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Up On The Roof

UMBC President Freeman A. Hrabowski, III takes your questions.

Freeman Hrabowski

Q. This past spring, the Baltimore Sun caused a bit of clamor on campus when an editorial celebrating the success of UMBC’s championship chess team suggested that UMBC change its name. Can you discuss your reaction to the idea and the discussion that it set off, and explain why a name change isn’t likely at the present moment?

— Richard Byrne ’86, English
Editor, UMBC Magazine

A. My first reaction is that the Baltimore Sun respects the quality of the educational experience at UMBC, They’re saying that we are a first-rate research university.

My second thought was “Here we go again.” Students, as they arrive at UMBC, sometimes bring up the same point that the Sun did.

I’d simply echo the response of one of our faculty members, Sheldon E. Broedel Jr. ’84 M.S. and ’90 Ph.D, biological sciences, whose letter to the editor in response to the Sun made this point: Why would we change the name when we’ve gotten such a great reputation? Why change a brand that is now associated with high quality? I was very encouraged by that response. It was the response that was most appropriate.

Also, few people understand the millions of dollars it would take to change UMBC’s name. It’s not a simple matter. It’s extraordinarily expensive.

The good news is that our brand – the UMBC brand – is associated with high quality and authenticity. We are who we are. And that’s a good thing.

(Broedel Letter: http://bit.ly/bAy1vQ)

Q. The path to success and achievement is often paved by those who came before us who offer us a hand-up. Our institution appears to be reaching a point of maturity in that we have graduated many alumni to positions of influence in our society (university presidents, business leaders, elected officials, teachers, etc.). What evidence do you encounter that suggests that our students and recent graduates are benefiting from the common connections of their Alma Mater?

— Jason Chamberlain ’97, economics
President, UMBC Alumni Association

A. Our students are being hired as full-time workers and as interns. Often, it is our own UMBC graduates – in national agencies such as the Social Security Administration or in companies like Legg Mason or T. Rowe Price, or in the school systems of our region and elsewhere – who are coming back to UMBC to find talent.

Graduates are serving as mentors for our students as well. They serve on advisory groups on campus. And they’re also giving us feedback on how our students are doing.

In the school systems, for instance, we have a number of graduates who are working in teaching or administrative roles. And they talk about the UMBC experience. When I travel around the state, these graduates introduce themselves and say, “I’m proud to be a UMBC graduate.” They are proud of the education they received.

Bad news travels fast. It’s much harder to get good news out. As the years go by and we have more success with our graduates and with our research and our publications, people are taking the time to think about and understand the value of the UMBC experience. So it’s great when alumni are proactive in saying that they got a great education and that they like getting graduates from UMBC into their workplaces – across the private and the public sectors.

And I hear this not only from our graduates, but from leaders in the community both here and around the country. People respect the quality of the UMBC education. And as more people talk about it, our success breeds success. People say this is a first-rate university – and the results speak for themselves.

Have a question for Dr. Hrabowski? Please visit retrievernet.umbc.edu/askthepresident

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