Chancellor's Report to USM Board of Regents on Nov. 12

Report to the USM Board of Regents
Salisbury University| Assembly Hall, Guerrieri Academic Commons

Baltimore, Md. (Nov. 12, 2021)Thank you, Chair Gooden. It’s terrific to see you all in person. And it’s terrific that we’re getting together this way more often than we were. And we are getting together. Over the last few weeks, I’ve been to building dedications and groundbreakings at Towson, UMB, and the USM at Southern Maryland. I’ve hosted town halls at UMBC and, just yesterday, right here at Salisbury. I joined the Coppin and UMB communities in inaugurating their presidents. And let me just say that celebrating with all of you in person is so much better than through a screen.

I add my congratulations to the many members of the USM family named to The Daily Record’s Power 30 List. Our System pretty much dominated that list. We were fully half of it—so I’d say that’s a good showing.

I also congratulate the three members of this board selected as the paper’s 2021 Icons: Chair Linda Gooden, Ike Leggett, Bob Wallace. It’s a fitting recognition of your leadership.

And, finally, I thank our hosts this morning, Salisbury University and President Chuck Wight. As you already heard, these are exciting times at SU: A new branding initiative, a capital campaign, the Dave and Patsy Rommel Center for Entrepreneurship that just opened at Salisbury Downtown.

And yet it’s bittersweet, too, because, of course, Dr. Wight will step down as Salisbury president this coming summer. He closes an impressive chapter in Salisbury’s history. I thank him for all he’s done to elevate Salisbury’s national prominence—both in excellence and in value. I appreciate the considerable investment he’s made in enriching the campus climate. And, of course, I’m grateful for his leadership throughout the pandemic. I really do think Chuck and his team made the entire System better at managing through crisis.

As I mentioned, I met yesterday with Salisbury’s students, faculty, staff, and stakeholders—and they definitely wanted me to know that Dr. Wight’s successor will have a strong foundation on which to build. Thank you, Chuck.

I’ll go through some of the exciting news around the rest of the System, hitting only a few highlights. But, of course, you have my full report, and it’ll be posted online.

It’s rankings season once again, and as much as I maintain—year in and year out—that rankings don’t matter, that rankings are an artificial indicator of excellence, I will, once again, celebrate the fact that our universities are well represented in just about all of them. And, yes, I readily acknowledge the hypocrisy.

Between U.S. News, the Wall Street Journal/Times Higher Ed, Washington Monthly, and a couple of other national publications, every USM institution has been singled out for praise. And that’s a testament to our abiding excellence.

So let me tell you about that excellence.

Since our last meeting just two short months ago, UMBC has won more than $70 million to lead significant research partnerships: $38 million for a NASA-funded Earth science collaboration; $13 million from the NSF for a climate-focused data science institute; another $10 million from NASA to support sun and space research; and $10 million from the USDA to lead an aquaculture partnership. That’s an amazing run in building the research enterprise. Congratulations, Freeman.

Bowie State also secured some really impressive grants. The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services awarded Bowie $10 million—the school’s largest grant in two decades—to improve public health IT. And the NSF came through with $1 million to establish a High Performance Intelligent Data Science Institute.

Towson University is raising its profile in cybersecurity with a $2.2 million grant from the NSA to lead an effort cataloging and improving U.S. cybersecurity curricula. And in two separate projects, TU has received $3.8 million from the U.S. Department of Education. One project improves instruction for English language learners—the fastest growing population in our public schools—and one serves students with autism spectrum disorder.

In a massive partnership with California Community Colleges, UMGC is expanding its already huge reach. The transfer partnership opens up UMGC’s 90+ online programs to more than 2 million students enrolled in California’s 116 community colleges. Also, on the day after Veterans Day, it’s gratifying to note that the Military Times just ranked UMGC  No. 1 among educational institutions for recruiting and supporting employees who’ve served their country. Thank you, Greg.

Huge congratulations are due to UMES President Heidi Anderson, who was just named board chair-elect of the American Association of State Colleges and Universities. It’s such a notable distinction. She’ll serve her term in 2023. Plus, UMES just inked a partnership with Alaska Airlines in a bid to remove the barriers that prevent pilots of color from entering and advancing in aviation science. And finally, NOAA renewed its five-year, $30 million commitment to the school’s Living Marine Resources Cooperative Science Center, which diversifies the marine sciences.

UMCES knows a thing or two about the marine sciences, and they made a huge splash last month with the news that they had sequenced the full genome of a Maryland institution—the blue crab. Mapping the blue crab’s DNA will help scientists understand how likely the crabs are to reproduce successfully, which will strengthen—in equal measure—Maryland’s ecosystem and our economy. Plus, it’ll keep all of us in steamed crabs for years to come. So thank you, Peter. Thank you, UMCES.

