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September 28, 2010

UMBC Creating Retriever Learning Center to Enhance Academic Support for Students

Eleanor Lewis

Preparation has begun to transform an 8,000-square-foot area of UMBC’s Albin O. Kuhn Library into a social learning space that will facilitate student success through peer-to-peer teaching, group learning, tutoring and informal interactions among students and faculty. The Retriever Learning Center (RLC) will be completed in the summer of 2011.

The RLC will feature movable furnishings that groups can configure into study spaces, and will be located near library services, tutoring, information resources and information technology. It will be open 24 hours a day, seven days a week, consolidating late-night study space into one location and providing improved safety and security through key card access, video monitoring and other enhancements.

UMBC President Freeman Hrabowski said, “The Retriever Learning Center represents another example of UMBC’s innovation in teaching and learning. We are determined to be as proactive as possible in providing an environment that encourages substantive interaction among students, faculty, and staff. It’s always encouraging to see our students learning and growing intellectually.”

The impetus for this project came from students, including the Student Government and Graduate Student Associations, who advocated for a large, open, flexible, inviting space for group study with food and drink permitted. Library planning for this project began in 2006, but was accelerated by a 2008 bequest from the estate of Richard Roberts, a founding faculty member of UMBC and former chair of the Department of Mathematics. All colleges and divisions at UMBC will be committing resources to support the project, and UMBC is working with alumni, parents, friends and foundations to secure the final funds necessary to complete this important project.

Provost Elliot Hirshman emphasized, “The creation of the Retriever Learning Center is a critical addition to the institution’s commitment to support success for all students. By supporting active learning, group discussion, and peer tutoring, and integrating the resources of the Learning Resources Center and the Division of Information Technology in a single location, the Retriever Learning Center will play a central role in supporting student success and academic excellence at UMBC."

Students look forward to utilizing the resources that the new RLC will offer. “As a scientist, I want to have strong writing skills in order to clearly convey my research results and ideas. I will definitely spend time in the Retriever Learning Center as I continue to develop into an independent researcher,” said Genaro Hernandez, Jr. ’15, computational biology.

In preparation for construction, government documents and reference materials have been moved from the first floor of the library to the lower level. The Learning Resources Center’s Mathematics Lab and Writing Center have moved to the first floor, where they will operate temporarily during the 2010-2011 academic year. The final location of these services will be in newly renovated space of the RLC.

Posted by elewis

January 7, 2009

UMBC "Talking Heads" Suggest 2009 Resolutions for the World

Recently, the UMBC News team launched the “Talking Heads” blog, a community of faculty experts using text and video to post their views on current events.

The blog is becoming a dynamic community discussion and a destination for members of the media seeking new sources.

The year 2009 promises to be a milestone as world leaders face intertwined challenges for the global economy, sustainability and security.

These challenges also present opportunities for UMBC experts to share their ideas.

As the New Year began, the UMBC News team sought out faculty across disciplines to address these global issues in the form of a resolution. We asked our experts to answer the short question:

"In 2009, the world should resolve to _____________.”

From sustainable hamburgers to cleaner cars and beyond, the resulting video- and text-blog posts help show the campus community and those new to UMBC that our faculty members have a broad range of expertise and a passion for talking about complex issues that impact our society.

Above all, this is the start of a conversation. Please subscribe to our news feed or bookmark this page and join us throughout 2009 as we grow the depth and range of expert commentary at “Talking Heads.”

Click "play" below to view the "New Year's Resolutions for the World" video.

Posted by crose

November 22, 2004

UMBC Food Scholar Warren Belasco Tests Our Thanksgiving Trivia

American Studies Professor Warren Belasco discusses the origins of the Thanksgiving feast.

American Studies Professor Warren Belasco discusses the origins of the Thanksgiving feast. Belasco is an editor of the Oxford Encyclopedia of Food and Drink in America (2004).

Q. Where do our Thanksgiving traditional foods (i.e., turkey, stuffing, mashed potatoes, cranberry sauce, pumpkin pie, etc.) come from?

