Chancellor's Report to USM Board of Regents on June 17

Baltimore, MD (June 17, 2022)Thank you, Chair Gooden. Let me also thank our host this morning, Pres. Anderson. There’s so much happening at UMES, and I’m gratified we’re all here to see it first-hand. I know the governor got out ahead of us by a few days, but it’s only right that UMES is winning so much attention.

I echo Chair Gooden in saying farewell to our regents D’Ana Johnson, Gary Gill, and Ada Beams. And we look forward to celebrating them later this year at Hidden Waters. Of course, we’re excited to welcome new leaders to the System, as well: Dr. Valerie Sheares Ashby at UMBC, and Dr. Carolyn Ringer Lepre at Salisbury.

Today’s remarks—and my accompanying written report—serve as my Annual Report to the board. Given that this is a year-in-review, my comments will include recent news, but also some of the biggest achievements our schools have celebrated over the past 12 months. 

I begin with our host today—UMES. As President Anderson shared, it’s an exciting time for the school. Last year, UMES launched its True North partnership with Alaska Airlines to remove the barriers that prevent students of color from entering aviation science. And this year, they named their first scholarship recipient, Izaiah Brown.

UMES’s PGA Golf Management Program also got a boost. Troon has announced scholarships for students enrolled in the program, which is the only one of its kind among U.S. HBCUs.

Just last month, Princeton University announced a partnership with UMES and four fellow Historically Black Institutions. The project funds and promotes research between HBCU faculty and their counterparts at the Ivy League school. Heidi, congratulations.

The University of Maryland, College Park had a year that again proved its leadership in innovation. Last summer, the NSF awarded College Park $15 million to lead the Mid-Atlantic Innovation Hub, training science and engineering researchers in entrepreneurship so they can advance U.S. global leadership in innovation thinking.

And last fall, the university announced a $20 million partnership with quantum computing startup IonQ to create the National Quantum Lab at Maryland, cementing College Park as the worldwide hub for quantum innovation. This spring, the university dedicated the E.A. Fernandez IDEA Factory, a $67 million building designed to foster technology development in quantum engineering, robotics, rotorcraft, and multimedia.

And I was grateful to join Pres. Pines and Pres. Breaux at last month’s dedication of the plaza honoring Lt. Richard Collins III, memorializing the Bowie State student and serving as a daily repudiation of the bigotry and hate that took his life. Darryll, thank you for your leadership.

Frostburg State University has elevated its efforts in student access and success. Frostburg began the year announcing improved transfer agreements with Allegany College of Maryland and Garrett College, providing students a more seamless transition into FSU. They’ve also enhanced the first-year experience for all students, providing them a university advisor and a faculty mentor to help them adjust to campus life.

Frostburg’s new accelerated Pharmacy track partnership with our host institution, UMES, allows completion of a Doctor of Pharmacy in just six years. And, finally, FSU alumni and friends rallied for Frostburg’s first-ever Bobcat Giving Day. More than 1,200 donors gave $150,000 to FSU in just 24 hours—showing how committed they are to Frostburg’s students, programs, and services. Well done, Ron.

At the University of Baltimore, the Bob & Renee Parsons Foundation committed $2.4 million to support veteran and active military students. It will enrich UBalt’s abiding focus on students connected to the armed services.

Earlier this year, UBalt launched its Center for Criminal Justice Reform, made possible by School of Law alumnus Sam Rose. And last December, UBalt celebrated the very first graduate of its Second Chance College Program. James Ruffin III began his college career at the Jessup Correctional Facility and ended it five years later crossing the stage at the Lyric Opera House, with a degree in Human Services Administration. The System is exploring following UBalt’s lead in expanding prison education.

And finally, this summer, Baltimore City 10th and 11th graders will be immersed in augmented reality at UBalt’s Space Tech Camp, supported by NASA’s Minority University Research and Education Project. Thank you, Kurt.

Bowie State University began the year cutting the ribbon on its Entrepreneurship Living Learning Community, creating an environment that stimulates innovation and collaboration. Not long after that, 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 informatics and technology.

I have to give some love to two BSU student stand-outs: Junior Paige Blake was appointed to President Biden’s Board of Advisors on HBCUs, joining some of the nation’s best-known Black leaders in business, academia, and entertainment. And, Sunday night, there was a LOT of cheering all across Maryland as BSU junior Myles Frost took home a Tony for his role in MJ: The Musical. It was Mr. Frost’s Broadway debut, and his win made history: He’s the youngest solo performer ever to clinch Best Actor! Aminta, I know how proud you are.