Frostburg announced $1.5 million in federal funding to advance clean energy, IT, and biotech training at FSU through the Western Maryland Advanced Technology Center. The center is a partnership stimulating job creation, workforce development, and economic growth in Western Maryland. And, in a bid to reach adult learners, Frostburg just launched a series of Working Professional Certificates, including programs in Manufacturing Leadership, Small Business Management, and Nonprofit Management.

And while I’m talking about Western Maryland, I’m relieved to say it looks like West Virginia Gov. Jim Justice will not be able to lay claim to Frostburg and the USM at Hagerstown. That’s great news, since next month USMH hosts its Feaste & Frolic scholarship fundraiser, which is one of our most anticipated events all year long. So it’s a good thing it’ll stay here in Maryland.

UBalt’s Schaefer Center for Public Policy this month marked the 100th birthday of William Donald Schaefer, and I had the privilege of presenting the 2020 Schaefer Award for Public Service to someone incredibly deserving of the honor, Sr. Helen Amos of Mercy Health Services. Also, UBalt’s Negotiations and Conflict Management program is partnering with the Federal Mediation and Conciliation Service to offer collaborative dispute resolution education and research opportunities—for university students and faculty, and for federal mediators. And, Kurt, I just want to say that I’m all in on the UBalt branding. I didn’t slip up once.

The past few weeks have seen College Park cement its place as a global quantum powerhouse. The university won a $5 million award from the NSF to lead a multi-institutional team in developing prototype quantum routers and modems, which will pave the way for a quantum internet. Also, College Park’s Quantum Startup Foundry announced three founding members, one of which—IonQ—won the 2021 Innovation Award from the Association of University Research Parks. And, Darryll, let me congratulate you on raising an incredible $1.5 billion through your Fearless Ideas campaign. More than 110,000 donors believe that Fearless Ideas can change the world—and so do I.

Last month, I joined President Pines and a host of VIPs at the USM at Southern Maryland, where we cut the ribbon on the SMART Building. It was wonderful to see so many partners gathered together—from academia, industry, and government—and to celebrate the impact this building will have on education access, R&D, and economic growth. It’s a breakthrough for the region.

And then it was great to see so many of you again, as we formally installed Bruce Jarrell as UMB president. During the inauguration, Dr. Jarrell announced that his childhood friend, Lawrence Hayman, was making an $18 million gift to UMB, supporting students and health care providers right here on the Eastern Shore, where the two men grew up. At Dr. Jarrell’s inauguration, I thanked UMB for its central role in taming COVID, for changing the arc of this disease, for saving—literally—millions of lives through their groundbreaking research and clinical care. We’ve recently seen UMB’s scholarship in the FDA’s approval of mix-and-match boosters and in the authorization of vaccines for young children. Bruce, as COVID releases its grip on us just a little, I know we all owe a profound debt of gratitude to you and your people.

We also just installed Anthony Jenkins as Coppin’s eighth president. In one of his first acts following that formal installation, Dr. Jenkins announced a $1,200 tuition credit for all Coppin students who register for the spring ‘22 semester. The credit directly reduces students’ tuition and fee balance. We know institutional aid works. It improves retention. It improves completion. And it’s a lifeline for students still struggling to get by.

In a similar vein, the Universities at Shady Grove recently hosted the ninth annual induction ceremony for the Montgomery County Business Hall of Fame, raising nearly $200,000 for USG scholarships. Since the Hall of Fame was established in 2012, it’s raised $1.5 million in scholarship funding for USG students.

These last two items make a good segue for my close, which involves students. And that’s fitting, since they’re the reason we do what we do.

First, an announcement that it’s Student Regent nomination season. We know our schools are home to the best and brightest—just look at the two student regents they produced this year. So we hope to see a great crop of candidates. The deadline for nominations is the end of this month, Nov. 30. And the governor will make his appointments next spring. I thank all of our vice presidents for student affairs, who’ve brought such amazing candidates to our attention.

And finally, there’s someone pretty special I want to introduce you to: Julia Mohr is a second year student right here at Salisbury. Julia is our fall 2020 Kelly Regent Scholarship award winner, which is a merit award given by the Board of Regents. Julia is a double major—psychology and biology—and she plans to continue her education past her bachelor’s degree, pursuing either medical school or a physician assistant program.

She’s a member of the Student Military Veterans Association. She works in the Veteran’s Affairs Office here at Salisbury. And she’s an active Army Airborne Reservist stationed at Fort Bragg, North Carolina. What that means is that she drives round-trip during the week for her reservist responsibilities. I’ll stop you right now from getting out your phones: That’s a 6½-hour drive each way.

So, with that, I’d like to formally end my own report and ask Julia to come to the podium. Julia?

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Contact: Mike Lurie
Phone: 301.445.2719