Chancellor's Report to USM Board of Regents on April 29

Baltimore, Md. (April 29, 2022)Thank you, Chair Gooden. What a wonderful morning it’s been already, with the recognition of our outstanding faculty. It was an honor to thank them for their scholarship and their service.

I also thank Dr. Joshi for the forum on student mental health. We know the last couple of years have exacerbated what’s already a mental health crisis on college campuses. It’s an issue that’s profoundly important to us, and I appreciate the chance to discuss it.

Turning to this board, I offer you my thanks for selecting such a worthy successor to UMBC Pres. Freeman Hrabowski. The universal praise that’s greeted the appointment of Dr. Valerie Ashby is a striking endorsement of your work. You all know that Freeman’s on his 2022 Farewell Tour, so we’ll have many opportunities to celebrate his legacy, and to share our excitement at Dr. Ashby’s arrival.

Finally, I thank Pres. Schatzel for hosting us today—and for showcasing TU’s excellence. It’s not hard to do. The Tigers just celebrated impressive Fulbright recognition, with one student and three recent alums receiving Fulbright awards that will advance their teaching and research in Spain, Italy, and the UK. It was Towson’s most prolific Fulbright cycle yet.

As we speak, the university has two student-led startups competing for more than $200,000 in prize money at E-Fest, the country’s premier college entrepreneurship challenge. And earlier this month, Towson held a grand opening for this beautifully expanded and renovated University Union, a “Brand New U” to accommodate TU’s significant growth. Congratulations, Kim.

As I expand my remarks to the rest of the System, I’ll remind you that my full report is online. I start with our excellence, and there are plenty of examples to be found.

U.S. News & World Report released its Graduate School rankings recently, and the System was abundantly represented. College Park had 56 Top 25 programs, including several Top 10s. At UMB, every school clinched an overall ranking in the Top 25 or had individual Top 25 programs. UMB’s School of Nursing had five Top 10 specialties. And our newest R1 university, UMBC, ranked in statistics, computer science, and several engineering disciplines. My congratulations to you all.

But it wasn’t just our R1s that made the cut. Every eligible USM institution made the rankings, including: Education at Frostburg and Salisbury; Computer science at Bowie State and Towson; Rehabilitation Counseling at Coppin State and UMES. Meanwhile, the clinical training program at UBalt Law clinched a Top 10 spot. 

I want to note one more ranking: VIQTORY, which serves military personnel and their spouses transitioning into civilian life, has given five of our universities its Military-Friendly Schools rating: Salisbury, Towson, UBalt, UMES, and—for the 11th straight year—Frostburg.

Salisbury has excelled in Fulbright awards, with a record nine students or recent alumni selected for the upcoming cycle of the Fulbright Student Program. And for the cycle that’s wrapping up soon, SU was one of just five U.S. institutions recognized as both a top producer of Fulbright students and a top producer of Fulbright scholars. Chuck, congratulations.

Let’s move beyond institutional excellence and look at individual excellence. A total of 4 UMBC students—Christopher Slaughter, Rachel Myers, Tobi Majekodunmi, and D’Juan Moreland were named Goldwater Scholars, as were three College Park students—Patrick Kim, George Li, and Kevin Tu. They’ll receive substantial scholarships for advanced study in science, engineering, and math.

And we just got news that three USM faculty members—among only 28 scholars nationwide—were named 2022 Carnegie Fellows: From College Park, Sarah Cameron, in the Department of History, and Rashawn Ray in Sociology; and from UMBC, George Derek Musgrove, in History. This is one of the most prestigious prizes in the humanities and social sciences. Each fellow receives $200,000 to support their research and writing.

At Bowie State, junior Paige Blake was appointed by President Biden to serve on his Board of Advisors on HBCUs. She’s one of only 18 members of the board, and serves alongside some of the country’s most prominent leaders in education, business, the arts, advocacy, and culture. Congratulations, Paige.

Our universities are growing their programs and their reach.

Frostburg has introduced three new academic programs, including one that’s in partnership with UMES, an accelerated Pharmacy track that allows completion of a PharmD—that’s bachelor’s through doctorate—in just six years.

The NSA recently designated Bowie State a National Center of Academic Excellence in Cyber Defense, meaning the school’s students will be heavily recruited for the U.S. front lines in cybersecurity.

UMGC has several new partnerships, including one with Guild Education that will open up UMGC’s range of career-focused degree and certificate programs to many more adult learners. Plus, UMGC is working with the ed-tech company VictoryXR, using virtual and augmented reality to create a “digital twin campus” and make their online classes more immersive and interactive. 

At UMB, the School of Medicine’s new Center for Advanced Research Training and Innovation will grow and develop the next generation of clinician-scientists and biomedical research-scientists. The center will be led by Dr. Al Reece, as he transitions back to the faculty following his 16 years as dean.

And in a feel-good story, CSU Pres. Anthony Jenkins traveled to Philadelphia last month for the renaming of the former Andrew Jackson Elementary School. The school is now Fanny Jackson Coppin Elementary, in honor of the trailblazing educator. But Pres. Jenkins had a surprise in store. In Philly, he announced free tuition to CSU for any Coppin Elementary alum after they graduate high school. What a great way to grow the pipeline!

Let me turn to the partnerships, grants, and gifts that are amplifying our academic, economic, and social impact.