Salisbury University began the academic year with a new brand campaign—Make Tomorrow Yours—promising students that they’ll be seen, heard, and celebrated at SU. Salisbury made good on that promise with the Dave and Patsy Rommel Center for Entrepreneurship, which supports student ventures—and with their extraordinary dedication to the Fulbright program. SU had a record nine students and alums win Fulbright awards this cycle. And the school is one of just five nationwide recognized as a top producer of both Fulbright students and scholars.

As Salisbury says goodbye to Dr. Wight as its leader, there’s one tribute that I think is especially fitting. Last month, the university’s Center for Equity, Justice and Inclusion was named for Pres. Wight, whose mission is to make sure every student at Salisbury feels welcomed, respected, and valued. Thank you, Chuck.

UMBC can reflect on a year of enormous success. Last fall, UMBC celebrated a NASA award of $72 million for the new Goddard Earth Sciences Technology and Research Center, a national consortium led by UMBC focused on earth and atmospheric science.

This spring, the university received the largest gift in its history—$21 million from the Sherman Family Foundation—to launch the Betsy & George Sherman Center, expanding UMBC’s work in early childhood and urban education, and creating a national model for advancing excellence in city schools.

Capping decades of tireless work by faculty and administrators, UMBC recently earned Research 1 status, the Carnegie Classification’s highest level of research performance. And honoring Pres. Hrabowski’s national leadership in STEM equity and excellence, the Howard Hughes Medical Institute announced the $1.5 billion Freeman Hrabowski Scholars program to diversify the U.S. biomedical workforce. Freeman, I can’t imagine a more fitting legacy.

Coppin State University is one of six HBCUs nationwide taking part in Complete College America’s $2.5 million Digital Learning Infrastructure project, which will build an integrated framework for digital learning at HBCUs—one that improves student outcomes.

This spring, CSU announced a partnership with the Charles Schwab Foundation and Advisor Services—accompanied by the single largest gift in CSU history. The partnership positions the university as a major hub for financial education and financial services, and will educate the next generation of Black certified financial analysts and planners.

And this past month, I was thrilled to join a groundbreaking ceremony for the KEYS Community Healing Village, supported with more than $1 million secured by Coppin State. When the center opens in 2024, CSU will be onsite offering mental health services, financial literacy workshops, and wellness resources. Anthony, under your leadership, Coppin is deeply engaged with your neighbors. Thank you.

The University of Maryland Global Campus spent the year growing its partnerships and its reputation around the world. The year began with a new five-year contract with the U.S. Department of Defense to educate troops on military installations in the Middle East, North Africa, and downrange locations. Then UMGC’s reach exploded with new academic partnerships with community colleges in Baltimore, Philadelphia, Chicago, and California. And its impact deepened with ed-tech and industry partnerships, like those with Springboard, Victory XR, and Amazon.

And just last month, UMGC teamed up with the Capital Region Minority Supplier Development Council to launch a six-week executive education program to help CEOs and companies of color cultivate business resilience and growth post-pandemic. Thank you, Greg.

Last fall, UMCES won national attention when researchers mapped the DNA of a blue crab for the first time ever. Cracking the genomic code was deceptively complex, given that the blue crab has more genes than we do. But it’s essential to facilitating crab reproduction and resilience.

UMCES has announced an expansive partnership with Baltimore-based US Wind. With $11 million 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.

And UMCES just released its annual report card on the health of the Chesapeake Bay and its watershed. The Bay earned a grade of C, and the watershed improved slightly this year to C+. UMCES has begun including social and economic indicators in its report card to show how environmental health is linked to wealth, wellness, and quality of life in Bay-adjacent communities. Peter, well done.

Our regional higher education centers continue to innovate how they meet the needs of their learners and local employers.

The Universities at Shady Grove launched its 10-year strategic plan, USG 2.0. It’s an ambitious plan, emphasizing access & opportunity, and pathways to career success. Supporting that plan, just a few days ago, USG announced a new partnership with Montgomery County Public Schools and Montgomery College. The READY Institute will drive the development of data-informed pathway programs that prepare students—from the earliest grades—for the rigors of college and, ultimately, for high-demand jobs. It promises a model for strengthening the P20 pipeline and demonstrably improving leaner outcomes.

Last month, I visited the USM at Hagerstown, talking with the board of advisors—and with faculty, staff, employers, education and community partners—about how the center is positioning itself to meet future challenges. It was great to spend the day hearing from those who know the students and the region best, and understand how to innovate what they offer.

