board of Education of the Prince George’s County Public Schools.  In addition, six students received NSF Graduate Fellowships at Carnegie-Mellon and the University of Michigan (Mechanical Engineering), Rice (Mathematics), the University of Washington (Biochemistry & Molecular Biology), and UNC-Chapel Hill and UM-College Park (Chemistry).  Two students were invited to attend the annual meeting of Nobel Laureates in Lindau, Germany, to which invitations are highly competitive and, according to the judges, are extended to the world’s most promising young researchers based on their ability “to contribute to and share the scientific excellence of the Nobel Laureate Meetings.” Our Baja team of mechanical engineering students participated in national competitions held in Alabama, Wisconsin, and Oregon, placing high in individual categories ranging from acceleration, suspension, and traction to design, maneuverability, hill-climb, and cost.  The UMBC team finished 3rd overall – out of 253 teams.  Our Chess Team was again among the nation’s elite, taking second place in the Pan-American Intercollegiate Team Chess Championship and tying for 2nd place in this year’s Final Four of College Chess.  And the Ethics Bowl Team placed third in the Mid-Atlantic regional tournament.

In intercollegiate athletics, UMBC student-athletes (totaling more than 300) collectively achieved their best yearly GPA (3.0), with more than 30 students earning 4.0 semester GPAs during the year and nearly 100 earning GPAs of 3.5 or higher.  As well, our latest NCAA Academic Progress Rate Report indicates that our student-athletes have a 68% graduation rate, several points higher than our latest overall graduation rate.  Women’s volleyball standout Iman Kennedy, a four-year letter-winner and psychology major with a 3.9 GPA, was among the top 10 national finalists for the 2012 Arthur Ashe Jr. Sports Scholar Award.  Iman begins her studies this fall in the School of Dentistry at UNC-Chapel Hill.  And Curtis Schickner, who captained the baseball team, was selected to serve as Vice Chair of the NCAA’s Student-Athlete Advisory Committee.  An economics major and English minor, Curtis graduated cum laude in May and is working now as an analyst for Exelon Corporation (formerly Constellation Energy).  In competition in the nine-school America East Conference, our men’s and women’s teams earned five 2nd-place finishes (women’s basketball, men’s and women’s swimming and diving, and men’s and women’s tennis).  Moreover, dozens of men’s and women’s student-athletes earned all-conference honors for both their athletic and academic performances this past year.

Capital Projects and the Environment

The campus has been buzzing this past year as construction continued on Phase 1 of our new, $160-million Performing Arts & Humanities Building.  With completion of the first phase, faculty and staff have been delighted and dazzled moving into the new facility this past month.  Not only does the building dramatically enhance the experience of students and faculty, but it also makes UMBC a cultural and intellectual destination in greater Baltimore and beyond.  We also are grateful to the Governor, Maryland legislators, and other officials who authorized funding for Phase-2 construction, which is already underway and scheduled for completion in summer of 2014.  The completed facility promises to be spectacular and another major milestone in the campus’s physical transformation and programmatic development.

We also have been designing another new capital-funded project – the Campus Gateway, which will transform the campus entrance along UMBC Boulevard.  It promises to improve access to campus, reduce traffic backups, prevent accidents, and be a major aesthetic improvement.

The campus has expanded dramatically over the past decade, adding more than 1.5 million square feet of new space – the result of both State-funded capital improvements and building out our research park (bwtech@UMBC).  With completion of the Performing Arts & Humanities Building, campus buildings will total nearly 4 million square feet in area.  The Research Park, which is thriving despite the challenging commercial real estate market, now includes 8 buildings totaling more than half-a-million square feet of space, and houses nearly 100 science-and-tech companies and agencies employing more than 1,100 staff and approximately 130 students and alumni in internships and full-time jobs, respectively.  Also, bwtech@UMBC operates three successful incubators – Life Sciences, Clean Energy, and Cybersecurity.  Building on the strengths of our programs in Computer Science and Information Systems, the Cyber Incubator has provided many opportunities for students and faculty to engage in research and product development.  In fact, in the past two years, bwtech@umbc has attracted 35 cybersecurity companies to the park.

