As the new academic year progresses, the University System of Maryland (USM) has much to celebrate-top national rankings, major grants and gifts, progress on key initiatives, and new leadership. I am pleased to update you on these and other news and activities across the USM. Clearly, the system continues to help advance the State of Maryland's priorities of excellence, opportunity, and economic growth.
Before I begin my update, I want to take this opportunity to once again pay tribute to Dr. John S. Toll, a true giant of higher education, who died this past summer. Dr. Toll was the founding chancellor of the USM and was dedicated to advancing excellence throughout the system. And while he will certainly be greatly missed by his family, friends, and colleagues in higher education, his truly was a life well lived. Much of the USM's success underscores his proud legacy.
NEW RANKINGS HIGHLIGHT NATIONAL EMINENCE
USM institutions once again have been recognized among the nation's top universities. According to the 2012 edition of U.S. News & World Report's America's Best Colleges rankings, the University of Maryland, Baltimore County (UMBC) ranked No. 1 among "up-and-coming" national universities for the third straight year. UMBC also placed 4th on the list of top national universities "where the faculty has an unusual commitment to undergraduate teaching."
The University of Maryland, College Park (UMCP) rose from 18th to 17th best among all U.S. national public universities, with 71 undergraduate and graduate programs ranked in the U.S. News Top 25.
Salisbury University and Towson University ranked 9th and 11th, respectively, in the Public Regional Universities (North) category.
Among the nation's 80 historically black colleges and universities, the University of Maryland Eastern Shore (UMES) improved three spots for a ranking of 25th.
NEW TOWSON PRESIDENT; SEARCH UNDERWAY AT UMES
I invite you to welcome Maravene S. Loeschke, who will begin her tenure as president of Towson University on January 1, 2012.This will be a homecoming for Dr. Loeschke, who earned both her bachelor's and master's degrees from Towson and spent more than 30 years there as both an educator and administrator. Her expansive vision, inclusive leadership style, and unfaltering commitment to excellence will serve the university and the entire university system extremely well.
I also thank Dr. Marcia Welsh, who is doing an outstanding job as TU's acting president. She will continue in that capacity until January.
The work of the UMES Presidential Search Committee is continuing to move forward. Mortimer H. Neufville, a former vice president for academic affairs at UMES, is serving as interim president.
GENEROUS GIFTS SUPPORT EXCELLENCE
Recently I had the pleasure of hosting a dinner honoring the W. P. Carey Foundation in recognition of its $30 million gift to the University of Maryland School of Law in Baltimore, the largest in the school's history and one of the largest in the history of the USM. In addition, Baltimore developer and UMCP alumnus Edward St. John pledged $10 million to UMCP to support a new, state-of-the-art teaching and learning center on campus. With these and other impressive gifts, USM institutions have raised more than $1.7 billion during the current federated capital campaign
UMCP-UMB MERGER STUDY ON TRACK
The Maryland Legislature earlier this year approved budget language requiring the USM office to submit a study-by December 15, 2011-examining the advantages and disadvantages of merging the University of Maryland, College Park (UMCP) and the University of Maryland, Baltimore (UMB). Guided by our new Board of Regents Chairman Orlan Johnson, the study is underway. The regents have scheduled two public hearings at which interested parties will offer their perspectives on the study. The first will be 3-5 pm Friday, October 21, at UMB. The second will be 1-3 pm Friday, October 28, at UMCP. If you are interested in testifying in person or in writing, please visit: http://www.usmd.edu/regents/UMCP-UMBMergerStudy/RTS.html
POWERING MARYLAND FORWARD
The Board of Regents late last year approved our new strategic plan: Powering Maryland Forward - USM's 2020 Plan for More Degrees, a Stronger Innovation Economy, and a Higher Quality of Life. As I have noted in prior letters, the plan has-at its heart-two key goals. The first is advancing Maryland toward the state's established goal of having 55 percent of our young adult population holding an associate's or bachelor's degree. The second is enhancing Maryland's competitiveness and building Maryland's innovation economy through R&D, technology transfer and commercialization, and workforce development
Throughout the USM, our institutions are executing their implementation plans as approved by the board. And I continue to discuss the plan in detail with key groups around the state, including most recently with the Maryland Chamber of Commerce and the Greater Baltimore Committee. We will prepare a detailed progress report later this year to provide the most up-to-date information.
Obviously, as business leaders, opinion makers, and policy experts, you fully understand the extent to which we all have a stake in the success of this plan. As we move toward the 2012 legislative session, I hope I can count on your support and advocacy. The full strategic plan can be viewed here: http://www.usmd.edu/10yrplan/USM2020.pdf
NSF GRANT LEADS TO MORE COLLABORATION
The University of Maryland, College Park (UMCP) has received a five-year, $27.5 million grant from the National Science Foundation to establish the National Socio-Environmental Synthesis Center (SESYNC) in Annapolis. The world-class center will foster innovative partnerships involving UMCP, Coppin State University, and the University of Maryland Center for Environmental Science to identify and develop policy solutions for today's most pressing environmental challenges.
HELPING MORE STUDENTS GET ON COLLEGE TRACK
On Saturday, November 12, 2011, the USM will hold its seventh Way2GoMaryland event. The program at Coppin State University will attract middle-school and early high-school students-and their parents/guardians-from Baltimore City and County. The Way2GoMaryland information campaign, which aims to help more Maryland students begin preparing for college early, has reached thousands of students, parents and guardians through events and partnerships around the state, printed materials, and a website (way2gomaryland.org).
On May 5, 2012, Way2GoMaryland takes its programming to Western Maryland on the campus of Frostburg State University.
LET ME HEAR FROM YOUAs always, I very much appreciate hearing from you. If you would like to offer feedback on this letter or any other USM news, please write me at: firstname.lastname@example.org. Also let me know if you'd like a printed copy of our strategic plan Powering Maryland Forward and/or the FY 2011 annual report I presented to the Board of Regents recently.
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University System of Maryland