Freeman A. Hrabowski, III
The University of Maryland, Baltimore County
Fall Opening Meeting
Thursday, August 19, 2010


Each fall, we come together as a community to focus on the University’s progress and challenges. A year ago at this time, I spoke of the challenges we faced because of global, national, and State economic uncertainty – and that during such periods, the character of people and institutions becomes clear. We recognize that faculty, staff, and students have had to make personal and financial sacrifices, but at the same time, you have shown great character. Through shared governance and sacrifice, we succeeded not only in weathering another fiscally challenging year – a major achievement in itself – but also in moving forward, together, making exciting progress in key areas. Our community also showed its true character through another successful Maryland Charity Campaign. Despite trying times, we chose to move beyond ourselves and our problems and to focus on the needs of others. For the third consecutive year, in fact, UMBC was awarded the MCC Governor’s Cup for Outstanding Performance.

Throughout the year, as we addressed our fiscal challenges, we remained true to our two most fundamental guiding principles – protecting the academic program (providing a distinctive undergraduate experience and building research and graduate education) and supporting people. These principles also framed discussions among campus leaders at our annual campus retreat the past two days, where we focused on innovative strategies for maintaining our momentum – momentum, quite frankly, that most institutions have been unable to achieve during this difficult period – as we think about student success, research capacity, and the diversity of our campus. What was most encouraging about the retreat was the willingness of participants to say what they were really thinking, whether about our success or challenges involving students, or about the need for an even stronger commitment to issues of diversity, beyond our current level of success. We concluded the retreat with both a clear sense of the continuing fiscal challenges we face this year and a renewed sense of hope and purpose.

Our dual commitments to being fiscally sound while also moving forward reflect the talents, resilience, and stability of our faculty and staff – as well as our ability to attract new talent nationally, drawn by our growing national reputation for teaching and research, and for being a vibrant, diverse, and supportive community.

I especially want to thank our Senate leaders, who have been full partners as we’ve responded to the budget situation – Tim Topoleski, Faculty Senate President both this past year and this year; Rehana Shafi, the Professional Staff Senate’s immediate past President, and current President Tim Sparklin; and Non-Exempt Staff Senate President Michael Dick, whose presidency spans both years. (While Michael is recovering from an illness and working part-time this year, he has taken leave from his presidential responsibilities, which Vice President Terry Aylsworth has assumed.) Yasmin Karimian, Student Government President both this year and last, and the Graduate Student Association’s immediate past President, Katisha Smith, and current President Rachel Sturge, also have been supportive.

Fiscal Update

Let me begin by reporting to you on our budget because it remains foremost on everyone’s mind. The Governor and State legislators have shown through their actions that they appreciate the long-term value of affordable, accessible public higher education. In fact, during the national recession over the past three years, despite the fiscal challenges we have faced on campus, the University System of Maryland, under the leadership of Chancellor Kirwan, has done considerably better than public higher education systems in most states. Nevertheless, as Provost Hirshman and I reported to you in June (at the end of the fiscal year), the campus has been required to make $23 million in reductions the past three years, including $6 million in permanent reductions in our operating budget, another $13-million reduction in our reserves, and $3.8 million associated with furloughs and temporary salary reductions in FY 2009 and FY 2010. In addition, the temporary salary reduction target for the current year (FY 2011) is another $2.4 million.

To the credit of faculty and staff, we have faced these challenges in a positive, determined way. As I said in a letter to The Retriever this past spring, “The excellent education our students continue to experience results from the deep commitment of our dedicated faculty and staff. While dealing with campus budget reductions and furlough and temporary salary reductions over the past three years, [you] have resolutely put students first. I want to thank [you] publicly…for [your] continued passion for teaching our students, involving students in [your] research, and giving them the support they need to succeed and thrive.”

When we began making decisions, as a campus, about budget reductions, we relied heavily on our system of shared governance and agreed on the importance of protecting the academic core and supporting faculty, staff, and students. We have remained true to that commitment. In fact, even though the Academic Affairs budget makes up three-quarters of the campus’s State-supported budget, Academic Affairs accounted for only half of the reductions we made (excluding furloughs and temporary salary reductions) during FY 2009 and FY 2010. Moreover, the campus has experienced only a handful of layoffs as the result of cuts in our State operating budget.

Also, we have recently completed the development of our FY 2011 budget, which totals $360 million, including funds from State, Federal, and other sources. Our State operating working budget totals nearly $193 million, an increase of almost $10 million over our FY 2010 adjusted budget.

