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Freeman A. Hrabowski, III
The University of Maryland, Baltimore County
Fall Opening Meeting
Tuesday, August 21, 2007

Each fall, we come together as a community to focus on the campus’s progress – our achievements, our goals, and our challenges for the year ahead.  I hope we’ve all taken time this summer for renewal and are preparing for the new year.  We celebrated our 40th anniversary this past year, and by most standards we’ve come very far, very fast.  In fact, our future is one of the brightest among America’s colleges and universities. 

Earlier today, we concluded our annual retreat, where campus leaders took stock of the university’s resources and reaffirmed the need for disciplined planning and budgeting.  We reviewed important academic and administrative initiatives emerging from our Strategic Framework for 2016, the University’s strategic plan, and listened to student success stories resulting from those strategic initiatives.  More than ever, because of the resource challenges we face, we will need to follow our plan as developed by the Planning Leadership Team.   

Let me take a moment to thank Provost Johnson not only for effectively leading the campus planning process, but also for his many other contributions while serving as Provost the past nine years.  As you know, Art has decided to return to the faculty at the end of this academic year.  Under his steady hand, we’ve made major strides – from reorganizing into three colleges, creating the Erickson School, and establishing the Office of Undergraduate Education to revising general education, creating the Sondheim Public Affairs Scholars Program, and launching several new academic programs and research centers.  Most important, Art has consistently reminded us of our core values – academic integrity, civility, and diversity.  I have appointed a search committee, chaired by Professor Mike Summers, to help us identify Art’s successor, and the committee has begun meeting.  There will be opportunities for the campus community to participate in the search process, and I encourage all of you to do so. 

In another development, after 10 years as UMBC’s Student Affairs Vice President, Charlie Fey has accepted the vice presidency at the University of Akron, an institution twice our size, and will assume his new duties early this fall.  Charlie has been instrumental in planning and constructing the Commons and four new student residence halls, supporting initiatives related to diversity and community service, enhancing student life, and strengthening ties with UMBC parents.  Please join me in thanking both Art and Charlie for their dedication and service to the campus.    

Let me also mention several other recent administrative changes.  Pat McDermott, Chair of American Studies and special assistant to the Dean of Arts, Humanities, and Social Sciences, has joined me as co-P.I. on UMBC’s NSF ADVANCE grant, replacing Dr. Lynne Zimmerman, who has become Vice Provost at Emory University.  Dr. Anna Shields has joined us as Director of the Honors College, coming from Princeton, where she served as visiting professor of East Asian studies.  History Professor Dr. Rebecca Boehling was named Director of UMBC’s new Dresher Center for the Humanities.  Dr. Steve Robinson is our new University Registrar and comes to us from the University of Alabama.  Dr. Joyce Lavelle Ingram is our new Director of Counseling.  And Officer Antonio Williams is UMBC’s new Chief of Police, having served in leadership positions with the Baltimore City Police Department and, most recently, the Baltimore City Public Schools.

Let me now report to you on the state of the University, beginning with the status of this year’s budget.  Our total operating budget of $331 million – a third of a billion dollars, with revenues from State, Federal, and other sources – includes $5.2 million more in State appropriations than a year ago.  This amount is a million dollars less than the budget approved by the General Assembly in April because of the Governor’s statewide reduction to address Maryland’s budget deficit.  We have made decisions to hire additional faculty and provide support for new programs, research, and student recruitment and retention, including selectively hiring more staff.  Funding in this year’s budget also covers cost-of-living and merit salary increases, and students benefit too from a freeze on tuition and an increase in need-based financial aid. 

