News   
Top News   
research   
Art/Events   
All Releases   
Announcements   

   

   
 
   
   

   
   
   
   

   
   
   

   
   

March 3, 2008

ACTiVATE Graduates Recognized for Business Plans

Three Graduates Are Among Nine Finalists in Rockville Business Plan Competition

Deborah Shapiro
Marketing Manager
410-455-1509
dshapiro@umbc.edu


Three recent ACTiVATE graduates, Kym Wong (Class of 2007), Loleta Robinson and Colleen Nye (Class of 2006), have been selected as finalists in the StartRight! Business Plan Competition. The competition, run by Rockville Economic Development, Inc. (REDI), is in its fifth year and recognizes top business plans from women entrepreneurs. Wong’s 3DeLux Images and Robinson and Nye’s Syan Biosciences are among nine businesses in the finals. Both businesses were launched upon their founders’ completion of the ACTiVATE, a UMBC program that trains mid-career women to start their own businesses based on technologies developed at area universities and research institutions.

This is the first business plan competition Wong has entered. Her business, which focuses on using a scanning system developed at Johns Hopkins University’s Applied Physics Lab to create three-dimensional images for online retailers, is in the preliminary stages of development. If feasibility studies prove successful, she will move ahead with the licensing process. Wong has twenty years of experience in business, including e-commerce, and after spending much of her career building new businesses for others, she decided it was her turn. “When I heard about the ACTiVATE program, it seemed like a very good fit,” she says. After her successful presentation of her business plan at the conclusion of the program, the program’s faculty encouraged her to enter StartRight!.

Nye and Robinson’s Syan Biosciences is working with a technology developed at the University of Maryland Biotechnology Institute to create a diagnostic platform that uses biomarkers to diagnose diseases such as cancer and heart disease. They are hoping to eventually license their technology to biotechnology and pharmaceutical companies. They also plan to make their own products based on the platform. Nye, a chemical engineer with an M.B.A. degree, and Robinson, a physician who also holds an M.B.A., entered StartRight! last year with a business plan based on a different technology that they were ultimately unable to license. Entering this year’s competition allowed them to receive advice on their new business model. “The competition is a great opportunity to get feedback and to network,” says Nye. “We knew the competition would be a good forum to get feedback on our new plan.”

According to Lynne Benzion, the associate director of REDI and administrator of StartRight!, 33 entries were submitted for this year’s competition. She notes that the 4 criteria for judging the business plans are overall financial viability, the company’s management plan, the quality of an entrant’s market research and its marketing plan, and the degree of innovation and differentiation in the business model. To be eligible to enter, businesses must be at least 51% women-owned, operating for two years or less and located in Maryland, Virginia or Washington, DC.

Entrants compete for cash and prizes: the first place winner earns $10,000, courtesy of sponsor Eagle Bank. The second place award is $5,000, courtesy of REDI, and the third place award is $2,500, courtesy of sponsor Foster, Soltoff & Love, a Bethesda-based financial planning and employee benefits consulting firm. The top three entrants also receive varying lengths of services from virtual office solutions provider Intelligent Office. Winners will be announced April 1 at the 2008 Women in Business conference at the Marriott North Bethesda Conference Center.

Benzion notes the established partnership between REDI and the ACTiVATE program. In return for REDI’s publicizing of ACTiVATE in the Rockville area and referring candidates to the program, ACTiVATE encourages its graduates to enter the StartRight! competition. In addition to the opportunity to win seed money for their business, the competition deadline gives graduates a target by which to complete their business plans. “Working with ACTiVATE extends our reach up to Baltimore and gives us good competitors. Anytime we can connect to another area [of Maryland], it makes the competition better.”

“We place an intense focus on helping our participants design sustainable businesses and solid business plans,” says Julie Lenzer Kirk, ACTiVATE’s lead instructor. “ACTiVATE graduates have created a force of technology entrepreneurs who have raised the bar for the StartRight! competition. We're hoping one day that ACTiVATE alumnae will take all three top spots.”


####

UMBC is a medium-sized public research university of 12,000 undergraduate and graduate students who collaborate with faculty to address real-world challenges. Located just south of Baltimore near I-95 and the BWI airport, UMBC's residential campus houses state-of-the-art facilities in the sciences, engineering, arts, social sciences and humanities. UMBC combines the energy of a research university with the close community feel and attention to individual students found in liberal arts colleges

Posted by dshapiro

July 9, 2004

Columns Return Fall 2004

Insights columns will return this fall.

Interested in writing an essay for Insights? E-mail Posted by dwinds1

Columns Return Fall 2004

Insights columns return in fall 2004.

Interested in writing an essay for Insights? E-mail < a href="mailto:insights@umbc.edu".

Posted by dwinds1

September 22, 2003

Student Career Development

Don't wait for employers to come knocking on your door - get out there and knock on theirs! While traditional recruitment options like job fairs (UMBC's is October 9), on-campus interviews, and job postings still work; in today's job market, more and more employers can afford to just sit back and let the applicants come to them. Often, there's no need to go to the effort of searching a commercial resume databases or to pay to place an ad in the Sunday want ads. So what's a job seeker to do if employers aren't advertising and recruiting in the traditional, visible ways?

By Lorie Logan-Bennett, Assistant Director, Career Development Center

Don't wait for employers to come knocking on your door - get out there and knock on theirs! While traditional recruitment options like job fairs (UMBC's is October 9), on-campus interviews, and job postings still work; in today's job market, more and more employers can afford to just sit back and let the applicants come to them. Often, there's no need to go to the effort of searching a commercial resume databases or to pay to place an ad in the Sunday want ads. So what's a job seeker to do if employers aren't advertising and recruiting in the traditional, visible ways?

Hellois anybody out there? Many employers are hiring, but it may take some legwork to find them. To start identifying potential employers in your field, industry or geographic area, ask a reference librarian to direct you to relevant employer and industry directories. Other great sources of information available conveniently in the campus' Career Development Center include InfoUSA (a searchable database of 12 million companies), the Baltimore Business Journal's annually updated Book of Lists, and the good old-fashioned phone book.

Make the connection. Once you've identified an employer you're interested in, an easy first step is to visit the employment/careers section of their Web site to learn of current openings. But don't stop there; take it a step further and call the company's human resources/personnel office to inquire about current job openings. Even if the company is not currently recruiting, ask where/how they advertise when they do have position openings. This information can be valuable in identifying additional job search resources and strategies.

