USM Southern Maryland Welcomes U.S. Secretary of the Navy Carlos Del Toro as Keynote for Annual Southern Maryland Navy Alliance Dinner

Baltimore, Md. (Oct. 17, 2022) – Federal, state and local leaders will gather on the evening of Tuesday, Oct. 25, at the University System of Maryland at Southern Maryland (USMSM) as it proudly hosts the annual Southern Maryland Navy Alliance annual dinner–U.S. Secretary of the Navy Carlos Del Toro will be the keynote speaker.  

The dinner will be held at the new Southern Maryland Autonomous Research and Technology (SMART) building at the USMSM facility in California, Md.

Secretary Del Toro will discuss issues that impact U.S. Navy air operations, including workforce development, digital engineering, artificial intelligence, and autonomous weapons.

This important event is an exciting milestone for St. Mary’s County and for the USMSM facility, which became part of the USM on March 1, 2019 and held the grand opening for its new SMART building on Oct. 15, 2021.

The audience will include Department of Defense military officials, government service civilians, senior leaders for small and large defense contractors whose work is focused on U.S. Navy programs and flight tests, and community leaders. Information about the Southern Maryland Navy Alliance (SMNA) can be found here.

“We are truly pleased at USMSM to welcome so many leading professionals in the U.S. Navy and broader U.S. Department of Defense community. And we are especially privileged that Secretary Del Toro will be the featured speaker at this annual dinner,” USMSM Executive Director Eileen Abel said. “It’s exciting to think of how far our young regional center has come in such a short period of time.

“Less than one year after the grand opening for the SMART building, we are able to host the U.S. Secretary of the Navy and a number of regional and national dignitaries. This is a special moment for USMSM, and I express my profound gratitude to our USMSM Board of Advisors member and outgoing SMNA President Gary Kessler for all he’s done to help make Secretary Del Toro’s visit possible.”

Previously known as the Southern Maryland Higher Education Center, USMSM is located in St. Mary’s County. The center currently enrolls nearly 300 students in 42 degree and certificate programs offered by five USM institutions: UMCP; Bowie State University; Salisbury University; Towson University; and University of Maryland Global Campus (UMGC). Programs are offered in high-demand areas such as computer science, business administration, criminal justice, education, engineering, nursing, and social work.

USMSM also facilitates the advancement and growth of the Naval Air Station at Patuxent River, as well as defense contractors and the local community, through its extensive conference and training.

The SMART building is an $86 million, 84,000-square foot academic and research facility that will nearly double the educational footprint of USMSM, create autonomous systems research space, and spur economic activity and job growth. The research conducted at USMSM will take place in tandem with testing programs conducted by the U.S. Navy at Naval Air Station Patuxent River.


The USM comprises 12 institutions: Bowie State University; Coppin State University; Frostburg State University; Salisbury University; Towson University; the University of Baltimore; the University of Maryland, Baltimore; the University of Maryland, Baltimore County; the University of Maryland Center for Environmental Science; the University of Maryland, College Park; the University of Maryland Eastern Shore; and the University of Maryland Global Campus. The USM also includes three regional centers—the Universities at Shady Grove, the University System of Maryland at Hagerstown, and the University System of Maryland at Southern Maryland—at which USM universities offer upper-division undergraduate and graduate courses.

USM institutions and programs are among the nation's best in quality and value according to several national rankings. To learn more about the University System of Maryland, visit To learn about the new USM Strategic Plan, “Vision 2030: From Excellence to Preeminence,” visit


Contact: Mike Lurie
Phone: 301.445.2719