Chancellor's Report to the Board of Regents on Feb. 16

Report to the USM Board of Regents
Chancellor Jay A. Perman
University of Baltimore | February 16, 2024

Thank you, Madame Chair. I begin by echoing your earlier words about Regent Doug Peters. Doug’s life was defined by service—service to his country, his community, to our state and our students. His legacy animates our work going forward, and our dedication to that work is the most fitting way we can honor him. We miss him deeply.

As we mark Black History Month, I congratulate our colleagues who made the Baltimore Sun’s 25 Black Marylanders to Watch: UMES President Heidi Anderson, Dr. Esa Davis, associate vice president for community health at UMB, and Larry Stewart, men’s basketball coach at Coppin State.

In recounting our good news, I’ll start with our host this morning, the University of Baltimore. We heard President Schmoke and Provost Mueller talk about their vision for UBalt, but I want to give a nod to the work it’s already doing every day.

UBalt’s Second Chance College Program, educating—and graduating—incarcerated students, has been such a light in Maryland as has UBalt’s work on one of Gov. Moore’s top priorities: developing the next generation of public servants. And now, with its new Urban Conflict Manager Program, UBalt will train the city’s Safe Streets leaders in conflict management and violence prevention. This commitment, and these connections, make UBalt such a powerful force for good.

I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention that Pres. Schmoke himself has been powerful force for good. Pending approval by the MLB and league owners, Kurt will be part-owner of our beloved Baltimore Orioles. So you can line up for some good seats this season—but you’ll have to get behind me. Congratulations, President Schmoke.

Now let’s look across the System.

U.S. News & World Report has ranked the nation’s Best Online Degrees. Six of our universities were recognized for 19 programs: Salisbury, Towson, UBalt, and UMBC were ranked for programs including business, education, and IT. UMB’s School of Nursing has two degrees ranked, including a #1 program among public universities in nursing administration. And College Park made the list in 10 business and engineering programs, with several top 10 rankings.

The nation’s top producers of Fulbright Scholars and Students were announced this week. UMB made the list for Fulbright Scholars. UMBC and Towson, for Fulbright Students. And recognized for scholars and students is College Park, one of only a dozen U.S. colleges to make both lists.

Elsewhere across the USM, Bowie State welcomed U.S. Education Secretary Miguel Cardona to campus. He learned about BSU’s work to diversify the school counseling and mental health professions—efforts that ultimately make it easier for underserved people to get the care they need. And he learned how Bowie State is bringing more Black men into teaching and supporting them to success. President Breaux, I was thrilled to be able to join you and see Bowie State shine.

UMB also hosted a member of President Biden’s cabinet. Health and Human Services Secretary Xavier Becerra discussed the state of women’s health care and reproductive rights with Pres. Jarrell, Gov. Moore, and the UMB community. It was a timely discussion, given that Gov. Moore announced this week that UMB will get $10.6 million to shore up abortion access in Maryland with its Abortion Care Clinical Training Program.

This grant joins some huge awards over the last several weeks: $30 million to prevent rehospitalization among IV drug users, $9 million to improve vaccine efficacy, $7 million to innovate trauma triage technology for mass casualty events. Congratulations, President Jarrell.

Coppin State is one of three universities partnering with Baltimore City Schools to fill a shortage of school nurses. The five-year, $14 million program takes a two-pronged approach—placing registered nurses in city schools and growing the pipeline of nursing students who choose school-based care. It’s this kind of excellence that inspires Coppin’s BE MORE capital campaign—at $25 million, the largest in its history. Congratulations, Ms. Waterman. I know you’ll make your goal.

Salisbury University has announced that its Museum of Eastern Shore Culture will open this summer next to SU Downtown. The museum will feature exhibits on local and indigenous cultures and include items from the wildfowl collection formerly displayed at the Ward Museum.

And I’m sure Sea Gull Nation was proud to see SU Hall of Famer Dan Quinn named head coach of the Washington Commanders. I can tell some of you are thinking about jumping out of the ticket line in front of Kurt and heading over to Lyn. Congratulations, President Lepre.

UMBC is deep in the work of advancing diversity and inclusion in STEM—from its Meyerhoff Scholars Program to its Center for Women in Technology. You can add another program to this effort. UMBC has joined a National Academies collaborative to build new pathways in tech education and careers for underrepresented women.

Also at UMBC, the Center for Research in Emergent Manufacturing is launching a $3 million project to work with the U.S. Army on digitizing its supply chain. Congratulations, President Sheares Ashby.

Towson University is building on a historic 2023, when they welcomed their largest-ever freshman class. This month, TU broke its record for incoming student applications—more than 20,000 of them.

And since we’re on a sports theme, I’ll mention that TU alum Kristin Juszczyk made worldwide headlines when Taylor Swift wore one of her custom jackets to a Kansas City Chiefs game. Kristin has now landed a well-deserved licensing deal with the NFL. Congratulations, President Ginsberg.