With the campus’s expansion, we have paid increasing attention to both our future physical development and the environmental impact of our actions on the campus landscape, building on our strengths in environmental education and research initiatives.  The wooden footbridge – linking the main campus to both bwtech@UMBC and the green spaces of our Conservation & Environmental Research Areas (CERA) – serves both as both a physical pathway and, symbolically, a bridge linking the campus to our efforts involving economic development and sustainability.

Regarding sustainability, it has been five years since I joined several hundred presidents in signing the American College and University Presidents’ Climate Commitment to express our concern about global warming.  Since then, our Climate Change Task Force, co-chaired by Vice President Lynne Schaefer and Economics Professor Virginia McConnell, has spearheaded our efforts to reduce greenhouse gases in order eventually to achieve climate neutrality (i.e., zero carbon footprint).  To date, we have reduced net carbon emissions by more than 11 percent.  This past January, the Task Force, including faculty, staff, and students, submitted to the Presidents’ Climate Commitment our progress report on the Climate Action Plan, our long-term plan to achieve climate neutrality.  Faculty colleagues from wide-ranging fields have been involved in these initiatives, complementing the work of several academic departments with sustainability-related majors and courses – from Geography & Environmental Systems, Chemistry & Biochemistry, Biological Sciences, Physics, and Civil Engineering to Interdisciplinary Studies, Philosophy, and Public Policy.  Moreover, UMBC is the field headquarters for the Baltimore Ecosystem Study (a federally funded urban ecology project), and we house the U.S. Geological Survey’s regional water science center in the research park.  We also are very proud of our nationally recognized Center for Urban Environmental Research & Education (CUERE), under Claire Welty’s direction, which is collaborating with several other campuses on a $5-million grant from NSF (UMBC’s portion is $1.5 million) to study how urban development affects water quality and supply, and how urban landscapes influence climate.  The environmental work of faculty in our centers, departments, and programs contributes significantly to our development as a research university and our strengths in geosciences.

The campus also benefits from having so many students actively engaged in, and energizing, our sustainability efforts – from our undergraduate and graduate student government leaders to Students for Environmental Awareness (SEA) and our Biodiesel Club.  Their efforts contributed to UMBC’s being recognized the past two years by The Princeton Review in its new Guide to 311 Green Colleges, designed for college applicants and their parents, as one of the nation’s most environmentally responsible colleges.

Fundraising & “Friend-raising”

As Maryland and the nation continue a gradual economic recovery, I’m pleased to report that our endowment is recovering strongly from the downturn a few years ago and has climbed above $60 million, a $2-million increase over this past year and $10 million above our endowment total just two years ago.  We continue building endowment support across all disciplines, reflecting our priorities including student scholarships, fellowships, and internships; faculty development and research; and endowed chairs and professorships.  The campus also raised more than $10.7 million in FY 2012 (slightly more than the previous year), including major new gifts form George and Betsy Sherman and Whiting Turner’s Willard Hackerman.  Also, companies across Maryland and the nation – from T. Rowe Price and GE to Northrop Grumman and Dell – continued investing in the work of our faculty and the promise of our students.

While we continue working with partners on new gifts to the endowment, we also are working to engage alumni more fully in the life of the campus and to develop a strong foundation of alumni giving. We are making progress in this area, as the following example shows.  The Office of Institutional Advancement transformed the garage in Alumni House into a state-of-the-art phonathon “call center,” and more than 40 UMBC students connected with alumni and parents, updated them on the campus’s progress, and invited them to support our students, faculty, and programs. Their efforts contributed to a 17% increase in alumni participation this past year.  And while we still have work to do to achieve our alumni giving goals, we are making steady progress, building a base of consistent donors, and creating a culture of philanthropy that will help to support the UMBC community in the future.