WB: Most of these foods did originate in the New World, although south of the border. The versions we eat today would be unrecognizable to our ancestors. Many Native Americans did not eat turkey, as the birds were considered either unclean because they ate insects, or sacred and reserved for ceremonial feathers. The original colonists were probably familiar with the European variety of the bird and ate them for this reason. Potatoes and pumpkins originated in Latin America, but the Europeans ate them in entirely different forms. Cranberries are one of the very few foods that are truly indigenous to the Northeastern US and were used largely to dress up mutton. I don't know much about the origins of stuffing (or "dressing" in the South), except that all cuisines seem to do it. What may distinguish the American version is its eclectic nature.

Q. Did the Pilgrims eat any of the foods we find on our tables today?

WB: It's important to recognize that we know very little about what "the Pilgrims" ate--except that they had a tough time and learned virtually everything needed for survival from the natives. I'm pretty sure they would not recognize anything on our tables today. Their birds were much smaller, and they fed potatoes and corn to their pigs. I doubt very much that they would have wasted valuable bread by stuffing it in a turkey. Rather, bread was baked infrequently and was used mostly to sop up stews and soups.

Q. Is there anything that may have been served at the first Thanksgiving feast that we would be surprised or even horrified to find on our tables?

WB: There was no first Thanksgiving feast in New England and we know very little about how ordinary people actually ate in earlier times, except that life was hard, food was scarce and fat was highly prized for its caloric efficiency. But when those settlers feasted, it's most likely that they drank a considerable amount of hard cider. Contrary to myth, the Puritans did not disdain alcohol, which was much safer than the polluted local water. In addition, they did not have a separate dining room, used wooden cups and plates, did not use forks (which were considered a "vain affliction"), ate with their fingers--and in a great hurry.

Q. What about the turkeys? Were they as big and juicy as our genetically enhanced birds?

WB: Turkeys were not associated with Thanksgiving until the late 19th century. By that time, Americans were eating domesticated European birds, as the wild American varieties were already extinct. In contrast, in 1621 William Bradford reported flocks of up to five thousand wild birds. I'm sure those birds were small and tough. The bird we eat today did not take its present ultra-plump, huge form until the mid-20th century, thanks in large part to government-funded research at the U.S. Department of Agriculture's Beltsville, Md. labs. Whereas turkey production used to be confined to small independent growers, since the 1960s the industry has become much more industrialized and consolidated--much like chicken production.

Q. Do Americans have the right idea about food and how it relates to Thanksgiving? Would the Pilgrims have endorsed the annual stomach-stuffing ritual we partake in?

WB: No and No. Most of us know nothing about the history of the holiday, not to mention nutrition and health. Nonetheless, Thanksgiving may well be our most widely observed (and perhaps even most enjoyed) national ritual. While its roots and components are much more recent and fluid than we realize, the ritual has taken on a life of its own. The post-Thanksgiving shopping binge is a good example. I sense that all of this would have been an abomination to the Puritans, whose ideals of moderation, virtue, and restraint were much closer to ancient Athens than to modern Baltimore. But, as I've said, the Puritans had nothing to do with any of this. Far more influential were the Victorian ministers and writers who pushed for the holiday--and the U.S. government, whose unrelenting support of agricultural research and industrialization created our cheap and bountiful American food supply. If we want to give thanks for the meal, it should go to those federal "bench scientists" and bureaucrats at the USDA.

Bon appetit!

-Steffany Magid

Posted by dwinds1

January 12, 2004

Joe Arnold: An Appreciation

Joe Arnold was a vital and enormously important member of the UMBC faculty for some three and a half decades, and as fine and generous a person as I have ever known. He always found the good in people, and he invariably did the right and decent thing in any circumstance. He could instantly make people feel comfortable, because he was so naturally gracious, so genuinely concerned about them, and so utterly unpretentious despite his achievements and stature. However big or small the task, however inconvenient to him it might have been, he could always be counted upon to do whatever he could for students, colleagues, the history department, and the University.