It’s important to remember that during FY 2010, campus leaders decided to defer making permanent reductions of approximately $3.25 million mandated by the State, instead using one-time resources to cover the required cuts. This strategy has given us time to weigh alternative approaches allowing us to minimize the impact of the permanent cuts on academic programs and people. As a result of these deliberations, we have reduced funding for scholarships by $1 million and adjusted our award strategy in ways that have had a minimal impact on both the number and quality of students coming to UMBC. We also have been able to cut utility expenses by an additional $600,000, using successful procurement strategies and undertaking effective energy management and conservation initiatives, and we’ve reduced the Facilities Renewal budget by another $200,000. These measures left us with an unmet reduction of $1,450,000, which the divisions and colleges met by each absorbing a 1.25 percent base-budget reduction. During this latest round of cuts, we have remained committed to protecting jobs to the extent possible, and we anticipate there will be no lay-offs as a result of this cut.

Even as we have been required to make these permanent budget cuts, we also are beginning to experience positive benefits of enrollment growth that occurred over the past few years. This growth, together with modest tuition increases this coming year (three percent for Maryland resident undergraduates and five percent for non-resident undergraduate and graduate students), gives us a limited amount of new revenues to invest strategically as we build on recent success. Of the $1.9 million in new funds allocated, approximately $1.7 million (nearly 90 percent) will support the academic core, including new faculty positions, additional instructional support to meet the demands of enrollment growth, student retention initiatives, research infrastructure, and support for recently launched academic programs.

The FY 2011 budget also includes certain mandatory cost increases for health care and other employee benefits, debt service, insurance, and financial aid for needy students. This accounts for slightly more than $2 million of the total budget increase.

While these developments are positive, we need to be mindful that any possible further reductions this year will depend on the status of Maryland’s economic recovery and the State revenue picture. Our budget for FY 2011 is based on conservative revenue assumptions, a practice that is always wise, but even more so during these continuing uncertain times. Campus leaders are constantly working on different budgetary scenarios to protect ourselves, and we will continue working together, relying on our system of shared governance, to address persistent budget challenges – always with the academic program and people in mind.

Enrollments & Programs

Given the impact of budget cuts to date, achieving our projected enrollments is essential because they produce needed revenues. Fall enrollments are strong, reflecting intensive recruitment and retention efforts, along with our work to build several academic programs approved the past few years. We expect to see an increase of hundreds of students over this past year. Of course, we’ve been widely promoting UMBC’s selection by U.S. News & World Report as the nation’s #1 “Up-and-Coming” university this past year, and we were thrilled to learn just a couple of days ago that we have retained our #1 ranking, having been named by U.S. News as the top “Up-and-Coming” university for the second year in a row. We also have been designated a “Best Value” campus by the Princeton Review and Kiplinger’s Personal Finance.

This year, we will enroll approximately 13,000 students, including roughly 1,520 new freshmen – about the same number of new freshmen we enrolled a year ago. The new class, with an average math-and-verbal SAT of 1208 (24 points higher than a year ago), includes National Merit and National Achievement Scholars, Regents and Maryland Distinguished Scholars, many valedictorians, and new Sondheim, Linehan, CWIT, Meyerhoff, and other special scholars. We also expect to enroll approximately 2,700 graduate students (slightly more enrolled students than a year ago and nearly double the number enrolled a decade ago). Overall, we continue to attract students from every state and nearly 150 countries, and are sending many students abroad to study around the globe. We’re also enrolling about 1,150 new transfers, a slightly higher number than this past year. Our residence halls are again at capacity, housing nearly 4,000 students, including three-quarters of all new freshmen and nearly half of our full-time undergraduates, and we’ve recently broken ground on a major addition to Patapsco Residence Hall that will add spaces for nearly 200 more students to live on campus.

