The USM in 2010: 

Responding to the Challenges that Lie Ahead

University of Maryland
Center for Environmental Science

Mission: The University of Maryland Center for Environmental Science (UMCES) advances knowledge through scientific discovery, integration, application and teaching, all leading toward a holistic understanding of our environment and natural resources. UMCES is the only institution of the USM whose statutory mission is the development of a comprehensive program of environmental research, education, and service. The Center's mission extends to the application of science into effective environmental and natural resource policies and the education of the next generation of environmental scientists and managers.

Goal I

USM academic programs will evolve to meet the changing educational needs of a growing and increasingly diverse undergraduate and graduate student population and will enhance the quality of life for all Maryland citizens.

The University of Maryland Center for Environmental Science (UMCES) is a non-degree granting institution, but is extensively involved in education at many levels, from school children to doctoral candidates. Over 140 graduate students matriculated at various USM institutions (UMCP, FSU, UMB, UMES) study directly under the UMCES faculty and train in its laboratories. The majority of these students are enrolled in the multi-campus Marine-Estuarine-Environmental Sciences (MEES) Program; others are enrolled in programs based at Frostburg State University and the University of Maryland, Baltimore. In 1993, the National Research Council (NRC) ranked the MEES Program at the University of Maryland, College Park, as the nation's 10th best doctoral research program in oceanography, largely on the basis of the quality of the UMCES faculty. The Center is committed to raising that ranking when the NRC completes its next review in 2003 as stipulated in its Managing for Results (MFR) report.

In developing the Center's strategic plan, Crossing Boundaries: A Strategy for the University of Maryland Center for Environmental Science Beyond 2000, it was widely recognized by faculty and students that now was the time to build on success by increasing the rigor and national reputation, not the size, of the Center's graduate education efforts. The Center is committed to attracting and retaining top graduate students by: 1) streamlining the application process and offering timely fellowships to top applicants; 2) elevating the rigor of the curriculum by updating course content, diversifying courses offered, and ensuring that the basic pillars are covered early; and 3) collectively raising the standards the faculty expects in research theses. UMCES plans to increase average incoming GRE scores by 25 points over the next four years (MFR goal).

UMCES has a unique and statutory obligation to provide environmental education to K-16 students, teachers, and the general public. The Center has invested significant resources to maintain a sizeable environmental education center at its Horn Point Laboratory, a visitor's center at its Chesapeake Biological Laboratory, and an extensive outreach program in partnership with the Maryland Sea Grant College Program. Additionally, each summer the Center hosts approximately 50 undergraduate interns and 25 schoolteachers for research training.

In Crossing Boundaries the Center made a major commitment to do more to achieve an environmentally literate society needed for a sustainable and prosperous Maryland by: 1) expanding its environmental education programs at the Appalachian Laboratory and Chesapeake Biological Laboratory; 2) advancing effective collaboration among other USM programs, schools, and regional environmental education centers; 3) assisting in the implementation of the Chesapeake Bay Program environmental education initiative; and 4) delivering real-world data and information about the regional environment through the Web. UMCES plans to double teacher training and expand the number of K-12 students by 25% by 2004 (MFR report).


Goal II

USM research and scholarship will position Maryland as a national leader in science, technology and other key areas, providing the knowledge and infrastructure to ensure the State's continued economic growth, sustainable development and international competitiveness.

During the development of Crossing Boundaries the Center's principal external clients emphasized that the Center's role as the most influential Chesapeake Bay research institution was based on the quality and credibility of its research. These partners recognized that the Center's effectiveness is based on the global perspectives and experience of its faculty, which provide context for our understanding of Maryland's environments. Research excellence has also brought significant external support from federal and private sponsors to greatly expand the scope and volume of UMCES research. The Center's most fundamental commitment is to ensure that it performs scientific research of the first rank, thus allowing it to remain a national leader in environmental science and effective in guiding environmental protection and responsible use of natural resources. In particular, the Center is well positioned to help Maryland advance its international status as a leader in sustainable development and to ensure the high quality of life key to economic prosperity in the 21st century.

Scientific quality requires relentless commitment to the improvement of existing capabilities and careful selection of new directions. The Center will, in particular, continue to foster integrative, collaborative research in ecosystem ecology, oceanography, chemistry and toxicology, and fisheries science and champion the transdisciplinary approaches needed to address regional environmental research and global-scale problems. It is addressing the key challenges for environmental science in this new century, focusing particularly on understanding large-scale changes in our environment, understanding the complexity of nature, improving our ability to make the predictions about our future, and providing the know-how to restore damaged ecosystems. Through innovative, relevant research, UMCES will at the same time address contemporary environmental management needs and provide the essential foundations for modern graduate education.

Goal III

The USM will achieve its legislative mandate of national eminence and its fundamental mission to serve the public good while carefully managing growth and developing System resources.

As its vision statement declares, the Center has continued to evolve as a globally eminent, yet locally relevant, institution dedicated to discovery, integration, application and education concerning the environment and natural resources. UMCES has been extremely successful at receiving competitive awards to support its research endeavors. In 1997, the Center ranked in the top 75 percentile for awards per faculty member of Carnegie I Research Institutions. Since then the value of awards received has grown by over 50%, exceeding $17 million in both FY 1999 and 2000. The Center is committed to reaching the top 85 percentile and over $20 million in awards by 2004 (MFR report).

UMCES has long been engaged in the application of its science to practical matters. However, the times demand that we find more effective and powerful ways to pursue the scholarship of integration and applicationto bring science directly to bear on the public good. In Crossing Boundaries, UMCES committed to establish and sustain an Integration and Application Network (IAN), which will grow to become a rich and interactive information and knowledge resource for the University System and the region.

The Center already has an excellent reputation for cost-effective management through a combination of appropriately centralized or decentralized administration. It will use information technology to gain further efficiencies, while improving the effectiveness of scientific project management. It will also work to implement its capital improvement program, which over the next ten years will provide the research facilities required in the early 20th century. It will diversify its financial base by attracting more private support while remaining highly competitive for federal funding. Finally, the Center will continue to commit resources for salaries needed to recruit and retain outstanding scientists (reaching the 75th percentile by 2004, MFR report) and provide for the professional development of its staff.

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