This year’s budget is based on reasonable assumptions about revenues and expenditures and, bottom line, our ability to meet our enrollment projections.  Therefore, we must continue to support recruitment and retention, including aggressive marketing with support from Institutional Advancement.  We also are launching several new academic programs, all recently approved by the Maryland Higher Education Commission.  These include bachelor’s programs in Media and Communication Studies, Physics Education, and Gender and Women’s Studies; a master’s program in Management of Aging Services; and undergraduate tracks in Game Development (Computer Science), Animation and Interactive Media (Visual Arts), and Public Health (Health Administration & Policy).  Our Continuing & Professional Studies division also is playing a vital role.  Working closely with the Deans and Department Chairs, the division is enrolling growing numbers of students in post-baccalaureate certificate programs that generate new revenues and respond to regional workforce needs, including new applied master’s programs in Biotechnology Management, Industrial and Organizational Psychology, Geographic Information Systems, Systems Engineering, and Engineering Management.  The division also operates UMBC Training Centers, extending the campus’s reach and generating revenues through corporate and online training.

This year’s capital budget appropriation of $2.7 million enables us to continue planning and design of the new Performing Arts and Humanities Facility, which remains our number-one capital priority.  Given statewide capital budget constraints, construction has been delayed one year and is scheduled to begin in summer 2010.  The facility will be another major milestone in the campus’s physical transformation, which over the past 15 years has included adding new buildings in engineering and information technology, physics, and public policy; renovating our biology and chemistry facilities; adding more than three-quarters of a million square feet of new space for student apartments, the Commons, an addition to the Retriever Athletics Center, and new athletic field and stadium facilities.  I want to commend our physical plant staff on the overall appearance of the campus and the great job they do maintaining our facilities.    

We also are building out our 41-acre research park – bwtech@umbc.  Two major buildings are in place; two more are under construction and will be completed this year – the U.S. Geological Survey’s Water Science Center and a multi-tenant building to house new IT and life-science firms; and another major facility should be finished a year from now housing Erickson Corporation’s IT operations and new Retirement Living TV network, creating new collaborations involving faculty and students. 

Over the years, as we’ve transformed the campus landscape, we’ve tried to be sensitive to the environmental impact, and we thank all faculty, students, and staff who’ve helped us to focus on this issue.  In this connection, I recently joined more than 300 college presidents in signing the American College and University Presidents Climate Commitment, which expresses our concern about global warming and the need for our campuses to exercise leadership in this area.  We’re also committed to developing campus plans to achieve climate neutrality and taking steps to reduce greenhouse gases.  Provost Johnson and Vice President Schaefer will be leading this effort, and I encourage all of you to participate.     

  Before reporting on this year’s enrollment, I must share some tragic news about a special young woman, Madison “Maddie” Bingaman, a recent graduate of Stony Point High School in Austin, Texas, who was to become a UMBC freshman next week.  A standout student and volleyball player, Maddie died in a car accident outside of Memphis on August 8th while she and her mother, Peggy, were traveling to UMBC.  Mrs. Bingaman also died, two days later, in a Memphis hospital.  Needless to say, the Bingaman family, their community in Austin, and those of us who were looking forward to welcoming Maddie to UMBC are devastated.  Described by one of her coaches as “quiet [and] exceptionally intelligent,” Maddie Bingaman is with us in spirit, and I ask that you keep her and her family in your thoughts and prayers throughout the year.

Maddie would have been joining about 12,000 students enrolling this fall.  Our student body is among the most academically talented and diverse we’ve ever enrolled.  We have students from every state and more than 120 countries, and we are sending others abroad to study on every continent.  We’re enrolling approximately 1,460 new freshmen, up slightly over this past fall and many with extraordinary academic records; roughly 1,050 transfers, up about 100; and approximately 2,380 graduate students, equaling our banner-year enrollment a year ago and including growing numbers of domestic students, women, and minorities.  It’s significant that graduate enrollment has grown by nearly a thousand over the past seven years and that graduate students now represent 20 percent of our total enrollment.  Our new students exhibit great promise, and we’re confident they will be successful.