In addition to our successful recruitment efforts, we also are retaining and graduating more of our students (85 percent first-to-second-year retention rate and approaching a 70-percent six-year graduation rate) through a variety of curricular and co-curricular initiatives reflecting pedagogical innovation designed to help students succeed. At the undergraduate level, for example, we’ve increased the number of sections of Introduction to an Honors University and constructed the new CASTLE teaching facility – the College of Natural & Mathematical Sciences’ Active Science & Teaching Learning Environment, modeled on our NSF-sponsored Chemistry Discovery Center, both of which facilitate active learning in science and math. In psychology, the Department has redesigned Psych 100, transforming the course format from traditional lecture-based to one with an innovative online component that includes demonstrations of key concepts and simulations of psychology experiments, complemented by peer mentors who facilitate in-class small-group discussions. Instructors are seeing increased student interest and engagement and a much higher proportion of As and Bs. In math, the Department has been offering hybrid modes of delivery in several introductory statistics courses for the past few years, combining face-to-face instruction with online learning tools. This year, the Department is piloting the Open Learning Initiative (OLI), a fully online approach developed by Carnegie Mellon University, that provides tools for both customizing individual student instruction and tracking students’ progress. And at the graduate level, Ph.D. Completion Project initiatives ranging from Dissertation House and the Summer Success Institute to the Professors-in-Training Program offer students support that is making a real difference.

We also continue building the academic programs we’ve introduced in recent years. The undergraduate Media & Communications Studies program has grown substantially, from 150 students a year ago to 210 (40%), while the new Public Health track in Health Administration & Policy now has 80 majors, a 25-percent increase over a year ago. Enrollments are up too in other relatively new undergraduate programs in Gender & Women’s Studies and the Erickson School’s Management of Aging Services program, and our new graduate programs in Geography & Environmental Systems, Aging Services, and Systems Engineering are strong. The Professional Studies division continues to play a vital role, working with Deans and Department Chairs, by attracting hundreds of students in programs offered at Shady Grove, including bachelor’s programs in History, Political Science, Psychology, and Social Work, applied master’s programs in Geographic Information Systems and Industrial & Organizational Psychology, and corporate training programs taught by UMBC Training Centers. The division also has received grant support from the Maryland Higher Education Commission the past two years to provide education and training related to BRAC, the Federal Base Realignment and Closure initiative. The latest award has enabled the Training Centers to create the Center for Cybersecurity Training, offering programs responsive to growing workforce needs in our region and the State. BRAC is expected to create approximately 60,000 jobs in Maryland in communications, intelligence, and other high-skilled fields, and many of the new positions will require cybersecurity training.

Capital Projects and the Environment

As everyone has surely noticed, we broke ground recently on the new Performing Arts & Humanities Building, which promises to be another major milestone in the campus’s physical transformation and programmatic development. This year’s capital budget appropriation includes $37.4 million for the first year of Phase-I construction of the new facility. We’re projecting completion of Phase I two years from now, in summer of 2012. The second phase of construction over the next period will bring the project’s total cost to $165 million. While we are excited about the new building, we also realize that during its construction, there will be some disruption and parking displacement.

In this connection, I want to thank Vice President Lynne Schaefer, her staff, and all of the Senates on collaborating to develop and communicate a campuswide parking management plan that not only addresses the elimination of parking spaces previously located on the new-building site, but also supports our environmental-sustainability efforts and responds to student recommendations for parking zones. Also let me thank the entire campus community for your cooperation and patience as we implement the new plan. A 2008 parking study concluded that the campus could absorb the parking displaced by the new building, but that we would need to improve access to existing parking. In 2009, we worked with a consultant to develop a parking zone plan, and this year, we’ve conducted forums and presentations to gather input from campus constituents before finalizing the new plan. As an outcome of our planning, UMBC Transit will staff an intra-campus shuttle, which begins service tomorrow and will run continually from 7:30 a.m. to 10:30 p.m., Monday through Friday, during the fall and spring semesters. The shuttle will cover a route taking passengers to and from parking zones and campus, traveling on both the inner and outer loops of Hilltop Circle.

The campus has expanded dramatically over the past decade, adding more than 1.5 million square feet of new space – the result of both State-funded capital improvements and building out our research park (bwtech@UMBC). With completion of the Performing Arts & Humanities Building, campus buildings will total nearly 4 million square feet in area. The research park, which is thriving despite the challenging commercial real estate market, now includes all five buildings initially envisioned and houses more than 60 science-and-tech companies and agencies employing approximately 1,250 staff and 125 students (internships and full-time positions). With the campus’s expansion, we have paid increasing attention to both our future physical development and the environmental impact of our actions on the campus landscape, building on our strengths in environmental education and research initiatives. The wooden footbridge, which was completed this past fall linking the main campus to both bwtech@UMBC and the green spaces of our Conservation & Environmental Research Areas (CERA), serves both as a physical pathway and, symbolically, as a bridge linking the campus to our efforts involving economic development and sustainability. Also this past year, we completed the lengthy process of updating the campus’s Facilities Master Plan through 2019. The Update, recently approved by the Board of Regents, provides a vision for campus buildings, land use, and open spaces, creating a physical environment conducive to learning and working. More specifically, the Update supports teaching, research, student life, and outreach, while emphasizing sustainability, particularly by reducing the physical and environmental impact of vehicles.