Coppin State announced a partnership with the Charles Schwab Foundation and Advisor Services that will position the university as a major hub for financial education and services. Accompanied by the single largest gift in CSU history, this partnership will bring diversity to the financial services industry—making it more reflective of current and future investors—and build wealth in communities long deprived of it.

UMCES has entered into an expansive partnership with Baltimore-based U.S. Wind. With $11 million in funding over eight years, UMCES will execute three research projects aimed at understanding the potential effects of offshore wind development on marine mammals, fish, and birds. The timing of these projects is critical, as offshore wind farms make their way to Maryland’s coast.

Building on the high-profile success of its partnership with Alaska Airlines, UMES just announced that Republic Airways is its latest corporate aviation partner. And Troon, the world’s biggest golf and club management company, just launched a scholarship program for students in UMES’s PGA Golf Management program.

With a gift from Whiting-Turner—matched by Maryland’s E-Nnovation Fund—Towson is launching an interdisciplinary cybersecurity center and appointing its first endowed professor of cybersecurity.

Researchers at UMB’s School of Medicine won $5.5 million from NIH to prepare the next generation of global health scientists. Two College Park faculty won $2.6 million from the Defense Department to study how national security and climate change intersect nationally and globally.

In philanthropy news, the estate of George Miles, a NASA engineer, made two huge gifts supporting student scholarships—$3.3 million apiece to Salisbury and UMES. And the largest gift in UMBC’s history—$21 million from the Sherman Family Foundation—will launch the Betsy and George Sherman Center. The center will expand and integrate UMBC’s work in teacher preparation, school partnerships, and applied research focused on early childhood education and improved outcomes for Baltimore City students.

This kind of outreach and engagement are emblematic of the System’s commitment to service and social justice.

College Park recently broke ground on Collins Plaza, honoring 1st Lt. Richard Collins, a Bowie State student killed on the College Park campus in 2017. Pres. Pines and Pres. Breaux used the ceremony to rededicate themselves and their universities to racial equity and justice.

UBalt launched its Center for Criminal Justice Reform. With a gift from UBalt Law alum Sam Rose, the center will address a criminal justice system plagued by mass incarceration, inequitable prosecution, juvenile justice failures, and rising violence. And on the world stage, UBalt Law Prof. Margaret Johnson was just announced as a Fulbright Scholar. She’ll continue her study of gender equity issues in Australia.

BSU just became the nation’s first HBCU to sponsor a national PBS film. The subjects are certainly worth it. The documentaries, produced by Firelight Films, explore the lives and work of two Maryland natives—both towering figures in the struggle to end slavery: Harriet Tubman and Frederick Douglass.

And—as part of a groundbreaking partnership with the International Rescue Committee—College Park is temporarily housing refugee and evacuee families from Afghanistan—people who worked alongside U.S. military personnel. This approach to resettlement is the first-of-its-kind for a public university, and I know UMD is proud to offer these families sanctuary as the IRC helps them find permanent housing, jobs, counseling, and services. Darryll, thank you for your compassion and humanity.

As chancellor, I’m justifiably proud of so much we do as a System. Certainly, our commitment to service is among my greatest sources of pride.

I’d like to turn now to the just completed legislative session. The operating budget submitted by the governor and approved by the legislature showed historic support for higher education and for the USM. The budget cuts we suffered early in the pandemic were fully restored, and tens of millions of dollars were added in new funding. This generous support will allow us to expand financial aid for students and keep college affordable for more Marylanders.

New funding for our HBCUs will enable scholarships, faculty recruitment, and academic innovation. State dollars supporting the operation of new and renovated facilities will expand education and research capacity across the state. And money allocated for pay raises will help us attract and retain the faculty and staff who are the very people responsible for Maryland’s unparalleled success in college attainment and quality.

Turning to the capital budget, I again use the word “historic.” The General Assembly approved every one of our projects included in the Governor’s Capital Budget, committing more than $500 million, the largest single-year capital appropriation ever for the USM. Projects supported include the Chemistry Building at College Park; the Martin Luther King, Jr. Communication Arts and Humanities Building at BSU; the College of Health Professions Building at TU; the School of Pharmacy and Health Professions Building at UMES; and significant funding for facilities renewal Systemwide.

Clearly, our leaders in Annapolis value public higher education. Clearly, they’re invested in it—in us. They understand that Maryland’s place in the knowledge economy is unsurpassed, and that the System’s excellence is what sets Maryland apart from its competitors and drives its success. I’m grateful to Gov. Hogan and the legislature for their commitment to the University System and the work we do.

I’m grateful, as well, to our government relations team—led by Patrick Hogan and his colleagues throughout the USM—for steering us through such a productive session. They had a big assist from Academic and Student Affairs, led by Jo Boughman, and Admin and Finance, led by Ellen Herbst. Thank you.

One final thought before I close: Things obviously look very different today than they did even a year ago. Federal and state public health authorities have begun transitioning their COVID disease response from a pandemic to an endemic phase of infection. And Systemwide, our vaccination rates are high, and disease positivity rates are low.

And so as we enter this next phase of endemic disease, the USM strongly encourages all of our students, faculty, and staff—unless exempted—to be fully vaccinated, and up-to-date on all booster shots when eligible, so that we’re well positioned to remain safe this coming fall. Of course, we’ll continue to analyze data and policy developments, so that our universities have what they need as they consider campus protocols going forward. I thank all of our institutions for their continued leadership in protecting public health and safety.

Madame Chair, this concludes my report.

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Contact: Mike Lurie
Phone: 301.445.2719