Who do you know? Ever hear it's who you know that counts? Well the who you know won't get you the job, but it may get your foot in the door or ensure that your resume gets a second glance. Talk with everyone you know about your job search. Your mechanic may not be in your career field, but she may have clients, friends or family who are. The more people you know -- and the more who know you -- the better your chances of connecting with opportunities via word of mouth and referral. To learn more about art of networking, consider attending the annual Schmooze or Lose workshop and/or participating in the Networking and the Hidden Job Market job search club (information on both Career Development Center programs is available at (410) 455-2216 or careers@umbc.edu).

Patience is a virtue. The successful job search is more likely to take months rather than weeks. So start early, combine multiple traditional and non-traditional job search strategies, keep good records, follow up, do your best to stay positive, and remember that the Career Development Center is here to help you along the way!

Posted by dwinds1

May 8, 2003

Faculty Development

With the end of this academic year in sight, most faculty currently teaching are trying to make certain that course material is covered and reviewed, tests planned, papers graded, and projects completed. The next several months are a time to concentrate on research activities, libraries or labs, and writing. But this is also a time to consider rethinking some basic assumptions about teaching--and planning ahead, so that courses run smoothly in the fall and so that the time invested now pays off in more effective student learning next year.

By Jack Prostko, Director, Faculty Development Center

With the end of this academic year in sight, most faculty currently teaching are trying to make certain that course material is covered and reviewed, tests planned, papers graded, and projects completed. The next several months are a time to concentrate on research activities, libraries or labs, and writing. But this is also a time to consider rethinking some basic assumptions about teaching--and planning ahead, so that courses run smoothly in the fall and so that the time invested now pays off in more effective student learning next year.

Too often faculty feel that the improvement a course needs depends solely on adjusting content, reorganizing materials, or concentrating on how topics, issues, or findings are covered. Yet student feedback suggests something entirely different--that what matters is how involved students become in the material presented and how much they are allowed to uncover information for themselves.

Sometimes a simple change in perspective and planning can have a significant impact on what happens in the classroom. For example, when faculty talk to me about difficulties with student participation in discussions, I ask about preparation for the class. What instructors mention, usually, is how much time they have invested in organizing the information for a thoughtful and probing investigation of issues. What they do not tell me is how they've made certain that students are prepared for this exchange. In essence, they are ready but the students are not. (Suggestions for avoiding this problem are numerous, from asking students to present brief summaries or critiques of readings, using listservs to get major problems aired before class, or setting up student study groups to raise fundamental questions.)

What this rethinking of a course requires is considering the ways responsibility is placed on students for their own learning. At UMBC we have instituted excellent programs for involving students in research, have developed new and challenging first-year seminars, and are moving toward a more comprehensive system for having students engage in disciplinary writing. But the model many of us still carry into course planning is one that requires faculty to present information which students then absorb and replicate.

Placing responsibility on students for their own learning may seem like something we have always planned for, in the sense that we know students will eventually apply their knowledge in future endeavors. But in organizing courses and structuring tests or assessments, we do not always consider the long-term impact of our course goals (and instead are testing for memorization). What do we expect students to know about the concepts in a course one or two years from now? Are students being challenged to think deeply about material and are they developing the critical thinking skills that our disciplines require for success?

These are the kinds of questions raised by several teachers engaged in the process of rethinking how we organize courses. L. Dee Fink's Creating Significant Learning Experiences: An Integrated Approach to Designing College Courses (San Francisco, CA: Jossey Bass, 2003) offers useful insights on structuring courses to help students retain and use information. Fink recognizes faculty concerns about students: that they "do not complete reading assignments. The energy level in class discussions is low. Students focus on grades rather than on learning" (p .4).

In response to these concerns, Fink provides suggestions for alternative approaches to course design that place increasing responsibility on students. In laying out four essential aspects of teaching-knowledge of subject matter, teacher-student interactions, course management, and design of instruction, Fink notes that "of these four basic aspects of teaching, faculty knowledge about course design is the most significant bottleneck to better teaching and learning in higher education" (pp. 23-24).

This call for attending more carefully to how we design learning assignments for students is also prominent in Maryellen Weimer's Learner-Centered Teaching: Five Key Changes to Practice (San Francisco, CA: Jossey-Bass, 2002). Weimer is less interested in presenting teaching techniques than in changing our perspective on how we get students to accept the responsibility for their own learning. Like Fink, Weimer is very aware of the difficulties professors currently face with students who seem unprepared or unmotivated for college-level work. And she too suggests that we confront this problem by adjusting our assignments and our teaching so that students can not remain passive observers.

For faculty members interested in exploring course design issues this summer, the Faculty Development Center will sponsor an informal seminar series and provide copies of Fink's or Weimer's books to participants. Please e-mail me or call me at ext. 5-1829 if you are interested in attending. Meeting dates and times will depend on participants' schedules.

And remember to explore the National Teaching and Learning Forum. The current issue contains an article on "Peer Critical Learning Inside and Outside the Classroom" that emphasizes some of the collaborative learning issues raised by Fink and Weimer.

Posted by dwinds1

February 26, 2003

Service Learning

One of the most exciting things about working with our individual community partners is the opportunity to celebrate and share the work we are doing with the larger community. It is with great pleasure that I invite you to share in a particularly exciting event scheduled to take place here on campus this week.

On Thursday, March 6th, in the Commons Skylight Room from 4:30 pm until 7:30 pm, The Shriver Center, along with the Robert W. Deutsch Foundation, will be hosting an event to examine a pressing social issue, and then share some of the work we have been doing to address this issue here at UMBC. Specifically, we will be looking at the issue of teacher shortages in K-12 schools, and our response to this crisis.

This event will begin with opening remarks by Dr. Freeman A. Hrabowski, followed by a presentation of "The First Year," Davis Guggenheim's powerful and moving documentary which chronicles the first year of five young teachers as they fight the real fight: educating our children, one child at a time. We will follow the film with a panel discussion featuring current teachers, students, and administrators from Teach for America and the Teaching Enhancement Partnership Project. We would like to engage you in a conversation regarding the issues facing our nation's educational system and highlight these innovative initiatives that are addressing these issues.

The Teaching Enhancement Partnership Project (TEPP), a National Science Foundation funded program here at UMBC, brings together the university with local schools and community organizations to connect math, science, engineering and technology graduate and undergraduate students with middle school youth. Currently 25 fellows are working with 20 teachers and school administrators in 5 local, high-needs middle schools supporting and enhancing mathematics and science instruction of underrepresented middle school youth in the Greater Baltimore area.

Teach For America is the national corps of outstanding recent college graduates of all academic majors who commit two years to teach in urban and rural public schools and become lifelong leaders in the effort to expand opportunities for children. Teach For America has partnered with the Baltimore City Public School System since 1992.

On behalf of The Shriver Center and the Robert W. Deutsch Foundation, we hope to see you on Thursday! Please RSVP as soon as possible to shirleyj@umbc.edu or call ext. 5-2493.