In fact, I came to UMBC in no small part because of Joe. It fell to him, when I interviewed here back in 1973, to take me around what was then a new and ungainly campus of uncertain prospects. I concluded that that an institution with Joe Arnold must be a pretty good place. Happily, I was right about UMBC-but I had only begun to appreciate Joe's strengths and virtues.

As a scholar, Joe was a leading historian of urban and planning history. His first book, The New Deal in the Suburbs, remains the standard account of New Deal community planning, and at his death he was working on what will be his sixth book, a definitive study of Baltimore. He played an active and often leading role with a variety of private and public historical institutions in the area and helped to establish UMBC's good name. As a teacher and mentor, Joe guided and opened new vistas for the students who filled his classes to overflowing. His undergraduate and graduate students alike profited not only from Joe's limitless knowledge but also from his limitless kindness, his devotion to them, and hismanifest love of learning. Joe helped guide the history department and the University by his service in a stunning array of truly significant capacities, including Acting Director of the Library at a critical time.

To all of his duties, as to all of his relationships, Joe brought his humanity, patience, wisdom, sense of responsibility, good humor, and good judgment. He not only earned the respect of his students and colleagues; he earned their affection, and their trust, and their loyalty. For his friends, his death is a crushing blow. All of us who have known Joe Arnold are much the better for it, and UMBC is a far stronger institution for his years here.

Posted by dwinds1

Tribute by President Freeman A. Hrabowski, III

January 10, 2004
Albin O. Kuhn Library, UMBC

When I first heard the sad news from John Jeffries about our friend and colleague, Joe Arnold, I immediately called Mary Jane, not as President, but simply as their friend. I was so devastated that I needed to let her and the family know what a special member of this community Joe was. And as Mary Jane has said so eloquently in her remembrance of Joe in the memorial service program, he was a blessing to all of us.

It is not simply fitting that we would have this service in the library, but it is an honor as a university that the family would want to have it here because of all that Joe has done as part of the founding faculty group at UMBC. For so many years, it was here that many of us enjoyed waving to Joe or stopping to say hello as he did his research on Baltimore and Maryland, often plowing through old Sun paper articles. Invariably, each time I stopped to see him, he had an interesting anecdote, and as he talked about Baltimore from other centuries, his enthusiastic storytelling brought the situation to life. For that moment, I was back in time. He had the ability to teach substantive lessons in just a few minutes, even in informal settings. As President, I've often used those lessons in my conversations with visitors to campus, especially prospective donors, and have been grateful to Joe for teaching me so much about the history of Baltimore and the State. In fact, as some of you know, hanging on the wall right outside my office is a framed poster of the cover of Joe's book, Maryland: Old Line to New Prosperity, which is a regular topic of conversation with visitors to campus.

He was such a source of knowledge. In fact, I often called him for advice when I was preparing to talk to various groups in Maryland, especially when I wanted to use an historical example to emphasize the importance of leadership in addressing issues and developing public policies. Recently, for example, I spoke at Leadership Maryland's tenth anniversary celebration and used the powerful example Joe provided about the history of the B&O Railroad's development in Maryland 150 years ago, involving laying rails across the Alleghany Mountains and linking Baltimore to the nation westward.

The lesson he taught me - and the lesson I've passed on to others - is that Maryland leaders in the mid-1800s had the vision and courage to work together to infuse new life into the State's declining economy; to merge technological and organizational triumphs; to bring public and private interests together; to unite regions of the State in a common purpose; and to bring worldwide attention to the State. I have been pleasantly surprised by the number of elected and corporate leaders who are now referring to that story as we talk about the challenges we face, including the Inter-County Connector transportation issue.

Joe has been in many ways a visible symbol of the importance of social science research, not just on our campus and not simply for purposes of promotion, tenure, and prestige, but because it is so fundamentally important to our understanding who we are as a society and as individuals.

He was constantly helping me in both professional and personal ways. Through his unforgettable smile, the look in his eyes, and a few carefully considered words, he could communicate so much of substance. He was a wonderful counselor, and during difficult times on this campus, he quietly came to see me or stopped to talk to me. He might suggest an approach to solving a problem or how I might work with different groups on campus. Whether he was telling me he thought I was on the wrong track or that I was doing the right thing, he had the incredible capacity - through his smile and language - to suggest that things would work out.