Our 2007 graduates were a stellar group, winning major awards and going on to top graduate schools and promising professional careers.  They received Fulbright Awards, NSF Graduate Research Fellowships, and Goldwater, Jack Kent Cooke, and National Security Education Program Scholarships.  We also had a Rhodes finalist and the winner of an OxCam Scholarship, awarded by NIH and Oxford and Cambridge Universities to an outstanding biomedical Ph.D. student.  Many are beginning graduate programs at top schools across the nation – from Harvard in physics and public policy, and Yale in drama and public health, to MIT and Georgia Tech in mechanical engineering, Cornell in Asian studies, and NYU in cinema studies.  Other graduates are launching careers with major companies, agencies, and foundations – from DuPont, GE, IBM, and Lockheed Martin to NASA, the U.S. Patent Office, the Rockefeller Foundation, and Maryland public school systems.  Our own graduate students this year include one of only two students in the nation selected by the American Institute of Biological Science as an Emerging Public Policy Leader and a student appointed to the American Chemical Society’s Graduate Education Advisory Board. 

This also was an exceptional year for our student-athletes.  The women’s basketball team won the America East tournament and participated for the first time in the national Division-I tournament.  The men’s lacrosse team also competed in the national tournament and reached the quarter-final round, a first for the program.  Both the women’s and men’s swimming and diving teams won America East championships, as did the men’s tennis team.  Most important, our student-athletes are academically strong, with more than half earning gpas of 3.0 or higher.  Standout Isaac Matthews, a senior distance runner, received the Arthur Ashe Jr. Male Scholar of the Year award, honoring the nation’s top male scholar-athlete, and Isaac is beginning MIT’s Ph.D. program in nuclear engineering this fall.  Former women’s basketball captain Erin Voss, this year’s salutatorian, has returned home to begin medical school at the University of Wisconsin. 

Our faculty also have distinguished themselves this year.  In the spring, we recognized Presidential Teaching and Research Professors Bob Reno, in physics, and Lena Orlin, in English, who reflect the faculty’s commitment to students in the classroom, through research, and mentoring.  Sandra Herbert, in history, not only received the Regents’ Faculty Award for Research, Scholarship, and Creative Activity but also was elected a Fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science and won four major scholarly prizes for her book on Charles Darwin.  Other recognized faculty include Mark Marten, in chemical and biochemical engineering, who received the Regents’ Faculty Award for Collaboration; Tim Nohe, in visual arts, and John Stolle-McAllister, in modern languages and linguistics, who received Fulbright Scholar awards to teach in Australia and Ecuador, respectively; Julia Ross, Chair of chemical & biochemical engineering, received the American Society of Engineering Education’s  2007 Sharon Keillor Award for Women in Engineering Education; Anne Rubin, in history, received the American Council of Learned Society’s Digital Innovation Fellowship and is collaborating with Imaging Research Center Director Dan Bailey on her American Civil War research; Manil Suri, in mathematics, received the University System’s endowed Wilson H. Elkins Professorship for his work fostering math education; Claire Welty, Director of CUERE (Center for Urban Environmental Research & Education), was appointed chair of the National Research Council’s Water Science & Technology Board; Katherine Seley-Radtke, in chemistry and biochemistry, served as a Jefferson Science Fellow at the U.S. State Department; Suzanne Rosenberg, in biology, served on the Governor’s Stem Cell Research Commission; Carlo DiClemente, in psychology, is UMBC’s first endowed Lipitz Professor of the Arts, Humanities, and Social Sciences; Ken Maton, also in psychology, received the Society for Community Research and Action’s annual Award for Distinguished Contributions to Theory and Research in Community Psychology; just this month, Mike Summers, our Howard Hughes Medical Institute Investigator, received the American Society for Biochemistry and Molecular Biology’s Award for Exemplary Contributions to Education;  Tyson King-Meadows, in political science, received a Ford Foundation Diversity Fellowship; John Borerro, in psychology, received the Maryland Higher Education Commission’s Henry C. Welcome Fellowship; Eric Dyer, in visual arts, won international acclaim for his film, Copenhagen Cycles, at the 2007 Sundance Film Festival; and Chris Corbett, in English, received first-place honors for editorial writing from Maryland’s chapter of the Society for Professional Journalists.  Scores of other faculty across our full spectrum of disciplines have won major awards, fellowships, and grants, published books, received patents, and had other creative achievements.  The Regents also recognized Cindy Kubiet, Director of Sports Medicine, with this year’s Regents’ Staff Award for Outstanding Service to Students.  And our Presidential Staff Award winners this year include Bill Tudor, in the Center for Art, Design, and Visual Culture, and Deborah Geare, in the Maryland Institute for Policy Analysis & Research.  Kudos to all of our award-winning faculty and staff. 