Mark Terranova is Assistant Director of Service Learning at The Shriver Center.

Posted by dwinds1

November 25, 2002

Community Essay

Contemporary elections are more often about what citizens do not hear than partisanship. When asked by a correspondent to reflect on why Kathleen Kennedy Townsend lost to Robert Ehrlich, Congressman Elijah Cummings (CD-7) perhaps summed it up best: the Democrats failed to effectively get their message out to voters.

By Tyson King-Meadows, Visiting Assistant Professor, Political Science

Contemporary elections are more often about what citizens do not hear than partisanship. When asked by a correspondent to reflect on why Kathleen Kennedy Townsend lost to Robert Ehrlich, Congressman Elijah Cummings (CD-7) perhaps summed it up best: the Democrats failed to effectively get their message out to voters. During Ehrlich's victory speech, he presented a different spin to why KKT lost: the number of white and black Democrats in his electoral coalition, and their physical presence at his victory party. Strangely, both Ehrlich and Cummings were right: KKT failed to get the appropriate messages to the voters.

Ehrlich's choice of Michael S. Steele as the Lt. Gov.-nominee signaled (for many blacks) a real opportunity to diversify the character and content of Maryland's leadership. Many black Democrats saw a vote for Ehrlich-Steele as both an explicit indictment on the exclusionary practices of the Glendening Administration and the KKT campaign, and their collective inability or unwillingness to forcefully address critical issues of concern.

Of course issues cross party and racial lines, and KKT was consistently hammered for the current administration's failure to address those issues. Ehrlich's campaign message mirrored that of another Republican, Ronald Reagan, when he debated President Jimmy Carter: Are you better off today then you were four years ago? For many Marylanders, Tuesday was a "referendum" on the success of Glendening's eight years in office, made increasingly possible because KKT never effectively distanced herself from the administration's failures. Nor did KKT adequately convince voters of two things:

1) whatever successes were made during the previous eight years could be improved upon because of her unique vision and style; and

2) whatever failures were made would be avoided because of her unique programmatic, fiscal and administrative plans. Her inability to present a clear and concise message to disgruntled voters made it possible for Ehrlich to encapsulate desire for a directional shift and executive leadership in one word - "change."

For many Ehrlich supporters, KKT represented a failed approach to governance - a path riddled with fiscal thorns and broken programmatic promises - but one the Democratic candidate (and sitting Lt. Gov) could potentially encourage citizens to take once again. By invoking the slogan "Time for a Change," Ehrlich successfully tapped into citizen aversion to narrow historic choices, particularly when such paths have been proven ineffective and when leaders display visionary inertia. As such, the enormity of the budget deficit and the impending necessary cuts in programs revealed the weaknesses in Glendening-KKT's fiscal strategy.

By the time KKT presented her fiscal strategy, the damage had already been done to citizen morale. Many likely voters thus became tuned into the chorus of "Change" and turned off to being persuaded by KKT. Unlikely voters also became tuned into the chorus, and wondered aloud what would 12 years of such leadership produce that was not already apparent; and questionable. Relatedly, claims of corruption and administrative mismanagement only strengthened skepticism about the executive's willingness to protect and promote citizen interests above interest group politics and uncontrolled delegation of responsibilities.

On the other hand, for KKT, the issues were clear and the necessary direction of Maryland clearer. Change for the sake of change held no intrinsic value. The value of change rested in its ability to be guided in order to reshape the social order and address the needs of communities. In this regard, the philosophies underlying Ehrlich's plans for economic development, funding for education, and balancing the state budget could actually fail to address larger community needs in their implementation.

For example, Ehrlich's plan to raise funds through gambling was deemed short sighted given its faith that citizen patronage would continue (if not grow) in targeted establishments. If not, revenue shortfalls would necessitate the very deep cuts in programs that short-term fiscal solutions allowed Annapolis and Maryland citizens to avoid. Also, economic development could raise revenues and morale in the short-term, but would be offset by damages to Maryland's ecological system, its overall environmental health, and certain business sectors. The associated costs would thus be paid in increased expenditures related to health care costs, social service programs and potential higher prices for commodities and luxury items as the remaining businesses passed on their new economic burdens to consumers.

Ehrlich's strong campaign and KKT's weak campaign prevented the latter from fully triangulating these issues, her strategy and the voters. This became particularly true as news coverage of the area sniper moved the gubernatorial campaign slightly off the front pages of local newspapers as KKT's campaign began to build momentum. With neither a consistent believable message nor momentum, KKT's gubernatorial campaign strategy was soon boxed into the politics of avoiding blame. It was a box from which no political Houdini could escape unscarred.

In the end, Ehrlich's win was not surprising. And given the changing demographic character and policy preferences of Maryland county residents, where KKT lost decisively to Ehrlich was neither a surprise What is more surprising perhaps is that it took Maryland Republicans more than 30 years to recapture the governor's mansion and to defeat the Democratic speaker of the House. The nationwide rumbles have long indicated that Democrats often fail to adapt to America's changing electorate.

Like the rest of America, on November 5, Maryland voters suggested that a new untested plan was better than an old failed plan.

King-Meadows' essay originally appeared in The Retriever Weekly.

All members of the UMBC community are invited to contribute community essays to Insights. Please send ideas to .

Posted by dwinds1

November 4, 2002

Tech Watch

To help get ready for PeopleSoft training this winter, the Office of Information Technology recently conducted "desk interviews" with 15 UMBC staff whose duties include payroll preparation for their department. We wanted to understand how they do their jobs now and how they learn new technology. We also administered a "self assessment" to all 90 payroll preparers-results and the 15 interview transcripts are available on the Delta Project's Blackboard "community" site. What we found surprised us and changed our assumptions about technology training at UMBC generally.

By John Fritz, Director of New Media Learning and Development

To help get ready for PeopleSoft training this winter, the Office of Information Technology recently conducted "desk interviews" with 15 UMBC staff whose duties include payroll preparation for their department. We wanted to understand how they do their jobs now and how they learn new technology. We also administered a "self assessment" to all 90 payroll preparers -- results and the 15 interview transcripts are available on the Delta Project's Blackboard "community" site. What we found surprised us and changed our assumptions about technology training at UMBC generally.

*First, a lot of people are already using technology in very creative ways.

*Second, many people rely on each other for informal support.

*Third, workshops can be a catalyst for developing self-support strategies.

This last point surprised us because so many people said they missed having formal, scheduled workshops. In the past, OIT found that workshop attendance was inconsistent, so we tended to move toward developing more convenient, online solutions (see below). But based on the Delta interviews and survey results, we decided to give workshops another shot and get the word out early and often. We also tried to focus on giving people a solid conceptual overview of a technical topic that could enhance individual support.