He also was an effective advocate for the library. I will never forget our conversations and his letters about the need for supporting the library, and the need for me, as President, to show in visible ways - not just through words - that we understand the fundamental importance of the library, notwithstanding all of its technology, as the intellectual heart of the university.

Finally, I will always remember our recent conversation in December, right before the holidays. It was clear that he was feeling good about the work that he had done and excited about the research to come. I thought to myself how fortunate he was to have such passion for his work. He did for me that day what he had done for so many of us over and over again: he elevated my spirits. I was feeling tired and somewhat cynical, and he smiled, sat, and we talked about the UMBC of yesterday, where we are today, and his profound belief in our future. By the time he left my office, I was reminded why I enjoy coming to this place each day. Throughout the holidays, I thought about the lessons he has taught me, and the messages he has given us over the years. I now find myself continuing to think about Joe and about how fragile life is. As I said to him the last time I saw him, he will always be a part of this university.

Joe was truly gifted in his ability to connect with us as a human being and to inspire us as a scholar. He showed us in concrete ways how important our history is to our present and future, and how important it is constantly to be seeking to know more. He would appreciate the words of Olive Schreiner, a 19th-century social and political activist in South Africa.

May you seek after truth. If anything I teach you be false, may you throw it from you and go on to richer knowledge and deeper truth than I have ever known.

If you become a man of thought and learning, may you never fail to tear down with your right hand what your left hand has built up if, through years of thought and study, you see it at least not to be founded on that which is.

If you become an artist, may you never paint with pen or brush any picture of eternal life otherwise than as you see it.

If you become a politician, may no success for your party or even love of your nation ever lead you to tamper with reality

In all of your circumstances, my child, may you seek after truth; and cling to that as a drowning man in a stormy sea who flings himself on a plank and clings to it, knowing that whether he sinks or swims with it, it is the best that he has.

Die poor, unknown, a failure - but shut your eyes to nothing that seems to them to be the truth.

Posted by dwinds1

January 23, 2003

Poetry by Robert Deluty


Anxious when working,
Guilty if shirking.
Fearing heightened expectations
When work is commendable,
Dreading disapproving gazes
For efforts lamentable.
And should perfection be achieved,
Comfort is painfully brief,
For a fall from grace is awaited,
Stifling hope of lasting relief.


I remember his left arm.
Leather-tough, lightly freckled,
Thick as a fireplace log.
Culminating in short, dense fingers
With near-perfectly round nails.
Most memorable, though, was the forearm,
Damaged by five blue numbers:
His concentration camp tattoo.
A daily/nightly reminder of
Evil and martyrdom,
Faith and resilience.

Name Calling

Recent birth announcements
Evoke a frightening epiphany:
In 60 years, most grandmas
Will be named Ashley and Tiffany.


goes to the market
just to hear another voice --
paper or plastic

3-month-old great-granddaughter
exchange toothless smiles

side-by-side, carpooled
eighth grade boys, ninth grade women
sit miles, years apart

Posted by dwinds1

November 6, 2002

Passing on a Passion for Music

Leslie Wilson, '74 and '76, and her husband Courtney Wilson have established The Paul Levin Memorial Scholarship Fund, which will provide an annual scholarship for an undergraduate UMBC music student who is pursuing a certificate in music education.

Paul Levin '73 first fell in love with Irish music and the Uilleann pipes on a trip to Ireland. An English major who studied the classics and enjoyed W.B. Yeats, Levin decided to visit the poet's homeland a year after he graduated from UMBC.

When he returned to Ireland in 1976, he learned how to play the pipes and bought his first practice set. Back home, he eventually found himself teaching music and performing with O'Malley's March, the Celtic rock band named after his band mate and close friend, Baltimore Mayor Martin O'Malley.

