Chancellor's Report to USM Board of Regents on Sept. 16

Baltimore, MD (Sept. 16, 2022)Thank you, Madame Chair. I join you in welcoming our new board members, and I thank them for their willingness to serve the students and the state of Maryland. I add my congratulations to Gary Attman, our new vice chair. I know we’ll benefit from his leadership.

My thanks, as well, to my friend and colleague, Dr. Zimpher, for her insights into how systems can better leverage their power to advance higher ed’s central goals. NASH’s important research and consensus-building in this area will continue to guide our work. 

I thank Pres. Pines and the University of Maryland, College Park for hosting our meeting today. We’ve already heard about some of the amazing things happening here, but let me “brag on” our flagship just a little more.

Last month, the NSF placed College Park among the country’s top 10 colleges for Black undergraduates who later earn a doctoral degree. There’s more: This university is the highest ranked non-HBCU on the list. Congratulations, Darryll. I want to add here that UMBC is #12 on that same list, and Morgan State is #16. I think we should consider the enormity of the fact that three Maryland public universities make the top 20 on this incredibly important metric. It’s extraordinary.

Earlier this summer, with George Mason University, College Park formed a consortium of DC-area colleges focused on stemming gun violence through research-based recommendations. Pres. Pines said he was launching this effort because universities serve as a source of change and progress; because we believe in science and data; because gun violence is a public health crisis—full stop. Thank you for this leadership, Darryll.

The summer also saw College Park initiate a strategic partnership with Microsoft focused on diversifying the fields of robotics and autonomy, countering a downturn in diversity among incoming students, which threatens our innovation capacity.

I congratulate the entire College Park family on these efforts and more.

I also congratulate our USM Staff Award winners, whom we honored this morning. These women embody the excellence of our System, and I’m so grateful for their work.

More congratulations are due to our new Elkins Professors:
  • Dr. Paz Galupo at Towson, whose work examines the legal and cultural factors that affect the health care experiences of transgender and nonbinary Marylanders, which lead to significant health disparities.
  • Dr. Heather Congdon from UMB, who will work with the Kirwan Center on a digital badging initiative to scale interprofessional education strategies that strengthen Maryland’s health care workforce. 
  • Dr. Karen Cook-Bell from Bowie State, who will establish the W.E.B. Du Bois Center for the Study of the Black Experience to advance research in African, African American, and African Diaspora studies. 
  • And Dr. Barbara Resnick from UMB who will help develop a model for implementing national guidelines on pain management for residents of long-term care facilities. The guidelines will improve pain assessment, diagnosis, and—most importantly—relief. Congratulations to you all.

I want to welcome some new members of my leadership team. This month, Dr. Michele Masucci joined the USM as vice chancellor for research and economic development. Dr. Masucci comes to us from Temple University, where she was vice president for research, and where she oversaw the 7th-fastest growing R&D enterprise in U.S. higher ed. You know our strategic plan emphasizes the strengthening of our research power—and deploying that power in two ways: to solve the greatest challenges of our time; and to ensure Maryland’s prosperity and economic growth. I can’t imagine a better leader to guide us in this work. Welcome, Michele.

I also welcome our own Dave Mosca to my executive team as vice chancellor for accountability. Dave has long served as director of Internal Audit. He still does. But his new seat at the leadership table reminds us that—with every decision and every action—we owe our constituents our good faith and transparency. I thank Dave for his oversight.

And, of course, we have new leaders across the System. First, our new presidents: In a recent interview, Salisbury’s new leader, Dr. Lyn Lepre, said she wants to see SU recognized not as a “hidden gem”—but simply a gem. I couldn’t agree more.

Meanwhile, before Dr. Valerie Sheares Ashby finished her first month, UMBC was profiled in U.S. News & World Report as an oasis of opportunity and support for female STEM scholars. A great way to start. Welcome to you both.

Dr. Larry Weill has been named interim executive director of the USM at Hagerstown, following the retirement of Mark Halsey. I know Dr. Weill is committed to Mark’s legacy of expanding education access across the region and serving his community of learners. Thank you, Larry. A national search for Mark’s successor will be conducted this fall.

And finally, Dr. Anupam Joshi, chair of Computer Science and Electrical Engineering at UMBC, is one of 46 U.S. scholars to be named a fellow of the American Council on Education. He’ll spend his fellowship shadowing me and UMB Pres. Bruce Jarrell, and I’m sure Pres. Jarrell and I will learn as much from Dr. Joshi as he will from us. What an honor.