Starting in September, OIT re-instituted mini workshops for faculty and staff on such topics as Windows 2000, Corporate Time Calendar, Blackboard and MS Word, Excel and PowerPoint. Through October, 113 people attended, and many future workshops have filled up completely. This week, we are also announcing the Winter (January) training schedule and are currently working on the Spring semester schedule. For more information and to register online, see www.umbc.edu/training.

While we're pleased with the demand, we also realize there are limits to a steady supply of face-to-face workshops. We may just be tapping temporary pent up demand we created by suspending workshops. But like a lot of colleges and universities, there likely aren't enough trainers or IT support staff -- something the annual Campus Computing Project has shown for years. Also, our workshop times may not be convenient or users may not realize they need to know more until they're under the gun. When you're in a hurry to create an Excel pivot table, the last thing you want to do is make an appointment-or find out a workshop covered it last month. But how do you also help nearly 12,000 students, many of whom may be completing technology-based assignments UMBC's Assured Access to Computing Initiative was designed to support?

As much as we may want them, face-to-face workshops or one-on-one consulting just don't scale well as a training solution for so many users. To help, OIT has also been trying to develop "just-in-time" online solutions that people can use when it's convenient for them. Peppered throughout the OIT Web site, online video-based materials like the FinWeb tutorials or recently added UMBC Blackboard video helpsheets can help users feel like they're in a workshop demo or tutorial.

Online videos do require that the user have high bandwidth or streaming media plug-ins like Quicktime or Real Player, but we decided to rely on the campus' robust network, assuming most people would need help when they're doing their jobs. Online videos also require more time and technical expertise to develop on OIT's part, which is why we've tended to focus them on UMBC-specific computing topics that aren't commercially available anywhere else. The only problem with online training is that using the Web itself has limitations. While you can rewind these tutorials, you can't really ask a follow up question for clarification.

To try to incorporate the richness of human interaction with the reach of online solutions, OIT is currently exploring how to deliver blended or hybrid training environments. Blended environments use technology to supplement face-to-face learning, whereas hybrid models generally replace some of the face-to-face meetings altogether. Faculty and students have been using blended or hybrid learning environments in academic classes for years. The University of Wisconsin's Hybrid Center is a good example, while the University of Colorado, Boulder has an interesting blended training approach.

It's still a work in progress, but many OIT workshops now have corresponding Blackboard community sites that include all workshop handouts, a pre- and post-workshop technology "self-assessment," and a discussion board where users can share tips with each other. To see OIT's training workshop Blackboard sites, just login to Blackboard and search for OIT Training: in the Organizations tab.

Ultimately, we hope these discussion boards or related e-mail listserves can supplement or mirror the informal support networks that exist on campus already. We also hope students can take advantage of this kind of online technology training that OIT currently doesn't have the staff to provide in a face-to-face setting. If you have questions or suggestions about OIT's training topics or delivery methods, please send e-mail to fritz@umbc.edu.

Posted by dwinds1

October 1, 2002

Community Essay

Much has been written recently about the role of the mentor in graduate studies. The importance of having an advisor to assist the student in the process of professional socialization (e.g., grant writing, colloquium preparation, job interviewing) is undeniable. An ideal mentor, however, goes beyond serving merely as a professional socializing agent. A wise and dedicated advisor can also assist the student in the pursuit of balance.

By Robert Deluty, Associate Professor of Psychology and Presidential Teaching Professor (2002-2005)

Much has been written recently about the role of the mentor in graduate studies. The importance of having an advisor to assist the student in the process of professional socialization (e.g., grant writing, colloquium preparation, job interviewing) is undeniable. An ideal mentor, however, goes beyond serving merely as a professional socializing agent. A wise and dedicated advisor can also assist the student in the pursuit of balance.

There are at least three major "balances" with which graduate students oftenstruggle:

(1) the balance between coursework and research (and fieldwork, for studentsin applied programs)

(2) the balance among the reading, writing, and conducting of research

(3) the balance between a personal life and a professional life

Many students begin their graduate studies after having performed brilliantly asundergraduates. Now, as graduate students with far greater workloads and heightened expectations, they typically find that it is much harder to be at the top of every class. In addition to more difficult coursework and more gifted classmates, graduate students also have research and/or fieldwork requirements demanding their time and attention.

Mentors can play a critical role in helping their students maintain a healthyperspective regarding grades (e.g., by challenging their irrational "need" for "A's" and their "catastrophizing" regarding "B's"); and in helping them achieve a professionally growth-promoting balance of academic, research, and/or applied training and experience.

For many graduate students, the most stressful aspects of their studies revolve around their master's and dissertation research -- reading (the relevant literatures); writing (e.g., one's proposal or final document); and conducting (e.g., running subjects, collecting and analyzing data). "I just have a few more articles to read and then I'll be ready to start writing." "My thesis proposal is not yet ready to defend; I've got another chapter to write before it's ready to go to my committee." Mentors hear remarks like these far more often than they'd like (and, undoubtedly, students utter them far more often than they'd like).

A mentor needs to be able to differentiate between a student who is making slow but steady progress toward the successful completion of her research, and one who is "stuck" or "near-stuck." A successful intervention by the mentor will have to take into consideration many factors, including

(1) the personality of the student (e.g., level of anxiety, perfectionism, hopelessness)

(2) the research skills of the student (e.g. conceptual, methodological, and/or data analytic sophistication)

(3) external factors (e.g., familial or financial pressures)

(4) where in the research process has the student become "stuck."

Regarding the latter, it is not sufficient to ascertain that a student is having problems with "the writing." It is critical to determine where, specifically, is the area of difficulty (e.g., the interpretation of unexpected findings in the "Discussion" section) before a mentor can offer meaningful assistance.

The third major "balance," the one between a personal life and a professional life,is perhaps the most difficult one to manage. Given the myriad demands of graduate school, it is often the case that students claim no (or very little) time for friends, family, outside reading, and physical activity. Mentors can be very helpful in reminding students that there is life beyond graduate school -- not only post-graduation, but also right now.

Assuming that they themselves have cultivated a personal life, mentors candemonstrate the physical and mental health benefits of outside activities and interests, and of maintaining friendships and close family ties. The costs of working single-mindedly towards a degree at the expense of their personal and social well-being also need to be addressed. Students would do well to take to heart the words of the academician who once remarked that he didn't want to be the sort of person who spent Thanksgiving and Christmas alone with his reprints.