The UMBC Magazine is playing an important role in reconnecting alumni to campus and inspiring them to become involved and contribute financially.  The magazine continues to generate positive comments among alumni and friends of the campus.  And we are hopeful that this fall’s Homecoming celebration, filled with events from October 10-13, will attract more alumni and families than ever, along with many current students, faculty, and staff.  The Outstanding Alumni of the Year Awards will be presented during Homecoming on October 11, and alumni to be honored include Stephanie Hill, ’86 (Computer Science), who now leads Lockheed Martin’s Information Systems & Global Solutions Business, Greg Cangialosi, ’96 (English), a successful technology entrepreneur, and Deborah Randall, ’94 (Theatre), founder and artistic director of the The Venus Theatre Play Shack.

In addition, we have been aggressively “friend-raising,” attracting a steady stream of visitors eager to learn more about us.  This year, again, we’ve hosted visits by leaders of national agencies, corporations, foundations, other universities, school systems, and potential individual donors.  And our faculty, staff, and students continue to travel extensively, speaking about their own interests and experiences, and also about the UMBC experience.

Increasingly, people are learning about us, and this year, in particular, they’re doing so through the national media.  CBS’s 60 Minutes segment in the fall – so effectively highlighting the “UMBC story” – has brought unprecedented attention to our work.

Information Technology Update

The Division of Information Technology (DoIT) continued to provide strong support this year for wide-ranging administrative and academic activities.  It focused special attention on completing  implementation of the recommendations for transforming IT services issued 27 months ago by the IT Restructuring Committee, chaired by Professor Scott Farrow (Economics) and Graduate Dean Janet Rutledge.  DoIT also focused in FY 2012 on improving the web development process, providing remote access to resources, and streamlining the campus model for providing IT staff support.

Security and compliance were major foci this past year as DoIT staff spent nearly 4,000 hours preparing for and supporting the Legislative Auditors during their triennial audit of the campus. It’s significant that the Legislative Audit report, issued this May, did not include a single finding about our efforts in IT, and I want to commend Vice President Jack Suess and the DoIT staff on their efforts.  Of course, success is never final, and DoIT remains focused on continuing to enhance our IT security.

DoIT also continued collaborating with the Library on expanding support for technology.  The launch of the Retriever Learning Center this past year made it necessary to enhance the Library’s IT support, resulting in development of the Technical Support Center, so that we now provide IT support seven days a week from the Library to the UMBC community.  DoIT extended this partnership with the Library over the summer, upgrading computers so students can leverage the latest in software resources.

Revamping our web page development also was a major focus this year.  Increasingly, the web has become the campus’s primary means of communication, and collaborations involving DoIT, Institutional Advancement, the Imaging Research Center, and the Information Systems and Computer Science & Electrical Engineering Departments resulted in development of a new web-hosting environment for the campus that leverages myUMBC.  (DoIT encourages you to visit its new site, or the campus home page to see the results.)  Similarly, we continued to enhance myUMBC, and this past year more than 4,000 people posted to it, and more than 200 groups were using myUMBC.

For most of FY 2012, DoIT staff also were heavily engaged in bringing the new Performing Arts and Humanities Building online – installing and activating the campus network, preparing the computer labs, moving faculty offices, and installing audio/visual systems and digital signage in the building.  Because funding for the new building included upgrading the core network on campus, we’ve deployed a campus data network that is state-of-the-art in American higher education, including upgrading our Internet connection 10-fold, from one gigabit to 10 gigabits; as a result, UMBC is one of the most connected campuses in the country.

In terms of instructional technology, DoIT has been active both on campus and nationally.  UMBC was invited to participate in a Gates Foundation grant to Purdue University involving learner analytics, an area in which UMBC has fast become a national leader.  In addition, we were one of three campuses in the country selected to participate in developing Blackboard’s Learning Analytics module, building on our strong record of success with our “REX” data warehouse.  On campus, DoIT continued partnering with the Faculty Development Center on pedagogical workshops on the use of technology to support active learning in the classroom. DoIT also played an instrumental role in new initiatives supporting team-based learning, expansion of hybrid learning, promoting active learning, and expanding the use of Digital Storytelling to teach multi-media and visual communication skills across disciplines (e.g., partnering with the Erickson School of Aging).