Another top priority this year, and in the future, is to continue building our research portfolio and increasing our sponsored programs, which totaled approximately $83 million this past fiscal year.  Faculty and staff have built strong relationships with external partners – from NASA, NSF, and NIH to the U.S. Department of Education, Howard Hughes Medical Institute, and Wyeth Pharmaceuticals.  These partnerships not only produce funding and major research-and-training opportunities for faculty and students, but also contribute to our rising national reputation.  In Federal funding, NASA remains our largest source (we now rank third among U.S. universities in NASA funding), and NSF and NIH are our next two heaviest Federal supporters.  Increasingly, our success reflects the work of our centers, including the new Center for Research and Exploration in Space Science & Technology, the Center for Advanced Studies in Photonics Research, our Goddard Earth Systems Technology Center, CUERE, our HHMI lab, the Joint Center for Astrophysics, our Joint Center for Earth Systems Technology, and our NSF Engineering Research Center with Princeton, Hopkins, Rice, and others.  Our emergence as a leader in environmental sciences is reflected by the fact that Science Watch, which monitors worldwide trends and performance in basic research, ranks our faculty third in the number of geosciences publications and citations.  Our achievements in research also are a function of growing interdisciplinary work, both on campus and with external partners.  Responding to growing demand by Federal and company labs for access to advanced scientific equipment, we’ve selectively created core research facilities in proteomics, scientific imaging, and high-performance computing that can be shared by scientists and engineers.  One core facility recently benefited from a major NIH grant to acquire a state-of-the-art mass spectrometer for studying infectious diseases and cancer.  Another was recently designated by IBM as a “Cell Center of Excellence.”  Other significant funding and partnering opportunities come from a variety of sources for initiatives ranging from K-16 math-science education to history and the arts; these initiatives involve our Imaging Research Center, Center for History Education, Center for Art & Visual Culture, Center for Health Program Development & Management, Maryland Institute for Policy Analysis & Research, and the Choice Program and other Shriver Center activities.

We continue to be encouraged by the commitment of faculty and staff to special initiatives focused on women and minorities in science and engineering – from WISE (our Women In Science & Engineering program), ADVANCE (our NSF program for recruiting and advancing women faculty), and CWIT (our Center for Women & Information Technology), to the McNair and undergraduate and graduate Meyerhoff Scholars programs for preparing minority researchers, and our Promise and AGEP (Alliance for Graduate Education and the Professoriate) programs to increase the numbers of minority graduate students in STEM fields.  We may be the nation’s only campus where women hold the majority of tenure-track positions in chemical & biochemical engineering, and this past year, Dr. Julie Ross was named chair of that department.  More generally, since 1999, when WISE was launched, the number of women faculty in STEM departments has doubled – from 20 to 40 – with advance in all ranks.  And the campus continues to attract national attention as a model for producing minority science-and-engineering graduates.  What’s particularly significant about UMBC’s work in these areas is that the lessons we’ve learned are benefiting all of our students and are being replicated nationwide.