Mentors must be mindful that balance is highly idiosyncratic, that the proper balance for some students may be improper for others (including the mentors themselves). The psychologist Abraham Maslow once noted that, "If all you have is a hammer, then you treat everyone like a nail." Since students have different personalities, abilities, obstacles and goals, they must be treated, and mentored, as individuals. Extending Maslow's metaphor, the mentor must employ a variety of "tools" (including sensitivity, insight, patience, judgment, flexibility and challenge) in helping the student find balances that are personally and professionally enriching and satisfying.

Robert Deluty recently spoke about graduate student mentoring and the search for balance at an OIT Brown Bag Seminar. A longer version of this essay appeared in The Retriever Weekly.

Posted by dwinds1

Tech Watch

myUMBC, the campus Web portal, will be changing, probably in late spring. The main reason is that the campus has discovered how to use it -- and then some.

By John Fritz, Director, New Media Learning and Development

myUMBC, the campus Web portal, will be changing, probably in late spring. The main reason is that the campus has discovered how to use it -- and then some.

When it launched in 1999, myUMBC won praise from students for its ease of use in academic functions like course registration, schedule look up and viewing one's bill. Faculty, too, found it easier to authorize students and manage their class lists. It even won a "gold medal" from a higher education association. And as more of UMBC's services became Web-enabled, the campus began to take advantage of this password-protected site that delivers content based on your UMBC userid and role. For example,

*Financial applications like FinWeb or E-Travel allow authorized users to manage their department's finances and travel requests.

*Faculty and staff can download the UMBC logo to create electronic letterhead using Microsoft Word.

*Undergraduates can vote in Student Government Elections.

*And all campus users can manage their own UMBC email subscriptions, verify their phonebook listings or add money to their campus ID cards.

By delivering content and functions based on your unique UMBC user id and related role (e.g. student, faculty or staff), myUMBC changed how the campus uses the Web, from merely providing information about the university, to adding customized services and interactivity that can supplement or even replace face-to-face business transactions. That's an inevitable direction for any Web site trying to develop and maintain a loyal audience. People tend to want a more personalized Web experience built around their needs. In fact, The Chronicle of Higher Education recently reported how campus portals are being used to attract new students AND retain them through better service online than their institutions can probably provide in a face-to-face format.

Unfortunately, the current version of myUMBC isn't flexible enough to meet the campus' growing needs. For example, the alumni office would like to use myUMBC so alums can change their address online or subscribe to the monthly email newsletter. Parents, too, might find it useful to be able to add money to their son or daughter's campus ID card; and admitted students might like to see what their class schedule would be or when they could register.

More importantly, it's currently not very easy to change the look, feel and (sometimes) the functionality of myUMBC because the computer code that displays your information also retrieves it from "back-end" university databases like the Student Information System (SIS) or Human Resources employee database. However, as portals have matured in recent years, developers have tended to separate these display and data layers (or "tiers") to make their applications more efficient and secure. While these "tiers" are still integrated, it's easier to develop and maintain the entire application because the underlying technical platform is modular. With a tiered architecture, you can delegate the user interface to designers and editors focused on end users' ease of use, while programmers can focus on the data structure and "business rules" of how a user's information is retrieved, presented, modified or deleted. But to provide that flexibility in how myUMBC is developed and maintained in the future, it needs to be re-engineered now.

After several months of looking at available (and affordable) options, OIT's Business Systems Group has been experimenting with uPortal, a collaborative, java-based product used and developed by many universities through the Java Special Interest Group (JA-SIG). So far, uPortal looks promising and is used by several universities including Cornell, Princeton, Syracuse, UC Irvine and the University of Delaware. If OIT decides to use uPortal, a likely redesign plan may look like this:

Fall
Determining users needs (e.g., surveys, focus groups, interviews)
Research best practices of campus portals
Interpreting and prioritizing identified needs

Winter
Initial prototype
Usability testing & refinement
Development & design

Spring
Testing
Rollout & launch

Summer
PeopleSoft HR & Finance launch
Summer orientation

If you have an idea how your department or organization could present information to users based on their campus role or affiinities, please complete the myUMBC user survey.

While it's impossible to meet everyone's needs, the process can be improved if we can identify and focus our efforts on the functions and services the campus community wants most.

Posted by dwinds1

February 4, 2002

Tech Tips

Okay, so you've mastered how to send or receive email attachments-a great way to share documents and files with anyone. But if you want to keep the collaboration going, learn how to add comments or revisions to the files you attach.

Okay, so you've mastered how to send or receive email attachments-a great way to share documents and files with anyone. But if you want to keep the collaboration going, learn how to add comments or revisions to the files you attach. They will provide more context than chicken scratches on a return fax, and it will be easier to incorporate more than one person's set of revisions. Here are some cool tools that can help:

1. Open the "Reviewing" Toolbar in Microsoft Word, Excel or PowerPoint

Go to "View" ' "Toolbars" ' "Reviewing."

You can use the yellow sticky note to add comments (available in all three programs), or actually insert or cut text and have it show up on your screen as well as your recipient's screen (available only in Word). You can even dictate audio comments tied to any part of a Word document. If you repeatedly work with a group of people on the same document such as a brochure, report or presentation, this is a great way to keep track of everyone's revisions and selectively incorporate them. Some faculty are even collecting students' papers as Word files and then returning them as attachments as comments-something you can do anytime, not just the hectic rush before class starts. For examples of comments and edits on this article, click here.

2. Write PDF Files with Adobe Acrobat

Anyone who's surfed the Web is likely to have come across the free, ubiquitous plug-in called Acrobat Reader to read PDF (Portable Document Format) files. But for less than $65 you can purchase the full version of Acrobat to also create or "print" PDF files, which are electronic snapshots of any file that will look the same on anyone's computer. This is a great way to review a brochure before it's printed or even a web page before it's launched. And like the MS Office products above, you can add sticky notes or drawings to elaborate on what your recipient is seeing. The UMBC Bookstore sells Acrobat at a very reasonable educational price, but if you want multiple copies so everyone in your work group can use it, you can get it for as little as $16 a copy. For an example of how you might use Acrobat for more than just reading PDF files, click here.

3. Use Blackboard

In addition to embedding comments or revisions in document files, you could attach them to discussion boards in Blackboard, or clean them up and make them permanent files others can access anytime, anywhere. The advantage of using Blackboard (or any website) is that your colleagues have a centralized, web-based clearinghouse for common files, and don't need to keep their emails to view a document. Also, if your workgroup or subcommittee is willing to use a discussion board, the related threads can be sorted, searched or even saved as text files that might serve as a rough draft others can view later. For more information on using Blackboard, visit http://blackboard.umbc.edu

If you have questions about these tips-or have some tips of your own that you'd like to share-contact John Fritz at fritz@umbc.edu.