Administratively, DoIT has adopted a new service-request tracking system on campus, extending the new system to Enrollment Management, Financial Services, Human Resources, Residential Life, the Library and other departments.   This past year, DoIT received more than 65,000 requests for support and expects requests to approach 90,000 this year.  Among its efforts to enhance support, DoIT launched a revamped Frequently Asked Question (FAQ) system, which presents many common questions accompanied by a video and text solution.  DoIT has seen a 10-fold increase in the use of the FAQ system and is working this year to extend the system beyond DoIT to other departments.

DoIT also has been working effectively with a number of administrative departments to continue advancing campus administrative priorities, e.g., enhancing available reports, adding new functionality for advisors, and streamlining the back-office grants management processes.

Not surprisingly, UMBC continues attracting national attention reflecting the innovative work DoIT is doing.  In July, for example, we were the lead institution in the launch of EDUCAUSE’s Analytics initiative.  IT Vice President Jack Suess, Institutional Research Director Michael Dillon, and I presented on UMBC’s work involving analytics in a national webinar with more than 1,000 participants.   And DoIT staff have been representing UMBC in the Gates Learning Analytics grant, in a pilot initiative for Blackboard Learner Analytics, and in the New Media Consortium Horizon Project.  They also have presented nationally on our work with Dell to provide Virtual Desktop computing.  Moreover, Jack Suess was elected to the Internet2 Board of Trustees and selected to Chair the InCommon Federation.


 As we begin the new academic year, I want to reinforce the importance of everyone taking very seriously our responsibility to be good stewards of the resources we receive.  As I’ve frequently pointed out over the years, external attention and investment require a consistently high degree of accountability, and also that we hold ourselves to the highest standards, ensuring that our image is substantive.  The regular scrutiny that comes with audits reminds us of our responsibility to stay focused on quality, responsiveness, integrity, and accountability.  This past year, a number of additional Federal, State, and University System audits were conducted.  We fared reasonably well in almost all cases, and we always welcome constructive comments that remind us that we can and should do even more to ensure our strong performance.

Our triennial Legislative Audit was completed this past year, and findings were released in May.  The report pointed out several areas for improvement, and we have moved quickly to address issues raised and implement changes in our processes.  I am very pleased that all of our P-Card supervisors are attending refresher training to ensure that we fulfill our responsibilities in this area.

With continuing growth in contracts and grants, compliance and internal controls are more important than ever.  We have made very good progress this year in strengthening our compliance policies and procedures, including putting our contracts and grants management systems in good order and further expanding our research administration infrastructure so that we can confidently continue expanding sponsored research.  Examples of our progress in this area include implementing a new on-line research administration training and education resource specifically designed for Principal Investigators; making an intensive effort to clear out problems in our contract and grant billing and reporting systems to improve accuracy and timeliness; and making improvements in our effort reporting process so that certification is easier.

As I’ve already touched on, we continue focusing on the three major USM priorities identified by the Regents and Chancellor Kirwan: (1) closing the achievement gap, which, for UMBC, means reaching parity between the six-year graduation rates of African American and white transfer students (since no gap exists among the graduation rates of different groups of first-time freshmen); (2) addressing climate change, on which our Climate Change Task Force is taking the lead; and (3) supporting Maryland’s STEM-related competitiveness, which we are doing in numerous ways, from producing STEM graduates (we continue to lead the State’s universities in the percentage of STEM graduates) and many more professional science master’s degree recipients, to supporting faculty research and technology development and building STEM-education partnerships with surrounding school systems.

Concluding Thoughts

Over the years, putting people first has been at the heart of our success – supporting and guiding students as they learn and grow; supporting faculty in their research and teaching; supporting staff in their work with students and colleagues; and responding to the needs of our growing external constituents.  Whether you’ve been here for decades or recently arrived, you make a difference through your contributions.