Levin, who returned to his alma mater in 1998 to become director of the UMBC Technology Center, was diagnosed with a brain tumor in the fall of 2001 and died on May 28, 2002. Now Leslie Wilson, '74 and '76, and her husband Courtney Wilson -- who met Levin through Samantha Davis, Levin's partner and UMBC director of alumni relations -- have established an endowed scholarship fund through The University of Maryland Foundation, Inc., in his memory. The Paul Levin Memorial Scholarship Fund will provide an annual scholarship for an undergraduate UMBC music student who is pursuing a certificate in music education.

Leslie Wilson, who currently serves as president of UMBC's Alumni Association, says that Paul was "unique" and "unforgettable": "Paul cared about his friends very much. He interacted with people on a spiritual level. He was so comfortable to be around and became part of your life very quickly. No one who knew him will forget him. Now through this scholarship, his spirit will live on in those he never met."

"Paul's education at UMBC led to his curiosity for and love of Ireland and its music," explains Davis. "This is such a fitting scholarship because music was truly Paul's love, and he passed that love on by playing music and teaching children."

"If Paul had lived, he would have continued to make sure children are exposed to music. We want him to still have the chance to make that impact," Wilson adds.

Members of the campus community who wish to contribute to the Paul Levin Memorial Scholarship may do so through the UMBC Faculty/Staff Campaign. For more information contact Gary Rupert at (410) 455-2124.

Photograph of Paul Levin by Cathey Allison

Posted by dwinds1

May 1, 2002

Patricia LaNoue Named Director of Interdisciplinary Studies Program

Patricia LaNoue has been named the new director of the Interdisciplinary Studies Program. LaNoue served as the interim director for the past two years and has taught at UMBC for 14 years.

Patricia LaNoue has been named the new director of the Interdisciplinary Studies Program. LaNoue served as the interim director for the past two years and has taught at UMBC for 14 years.

The Interdisciplinary Studies program gives students an opportunity to complete a BA or BS degree by designing a unique course of study according to their specific educational and career goals. The Program emphasizes collaboration between academic departments and encourages students to work closely with faculty and staff via independent study, internships, research, study abroad, and creative work.

"The search committee's support of Patricia LaNoue's appointment as director of the Interdisciplinary Studies Program acknowledges her vision for the future of INDS, her past leadership and her strong commitment over the years to UMBC students and quality academic programming," says Provost Art Johnson.

"I am honored," says LaNoue. "Since 1966 UMBC has supported students who have the interest and sense of purpose to design their own majors with the guidance of faculty mentors. I enjoy meeting with alumni and hearing about how the learning process in the Program has enriched their careers."

LaNoue says that her future goals for the Program include seeking new ways to collaborate with other UMBC departments. "I hope to involve more of the UMBC faculty with INDS, especially those in technological fields, engineering and the natural and physical sciences," says LaNoue. "I look forward to finding new ways to continue to enhance the opportunities for a rich academic experience through Interdisciplinary Studies."

Posted by dwinds1

April 18, 2002

In Memoriam: Hugh Davis Graham

A graduate of Yale and Stanford who served in both the Marine Corps and the Peace Corps, Hugh Davis Graham came to UMBC in 1971 as chair (and then, until 1977, dean) of the Social Sciences Division. Hugh's wife Janet was largely responsible for creating UMBC's highly successful International Teaching Assistant Program (ITAP).

Hugh was also professor of history and subsequently affiliate professor of policy sciences until 1991, when he became Holland N. McTyeire Professor of History at Vanderbilt University. Author or editor of more than a dozen books of striking quality and impressive range, Hugh was one of the most distinguished scholars of 20th-century American history. His most important book, The Civil Rights Era: Origins and Evolution of National Policy, 1960-1972, was a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize in 1991.

I knew Hugh from the beginning of my time at UMBC, since he was the dean who hired me in 1973. I still remember the penetrating questions he asked during my interview with him. From the first, I was impressed by the formidable power of his mind and by the remarkable breadth of his knowledge and talent--and by his insistence upon the highest levels of quality for UMBC and its faculty.