Posted by dwinds1

December 7, 2001

Special Men

Freelancer Lou Kern writes about the dedication of Jim Sandoz, an instructor in the Department of Biological Sciences

There are a few realities of war that are unique and immutable: the small number of people involved day in and day out in combat, the absolute clarity of the experience of man to man combat, and distinctions of love, courage and brotherhood that go so far beyond the normal experience of life that they are unimaginable to any one who has not experienced mortal combat.

During the height of the Vietnam War there were between two and three million men and women in uniform. Of these two or three million about one quarter, or 500,000, were in Vietnam. Of the approximately 500,000 American military personnel in Vietnam about one in 20 were engaged in combat on a day in and day out basis. This translates to 25,000 men.

The American (USA) culture at that time was composed of approximately 200 million people. Simply put, we were a group of 200-plus million people with 25,000 people fighting for us and in our name. The percentages are staggering, and reflect the fact that only one in every 8000 citizens was fighting for our country.

This small number of men was the wall, the armor plating, the membrane, the actual battle line between the population at large and the forces of tyranny. This "thin red line" of men is one of the most elite and courageous fraternities in the vast experience of life. Even more elite among the few is the handful of men who run long-range reconnaissance patrols far behind enemy lines.

Jim Sandoz was one of these few.

* * *

Within this thin red line of men who engage in combat there are distinctions. The most profound distinction in combat is among those who can assume leadership and those who cannot. All men are deeply frightened. It is not the quality of fearlessness but rather how men react to the numbing fear of mortal combat that distinguishes them.

A few men cower; their nervous systems cannot stand the threats and violence that is hurled at them and they simply cannot function. They may panic and rant, they may freeze up, they may just shake and sob. They cannot serve themselves and they endanger those around them.

Most men endure the onslaught. Under the harshest of conditions they manage to move and function within themselves.

There is a third distinction. A few not only fight through the paralyzing fear but are also able to take responsibility for those around them. They see clearly what needs to be done, they take charge and provide leadership for others, and they keenly observe and react to the reality at hand. These are the true leaders and heroes of war. These are the few of the few.

Jim Sandoz is one of these men.

Imagine for a moment that you are one of the few. You are about to go on a deep reconnaissance mission with three other Marines far into enemy territory. Your face is painted with green and charcoal colored grease paint. Every square inch of your body and your equipment has been gone over countless times so that nothing rattles and nothing reflects light. You are limiting yourself to very small amounts of water and food. You are not wearing any protective gear such as a helmet or flak jacket. You are lightly armed because your best defense if you are spotted inside enemy territory is not a few extra magazines of ammunition but the ability to move rapidly.

If it is the monsoon season you will be cold and wet the entire time you are out on patrol. If it is the hot season you will be in heat easily reaching 120 degrees. You will be moving through dense jungle and over steep terrain, without making any noise and without being seen.

The enemy will know you are there. They will not know exactly where you are, but they know what vicinity you are in and they will have specially trained teams of 10 to 12 men who are heavily armed and who will be hunting you and trying to kill you the whole time you are out on patrol.

Your area of responsibility will be a little more than one square mile of enemy terrain and the distance you will be from friendlies and your base camp is anywhere from four to 40 miles. In other words, there will be four of you and thousands of them.

You will go out on these patrols with the knowledge that sometimes teams never returned, that half the time your mission would be compromised and your team would be in contact with an enemy force that vastly outnumbers you and that your personal likelihood of leaving the combat zone without having been shoot up is low.

Jim Sandoz ran dozens of these patrols.

In the fall of 1968 Jim's team was moving across the edge of a clearing halfway up the side of a small mountain near Khe Sanh and the DMZ. Jim was assistant team leader. The team had sporadically observed and seen signs of the enemy throughout the patrol and they were on alert. It was the rear securities job to be observant of any enemy activity to the rear of the team, but it was Jim who spotted a group of enemy approaching the team. He quickly signaled the team leader. They huddled briefly and realized they were in a very dangerous position and had little time to react. All of this communication was done through hand signals and gestures. Within a second or two they had agreed to move the team into a small clump of bushes nearby and hope that the enemy patrol did not see them.

Within minutes the team was huddled up, back to back in the brush with their rifles off safely.

The enemy patrol of approximately 14 men came wandering across the opening. They were a counter-recon patrol and well armed and trained, but they were apparently unaware that the team they were hunting was so close. As they walked up to the small clump of brush one man, apparently the team leader, gave a command and the members of the team took off their packs and sat down with their backs against the brush to eat. An enemy soldier leaned back against Jim's knee.

No one on the team moved.

After the members of the NVA (North Vietnamese Army) team had settled in and began to eat, their team leader walked over to the small clump of brush, swung off his pack and in the process of turning his body to sit down made direct eye contact with the team leader. Instantly the team leader opened fire on the enemy. Jim Sandoz, experienced and collected under pressure, followed suit. It was over in an instant. Every member of the enemy patrol was either dead or badly wounded.

This is one of many similar instances in which Jim's courage and leadership saved the lives of the men around him.

Posted by dwinds1

Faculty Development

First-Year Seminar Program

In November, Provost Art Johnson announced a call for proposals for First-Year Seminars (FYS), a new undergraduate program initiated as a result of recommendations of the Honors University Task Force. The FYS Program invites proposals from all tenured and tenure-track faculty for small first year courses that are collaborative in nature, emphasizing serious inquiry and the development of students' critical thinking and communication skills; more information and a proposal request form are available at http://www.umbc.edu/provost/FYS/index.html. The deadline for submitting proposals to the Office of the Provost is Friday, January 18, 2002.New students will benefit in a number of ways from these small, intellectually challenging classes. The seminars can help students make a smooth transition from high school to college work by connecting them with a faculty member and introducing them to their peers in an academically engaging context. Richard J. Light, in Making the Most of College: Students Speak Their Minds (Cambridge, MA: Harvard, 2001), points out that one of the reasons many students run into problems in their first year is that they choose courses simply to get requirements out of the way, and as a result end up in large lecture classes that leave them feeling anonymous. Nearly without exception, students who are struggling, or who are dissatisfied with their academic performance, are taking nothing but large, introductory courses (Light, p. 39). Light notes that another disadvantage of using freshman year to simply get the requirements out of the way' is that students may not find courses that truly engage them, that excite them.In launching this FYS Program, UMBC is also following one of the major recommendations put forth in 1998 by the Boyer Commission on Educating Undergraduates in the Research University (Reinventing Undergraduate Education: A Blueprint for America's Research Universities. Menlo Park, CA: Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching; http://notes.cc.sunysb.edu/Pres/boyer.nsf). According to the Boyer Commission, the focal point of the first year should be a small seminar taught by experienced faculty. The seminar should deal with topics that will stimulate and open intellectual horizons and allow opportunities for learning by inquiry in a collaborative environment. Working in small groups will give students not only direct intellectual contact with faculty and with one another but also give those new to their situations opportunities to find friends and to learn how to be students. Most of all it should enable a professor to imbue new students with a sense of excitement of discovery and the opportunities for intellectual growth inherent in the university experience (p. 20).The benefits of these seminars, of course, also extend to the faculty teaching them. These classes will provide an opportunity for professors to explore topics of interest that might otherwise not easily fit into the traditional curriculum of a department, especially interdisciplinary topics. (For examples of similar courses taught at other universities, see the provost's website: http://www.umbc.edu/provost/FYS/FYSCourseDescriptions.html.)In addition, faculty can experiment with new teaching strategies or new writing or homework assignments. Not only do small classes encourage active participation, including discussion, oral reports and debate, they are also ideal for encouraging in-class or out-of-class small group work and cooperative student projects. Problem-based learning, where students spend several weeks wrestling with a complex issue, or case studies requiring selective research are both well suited to seminars.The Faculty Development Center has resources to help faculty explore the teaching opportunities presented by these seminars, including books and articles on active learning, problem-based learning and discussion leading.