I’m observing two important anniversaries at UMBC this year – my 25th since arriving on campus in 1987, and my 20th as President – and I want you to know how much I appreciate your support throughout the years.

In just four years, 2016, we’ll be celebrating the University’s 50th anniversary – Black and Gold’s golden anniversary.  Some are suggesting that conditions today and prospects for the near future – the period leading up to our 50th anniversary – are worse than ever before.  I strongly disagree; in fact, I’m quite optimistic about the future.  I think back to the Great Depression of the 1930s, when many people had the same negative outlook.  Yet President Franklin Roosevelt responded with great optimism because he had faith in the resilience and capacity of the American people – for hard work and compassion.  In his 1937 Inaugural Address, he said,

I see millions denied education…and the opportunity to better their lot and the lot of their children.  I see millions lacking the means to buy the products of farm and factory…I see one-third of a nation ill-housed, ill-clad, ill-nourished.  It is not in despair that I paint you that picture. I paint it for you in hope…The test of our progress is not whether we add more to the abundance of those who have much; it is whether we provide enough for those who have too little. 

It is that same optimism that we feel today about our future as a university and as a nation. We have become a distinctive model of innovation in American higher education and can take great pride in knowing that the rest of the nation is beginning to understand what we already know – that we are a very special place.

As I say every year at this time, it is an honor each day to serve as President.  Thank you.

UMBC New Faculty


Albin O. Kuhn Library

Stephens, James, Librarian I

B.S., Troy State University, 2001; M.S., 2002; M.L.I.S., Florida State University, 2006

Ancient Studies

Rosenbloom, David, Associate Professor

A.B., Cornell University, 1984; M.A., Princeton University, 1986; Ph.D., 1992

Biological Sciences

Gardner, Jeffrey, Assistant Professor

B.S., University of Wisconsin-Madison, 2002; Ph.D., 2008

Gdovin, Susan, Lecturer

B.S., Shippensburg University, 1980; Ph.D., Johns Hopkins University, 1991

Whitworth, Karen, Lecturer

B.S., University of Georgia, 2006; Ph.D., Johns Hopkins University, pending

Chemical, Biochemical and Environmental Engineering

Hennigan, Christopher, Assistant Professor

B.S., University of Florida, 2001; M.S., Georgia Institute of Technology, 2006; Ph.D., 2008

Chemistry and Biochemistry

Allen, Mark, Assistant Professor

B.S., Temple University, 2001; Ph.D., Montana State University, 2006

Computer Science and Electrical Engineering

Banerjee, Nilanjan, Assistant Professor

B.Tech., Indian Institute of Technology, 2004; M.S., University of Massachusetts, 2007; Ph.D., 2009

Chen, Jian, Assistant Professor

M.S., (Mechanical Engineering) Tsinghua University and Tianjin University (joint program) 1999; M.S. (Computer Science), University of Houston, 2002; Ph.D., Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University, 2006

Park, John, Lecturer

A.B., Harvard College, 1980; M.S., Stanford University, 2007


Wilkins, Helanius, Artist-in-Residence

B.S., State University of New York, Brockport, 1995; M.F.A., George Washington University, pending


Rakes, Christopher, Assistant Professor

B.A., University of Kentucky, 1999; M.A., 2000; Ph.D. University of Louisville, 2010


Thomas, Mark, Lecturer

B.A., University of Maryland, Baltimore County, 1976; M.A., Michigan State University, 1983; Ph.D., 1996

Emergency Health Services

Wiseman, Deanna, Clinical Instructor and Clinical Coordinator

Bachelors of Technical and Professional Studies, Towson University, 2009


Purpura, Lia, Writer-in-Residence

B.A., Oberlin College, 1986; M.F.A., University of Iowa, 1990

Rudacille, Deborah, Visiting Professor of the Practice

B.A., Loyola College, 1980; M.A., Johns Hopkins University, 1998

Stevens, Jason, Visiting Assistant Professor

B.A., Haverford College, 1997; M.A., Columbia University, 1998; M.Phil., 2000; Ph.D., 2005


