Chancellor's Report to the Board of Regents on Feb. 17

Chancellor Jay A. Perman
Universities at Shady Grove | February 17, 2023

Thank you, Madame Chair. And thank you, Dr. Masucci, for your presentation, and for spotlighting Frostburg. Dr. Nowaczyk, you know how impressed I’ve been with your work to anchor your community and your region. Fantastic job.

As Chair Gooden noted, we come together during Black History Month. And I was proud to see 3 of our colleagues on the Baltimore Sun’s list of 25 Black Marylanders to Watch: UMBC President Valerie Sheares Ashby; Dr. Stacey Stephens from UMB’s School of Social Work; Ms. Lindsey Spann, assistant coach for the women’s basketball team at College Park. Many more on that same list are USM alumni, and it’s inspiring to me to see the Black excellence connected to our universities.

I have some significant leadership news to mention.

As you know, President Peter Goodwin has announced that he’ll retire from UMCES at the end of the academic year. Dr. Goodwin’s leadership of UMCES has been vitally important—locally, nationally, globally—guiding our approach to urgent environmental and climate challenges.

This is not yet “so long,” but, Peter, I thank you for your service, and for giving UMCES such an influential voice in environmental policy and practice. You’ll be missed.

Earlier this month, Dr. Melanie Perreault began her service as Towson University’s interim president. As provost, she’s been central to TU’s scholarly excellence over the last four years. It’s great to have you at the table, Melanie.

As Chair Gooden mentioned, Dr. Alison Wrynn joins us as senior vice chancellor for academic and student affairs. She’s already contributed so much to our work and our perspective. When you come from the largest and most diverse university system in the country, that can happen.

Without question, starting service at this time of year is a trial by fire, and we’ve already sent Dr. Wrynn to testify in Annapolis, where she’s done a terrific job. Alison, welcome.

Of course, Dr. Wrynn’s arrival means that we’re saying goodbye to Dr. Jo Boughman. I’ll say a few words about Jo at the end of my remarks—fewer than I will at her send-off next week. I hope to see many of you there.

I’ll start with our host this morning, the Universities at Shady Grove. I’m always inspired when I hear Dr. Khademian talk about her vision for reimagining higher education; for building innovative new models that center access, affordability, and equity. The fact that Google has put its imprimatur on this work is a huge endorsement of USG’s big ideas and compelling leadership.

Anne says all the time that regional centers like ours have an essential role to play in reshaping higher ed; in meaningfully connecting college to business and industry; in developing smart, efficient pathways that truly serve and support the “fluid student.”

I think so, too. So I thank Dr. Khademian, Dr. Abel, and Dr. Weill for their leadership.

Moving across the System, I’ll note that U.S. News & World Report has ranked the nation’s Best Online Degrees. Seven of our schools were recognized for 24 programs in all: Frostburg, Salisbury, Towson, UBalt, UMBC made the list for programs in business, education, computer engineering, and more; UMB’s School of Nursing has four top programs, including a pair of top 10s; College Park got the nod in nine degrees, including three MBA top 10s.

In another ranking—the closely watched NSF Research & Development survey—UMB and College Park—together as the University of Maryland—placed 10th among public universities in research expenditures. That’s a third-straight Top 10 ranking.

And there’s more collaboration among our universities. TEDCO’s Open Institute for Black Women Entrepreneurs has gotten federal support to work with our HBCUs—Bowie State, Coppin State, and UMES—to develop entrepreneurial leaders and nurture their resilience.

The Dingman Center for Entrepreneurship at College Park’s Smith School is expanding its annual pitch competition to include BSU, UBalt, and UMBC. And UMBC and UMB have partnered in a great oral history project connecting neighbors in West Baltimore, and bringing in visual and performing artists to interpret their stories.

I thank you all.

As I migrate to individual and institutional excellence, I need to start with a truly spectacular honor. Among U.S. master’s institutions, Salisbury University was just named the nation’s No. 1 producer of Fulbright students. SU led the field with nine awards, and it’s the sixth year in a row that it made the list of America’s most prolific Fulbright schools.