Posted by dwinds1

Recommended Reads

Insights staff share their winter break reading lists

Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets (book II) by J.K. RowlingI read the first after all the neighbor kids read it, but just haven't had the time for a bit 'o more Potter fun.John Adams by David McColloughI've heard so much about this, I want to see what it's all about.Eleanor Lewis, Editor, Online NewsI usually read three or four books at a time poetry, nonfiction and fiction so I can't get them confused! My poetry workshop has decided to discuss the Greek poet Constantine Cavafy at our January meeting, so I'll be reading his Collected Poems, and I'll probably begin rereading Forms of Verse, a wonderful textbook on traditional verse by Baltimore poet Clarinda Harriss and Sara DeFord. I've wanted to read The Sheltering Sky by Paul Bowles for some time, so I think I'll read that as well. I'm also hoping to have time for The Edible Woman by Margaret Atwood.Charlie Melichar, Director of Media RelationsI've been on an "old and new" kick recently. Over the Thanksgiving break I gave The Great Gatsby another read and picked up Motherless Brooklyn, a new take on the detective novel (the Mafia, Buddhism and Tourette's who could ask for more?) by Jonathan Lethem. I'll keep with the old and new theme over the winter break by reading Joseph Heller's Catch-22 and Emergence, a book about "swarm logic" by Feed magazine founder Steven Johnson.Chip Rose, Assistant Director of Media RelationsTo compensate for my customary total lethargy during the holidays, I will be doing a lot of vicarious living dangerously through some action-packed reading this season. Although my body will be snoozing by the fire with a belly full of eggnog, my mind will be risking life and limb at every turn.Fire by Sebastian JungerThe author of The Perfect Storm takes readers on a travelogue through some of the most dangerous places and professions on Earth. From the hellish battlegrounds of Kosovo and Afghanistan to the frontlines of the worst wild fires in U.S. history to a tiny Caribbean island where the last living harpoonist still hunts whales with his bare hands, Junger delivers the goods in globe-hopping essays. This book got some bad reviews but my theory is that those critics, who will remain nameless here, were simply not man enough to handle this modern-day journey in the tough tradition of Orwell's war correspondence and Hemingway's travels.War Letters: Extraordinary Correspondence from American Wars edited by Andrew CarrollAfter September 11, this haunting and hard-hitting collection of letters from American vets from the Civil War up to the Persian Gulf is made even more relevant. My grandfather worked as a hospital ship medic in World War II, treating GI's wounded on the bloody sands of Iwo Jima and Okinawa. Through this remarkable collection, many of them stunningly insightful, touching and well-written, I hope to better understand his experiences. If you haven't already seen it, don't miss the companion documentary film produced by PBS -- but be sure to have plenty of Kleenex on hand.Band of Brothers by Stephen AmbroseThis is the sole reason I have HBO (OK, "The Sopranos" too.) This is #1 on my Christmas list. I can't wait to learn more about the stories told so well in HBO's epic miniseries about the men of Easy Company, true American heroes of the Great War. There is a reason this is the top selling paperback in the country now that it's finally back in print. Anyone searching for the perfect gift for the man in their life, look no further.Killing Pablo by Mark BowdenMy favorite contemporary writer returns with another slice of intrigue and danger, this time a riveting chronicle of the international manhunt for cocaine kingpin Pablo Escobar. Bowden also wrote the magnificent Black Hawk Down, the true story of the 1993 firefight between U.S Delta Force and Army Ranger troops and forces loyal to Somali warlords in the streets of Mogadishu. Bowden's account of the battle, the bloodiest for U.S. armed forces since Vietnam, has been described as the most accurate and visceral depiction of combat ever written. Don't miss the movie of Black Hawk Down directed by Ridley Scott (Gladiator) coming to theaters in January.Have a favorite book (or CD, movie, website, etc.) you'd like to share? EmailInsights@umbc.edu. Please include a digital photo of yourself if available.

Posted by dwinds1

Faculty Development

First-Year Seminar Program

In November, Provost Art Johnson announced a call for proposals for First-Year Seminars (FYS), a new undergraduate program initiated as a result of recommendations of the Honors University Task Force. The FYS Program invites proposals from all tenured and tenure-track faculty for small first year courses that are collaborative in nature, emphasizing serious inquiry and the development of students' critical thinking and communication skills; more information and a proposal request form are available at http://www.umbc.edu/provost/FYS/index.html. The deadline for submitting proposals to the Office of the Provost is Friday, January 18, 2002.New students will benefit in a number of ways from these small, intellectually challenging classes. The seminars can help students make a smooth transition from high school to college work by connecting them with a faculty member and introducing them to their peers in an academically engaging context. Richard J. Light, in Making the Most of College: Students Speak Their Minds (Cambridge, MA: Harvard, 2001), points out that one of the reasons many students run into problems in their first year is that they choose courses simply to get requirements out of the way, and as a result end up in large lecture classes that leave them feeling anonymous. Nearly without exception, students who are struggling, or who are dissatisfied with their academic performance, are taking nothing but large, introductory courses (Light, p. 39). Light notes that another disadvantage of using freshman year to simply get the requirements out of the way' is that students may not find courses that truly engage them, that excite them.In launching this FYS Program, UMBC is also following one of the major recommendations put forth in 1998 by the Boyer Commission on Educating Undergraduates in the Research University (Reinventing Undergraduate Education: A Blueprint for America's Research Universities. Menlo Park, CA: Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching; http://notes.cc.sunysb.edu/Pres/boyer.nsf). According to the Boyer Commission, the focal point of the first year should be a small seminar taught by experienced faculty. The seminar should deal with topics that will stimulate and open intellectual horizons and allow opportunities for learning by inquiry in a collaborative environment. Working in small groups will give students not only direct intellectual contact with faculty and with one another but also give those new to their situations opportunities to find friends and to learn how to be students. Most of all it should enable a professor to imbue new students with a sense of excitement of discovery and the opportunities for intellectual growth inherent in the university experience (p. 20).The benefits of these seminars, of course, also extend to the faculty teaching them. These classes will provide an opportunity for professors to explore topics of interest that might otherwise not easily fit into the traditional curriculum of a department, especially interdisciplinary topics. (For examples of similar courses taught at other universities, see the provost's website: http://www.umbc.edu/provost/FYS/FYSCourseDescriptions.html.)In addition, faculty can experiment with new teaching strategies or new writing or homework assignments. Not only do small classes encourage active participation, including discussion, oral reports and debate, they are also ideal for encouraging in-class or out-of-class small group work and cooperative student projects. Problem-based learning, where students spend several weeks wrestling with a complex issue, or case studies requiring selective research are both well suited to seminars.The Faculty Development Center has resources to help faculty explore the teaching opportunities presented by these seminars, including books and articles on active learning, problem-based learning and discussion leading.