Regarding sustainability, you may recall that three years ago I joined several hundred presidents in signing the American College and University Presidents’ Climate Commitment, to express our concern about global warming. Since then, our Climate Change Task Force, co-chaired by Economics Professor Virginia McConnell and Lynne Schaefer, has been spearheading our efforts to reduce greenhouse gases in order eventually to achieve climate neutrality (i.e., zero carbon footprint). The Task Force, including faculty, staff, and students, this year completed and submitted to the Presidents’ Climate Commitment our Climate Action Plan, the long-term plan which will guide us in the years ahead as we work to achieve climate neutrality. A number of faculty colleagues from wide-ranging fields have been involved in these initiatives, including Geography, Physics, Biology, Biochemistry, Civil Engineering, Economics, Anthropology, Public Policy, and English. Moreover, UMBC is the field headquarters for the Baltimore Ecosystem Study (a federally funded urban ecology project), and we house the U.S. Geological Survey’s regional water science center in the research park. We also are very proud of two nationally recognized Centers – CUERE, the Center for Urban Environmental Research & Education, under Claire Welty’s direction, and GEST, the Goddard Earth Sciences & Technology Center, under Ray Hoff’s leadership, which celebrated its 10th anniversary this year. The environmental work of faculty in these centers, and in other departments and programs, has both fueled our development as a research university and enhanced the external perception of our role as a research university and our strengths in geosciences.

The campus also benefits from having so many students actively engaged in, and energizing, our sustainability efforts – from Students for Environmental Awareness (SEA) to our Biodiesel Club, whose proposal for a renewable energy source on campus won this year’s Prove It! Competition sponsored by the Student Government Association. This kind of effort contributed to UMBC’s being recognized this year by The Princeton Review, in its new Guide to 286 Green Colleges, designed for college applicants and their parents, as one of the nation’s most environmentally responsible colleges.

Faculty & Staff Achievements

Our faculty also have continued to distinguished themselves again this year. In the spring, for example, we recognized Presidential Teaching and Research Professors Wendy Salkind (Theatre) and Ka-che Yip (History), respectively, whose work reflects the faculty’s commitment to students in the classroom, to research, and to mentoring. Also, Professor Matthias Gobbert (Mathematics & Statistics) received the Regents’ Faculty Award for Excellence in Mentoring.

Other faculty earning prestigious awards include Robert Provine, in Psychology, and Michael Summers, our Howard Hughes Medical Institute Investigator, who were elected Fellows of the American Association for the Advancement of Science; Chein-I Chang, in Computer Science and Electrical Engineering, who became a Fellow of the Institute of Electrical & Electronic Engineers (IEEE); Lisa Dickson, in Economics, who was named a Fellow of the Association for the Study of Higher Education; Nagaraj Neerchal, in Mathematics & Statistics, who was elected a Fellow of the American Statistical Association; Zena Hitz, in Philosophy, who is participating this year in Princeton University’s James Madison Program in American Ideals & Institutions; Susan McDonough, in History, who received a National Endowment for the Humanities Fellowship for research this year at the Newberry Library; and Anthony Johnson, Director of the Center for Advanced Studies in Photonics Research (CASPR), who was named a Laser Pioneer by Laserfest (a collaboration among the American Physical Society, the Optical Society, the Society of Photo Optical Engineers, and the IEEE Photonics Society). We also are delighted that a number of books published by members of the faculty have been well received, e.g., The Poker Bride, by Chris Corbett (English), Charisma and Myth, by Raphael Falco (English), and Tour of Duty, by Constantine Vaporis (History), which was selected as a Choice Outstanding Academic Title by the Association of College and Research Libraries. The list of other faculty receiving awards and fellowships across the full spectrum of disciplines is too long to include in my remarks; immediately attached are additional examples (and you might also click on

Several staff members also were recognized for their work this year. Our Presidential Distinguished Staff Award winners this year include Jill Randles (Professional Staff), in the Office of Undergraduate Education, and Dorothy Anderson (Non-Exempt Staff), in Institutional Advancement. Sally Helms, in Public Policy, received this year’s Jakubik Family Endowment Staff Award, and Emma Sellers, in Political Science, received the President’s Commission for Women Achievement Award. It’s also significant that dozens of UMBC staff members, both Professional and Non-Exempt, completed university degrees; earned professional, trade, or industry certifications; were elected officials in their professional, trade, or industry associations; and presented at professional conferences. Finally, please join me in congratulating Lisa Akchin, in the President’s Office and Institutional Advancement, for her appointment to the Baltimore City School Board, and Jack Suess, Vice President for Information Technology, who is serving as the Program Chair of this year’s EDUCAUSE conference.