Similarly, it was great to meet with leadership at the USM at Southern Maryland. I visited for the grand opening of the SMART Building last fall, and made a return trip this month to see the space in action. Just like the governor beat us here to UMES, House Leader Steny Hoyer and Sen. Ben Cardin beat me down to USMSM by about a week. The facility promises so much—not just for our R&D enterprise but for the region as a whole.

Anne, Mark, Eileen—your leadership at our regional centers is so impressive.

Towson University had a remarkable year. Last fall, I was at Towson twice in one week—first for the grand opening of its Science Complex, then to break ground on its College of Health Professions building. When the new building opens in 2024, it will solidify TU’s leadership as the largest provider of health professionals in Maryland.

Towson is also establishing itself as a national leader in cybersecurity. Last fall, TU won a $2.2 million grant from the NSA to lead a task force dedicated to cataloging and improving U.S. cybersecurity curricula. TU launched an interdisciplinary cybersecurity center and appointed its very first endowed professor of cybersecurity. 
And this year, Towson celebrated a record four students and alums chosen as Fulbright winners—the most in TU history. Kim, thank you for your leadership.

UMB is celebrating a year of impact. On Pres. Jarrell’s Inauguration Day, his friend Lawrence Hayman announced an $18 million gift to support students and health care providers right here on Maryland’s Eastern Shore, where the two men grew up.

Researchers at UMB’s School of Medicine won $5.5 million from NIH to prepare the next generation of global health scientists. Their colleagues in UMB’s School of Dentistry won $5.3 million to study new ways of treating and preventing migraines. And the Maryland Poison Center in UMB’s School of Pharmacy celebrated 50 years of life-saving triage, treatment, and prevention services. The center handled 37,000 exposure cases last year alone.

And last month, the inaugural class of UMB CURE Scholars—17 high schoolers from West Baltimore—are making history as they head to college this fall. Two of them are coming right here to UMES. Pres. Anderson, please take good care of them.

Bruce, congratulations on the year.

Stepping back a little, I want to emphasize that it’s been an extraordinary year for the System as a whole. Our institutions are nationally acclaimed, all of them ranked in the most-cited publications. As I shared in April, we earned incredibly strong support in Annapolis. We maintained our outstanding bond rating. Our universities are more diverse than ever before. We’re keeping our tuition affordable and our quality excellent. And, every day, we use our influence, assets, and expertise to enrich our communities.

We’re a research powerhouse. The NSF just ranked the combined research enterprise of UMB and College Park in the top 10 among U.S. public universities and top 20 overall. We translate that research into pathbreaking products, innovations, and companies.

And we make money for Maryland. The USM generated more than $10 billion in economic impact last year and supported 58,000 Maryland jobs. For every dollar the state invests in the System, we return nearly $3 to Maryland’s people, families, and communities.

Most importantly, we graduate exceptionally well-educated students—prepared for citizenship, for leadership, and for professional success. And that’s why I say the future of Maryland is tied to the future of the University System.

And it’s in looking to that future that I turn now to our strategic plan. In a moment, Regent Gonella and Vice Chancellor Herbst will discuss that plan, Vision 2030. I won’t steal their thunder. But I will talk briefly about why it’s so important.

Higher education is at an inflection point. We’re facing pressures on enrollment, exacerbated by the pandemic. We’re facing disruption within the sector—from technology … from for-profit and not-for-profit companies. Expectations are changing among students about the very nature of learning and work—where it happens, and when, and how. And as college costs escalate and student debt balloons, there’s growing skepticism about the value of a degree.

What these existential challenges require of us isn’t window dressing. It isn’t a tweaking of our business model. These challenges require a fundamental shift in what we do and how we do it.

And here’s where this shift needs to happen. Historically, the System’s work has been centered on our institutions and our processes. Now, we’re going to center that work—more than ever before—on our students. In the past, we’ve been focused on degree output. Now, we’re focused on learner outcomes. Where we’ve been siloed, we must be collaborative. Where our innovation has been institution-bound, it must be scaled. And this is key: Where we’ve been excellent—and we have been excellent—we must be preeminent.

You’ve likely read this line in the executive summary: Vision 2030 is—by intention and design—more than a plan to sustain what has been. It is a promise to transform what will be.

That’s my promise; that’s our promise. It’s our promise to our students and to our state. And I’m excited for us to get started.

Madame Chair, this concludes my report. Thank you.

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Contact: Mike Lurie
Phone: 301.445.2719