Chancellor's Report to the USM Board of Regents on Nov. 11

Baltimore, MD (Nov. 11, 2022) Thank you, Madame Chair. I join you in honoring the veterans who’ve served this nation, protected our democracy, and defended our ideals.

Of course, we’re meeting just a few days after Election Day—the greatest test and privilege of our democracy. I extend my warmest congratulations to our new governor, Wes Moore, and to all the leaders chosen to serve the people of Maryland.

I thank Jo Boughman for her presentation. As you heard, smoothing the transfer process will take an extraordinary amount of work. But Dr. Boughman’s leadership has already proved indispensable to the state’s progress. Thank you, Jo.

Of course, I thank our hosts this morning, the USM at Southern Maryland and Executive Director Eileen Abel. It’s hard to believe it’s been only a year since we came together for the opening of this SMART Building.

As Dr. Abel shared, it’s been a busy 12 months. Researchers and students are exploring autonomous technologies in a state-of-the-art space. Industry leaders, academic leaders, political leaders keeping visiting for tours. And just last month, the Southern Maryland Navy Alliance dinner was held here, with U.S. Navy Secretary Carlos Del Toro serving as keynote speaker. Eileen, thank you for making this last year so special.

Let’s get into the good news across the System.

At the USM at Hagerstown, the search for a new executive director is well underway, though Dr. Larry Weill continues to serve ably as interim leader. And we’re less than a month out from the 2022 Feaste & Frolic Scholarship Fundraiser at USMH on Dec. 2. Larry, I wish you great fun—and generous donors.

In another special event, the Universities at Shady Grove hosted the 10th annual Montgomery County Business Hall of Fame induction ceremony. Over the years, this event has raised $1.6 million for scholarships at USG, benefitting 1,100 students. Thank you, Anne.

Just yesterday, I was a few miles south of USG in North Bethesda, as Montgomery County Executive Marc Elrich announced an MOU among the county, UMB, and College Park to establish the Institute for Intelligent and Immersive Computing. This is a huge undertaking to join our research in AI, machine learning, and virtual and augmented reality, and apply that knowledge to revolutionize human health and well-being.

You’ll be hearing a lot more about this project, but I wanted to bring it up today in the context of USG because a key piece of the agreement lies in the opportunities the institute will offer our students at Shady Grove—opportunities in hands-on training, internships, fellowships, job placements. It’s an exciting way to grow our presence in Montgomery County, exploit our proximity to federal labs and agencies, leverage our research, and position our students for leadership in these emerging fields.

The institute isn’t the only big news coming out of College Park. Last month, Pres. Pines announced that the university will make its largest-ever single-year commitment to need-based aid for resident students. The Terrapin Commitment will invest up to $20 million each year toward closing the gap between the cost of education and a student’s aid package—and completely cover tuition and fees for in-state Pell-eligible students. Darryll, thank you for your leadership in this. It’s a Systemwide priority, and your commitment is an inspiration.

With money from the NSF, College Park is leading a study to examine how the inherent tension between religion and science influences Black students’ pathways in STEM. And the university recently dedicated buildings to two of its trailblazers: Hiram Whittle, the first African American man admitted to the university, and Elaine Johnson Coates, the first Black woman to graduate.

Towson University also celebrated Black pioneers, renaming two of its residence halls in honor of Marvis Barnes and Myra Harris, TU’s first Black graduates. Towson also celebrated its third straight HEED award for excellence in diversity and inclusion. An extraordinary honor.

And with twin awards, TU is getting national notice for its leadership in economic development. StarTUp at the Armory—Towson’s business engagement center—was named North America’s top economic development initiative by the University Economic Development Association. And just this week in Colorado, APLU announced that Towson won its Innovation and Economic Prosperity designation for its efforts to grow economic engagement and impact. Kim, I know how much work you and your team have put into this. Congratulations.

UBalt has been riding a wave of international publicity, after its Innocence Project—led by defense attorney Erica Suter—secured the release of Adnan Syed, whose 1999 conviction was the subject of the Serial podcast. And, in fact, Mr. Syed’s first public appearance following his release from prison was at UBalt, where he detailed the procedural history of his case for the university’s Innocence Project students. Kurt, I’m so glad UBalt’s pioneering work in criminal justice—and criminal justice reform—is being recognized.

The University of Maryland Eastern Shore is seeing its star rise on the national stage. Last week, UMES became the first HBCU selected for the Howard Hughes Medical Institute’s Driving Change initiative. The grant is meant to create culture change at research universities so that all undergraduates—particularly those historically excluded—excel in STEM. UMES is using the $2.5 million grant to create an immersive living-learning community for students. This is a very big deal, Heidi. Congratulations.

And with UMES boasting its highest enrollment since 2015, Pres. Anderson has been a media mainstay, sharing why HBCUs in general—and UMES in particular—are destinations of choice.

UMBC Pres. Valerie Sheares Ashby has taken the spotlight, as well. She was named the 2022 Technologist of the Year by Women of Color magazine, gracing its cover. In an interview with Times Higher Education, she made the case that research excellence cannot exist without research inclusion. She was one of three women profiled by the Baltimore Sun for shattering the glass ceiling. And she talked with the Washington Post about building a diverse STEM workforce.

Her university shines just as brightly. UMBC was the nation’s only R1 university to make the top grade in every category measured in ModernThink’s Great Colleges to Work For. Those categories range from well-being and shared governance to mission and pride. What an incredible endorsement of UMBC’s culture. Congratulations, Valerie.

The University of Maryland Global Campus continues to expand its reach and impact. UMGC has announced a new transfer alliance with the Des Moines Area Community College, whose six campuses educate more than 23,000 students.