Research & Sponsored Programs

Another major priority for the campus is to continue expanding our research portfolio and increasing our sponsored programs, which totaled more than $95 million this past fiscal year (an increase of $6 million over the previous year). These awards included $63 million in Federal contracts and grants, which represent an increase of $8 million (15 percent) over the year before and are especially impressive given the continuing uncertainty over the national economy. Federal awards this past year also included more than $4.1 million funded through the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA). Our efforts in these areas require strong relationships with external partners, which faculty and staff have been building over time with NASA, NSF, NIH, the U.S. Department of Education, the Howard Hughes Medical Institute (HHMI), and many other organizations. These partnerships not only produce funding and major research-and-training opportunities for faculty and students, but also contribute to our rising national reputation. In Federal funding, NASA remains our largest source, and we continue to rank second nationally in NASA university research grants and cooperative agreements. NSF and NIH are our next two heaviest supporters.

Our research success also depends heavily on multi-disciplinary approaches and the work of our centers, including GEST, the Joint Center for Earth Systems Technology (JCET), our HHMI lab, the Center for Research & Exploration in Space Science & Technology (CRESST), the Joint Center for Astrophysics, our NSF Engineering Research Center (with Princeton, Hopkins, Rice, and others), CASPR, and CUERE. Indications of our emergence as a leader in environmental sciences include the fact that Science Watch, which monitors worldwide trends and performance in basic research, ranks our faculty third in the number of geosciences publications and citations, and JCET’s U.S. Air Quality Smog Blog, a daily diary interpreting and analyzing air quality across America using data from NASA satellites, EPA monitoring networks, and other data sources.

Another recent development that increases our research capacity has been the creation of the Department of Marine Biotechnology and the Institute of Fluorescence within the College of Natural & Mathematical Sciences. Provost Hirshman and I recently wrote to the campus community about this major initiative, which stems from the reorganization of the University of Maryland Biotechnology Institute. Not only does it strengthen our research enterprise, but it also creates wide-ranging educational opportunities for students within these innovative research programs. The new Department, chaired by Dr. Yonathan Zohar, and the Institute, directed by Dr. Chris Geddes, remain based at the Columbus Center in downtown Baltimore, with the budgetary support for associated faculty, staff, and operating costs having been transferred to the campus. I know the campus joins us in welcoming all of our new colleagues.

Other significant funding and partnering success stories include a variety of initiatives ranging from graduate education in areas of national need and K-16 math-science education, to arts exhibitions, history education, and language instruction. These initiatives involve some of our academic departments, our Imaging Research Center, Center for History Education, Center for Art, Design & Visual Culture (CADVC), English Learning Center (ELC), Hilltop Institute (formerly the Center for Health Program Development & Management), Maryland Institute for Policy Analysis & Research, and the Choice Program and other Shriver Center activities. Especially noteworthy this year are major grants from the U.S. Department of Education (through its Graduate Assistance in Areas of National Need program) to our Biological Sciences and Physics Departments to support doctoral students; a $400,000 grant to CADVC from the National Endowment for the Humanities to support For All the World to See, the UMBC exhibit curated by Maurice Berger that recently opened at the International Center of Photography in New York to rave reviews in The New York Times and The New Yorker, and that will be featured at the Smithsonian’s National Museum of African American History & Culture in Washington, D.C., in 2011 (before coming to UMBC in 2012); and a major award from the U.S. State Department to the ELC to deliver online professional development training for 500 English-as-a-Foreign-Language educators nominated by State Department offices worldwide. In addition, our Howard Hughes lab, under the direction of Dr. Mike Summers, is sharing in an $8-million award from NIH for the purchase of a 950 Megahertz Nuclear Magnetic Resonance instrument that will be used by scientists at UMBC and our sister campuses in Baltimore and College Park.

