Dear University of Maryland community,
In one of my first official duties as President, I outlined five initiatives and recommendations designed to create a more inclusive environment at the University of Maryland. Those announcements were just the beginning of our commitment to build a multicultural campus of excellence. Today, I am pleased to build further upon that commitment:
Announcing the Harriet Tubman Department of Women, Gender, and Sexuality Studies
It is my honor to announce a major milestone in our university's history: the first honorific naming of an academic department at UMD, the Harriet Tubman Department of Women, Gender, and Sexuality Studies. It is fitting that this heroic Marylander is now honored at the state's flagship university. The department is widely acclaimed for its unique concentration in Black feminist thought and intersectionality, and it is the only department in the nation that offers a Black women's studies minor, jointly with the Department of African American Studies. Historically, Black women have played a brave and critical role in social justice. Harriet Tubman's life and her dedication to freedom and equality speaks directly to the department's mission, now and in the years ahead.
The 1856 Project
The University of Maryland has recently created "The 1856 Project," which joins the Universities Studying Slavery (USS) consortium to facilitate collaborative research and academic scholarship. This initiative will help provide a narrative of the University of Maryland's history that grapples with its past, acknowledges the challenges and achievements of the present, and lays the groundwork for a future rooted in justice and equality. The institutional official of The 1856 Project is Provost Mary Ann Rankin, and the institutional co-leads are Lae'l Hughes-Watkins, University Archivist, and Joni Floyd, Libraries Curator for Maryland and Historical Collections.
New Program Coordinator for Immigrant and Undocumented Student Life
I am pleased to share that the Division of Student Affairs has hired a new Program Coordinator for Immigrant and Undocumented Student Life, who will officially start at the end of this month. The new coordinator has experience working with undocumented students in higher education and has done tremendous work building community among students. This position is integral to the support of our undocumented and immigrant students and will carry on the great work of previous coordinators. Additional details about the new coordinator, including opportunities for virtual meet and greets, will be shared with students in the coming weeks.
TerrapinSTRONG is an initiative focused on one of my main priorities as your president: ensuring that students, faculty and staff feel welcome, a sense of community, and that they matter and belong at UMD. More than 100 faculty, staff and students on campus from every college, school and division are serving on TerrapinSTRONG committees to bring this initiative to fruition. Thanks to their hard work, dozens of TerrapinSTRONG programs will take place this fall virtually and around campus. We plan to find ways to share and acknowledge all aspects of our history and show how we're working toward a deeper sense of inclusion across campus.
Task Force on Community Policing
As part of my first-day announcements, I stated that I wanted to enhance community policing. Toward that goal, today I am announcing the University of Maryland Task Force on Community Policing. The Task Force will provide recommendations to enhance public safety and community policing that help the UMD campus move toward more collaborative and trusting partnerships between our public safety officials and the university community. This task force will be co-chaired by Deans Bonnie Thornton-Dill (ARHU), and Greg Ball (BSOS). We have invited a diverse group of individuals, including faculty, staff, and student leaders; as well as city and county officials, state legislators, a retired judge, alumni and members of law enforcement, to serve on this task force. I am hopeful that the task force will deliver a report to me by the end of the fall semester with findings and recommendations to improve our campus public safety activities while also building partnerships.
I am passionate about accessibility to our great institution. Last month, the university officially joined the Common Application, which currently serves more than three million applicants, teachers, counselors and advisors across all 50 states and around the world each year. Our participation in the Common App will help increase access and equity for prospective students, reduce barriers to the college application process, and provide support in key areas like financial aid and scholarships.
Grand Challenges of Our Time
This fall, I am looking forward to teaching a course for new students that will focus on the grand challenges of our time, such as COVID-19, Black Lives Matter, climate change and voter access. As a class, we will hear each other's stories, investigate these issues together, examine our shared humanity and how history is recorded, and explore implications for the future. In addition, the course will feature guest lectures, some of which will be open to our broader campus community, and will feature national and campus experts working on these pressing problems.
Each initiative is important and noteworthy on its own. Together, with previous actions announced on July 1, they mark meaningful progress toward realizing our vision of a truly inclusive campus. Our work is not done. In the words of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.: "No, no, we are not satisfied, and we will not be satisfied until 'justice rolls down like waters, and righteousness like a mighty stream.'"
Darryll J. Pines
President, University of Maryland