Chancellor's Report to the Board of Regents on Sept. 22

Report to the USM Board of Regents
Chancellor Jay A. Perman
University of Maryland Global Campus | September 22, 2023

Thank you, Madame Chair. I join you in welcoming our new board members, and I thank them for their eagerness to serve our students and our state.

Now, I have to join my welcomes to a couple of goodbyes. On Monday, we celebrated our dear friend and colleague, Dr. Peter Goodwin, retiring after six years at the helm of UMCES. Peter, I hope you understand just how deeply you’ll be missed. You’ve positioned this System for national leadership, global leadership, in environmental science and climate action. You know that’s our ambition: Leadership. Influence. And I thank you.

A couple of days ago, we initiated the search for Dr. Goodwin’s successor—someone who will build on UMCES’s strength. Regent Atticks, thank you for chairing this important search. And to Dr. Bill Dennison—longtime vice president at UMCES, who’s with us today—thank you for agreeing to take on the interim presidency. We’re grateful.

My next goodbye, fortunately, isn’t really a goodbye at all. Dr. Melanie Perreault has been ably serving as interim president of Towson University for several months, and I know I speak for all of us when I say how indebted we are to you, Melanie.

Over the summer, we announced that Dr. Mark Ginsberg, provost at George Mason University, will assume the presidency of Towson on Oct. 30. And that means that this is Dr. Perreault’s last meeting in her current role. The good news for us is that she’s not going anywhere. And I know she’ll be an enormous asset to Dr. Ginsberg as he gets to know the TU community.

To President Fowler, thank you for hosting us. I’m constantly in awe of UMGC’s work in access and innovation, for your work in identifying new models for closing our equity gap, for quickly scaling up programs and pathways for underrepresented students. This university is doing exactly that with grant support from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.

And, of course, UMGC continues to expand its nationwide alliances to boost access and affordability. Just two of UMGC’s newest partnerships—and there are many—are with Northwell Health, New York’s largest health care system, and with the College of DuPage, Illinois’s largest community college.

It’s little wonder that Dr. Fowler was named one of The Daily Record’s Most Influential Marylanders. Congratulations, Greg.
Now, this is the September meeting, and you might know what that means. It means I’ve got a pile of national rankings to get through. I could be here all day. But Chair Gooden might kill me. So, I’ll give you a sample, and urge you to read my full report for more.

In the U.S. News and World Report undergraduate rankings, College Park comes in at #19 among public universities nationwide. Top 20 placements are becoming a habit, Darryll. UMB’s School of Nursing is No. 10 in the nation for its undergrad nursing program. UMBC is ranked 12th in Best Undergraduate Teaching; 15th in Most Innovative Schools. 27th in Undergraduate Research and Creative Projects.

Look up Regional Public Universities in the North, and you’ll see: Frostburg at #40; UBalt at 36; Salisbury at 18; Towson at #6. And in the rankings of historically Black institutions, UMES and Bowie State both took their place in the Top 10 among public HBCUs.

Beyond U.S. News, our universities landed on a staggering number of “best of” lists. The Forbes list of Top Colleges measures the right stuff: affordability, grad rates, post-grad earnings, outcomes for low-income students. This is social mobility. This is what we say is so important. And on that list, you’ll see Salisbury and Towson. You’ll see UMBC, #30 among publics. And College Park—up 10 spots overall during Dr. Pines’s tenure—is now #13 among publics.

Between the best-value rankings in Money magazine and Washington Monthly, you’ll find every eligible USM university.

But it’s not just our academic excellence that gets noticed. Campus Pride named College Park the No. 1 school in America for LGBTQ+ students. Forbes said UMB is one of the best employers for diversity. UMBC wasn’t just named a Great College to Work For; it’s one of only two R1s in the country that excelled in all 10 categories comprising the ranking. There’s more, so again, read the full report.

Let me pivot from university excellence to university growth. As we talk about growth—in programs, buildings, resources & revenues—the most exciting aspect has to be growth in our student body. All of you know that COVID derailed many students’ college-going plans. But this year, for the first time post-pandemic, we’re seeing student numbers rebound.

While enrollment numbers aren’t yet final, we’re celebrating growth from Frostburg State in Western Maryland to UMES on the Eastern Shore. UMES is on track for its largest incoming class in eight years. Meanwhile, Salisbury University is expecting its first-year class to be its second-largest ever. Well done, Lyn. Towson is welcoming its biggest incoming class in university history. Congratulations, Melanie.

Maryland’s students do understand the value of the education we offer. And they’re betting that our value will pay off for them. It’s a good bet.

But we’re not content with this uptick in enrollment. Let me mention initiatives that promise future growth. A few months ago, this board authorized our historically Black institutions to offer in-state tuition to out-of-state students who have limited access to an HBCU. Coppin State and UMES signed on, and they’ve since gotten national coverage for this move. The thoughtful, responsible policy promises to attract more out-of-state students to their campuses and improve retention and completion for those already there.

At the USM at Hagerstown, Dr. Ashby and his team just awarded more than $80,000 in scholarships. That money represents two dozen students who are getting the aid they need to go to college, to stay in college, to graduate on time, to serve their communities with their knowledge, their skills, and, yes, their wealth. That’s the promise of higher ed. Thank you, Jacob.

Growth in our enrollment is paired with growth in our academic programs—growth that’s good for our students, our employers, our innovative power, our economic strength.

Among a half-dozen new programs at Bowie State, the university welcomed the first students in its Public Health and Information Technology program. Not just to grow the number of professionals who can exploit big data to improve population health, but to diversify those professionals, so that we stop leaving people behind—leaving them out—and achieve the health equity that’s eluded us.