For our work involving diversity, we’ve received national visibility and grant support, particularly for successful initiatives focused on women and minorities in science and engineering – from ADVANCE (our NSF program for recruiting and advancing women faculty),WISE (our Women in Science & Engineering program), and CWIT (our Center for Women & Information Technology), to the McNair and Meyerhoff undergraduate and graduate Scholars Programs for preparing minority researchers, and our PROMISE and AGEP (Alliance for Graduate Education & the Professoriate) programs to increase the numbers of minority graduate students in STEM fields. Significantly, we are one of the nation’s few campuses where women hold the majority of tenure-track positions in chemical and biochemical engineering. More generally, since 2000, when WISE was launched, and following on recent completion of NSF funding for ADVANCE, the number of women faculty in STEM departments has more than doubled (from 20 to more than 40) with at least a doubling in all ranks. As part of our efforts to continue building on our success in these areas, the Provost will be creating two new executive committees: the ADVANCE Executive Committee will provide counsel and guidance on programmatic initiatives designed to support women in STEM areas, and a second executive advisory committee will address issues related to the hiring, retention, and advancement of underrepresented minority faculty. The work of these groups will be coordinated by Dr. Pat McDermott, Vice Provost for Faculty Affairs. We also are delighted that our new Gender and Women’s Studies program is continuing to attract more and more students who are becoming leaders on the campus.

Student Achievements

Many of our 2010 graduates are about to begin graduate and professional programs at top schools across the nation, including, for example, Harvard in science, medicine, and law; Johns Hopkins in international relations and public health; the University of Maryland in medicine, law, and social work; Vanderbilt in medicine; Northwestern in chemistry; the New York Film Academy in filmmaking; and California Institute of the Arts in imaging and digital arts. Other graduates are launching careers focusing on the environment and energy, education and healthcare, and national defense and security, working with a variety of major corporations (e.g., Northrop Grumman, Lockheed Martin, Booz Allen Hamilton, Accenture), agencies (e.g., U.S. Defense Department, Social Security Administration, NIH, NASA), and public school systems throughout Maryland. Many of these students have benefited from wide-ranging opportunities to participate in directed research and creative activities. Particularly impressive were this year’s publications of the UMBC Review: Journal of Undergraduate Research, and Bartleby, our creative arts journal, as well as our 14th annual Undergraduate Research & Creative Achievement Day featuring hundreds of presentations by students with majors in more than 30 disciplines. It’s not surprising that this past year’s U.S. News & World Report America’s Best Colleges Guide also recognized UMBC (along with two dozen other schools including Cal Tech, Duke, and MIT) for providing students with outstanding opportunities for undergraduate research and creative projects. Moreover, in a recent Chronicle article by the authors of a new book on American colleges and universities that are “Worth the Price of Admission,” New York Times writer Claudia Dreifus and Professor Andrew Hacker offer the following endorsement UMBC: “Of all the research universities we’ve visited, it is the place that has most capably connected research with undergraduate education.”

A number of graduating seniors and current undergraduates also have successfully competed for prestigious fellowships and scholarships. Examples include Fulbright grants to study in such countries as Italy, Argentina, and Thailand, Goldwater Scholarships in math and science, and the Boren Scholarship from the U.S. Defense Department’s National Security Education Program.

This also was another outstanding year for UMBC students participating in intellectual and athletic competitions. Our Baja team of mechanical engineering students finished 1st overall in the U.S. and 2nd in North America out of 100 teams that designed, built, and ran vehicles in off-road endurance races sponsored by the Society of Automotive Engineers. Our new Cyberwarfare Team finished 4th at the Mid-Atlantic regional competition in which the students respond to simulated attacks launched by a team of cyber-professionals. And our Chess Team again won the “Final Four” of college chess, taking the 2010 President’s Cup for the second year in a row and the sixth time in the past 10 years.

In intercollegiate competition, the Men’s Swimming & Diving Team won its seventh consecutive America East Championship and 13th straight conference title, while several other teams were highly competitive in the conference. Many of our student-athletes also distinguished themselves academically. The Women’s Basketball Team ranked 3rd nationally in the Women’s Basketball Coaches Association’s 2010 Division-I Academic Top 25 Team Honor, which recognizes teams with the highest grade point averages. In addition, graduating seniors Alice Chen (tennis), Brittney Foreman (track and field), and sophomore Joe Adewumi (tennis) were named 2010 Arthur Ashe, Jr. Sports Scholars for their achievements in academics, athletics, and community action. Alice Chen, who completed her degree in Biochemistry and Molecular Biology with a 4.0 gpa, is beginning her studies at the University of Maryland School of Medicine this fall.