As dean of the social sciences, Hugh not only helped build faculty and program strength but also played a key role in the reorganization of UMBC that replaced the divisional structure in the late 1970s. He was president of the Faculty Senate, 1980 to 1981, and then dean for graduate studies and research from 1982 to 1985. In the latter position, again reorganizing his own deanship out of existence, he helped to effect the merger of graduate programs at UMB and UMBC that created the University of Maryland Graduate School Baltimore.

Hugh was widely known, on campus and off, for his dedication to UMBC achieving its potential as a research university. Sandra Herbert, professor of history, recalls how he "always kept UMBC's name before the Board of Regents." George LaNoue, professor of policy sciences, says that Hugh "was not only a distinguished scholar and fine teacher, but at a critical moment in UMBC's institutional life, he led the faculty to secure UMBC's research future. When the reorganization of the UM system took place under Governor Schaefer, there was the possibility that UMBC would be given the same essentially undergraduate mission as the former state teachers' colleges, now new members of the UM system. But Hugh, then dean of the Graduate School, was successful in advocating the two principal center concept, one at College Park and the other in Baltimore, that preserved UMBC's graduate/research mission." As Jim Mohr, then chair of the history department, said when Hugh left for Vanderbilt in 1991, his contributions were "virtually unequalled in the development of this institution."

Hugh always took a fierce pride in UMBC and its accomplishments, and remained deeply interested in the campus after his departure. His innovative and influential 1997 book, The Rise of American Research Universities: Elites and Challengers in the Postwar Era (co-authored with Nancy Diamond, his doctoral student in policy sciences) illuminated in national perspective the extraordinary productivity of UMBC faculty across the spectrum of academic disciplines and identified UMBC as one of the rising stars among public research universities.

Hugh was an extraordinary force, with enormous energy as well as talent. In the years when he was not serving in an administrative capacity, that became even more evident to us in the history department. I remember times when some of us would be having lunch in the lounge, and Hugh rushed in-perhaps spending a few minutes chatting, then turning with his usual intensity to either scholarly matters or university issues, eating while he talked and probed, and then hurrying off after some 20 to 30 minutes to exercise or get back to work. He wanted to do his absolute best at everything he did in his life--and as Sandra Herbert reminds me, no one could forget his wicked spike on the volleyball court.

For the last three books Hugh completed or began at UMBC--on federal education policy in the 1960s, on civil rights policy from 1960 to 1972, and on the new shape of higher education-he asked me to read and comment on the works in progress. Hugh was typically wise enough to ignore what I said, or to take it and make something better of my suggestions than I had seen; but this close-up view of his scholarship impressed upon me all the more just how hard, productively, and brilliantly he worked.

Beneath his intensity and his relentless quest for excellence, he was a warm, supportive, and steadfast friend--and with a sense of humor that made him laugh at funny things and often (whether zestfully or sardonically) at foolish ones as well. I remember especially well a wonderful dinner--in every respect--that my wife, Renate, and I had with Hugh and Janet in New Orleans a few years back.

Hugh and I were perhaps drawn together in some measure by things in common--Southern backgrounds and connections to Nashville and Vanderbilt; ties to Yale; experience in the service; a scholarly focus on twentieth-century US politics and policy; interest in UMBC policymaking--but his friends were diverse, and he was intensely loyal to all of them. He was also extremely supportive of his students, both at UMBC and Vanderbilt, finding ways for them not just to succeed but to get recognition for their work.

He was scarcely ever still, and his liveliness was intellectual as well as personal. He was an appropriate head of the old social sciences division because his work characteristically was interdisciplinary. His projects typically required him to digest and master--which he did astonishingly quickly and well--relevant literature in other fields, especially political science, the policy sciences, and education.

Some of the reasons he could so quickly master related fields, and new literature in history as well, are summed up advice he gave graduate students on how to get through a particularly formidable body of material: focus, work hard, and extract the essence.

And it was getting the essence of things that marked Hugh's life. He worked amazingly hard at everything he did, wasted no time that I could ever detect, and got absolutely the most from his scholarship, his teaching, his administrative work, his life. He had extraordinarily high standards, and held himself, his colleagues, his students, and his institutions to them. He faced a number of trials, from his son's tragic death to his cancer, with remarkable courage and grace and with a refusal to be defeated. Even while battling cancer, Hugh continued to work on numerous projects, from his book on immigration policy and affirmative action just published by Oxford University Press, to his leading role in challenging the Bush administration's effort to restrict access to White House papers, to helping to organize a conference on the Reagan presidency that convened just after he died.