In all this positive light, and as part of our 40th anniversary this past year, we publicly launched the Campaign for UMBC and had our most successful fundraising year ever, raising more than $20 million.  We have raised more than $75 million toward our $100-million goal, including major gifts for the Erickson School, Sondheim Public Affairs Scholars program, Sherman Teacher Training Program in Science and Technology, and the Dresher Humanities Center.  We’ve also attracted major gifts from Brown Capital Management and the Ewing Kauffman Foundation for entrepreneurship programs and the Rouse Company Foundation to train STEM student-teachers in some of Baltimore’s challenging schools.  Across all of our disciplines, we are building endowment support reflecting our campaign priorities, including student scholarships, fellowships, and internships, faculty development and research, and endowed chairs and professorships.  Our endowment today stands at nearly $55 million compared to $43 million a year ago and just $3.5 million in 1996.  And we’re excited about the growing number of alumni who are giving.  More than 2,500 alums contributed to the campaign this year – a one-year increase of nearly 400 donors.  I also want to acknowledge faculty, staff, and alumni who have supported the annual fund.  Your support this year was nearly twice as much as a year ago.  Thank you for your generous spirit.  With most campaign gifts thus far coming from corporations and a handful of individual donors, our challenge is to continue encouraging even greater support from those who know us best.           

Our achievements also continue to produce greater visibility.  Colleagues nationwide have been congratulating us on recent pieces in the New York Times, Washington Post, and Chronicle of Higher Education.  We’re also attracting to campus a steady stream of people who want to learn about us.  Over the past year, we’ve hosted visits by leaders of national agencies, corporations, foundations, other major universities, and school systems.  And our faculty, staff, and students have traveled extensively, talking not only about their own interests and experiences, but also about the UMBC experience.

Greater attention and more investment require even greater accountability to ensure that our image is substantive.  Because of our growth in contracts and grants, Federal and State funding agencies are routinely conducting more audits.  NSF, for example, recently audited several of our awards.  Given such scrutiny, we must focus even more attention on how well we understand and comply with requirements and restrictions governing our sponsored activities.  Also, we expect State legislative auditors to return to campus in 2008 for their next major campuswide audit, and we are working now to be sure that we’ve sufficiently addressed the recommendations and findings from their 2006 audit.  Finally, University System auditors have been working with us this past year, recommending ways we can strengthen our compliance efforts involving purchasing card usage, hazardous materials operations, non-resident alien tax withholding and reporting, and IT recovery and contingency planning.  Such regular scrutiny reminds us of our responsibility to stay focused on quality, responsiveness, and accountability. 

PeopleSoft implementation also remains an important administrative priority.  We continue to make steady progress, and our new systems are giving us greater internal control and transparency in fiscal and personnel management.  This year, we’ve updated the finance module and are now updating the HR module, which should be completed in the spring.  We’re also focusing on the student administration system and next month will begin implementing the Oracle SA system.  Over the next two-and-a-half years, we’ll be implementing the admissions, records and registration, financial aid, billing, and degree audit modules of SA.  This initiative will touch virtually every administrative and academic unit, and almost every student, faculty, and staff member.  We’re prepared to move forward with this next phase of PeopleSoft implementation, having created a project team, an academic advisory committee, and a project governance structure, and having selected a consultant as our implementation partner.  Furthermore, we’re already using the latest version of the SA recruitment module in undergraduate and graduate admissions; we’ve implemented iStrategy for strategically analyzing student data; and we’ve begun converting data from our existing student information system.  Again, thanks to all of you who worked so hard in recent years to implement these new systems in your units.  Your commitment and positive approach are deeply appreciated.

As we begin our fifth decade, we will continue to succeed by continuing to put people first – supporting and guiding students as they learn and grow; supporting faculty in their research and teaching; supporting staff in their work with students and colleagues; and responding to the needs of our growing external constituents.

Whether you’ve been here for decades or recently arrived, you make a difference through your contributions.  I’m celebrating my 21st year on campus this fall and my 16th as President – and I want you to know how much I appreciate the support you have given me throughout the years.  We have become not only an Honors University in Maryland, but a distinctive model in American higher education – combining the traditions of the liberal arts academy, the creative intensity of the research university, and the social responsibility of the public university.

As I say every year at this time, it is an honor each day to serve as President.  Thank you.

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