Not only have many of our students excelled academically and in co-curricular activities, but they also have contributed in substantive ways, helping to create a vibrant and safe campus environment. Their contributions often involve integrating classroom experiences with co-curricular activities and applied experiences. Students in Emergency Health Services, for example, contributed to our successful H1N1 clinics, working side-by-side with University Health Services staff to organize stations and administer thousands of injections, while gaining valuable “real world” experience. Engineering students addressed mechanical and design problems as members of the Residential Life Student Advisory Board, helping guide development of the Patapsco Residence Hall addition. Their ideas and energy contributed to our achieving LEED (Leadership in Energy & Environmental Design) silver certification of the addition – the first campus building to meet these rigorous sustainability design requirements. Art students worked as interns in the Commons, promoting campus events through graphic design and creation of internet videos, and they were invited to present their ideas at the regional Association of College Unions international. Students also were so successful organizing Red Cross blood drives that UMBC is now one of the top blood donation sites out of hundreds of Red Cross collection sites across Maryland.

These examples highlight the distinctive character of student life at UMBC, which challenges and empowers students to be problem-solvers, innovators, and entrepreneurs. Our Student Government Association has been instrumental in creating this culture, providing opportunities for students to shape campus life. The SGA has been nationally recognized for its work in this area, and this past summer President Yasmin Karimian spoke to hundreds of provosts and other university leaders as part of the American Democracy Project, an initiative sponsored by the American Association of State Colleges & Universities to promote higher education’s role in producing well informed and engaged citizens.

(For other examples of student achievements this year, and in previous years, you can click on

Fundraising & “Friend-raising”

In the light of all these positive developments, and despite the challenging economic times, we have held our own again this year in both fundraising and “friend-raising.” During FY 2010, we raised more than $7.5 million, including major gifts from IBM, T. Rowe Price, the Linehan Family Foundation, and a bequest from the estate of Raymond Haysbert. Early this year, we passed the $100-million mark in our Exceptional by Example Campaign (total Campaign giving now stands at $107.2 million), achieving the ambitious goal we set for ourselves seven years ago. Also this year, we were heartened by a 24-percent increase in alumni participation over the previous year and an increase in alumni giving from $250,000 to $265,000.

Throughout the campaign, we have been building endowment support across all disciplines, reflecting our priorities including student scholarships, fellowships, and internships; faculty development and research; and endowed chairs and professorships. Though the market continues to experience some instability, the endowment has begun to recover and now totals nearly $50 million, up more than $4 million over this time a year ago. Equally important, donors are fulfilling their pledges to the endowment, helping us move toward our long-range goal of an endowment exceeding $100 million. We continue working with partners on new gifts to the endowment, and I’m pleased to announce that Constellation Energy has just approved a $1-million endowment gift for student scholarships.

We also are working to engage alumni more fully in the life of the campus and to develop a strong foundation of alumni giving. We have hosted off-campus alumni events this year from New York City to northern Virginia. The UMBC Magazine, still relatively new, is helping to reconnect alumni to campus and inspire them to become involved and contribute financially. And we are hopeful that this fall’s Homecoming celebration, filled with events from October 13-16, will attract more alumni and families than ever, along with many current students, faculty, and staff.

In addition, we have been aggressively “friend-raising,” sustaining a steady stream of visitors eager to learn about us. This year, again, we’ve welcomed leaders of national agencies, corporations, foundations, other universities, school systems, and potential individual donors. And our faculty, staff, and students continue to travel extensively, speaking about their own interests and experiences, and also about the UMBC experience. More and more people are learning about us, and I want to thank Greg Simmons, Lisa Akchin, and everyone in Institutional Advancement for their outstanding fundraising and “friend-raising” efforts on behalf of UMBC.


As I’ve often pointed out in recent years, external attention and investment require a consistently high degree of accountability to ensure that our image is substantive. With continuing growth in contracts and grants, for example, compliance and internal controls are more important than ever. Federal and State funding agencies, as well as the University System, are routinely conducting more audits and follow-up audits on campus matters involving research grant compliance, financial systems, information technology, the handling of hazardous materials, and our emergency preparedness plans. It is gratifying that the audit reports have been quite positive this year in almost all respects, and we welcome constructive comments that help us to strengthen our performance. The State Legislative Auditors are expected to return in 2011 for their next major audit of the campus. The regular scrutiny of audits reminds us of our responsibility to stay focused on quality, responsiveness, integrity, and accountability. In athletics, we were very pleased to learn just this week that the National Collegiate Athletic Association has recertified our intercollegiate athletic program for the next 10-year period, following an accreditation visit earlier this year. We congratulate Charlie Brown and our colleagues in the Athletic Department, and we thank Elliot Hirshman and Jack Suess for leading the campus efforts in preparation for this year’s certification review.