Towson’s new interdisciplinary Autism Studies PhD launched this fall. It’s one of only a few in the nation, allowing students to approach autism from several different angles, and producing scholars who can think about neurodiversity in new and different ways.

UBalt’s Merrick School of Business has launched a STEM-designated MS in Business–Finance so students can compete in a landscape that’s reliant on data analytics. It emphasizes quantitative analysis, data-driven decision-making, and mathematical modeling.

Frostburg State has a new undergrad degree in Environmental Science, serving as a pathway to its new MS in Environmental Management, a partnership with UMCES.

The Universities at Shady Grove has launched an initiative called “Hire U.” (It’s a play on words.) The program doesn’t just develop students’ career-ready skills; it documents them. An app actually tracks students’ progress as they master nine distinct career competencies. 

A Coppin State program in Data Science was approved for delivery at the USM at Southern Maryland, and work is underway now to recruit students for the spring. This is how we expand access to all corners of our state.

Let me go from programs to outcomes, and paint a picture at UMES. Every year since 2015, students in UMES’s Physical Therapy program have exceeded a 95 percent first-time pass rate on the national licensure exam. For five straight years, its Pharmacy students have posted the highest first-time pass rate among all HBCUs. And students in UMES’s new Physician Assistant master’s program have earned the highest board pass rate in the nation. Heidi, congratulations on these remarkable outcomes.

From growing programs to growing resources. Towson just completed its largest-ever fundraising campaign—$102 million going to research, student programs, capital improvements, and more. Bowie State’s BSU Bold campaign reached its $50 million goal two-plus years ahead of schedule.

Frostburg’s Forging Futures campaign has hit its initial goal, raising $25 million for students, the university, and the region. And for the first time, Coppin State held a fundraising gala celebrating the university’s impact: 550 guests raised more than $300,000 in one night. One night. Congratulations, Anthony.

New grants are growing our ability to serve the state and the nation. On Monday evening, Dr. Goodwin let it slip that the NSF has selected UMCES to lead the Global Nitrogen Innovation Center. The news is public now, so it’s okay. Working with U.S. and international universities, UMCES will investigate an emerging tech called “green ammonia,” which could be a game-changer in providing clean energy and supporting food production while mitigating climate change. The UMCES-led center is one of 21 funded through the NSF’s inaugural Global Centers Competition. A huge endorsement of UMCES’s leadership. Congratulations, Peter.

I was also glad to join Dr. Goodwin and Sens. Cardin and Van Hollen this summer as they announced a $1 million federal award to advance UMCES’s oyster restoration and resiliency research.

The U.S. Department of Transportation has awarded College Park nearly $40 million to fast-track the conversion of its bus fleet from diesel vehicles to electric. It’s wins like this that put the university’s audacious—fearless—2025 net-zero emissions goal within reach.

UMES is one of 19 historically Black land-grant institutions sharing $33 million from the USDA. UMES has five food safety and agricultural innovation projects funded, worth $2.5 million combined.

With a $5.5 million grant from the U.S. Department of Education, UMB’s School of Social Work is partnering with Coppin State and UMBC to expand training for school-based mental health providers. The grant funds the placement of 105 social work students a year in local public schools, where the need for mental health counseling has exploded. The effort is intended not only to expand but to diversify Maryland’s corps of social workers, so that they reflect the children and communities they serve.

And the FDA has renewed its funding for M-CERSI, a partnership between College Park and UMB that improves the ways that drugs and medical devices are evaluated. The agreement is worth $50 million.

Let me also congratulate you, Darryll, on this week’s opening of the National Quantum Laboratory, where the world will gather to work with the most powerful quantum computers and with the top experts in the field. The QLab has required an extraordinary investment of money, and time, and energy from you and from IonQ, and I can’t wait to see the breakthroughs that come next.

I think you can trace all of this excellence—this excellence of our institutions—to the excellence of the people leading them.

UMB President Bruce Jarrell made the Baltimore Business Journal’s Power 10—just 10 leaders recognized for moving Greater Baltimore forward. Congratulations, Bruce. Dr. Anne Khademian at USG was honored by Bethesda Magazine as one of six Women Who Inspire. She inspires me every day. Congratulations, Anne.

Frostburg President Ron Nowaczyk has been appointed to the Middle States Commission on Higher Education. This is a big deal. We need leaders like Ron on these accrediting bodies, so that we can hold all of us in the academy accountable not only for compliance, but for improvement. That’s what we owe our students. Thank you, Ron.

I mentioned earlier that President Fowler was named an Influential Marylander by The Daily Record. But he’s not the only one. Joining him are Dr. Anthony Jenkins at Coppin, Dean Ron Weich at the UBalt School of Law, and Salisbury’s Jim Berkman, the all-time winningest coach in NCAA men’s lacrosse history.

Bowie State President Aminta Breaux was elected for a second term as chair of the Central Intercollegiate Athletic Association, the nation’s oldest historically Black conference. Aminta, I know how impressed your colleagues are with all you’ve done. Congratulations.

And UMBC President Valerie Sheares Ashby was invited to deliver the opening keynote at the annual MACo conference, sharing her thoughts with Maryland’s most powerful officials on confronting the challenges of our changing world. That’s exactly what this group of extraordinary leaders does every day, and I thank you for the inspiration, Valerie.

Madame Chair, this concludes my report.


Contact: Mike Lurie
Phone: 301.445.2719