Like everyone who knew Hugh, Art Pittenger, professor of mathematics and statistics, was inspired by the way he handled his cancer. "His determination and courage in battling cancer during the last several years enabled him to continue his remarkably productive career in spite of the effects of the disease and its treatment, and as his wife commented he was fully involved in living until the last few days of his life." And Art speaks for me and all of Hugh's UMBC friends in saying that "I missed him greatly when he left Baltimore and will miss him the more now."

I find it hard to imagine so vital and indomitable a man dead, hard to realize I won't hear his voice or read his e-mail telling me what he's doing, or entreating me to do some important thing he thinks I should attend to, or asking how I and my family are faring. I was fortunate, and honored, to know him these past three decades as a mentor, a colleague and a friend.

Posted by dwinds1

December 7, 2001

Partnerships: Making the Commons Cool

The campus' newest hangout will have a student touch animated logos, created by interns from UMBC's Imaging Research Center.

IRC students create video animations for the campus' newest hangoutWhen The Commons opens, the campus' newest hangout will have a student touch animated logos which serve as transition points on the building's video messaging network, created by interns from UMBC's Imaging Research Center (IRC).Located at various points in the building, the network includes four flat plasma screens, a video wall and video projection screens offering a variety of campus news and information. In between messages, viewers will see the animated versions of The Commons logo. (The logo was designed by Jim Lord of UMBC's Creative Services Studio.) Think MTV and its well known logo that takes on a number of themes and personalities.Interns Daniel Marsh, Sean Miller, Monica Gallagher, Steve Fall, and Bette Lawhon worked on the project. Marsh says, I was excited about working on The Commons project because of the variety of work we could have between each animation. After we all met, and took a tour of The Commons building to get a feel for the environment and purpose of the building, we individually developed our own ideas for some animations. After we pitched our ideas, several were chosen and we began fleshing them out. Brainstorming with everyone else at the IRC was a big part in the creative process.He adds, This project was a good way for me to develop my skills and attempt new things because it offered the opportunity for variety and gave us a lot of creative control in what we developed. I personally developed ideas that I thought would not only be visually interesting for the viewers, but also technically challenging. Working on the project helped me to develop problem solving skills that can only be learned through experience.University Center Director Joe Regier was blown away by the students' proposals. I was amazed by the quality and breadth of the work. They understood exactly what we were looking for. To have students rather than an outside firm helping to brand this facility is very exciting since they have a more intimate sense of how to connect to their peers. Their work will bring the place to life right off the bat.