Just this week, U.S. News and World Report released its annual undergraduate rankings. And while we acknowledge that we do not measure our worth by our rankings—that our rankings do not fully represent or reflect our excellence—it certainly is nice when they endorse what we do.

U.S. News ranked College Park 19th among all U.S. public universities and 22nd in undergrad engineering programs. Several programs here made the top 10.

UMBC was ranked 9th by U.S. News for undergraduate teaching and 10th for most innovative schools. Meanwhile, UMGC clinched the 16th spot for innovative schools. At UMB, the School of Nursing’s BSN program ranked 9th in the nation—3rd among publics.

Among Regional Public Universities in the North, Frostburg made the top 40; UBalt, the top 30; Salisbury, the top 20, and Towson, the top 10. In HBCU rankings, all three of our historically Black institutions made the U.S. top 40, and UMES and Bowie broke the top 20.

Forbes’ Top Colleges list measures affordability, quality, graduation success, and post-grad earnings. The magazine gave College Park a top 40 ranking, and recognized, as well, UMBC, Towson, Salisbury, and UBalt.

The Princeton Review—based on what students themselves have to say—has three USM schools among its best: Salisbury, UMBC, and College Park. Washington Monthly—which measures social mobility, public service, and research—includes every eligible USM school in its best-value list for the Northeast.

In a series of rankings from the Military Times, UMGC won the #1 spot for Top Online Colleges, #4 for Top Public Colleges, and #5 for Top Colleges Overall. These are the publication’s “Best for Vets” rankings, and I know they mean the world to UMGC. Congratulations, Greg.

Last one, I promise: A new report from the National Academy of Inventors ranks our very own University System 20th in the world for patents awarded in 2021. Among public institutions, we’re #10. These are the highest rankings we’ve ever earned. Taken together, the USM’s people converted their ideas and innovations into 98 patents last year. College Park led the way with 65. Congratulations to all of you.

Higher ed’s reputation for slowing down in the summer is belied by the news coming out of our universities. Just look at how our schools are expanding their physical and academic footprints.

Here’s a project that showcases both: With support from the Maryland Energy Administration, Frostburg will install a clean-energy microgrid on campus. The microgrid will power a community emergency shelter, mitigate the impact of power outages, and meet Frostburg’s sustainability goals. Plus, working with the area’s two-year colleges, FSU will develop a renewable-energy training certificate program.

This semester, UMGC took its first step into the metaverse. With VR headsets, students are attending class on a virtual campus modeled after UMGC’s actual one. Back here on earth, UMGC has forged alliances with community colleges in Delaware, Pennsylvania, Virginia, Illinois, Kentucky, and Colorado to help students earn a four-year degree as quickly—and affordably—as possible.

UBalt has issued a request for proposals as it moves forward with campus expansion. Converting a former postal facility into a student-centered development will grow UBalt’s footprint by 2½ acres, while adding to a thriving city center. Balt also established an accelerated pathway for students at the multicampus Community College of Baltimore County, providing them dual-admission status and giving them access to UBalt’s academic advising. Well done, Kurt.

Bowie State is growing its cyber and analytics portfolios, offering students new undergrad programs in cyber operations engineering, data science, and software engineering. Frostburg is expanding its nursing program with a new BSN and an accelerated pathway for licensed practical nurses to earn it. With its industry and government partners, UMES is developing an FAA-certified curriculum in aviation maintenance. Thank you for sustaining your leadership in aviation sciences, Heidi.

Turning to gifts and grants, this week, College Park announced a $25 million commitment from alumnus Stanley Zupnik that will seed a new building for Clark School students. His named building will be the new home of Civil and Environmental Engineering. It’ll house Mechanical Engineering, the Quantum Technology Center, and the Maryland Transportation Institute.

Salisbury’s three-year “We Are SU” campaign came to an end this summer, surpassing its $75 million goal and becoming the most successful campaign in SU history. Congratulations, Lyn.

As part of a U.S. Department of Education program to diversify the teacher workforce, Coppin and Frostburg won funding to recruit, develop, and retain a strong, diverse teacher corps. Both schools earned the maximum reviewer points possible on their applications, a testament to their track record in teacher diversity. The awards are expected to net millions of dollars for each school over several years, and Coppin was one of only three HBCUs in the country to receive funding. Well done, Ron and Anthony.