But it wasn’t the only USM school on the list. Towson tied for eighth nationally among master’s institutions.

Dr. Lepre, Dr. Perreault, congratulations on this extraordinary success.

I’ve got more students I need to talk about. UMBC’s Christopher Slaughter has won a Gates Cambridge Scholarship to pursue a PhD in electrical engineering at the University of Cambridge. Only two dozen of these scholarships are offered to U.S. students every year. So it’s especially impressive that Mr. Slaughter is the fifth UMBC student to win the award. Congratulations, Dr. Ashby.

But once again, Towson deserves to share this spotlight. Briseyda Barrientos Ariza, a recent TU alumna, also won the Gates Cambridge Scholarship, the first student to do so in Towson’s history. Ms. Barrientos Ariza is a first-generation American and first-generation college graduate who majored in English literature and psychology.

At College Park, Kevin Tu has won a Churchill Scholarship, joining just 17 more STEM students nationwide. He’s the eighth College Park student in the last half-dozen years to be honored.

And last Sunday, America was introduced to Justina Miles, perhaps the only person in the world who could steal the Super Bowl spotlight from Rihanna. Ms. Miles is a Bowie State nursing student. And she’s the first deaf woman to sign the Super Bowl halftime show—and she did it in style. Dr. Breaux, your students are on fire.

I want to mention here that we had a run of inspiring graduation stories last winter that crystallized exactly why we do what we do. The mother-son duo, Carolyn and Immanuel Patton, who graduated from UMGC together—20 years after 5-year-old Immanuel promised his mom they would. The identical twin brothers at Towson—Rasul and Malachi Wright—who shared twin 4.0 GPAs and a twin passion for service. Pete Engel, who—at 72 years of age—earned his 3RD USM degree, a bachelor’s in history from UMBC, which he added to his poli-sci degree from College Park and a JD from Maryland Carey Law at UMB.

Multiply those stories by the thousands, and that’s why we do what we do.

In faculty excellence, College Park has a lot to celebrate: Three Clark School faculty elected to the National Academy of Engineering, bringing the university’s total to 33 NAE members; seven faculty named fellows of the American Association for the Advancement of Science; and one Bower Award winner. Clark Distinguished Chair Deb Niemeier was honored by the Franklin Institute for path-breaking research on transportation systems and climate impact, and how engineering design can advance—or imperil—public health and environmental equity. Michele Eastman is representing President Pines today. Congratulations—what a run of excellence.

Among our leaders, Bowie State President Aminta Breaux was named a Title IX Trailblazer by the Central Intercollegiate Athletic Association. And UBalt President Kurt Schmoke was honored in Baltimore Magazine among the city’s royalty: John Waters, Joyce Scott, Barbara Mikulski, Carla Hayden, Brooks Robinson. They were called the “Baltimoreans Who Changed Everything.” And yes—yes, they have.

President Breaux, President Schmoke, congratulations.

Let me do one quick alumnus story. Silver Spring teacher Dion Jones was honored with the Milken Family Foundation’s Educator Award. These are the “Oscars” for classroom teachers—but even rarer. Just 32 teachers were honored nationwide, and I know Mr. Jones’s alma mater, Coppin State, is very proud.

Okay, on to grants and partnerships. UMB’s School of Medicine is leading a $46 million DARPA project to develop stable artificial blood that can be used for transfusions at the point of injury, buying time for patients who might otherwise bleed out. The project will involve more than a dozen universities and biotech companies. Dr. Jarrell, congratulations.

Also at UMB, the School of Medicine has launched UM–MIND, a neuroscience institute accelerating translational brain research by promoting collaboration between basic and clinical scientists. The institute will recruit new faculty to campus, where 120 leading neuroscientists already practice and conduct research.

A $2 million NSF grant will launch Bowie State’s Cyber Scholarship Program, growing and diversifying the pool of graduates entering the federal cybersecurity workforce. And this is very exciting: BSU is part of a Howard University-led consortium collaborating on a University Affiliated Research Center. There are just 15 of them in the nation, and this is the only one associated with the country’s HBCUs. The DoD is funneling $90 million to this effort in tactical autonomous systems.