We have continued focusing on three major priorities identified by the Regents and Chancellor Kirwan: (1) closing the achievement gap, which, for UMBC, means reaching parity between the six-year graduation rates of African American and white transfer students, and of transfer students and full-time, first-time freshmen; (2) addressing climate change, on which our Climate Change Task Force is taking the lead; and (3) supporting Maryland’s STEM-related competitiveness, which we are doing in numerous ways, from producing STEM graduates (we have nearly twice the percentage of STEM bachelor’s degree recipients as any other USM campus) and supporting faculty research and technology development, to building STEM-education partnerships with surrounding school systems using major NSF funding.

Information Technology Update

Our multi-year PeopleSoft initiative now touches virtually every administrative and academic unit, and almost every student, faculty and staff member. Because of budget constraints this past year, we deferred upgrading the PeopleSoft Finance system to 9.1, instead implementing “patches and fixes” to the existing version this past fall. We moved forward to purchase the iStrategy Finance data warehousing and reporting solution in order to implement the upgrade to 9.1 this year. This measure will address the major goal of improving reporting and access to financial information. Moreover, the iStrategy data warehouse has been extended to include custom reports on key performance indicators, including admissions, enrollment, advising, registration, and course utilization. Degree Audit became operational this past year for all campus and general education graduation requirements, and we successfully “rolled out” Degree Audit to the academic departments in the spring to review program-major requirements. In addition, the campus expanded its high-performance computational core facilities with a new system for use by faculty and students in a number of disciplines, providing a ten-fold increase in performance over the prior system. And myUMBC has been substantially updated beyond its initial use by students and faculty for various self-service functions (e.g., class registration, transcripts, bills, financial aid information) to support campus events and campus discussions, both of which have been heavily used. This summer, we launched a group collaboration tool within myUMBC for student, faculty, and staff organizations to use.

Finally, UMBC has accepted an invitation from EDUCAUSE to be part of an exciting new initiative, co-sponsored by the Gates Foundation, designed to strengthen college readiness and college completion in the U.S. through the use of information technology and digital media. Next Gen Learning Challenges seeks to give greater visibility and momentum to America’s efforts to increase educational attainment, and the opportunity that UMBC has to participate in this venture is recognition of our strengths and capacity for innovation in information technology.

Concluding Thoughts

We will continue to succeed by putting people first – supporting and guiding students as they learn and grow; supporting faculty in their research and teaching; supporting staff in their work with students and colleagues; and responding to the needs of our growing external constituents.

Whether you’ve been here for decades or recently arrived, you make a difference through your contributions. I’m celebrating my 24th year on campus this fall and my 19th as President – and I want you to know how much I appreciate the support you have given me throughout the years. We have become a distinctive model in American higher education.

As the recent U.S. News & World Report rankings were about to be announced, many of us were wondering where we would place this year.

It is a major affirmation of our growing national visibility that we were ranked #1 again, along with the University of Southern California, Arizona State, and others. It’s even more telling that we were included among the top institutions in the country with regard to undergraduate education, along with Stanford and Yale. But perhaps most significant, for the first time, we were placed by U.S. News in the first tier of national universities, overall. Those of us on campus are delighted that the rest of the nation is beginning to understand what we already know – that we are a very special place.

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

Additional Examples of Faculty Recognition and Awards

Dawn Biehler, Geography and Environmental Systems, received a National Endowment for the Humanities stipend.

Scott Farrow, Economics, launched the journal for the new Society of Benefit-Cost Analysis with funding from the MacArthur Foundation.

James Grubb, History, has been named the Lipitz Professor of the Arts, Humanities, and Social Sciences for 2010-2011.

Ellen Handler Spitz, Honors College, was appointed to the Council of Scholars at the Austen Riggs Center in Stockbridge, Massachusetts. She also served as guest editor of the Journal of Aesthetic Education issue on children’s literature this past summer.

Anindya Roy, Mathematics & Statistics, became associate editor of the Journal of the American Statistical Association.

Fred Worden, Visual Arts, was awarded one of three Grand Prix first-place jury prizes for his film, “1859,” at the 25 Frames Per Second International Festival of Experimental Film and Video. He also was named one of the world’s top 50 avant-garde filmmakers in a poll of leading film critics and teachers.