Posted by dwinds1

Helping Companies Reach New Heights

Dan Roche, Venable Entrepreneur-in-Residence, UMBC Technology Center

Many of Baltimore's small business incubators attract start-up technology firms by offering use of shared office resources copy machine, fax, high-speed Internet and so on. Now tenant companies at the UMBC Technology Center can add venture capital guru who started three successful companies before age 40 to the list of amenities.Dan Roche, the new Venable Entrepreneur-in-Residence at the UMBC Technology Center, is always up for a new challenge. Roche, who founded or was heavily involved with growing three technology companies before his fortieth birthday, is currently starting a fourth. As if that wasn't enough, he spent most of October on a climb to the summit of Mt. Kilimanjaro, Africa's highest peak. Now Roche is putting his business savvy to work leading the 25 companies at UMBC's on-campus technology incubator to new heights.Roche reached the 19,340-foot summit of Kilimanjaro on October 23 as the lone American in a group of 12 Australian climbers. It is primarily a challenge of mental will, Roche says. It is physically tough, but much more mentally tough. Halfway up we passed a group coming back down calling it quits due to the weather and headaches, Roche said. Two members of his party nearly turned back due to eyesight troubles caused by strong winds and high blood pressure, but they decided to press on, made it to the top and later fully recovered with medical treatment.The climb was a lot of fun and very challenging, says Roche. I will never forget it. But more so, I will never forget the poverty I saw in Kenya, Tanzania and Zanzibar. The people are good people, very proud, very clean (given their resources). It is just a very tough situation.Roche, who taught computer science at UMBC a decade ago, is now teaching again in both the classroom and the boardroom. Through a generous grant by the Venable Fund, Roche is now a fixture of the Center's help desk. He spends his days connecting promising companies like Accelics and Columbia Technologies with area venture capital resources and working with earlier-stage firms to focus their finances and enhance their market potential.This spring semester, Roche will be working with undergrads who dream of starting companies as he teaches the Introduction to Entrepreneurship class through the Deutsche Banc Alex. Brown Center for Science and Technology Entrepreneurship at UMBC. I've always loved teaching; I just got too busy for it, says Roche. I love the interaction with students, the sharing of ideas and learning from them.Roche says entrepreneurship can't really be taught, but instead is an internal drive. Entrepreneurs are self motivated to go out and make a lot of mistakes driving towards some vision, he says. My role is to help entrepreneurs trust their instincts and to share enough of my own experiences with the goal of minimizing the number of mistakes required to achieve their vision, Roche says.

Posted by dwinds1

UMBC Builds a Home

UMBC's Habitat for Humanity Chapter

Each weekend, groups of UMBC students head to West Baltimore with hammers and saws in hand, eager for a day of hard work. They are the members of UMBC's chapter of Habitat for Humanity, official sponsors of a four-bedroom rowhouse in the Sandtown area of West Baltimore which they will renovate and turn over to a family in May, 2002.Habitat got its start at UMBC ten years ago as part of the Into the Streets program, a one-day service project meant to introduce students to community service opportunities on campus. The UMBC group helped out at a Habitat site in Sandtown and has come back each year since, working on houses sponsored by groups from Johns Hopkins, Towson and Goucher, among others.As the chapter has grown, so has interest in sponsoring a UMBC house in Sandtown. We tried for quite some time to raise the money to sponsor a house, said Norma Green, University Center coordinator and advisor to Habitat for Humanity at UMBC. We had fundraisers and donations from students, staff and alumni, but fell well short of the $20,000 goal.Christina Bauer, president of Habitat at UMBC, found out about a matching grant available through Habitat International. The group secured $5,000 from Coca-Cola and $5,000 from UMBC, funds which were matched by Habitat to give them the $20,000 necessary to secure the house in Sandtown.Since October, when students officially began work on the home at 1408 Presstman Road, the group estimates that more than 200 students have already pitched in some time. They expect that by the time they complete the house in May, 2002, more than 500 UMBC students, faculty and staff will have picked up a hammer, tape measure or saw and pitched in.According to Chuck Anderson, fundraising chair for Habitat, the fall 2001 semester has been the groups most successful ever. In terms of fundraising, awareness, participation, action, involvement, and pretty much all other areas, this is has been an amazing semester. We have big plans for the future and it can only get better.In addition to their work in Sandtown, students from Habitat spend their spring break vacation working alongside hundreds of other students in high-need areas across the country in a Habitat for Humanity International program called Collegiate Challenge.The group began participating in Collegiate Challenge nine years ago when Green was lobbied by some students to head to Miami for Spring Break. I had other plans, but Spring Break in Miami sounded alright, said Green. When they told me to bring my sleeping bag and flashlight I wondered what I had gotten myself into.Eight students took the trip down to Miami that year driving through a snowstorm and just missing a tornado to help out with the clean up and rebuilding effort after Hurricane Andrew. This year, UMBC's Habitat for Humanity group is more than fifty students strong and will be sending another group to Florida to participate in Collegiate Challenge.Anderson hopes to see many more members of the UMBC community at Sandtown in the spring semester. He sees the work with Habitat as humbling, rewarding, fulfilling and character-building.When you begin to see hope take shape in someone's heart, you want that feeling again and again and you want it for everyone.For more information on Habitat for Humanity at UMBC or the Sandtown project, go to

Posted by dwinds1

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