Posted by dwinds1

Tech Tips

Computing During the Holidays

By John Fritz, Director of New Media DevelopmentAs the semester and year wind down, now is a good time to make and prepare for some New Year's computing resolutions.Resolution 1I will learn how to create a vacation messageWhat better way to close up shop for the holidays than an I'm outta here! message. It's easier than you think and you can then use it throughout the yearif you're lucky. JThe key is knowing what server your user account is tied to, and being willing to follow a few precise instructions for editing your mail configuration from a unix prompt. Don't worry, unix doesn't bite.Generally, faculty and staff hired before July 2000 will have umbc7.umbc.edu (or research) accounts, and students or employees who started after July 2000, will have gl.umbc.edu accounts. Armed with this information, you can follow the vacation message instructions on the Office of Information Technology website.Resolution 2I will clean out my old email and filesResponding to others by saying you'll be away is fine, but their original email message will still be stored in your inboxif you have room. If you don't want to be greeted by a quota exceeded message when you return to work, clean out your account files now. Better yet, make a habit of doing so at least every 2-3 months.In addition to cleaning out your old email, you may want to delete the many temporary files you gather while surfing the Internet. That's right, in order to make it easier to return to websites you visit frequently, your browser builds a cache or storehouse of Internet filesmainly graphics. Also, if you install or download a lot of programs, your computer gathers a lot of temporary files. But once you've installed the programs, you don't need them. OIT has a simple winter PC cleaning guide for deleting these files and generally making your PC work more efficiently. Just remember to empty your recycle bin on your PC's desktop after you delete all of your old files.Resolution 3I will shop online securelyOkay, this may be more appropriate for end-of-year holiday shopping than a New Year's resolution, but you can still end this year on a good note. Apart from gauging an online vendor's reputationor resourcesfor ensuring secure transactions, there's one thing you can always check when buying online: the padlock in the lower left corner of your Netscape browser; the lock appears in the lower right portion of Internet Explorer browsers. If the lock is closed (as it is below), you know your transaction is taking place on a site using a SSL (Secure Sockets Layer) connection, which encrypts all personal information including credit cards and passwords.For more information on these tips and other UMBC technology issues, contact the Office of Information Technology Help Desk at 410.455.3838 or helpdesk@umbc.edu.

Posted by dwinds1

Understanding College Student Suicide

By Reginald Nettles, Director, University Counseling Services

As we mourn the recent death of UMBC student Mark Schmidt to suicide, the importance of understanding factors associated with suicide risk, what to do when warning signs are present and how to access available resources becomes increasingly compelling.Suicide is a leading cause of death among young people between the ages of 15 and 24, (Suicide Among the Young: The Surgeon General's Call to Action to Prevent Suicide, 1999) with somewhat lower rates among college students in this age group. Research conducted as part of the 1995 National College Health Risk Behavior Survey found that as many as ten percent of college students admitted to seriously considering suicide in the year preceding the study (Schoenfeld, A., Web MD Health, 1996-2001).Data is now available that demonstrates higher levels of anxiety among college students than in prior decades (Twenge, July 31, 2001. College Students and the Web of Anxiety, The Chronicle of Higher Education). Further, an increase in the severity of mental health problems presented at college and university counseling services has been reported in the 2001 annual survey of college and university counseling center directors (Gallagher, R., 2001. National Survey of Counseling Center Directors. International Association of Counseling Services). Recent research has also shown increases in suicidal thinking following traumatic events (Marshall, R., etal, 2001. Comorbidity, Impairment, and Suicidality in Subthreshold PTSD, American Journal of Psychiatry).Suicide may be conceptualized as an act of violence involving expression of anger toward the self. Rarely, however, is suicide the result of a single factor or event. Rather, it is best understood as a result of a complex interaction of many factors and events.Risk factors include prior suicide attempts, engaging in other high risk behaviors, easy access to handguns, loneliness, social isolation and withdrawal. Recent losses of close relatives and friends, especially where suicide is the cause, increase the likelihood of suicide. Warning signs include talking about death and suicide, giving away possessions, depressed mood, lethargy and loss of interest in once pleasurable activities. A sudden lift in spirits in a depressed person, paradoxically, can mean that a decision has been made to commit suicide. In many instances suicidal behavior is part of a continuum that includes violence directed toward others.Recognizing the warning signs and taking action are among the most important ways of acting to prevent suicide (Warning Signs, American Psychological Association, 1999). Actions you can take to help prevent suicide include the following:1. Take all suicidal comments seriously;2. Acknowledge that a threat or attempt at suicide is a plea for help;3. Be available to listen and to be concerned;4. Do not leave a person alone if you feel she or he may be of danger to self in any way;5. Do not agree to not tell anyone about your concerns for the person;6. Seek immediate professional assistance: Refer and accompany the student to University Counseling Services, or to the nearest hospital emergency room.For additional information and assistance, contact University Counseling Services (UCS) in Math/Psych 201 or (410) 455-2472. Students in urgent need of psychological assistance are seen on a walk-in basis between 8:30 a.m. and 5 p.m. Mondays through Fridays, year round. Consultation by UCS staff is available to faculty and staff on student-related concerns.Information may be obtained and workshops may be arranged on helping students in distress, and warning signs of potential suicide by contacting UCS.

Posted by dwinds1



 Navigation: Home / NewsEvents / releases / index.phtml

Copyright © 2000 The University of Maryland, Baltimore County
1000 Hilltop Circle Baltimore, MD 21250
phone: 410.455.1000 email: help@umbc.edu