Earlier, you heard Dr. Masucci mention Frostburg’s Regional Science Center as one of its anchor components? Well, the science center just got three-quarters of a million dollars in federal funding to expand its space-exploration simulations and its coding and robotics programs.

The Department of Energy has awarded College Park $5 million to advance electric vehicle battery technology. And the university leads the nation in ARPA-E awards granted since the agency’s inception.

UMES announced $1.5 million in federal support for its Entrepreneurship and Innovation Center, which helps small and minority businesses get off the ground. And new language included in the HBCU RISE Act will mean millions in DoD dollars supporting UMES’s pursuit of R1 status. President Anderson, congratulations.

Towson is one of five institutions collaborating on a $3 million NSF grant supporting science teacher education. TU’s work involves simulations helping pre-service teachers engage students in scientific argumentation.

And at College Park, the Center for International Development and Conflict Management is being supported with $4 million from USAID to thwart terrorism in West Africa. The project draws on shared values among different groups in northern Ghana to keep terrorist factions out of the region.

I want to share just a few examples of our community-engaged scholarship and service—and the impact of this work.

Coppin State’s $4 million grant from the Department of Commerce will help close the digital divide in West Baltimore, where close to one-third of households don’t have a computer, and half don’t have high-speed internet. This project will bring more Marylanders into the digital economy. It was a great day, Provost Wilks. Thank you.

At UMD, $2.2 million from the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation will launch a College Park-led initiative to address the effects of environmental racism. The Mid-Atlantic Climate Action Hub will target money, training, and policy action to vulnerable communities disproportionately harmed by climate-induced hazards.

UMB is teaming with the T. Rowe Price Foundation on an incubator that connects nonprofits to foundation dollars until they’re large enough to branch out on their own. And I was thrilled to join UMB as the School of Nursing added two names to its building—two alumnae whose courage and care leave me awestruck: Sen. Shirley Nathan-Pulliam, whose pioneering work in West Baltimore closes gaps in health care access, equity, and outcomes; and the late Esther McCready, who fought to integrate the school at just 19 years old, with the help of her attorney Thurgood Marshall.

And if our concept of community is capacious—indeed, global—then I’ll mention here that UMGC is now offering online and in-person education to servicemembers near Ukraine. Staff spent the fall mobilizing to meet military learners where they are, and offer programs—like language and culture classes—that support NATO’s efforts to fortify Ukrainian resistance.

Now, as promised, I’ll end with just a few words about my colleague and friend Dr. Boughman. I’ll be brief so that Jo might address you herself.

Gratefully, it’s not my only opportunity to share what she means to the USM—which is, in short, everything. Her name is virtually synonymous with the System’s. And because Jo is such a kind and supportive colleague, you might forget that she’s also a trailblazing scientist, a gifted administrator, a policy wonk, a logistics czar.

But I imagine our students will remember her primarily as an ally, an advocate, a lifeline. Jo understands how vital it is that we have student representation on this Board. But she was concerned that the considerable hours this board requires might prevent many students from applying—especially those who have to hold down a job to pay for school. That constraint would limit not only the size of the applicant pool but its diversity, too.

And so, working with the USM Foundation, Jo established and funded an endowment for our first-year student regents. The Student Voice Legacy Trust will serve as a tribute to Jo’s passionate commitment not only to student leadership but to the imperative that our student leaders reflect the full diversity of the classmates they represent—so that their voices are never silenced.

True to form, Jo has not only established and funded this trust, she’s also been testifying on its behalf in Annapolis. We trust the bill will sail through the General Assembly. Because anyone who knows Jo—and everyone knows Jo—understands that this endowment is the legacy befitting a leader of her brilliance, her stature, and her character.

And so—in this venue, where she’s done so much good—could we give Dr. Joann Boughman one last round of applause?

Jo, would you say a few words?

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Contact: Mike Lurie
Phone: 301.445.2719