Chapin, Christy, Assistant Professor

B.A., The College of William and Mary, 1997; M.A., University of Virginia, 2005; Ph.D., 2011

Musgrove, Derek, Assistant Professor

B.A., University of Maryland, Baltimore County, 1997; Ph.D., New York University, 2005

Oakes, Julie, Lecturer

B.A., Boston University, 1985; M.A., 1986; M.A., Stanford University, 1997; Ph.D., University of Chicago, 2009

Information Systems

Gethers, Malcom, Assistant Professor/Lecturer

B.S., High Point University, 2005; M.S., University of North Carolina at Greensboro, 2007; Ph.D., The College of William and Mary, pending

Mathematics and Statistics

Dean, Brian, Lecturer

B.S., University of Notre Dame, 1999; M.A., Johns Hopkins University, 2002; Ph.D., 2004

Mechanical Engineering

Lee, Soobum, Assistant Professor

B.S., Yonsei University, Korea, 1998; M.S., KAIST, Korea, 2000; Ph.D., 2007

Romero-Talamas, Carlos, Assistant Professor

B.S., Instituto Technologico y di Estudios Superiores de Monterrey, 1995; Master of Space Studies, International Space University, 1996; M.S., California Institute of Technology, 2000; Ph.D., 2005

Rothman, Neil, Lecturer

B.S., Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute; M.S., Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute; Ph.D., Johns Hopkins University

Modern Languages, Linguistics and Intercultural Communication

Carmody, Sean, Visiting Lecturer

B.A., University of Maryland Baltimore County, 2009; M.A., 2011

Entrambasaguas, Javier, Visiting Assistant Professor

B.A., Universitat de Mallorca and Universidad Autonoma de Madrid, 1997; M.A., University of Michigan, 2007; Ph.D., 2011

Manni, Maria, Lecturer

B.A., University of Rochester, 2007; M.S., Warner School of Education, University of Rochester, 2009

Pellus-Perez, Elena, Visiting Assistant Professor

M.A., Yale University, 2009; M.Phil., 2009; Ph.D., 2012

Perez-Broncano, Olimpia, Visiting Lecturer

B.A., Complutense University of Madrid, 2009; M.A., University of Maryland Baltimore County, 2012


Nance, Jermome, Assistant Professor

B.A., Hendrix College, 2004; Ph.D., 2011


Kestner, Jason, Assistant Professor

B.S., Michigan Technological University, 2004; Ph.D., University of Michigan, 2009


Sun, Shuyan, Assistant Professor/Lecturer

B.A., Beijing Normal University, 2004; M.A., University of Cincinnati,             2008; Ph.D., pending

Social Work

Ekas-Mueting, Adrienne, Clinical Instructor

B.S., Radford University, 1991; M.S.W., Virginia Commonwealth University, 1994; Ph.D., pending

Hoover, Jeanette, Clinical Instructor

B.S.W., The University of the District of Columbia, 1992; M.S.W., The Catholic University of America, 1994

Sociology and Anthropology

Herrera, Angelica, Assistant Professor

B.S., University of California, San Diego, 1998; M.P.H., University at Albany, New York, School of Public Health, 2000; Dr.PH, Loma Linda University, School of Public Health, 2007

Trapp, Micah, Visiting Lecturer

B.A., Denison University, 2002; M.A., American University, 2007; Ph.D., 2011

Trevitt, Jamie, Assistant Professor

B.A., Duke University, 2003; M.P.P., Georgetown University, 2006; Ph.D., The Johns Hopkins University, 2010


Mendelson, Adam, Lecturer

B.A., Tufts University; M.F.A., University of Nebraska-Lincoln

Visual Arts

Smallwood, Eric, Assistant Professor

B.A., University of Maryland, Baltimore County, 2003; M.F.A., 2010