UMES is one of five HBCUs sharing $1 million in health innovation and research grants from the Propel Center—a global HBCU technology and learning hub.

UMBC won $10 million from the NSF to grow the number of postdocs of color in STEM. UMBC will help scale the USM’s incredibly successful grow-your-own approach to faculty diversity, helping three U.S. higher ed systems—the University of Texas system; the Texas A&M system; and the UNC system—tackle underrepresentation in the professoriate. It’s such important work, Valerie. Thank you.

Bowie State is one of seven HBCUs selected for the inaugural cohort of the HBCU Pre-Accelerator Program, which will help BSU students grow as innovators, and access resources needed to build sustainable businesses.

And for some individual honors, last week, the world’s premier geosciences organization, the American Geophysical Union, recognized scholars across the globe for advancing discovery and solutions in Earth and space sciences. Three of them call the USM home: Jing Wei of College Park; Lorraine Remer of UMBC and Xin Zhang of UMCES.

Finally, our institutions have distinguished themselves through deep engagement with their communities and a commitment to social, environmental, and economic inclusion and justice.

I noted toward the top of my comments College Park’s new effort to address gun violence. Well, last week, UMB announced its Center for Violence Prevention, launched with a $2 million gift from Betsy Sherman and the Sherman Family Foundation. The center will coordinate the research and clinical field activities of the schools of medicine, law, and social work, together with the renowned R Adams Cowley Shock Trauma Center, where so many victims of gun violence end up. Working together, they’ll explore the causes of violence and advocate for anti-violence programs and policies. Thank you, Bruce.

INSIGHT Into Diversity magazine profiled Towson’s remarkable success in closing the graduation gap. At Towson, Black students graduate at a rate higher than the overall completion rate, and there’s no difference in the grad rates of white and Black students. The INSIGHT piece holds TU up as a model, highlighting the programs that enable this success. Congratulations, Kim.

Towson’s entrepreneurship and innovation hub—The StarTUp—was named one of North America’s top university-based economic development initiatives. StarTUp is a finalist for a University Economic Development Association award, recognized for deploying talent, innovation, and place in ways that enrich the community.

In a first-of-its-kind program, Coppin placed students and recent graduates into 10-week paid internships with the Baltimore City Police Department this summer. The program is intended to strengthen mutual trust between law enforcement agencies and the communities they police.

Last month, Gov. Hogan marked a major milestone: 10 billion oysters planted in the Chesapeake Bay—all of them born and raised at UMCES’s Horn Point Oyster Hatchery—a key tool in restoring Bay health. Congratulations, Peter.

Bowie State held a special screening last week for two PBS documentaries it’s sponsoring—the first HBCU to do so. I know it was a special night, Aminta. The films explore the lives and legacies of two iconic Marylanders: Harriet Tubman and Frederick Douglass. I hope you’ll tune in to MPT on Oct. 4 and Oct. 11 for these masterful pieces of storytelling.

The USM at Southern Maryland hosted a free summer program at its SMART building, connecting local high school students interested in STEM with classroom and experiential learning in engineering and math. Thank you, Eileen.

The Universities at Shady Grove joined with Montgomery County Public Schools and Montgomery College to launch the Talent Ready program to grow 4-year degree completion and professional success among students underrepresented in IT courses and careers. Thank you, Anne.

And on that note, I need to celebrate the System’s own Maryland Center for Computing Education. At this month’s CSEdCon, a global computing conference, Maryland will be singled out for making computer science available to nearly every high school student in the state. Only three states can boast that more than nine in 10 of their high schools offer computing courses. Maryland leads them all. It’s a tribute to the work of MCCE and our Office of Academic and Student Affairs, and I thank Jo Boughman and her team.

To close out, I just want to say I don’t know if you all saw that first pitch that Pres. Jenkins threw out at the O’s game a couple of weeks ago, but it was pretty impressive. Looked like a fastball strike. Too bad higher ed’s working out so well for him, because he’s got an arm. Coppin showed up in force for Camden Yards’ HBCU Night, where $5 from every ticket went to support the region’s historically Black institutions. Well done.

Madame Chair, this concludes my report. Thank you.

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Contact: Mike Lurie
Phone: 301.445.2719