Let me talk about some of our students.

At Frostburg State, grad students in the kinesiology program are working with local firefighters, examining how their on-the-job gear affects their stability, strength, and fitness. The goal is to improve firefighter performance, reduce injuries, and protect public safety—a project with immediate, and profound, impact. Thank you, Vice President Delia.

On the heels of celebrating a record year for young oysters in the Chesapeake Bay, UMCES’s Imani Black was featured on local radio, discussing the region’s oyster population. Imani is pursuing her master’s degree at UMCES, but she’s also founder and CEO of Minorities in Aquaculture, whose mission is to diversify the cultivation and study of marine life. I met Imani when I visited Horn Point a couple of years ago, and she’s a shining example of UMCES’s impact. Congratulations, President Dennison.

UMGC had some wonderful coverage of one of its cybersecurity graduates. Jamel Shorts is a homegrown student who took college courses while still in high school, then earned his associate degree at Prince George’s Community College, then transferred seamlessly into UMGC, where he graduated in December with a bachelor’s degree, a job with top security clearance, and no debt. President Fowler, for a university with “global” in its name, UMGC’s impact is profoundly local. Thank you.

For the third-straight year, UMES pharmacy graduates have achieved the highest first-time licensure pass rate of any HBCU pharmacy school—a remarkable accomplishment. And in 2026, when the first class of students is expected to enter UMES’s School of Veterinary Medicine, they’ll be the only veterinary students in Maryland. Congratulations, President Anderson.

The Washington Post captured the joy of College Park’s future students. Every year, a few lucky Maryland hopefuls are greeted at their homes by Testudo and the university marching band, whose brass section literally “trumpets” their acceptance to the flagship. It’s a powerful reminder that the college dream is alive and thriving in Maryland.

And speaking of dreams, Dr. Jeanette Epps, a Clark School graduate in aerospace engineering, will soon live the dream of all aerospace engineers, when she flies aboard a Dragon spacecraft to the International Space Station for a six-month rotation with the crew. President Pines, as a fellow aerospace engineer, I know you’re with her in spirit.

And now to our regional centers: Rep. Steny Hoyer, Gov. Moore, and his cabinet toured the USM at Southern Maryland this month, learning how the center partners with the Navy in autonomous technology R&D. And more than 1,000 tri-county students have descended on USMSM in the last several weeks, networking with employers and exploring local education and job opportunities.

The USM at Hagerstown has hatched a novel way to incentivize this kind of student engagement. It’s offering scholarships to students who visit the USMH campus and subsequently enroll in a full-time program.

The Universities at Shady Grove launched the Joann Boughman Innovation Fellows program, honoring our beloved senior vice chancellor emerita. The annual fellowship supports four people leading innovation in academia, industry, government, and nonprofits—innovation that meets the needs of local students and employers. A fitting tribute.

In recent weeks, I’ve talked a great deal about the power and value of our regional centers with lawmakers in Annapolis—how the centers serve students who simply couldn’t get a college education otherwise; how they fill acute workforce needs in their local communities and drive economic growth; how they engage younger learners and cultivate a college-going ethos. I’m bullish on our regional centers, and I thank Dr. Abel, Dr. Khademian, and Dr. Ashby for their leadership.

This brings me to my concluding remarks on the legislative session and the governor’s proposed FY25 budget. The proposal includes $2.2 billion in state support for the USM. It’s a $45 million cut—2.2 percent—over last year, though we do anticipate additional funding to cover COLA and merit increases for System employees.

The budget includes nearly $36 million in new funding for our HBCUs, the third installment of the 2021 settlement, and another $5 million for UMES to address chronic underfunding of land-grant HBCUs.

We recognize that this budget could’ve been worse, given the deficit Maryland faces. At the same time, every single dollar we get is vital to what we do for Maryland’s students. And that’s where our focus is. So if any funds come back to the System, I’ve asked that they be directed to need-based financial aid. We’ve come so far and dedicated so many dollars to our promise of access and affordability. We have to keep this momentum going.

This legislative session has been incredibly busy, by any standard. More than 2,500 bills have been filed, and several affect us. The testimony we’ve offered on these bills has been powerful, and that’s a credit to the engagement and collaboration of colleagues across the System, advocating for us every single day, in and out of Annapolis.

I see our advocacy pay off every time I watch elected officials use our universities as a backdrop to announce plans and programs that are important to Maryland and the nation; every time our people are appointed to cabinet and policy posts; every time state and national leaders meet with our presidents, tour our schools, learn about our programs, and—yes—fund them. These leaders know we’re essential to the strength and vibrancy of Maryland, and I thank all of you for affirming it every day.

Madame Chair, this concludes my report.

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Contact: Mike Lurie
Phone: 301.445.2719