And in January, taking its education out of this world, UMGC will begin offering in-person classes at Patrick Space Force Base in Florida, its first contract to teach at a Space Force installation. Greg, UMGC’s footprint keeps growing. It’s the best endorsement of just how good you are.

UMCES is spearheading two path-breaking projects: A $7.5 million grant from NOAA will help UMCES establish a national incubator focused on controlling harmful algal blooms. The first-of-its-kind center will help solicit, fund, develop, and commercialize technologies that control these blooms. And UMCES researchers have released the first-ever study quantifying cropland phosphorus use around the world, helping countries and regions evaluate their performance in addressing phosphorus pollution, and guide action for greater sustainability. Peter, this is such important work. Thank you for your leadership.

Coppin State is leading efforts to fill Maryland’s nursing and teacher shortages and bring more diversity to the fields. An MHEC grant will help Coppin modernize nursing preparation by introducing new online learning tools to put more Coppin-trained nurses on the path to licensure. And a $4.1 million grant from the U.S. Department of Education supports Coppin’s Pathways to Professions program, designed to swell our teacher corps and boost student success in high-need urban and rural schools across Maryland. Thank you, Anthony.

Moving on to Frostburg, I was lucky enough to visit the campus twice in the space of a few weeks. First, I went out to meet with FSU’s College of Education leaders, together with several school superintendents, to learn more about the pioneering programs and partnerships they’re building to tackle the teacher shortage across their entire region and develop a diverse educator corps.

And then I joined Pres. Nowaczyk, Gov. Hogan, and federal leaders for the announcement of the Appalachian Regional Commission grants, which included significant funding to improve broadband access in Western Maryland. Ron, it’s been so great to see—firsthand—Frostburg’s innovation in these areas.

In between those two visits to Frostburg, I joined UMB as its BioPark broke ground on its newest building—4MLK. The eight-story tower on MLK Boulevard is the first phase of a $320 million project planned at the site. The building will provide critical wet lab space in the city—a shortage that’s hampered research and economic growth.

The UMB BioPark also celebrated the opening of the BD Innovation Center, giving students and researchers access to new lab space and advanced diagnostic tools. Bruce, congratulations on this growth. It’s important to UMB and to Baltimore.

UMB has also won significant grants. With $7.5 million from NIH, the Institute of Human Virology will help control cancer among people living with HIV/AIDS in sub-Saharan Africa, where UMB has decades of deep experience containing and treating disease. And with a $14 million NIH grant, UMB is joining with UMBC on a project to better recruit and train junior faculty underrepresented in the biomedical sciences.

At Salisbury University, a $2.6 million grant from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services allows students in SU’s Fraud and Forensic Accounting program to work alongside the State’s Attorney’s Office to fight elder financial fraud and high-tech fraud. The program is the only one of its kind in the nation.

And the Princeton Review ranked SU among the nation’s Top 50 Green Colleges. Salisbury was the highest ranked of four USM schools—the others are Towson, UMBC, and College Park. Lyn, congratulations.

Bowie State has announced so many new partnerships in recent weeks, I can barely keep track: A partnership with IBM to diversify the cyber workforce. A partnership with Adobe to fuel innovation and grow opportunity for underrepresented students. A $2 million grant from the Blackstone Charitable Foundation to expand student entrepreneurship. And a grant from the State Board of Education to help paraeducators and aides from Anne Arundel County Public Schools pursue teaching degrees at Bowie. Already, the number of students enrolled in an undergrad education program at BSU has climbed nearly 50 percent since 2018, filling critical classroom shortages.

Even Pres. Biden got to see Bowie’s excellence this week, with his visit to a university that’s clearly on the rise. Congratulations, Aminta.

One final observation: At our September meeting, I took a few minutes to celebrate the excellence of our USM universities, as reflected in national rankings. Today, I want to make the point that our excellence isn’t out of reach. Our excellence is affordable.

The College Board’s new Trends in College Pricing breaks down the cost of attendance, state by state. For in-state students attending a Maryland public university, average tuition and fees come to $10,560, just below the national average. In terms of price, that puts Maryland right in the middle—25th—among all 50 states. That’s far better than our neighbors—Pennsylvania, 4th most expensive; Virginia, 8th; Delaware, 11th.

And there’s more: Half of all USM undergraduates complete their degree without any tuition debt whatsoever. That’s because we’ve put a premium on financial aid. Together, our universities awarded $180 million last year to 45,000 students with financial need. In less than a decade, the amount of university money distributed annually has grown by 50 percent, as has the number of students receiving it. That trend line is by design: We’ve committed to growing need-based aid so that lower-income students are held harmless by tuition increases.

Our affordability is the work of all of you in this room—and our partners in Annapolis. Together, we’ve pledged to keep a USM education affordable for Maryland students and their families. It’s a pledge we’ve kept. And that makes me very proud.

I’m now going to cede the podium to Regent Wood, who is—with Regent Hur—leading a Systemwide effort on prison education. He has a very brief update to deliver. Before he does, I want to note that last month, Regent Wood and I joined Pres. Schmoke, together with his faculty and staff, at a reception honoring UBalt’s Second Chance College Program, which provides a degree pathway to inmates at Jessup Correctional Institution and continues post release.

It was this program that stimulated my interest in doing more in prison education—doing more to replicate and scale UBalt’s extraordinary success. And in fact, Bowie State and UMES have now joined the federal Second Chance program, which is terrific.

At last month’s UBalt reception, I met several students enrolled in the program, and I met its first-ever graduate, James Ruffin. It was an inspiring evening—deeply touching—and so singularly in keeping with our mission: to serve the public good. I look forward to our continued work to grow the opportunities we offer those incarcerated in Maryland prisons. Regent Wood?

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Contact: Mike Lurie
Phone: 301.445.2719