Dear fellow Terrapins,
Welcome to the fall 2021 semester! I am thrilled to see our students, faculty and staff back on campus. As we look ahead to a new academic year, I have found myself in recent days reflecting on the past 18 months and what it has taught me about myself and our university.
I learned that Terps care about each other, deeply and truly. I learned that Terps are determined and resilient in the face of unprecedented change. And I learned that Terps are committed to keeping themselves, their families, and each other safe. The past 18 months have solidified my belief that Terps have the fearlessness, knowledge and compassion to be a positive force for change in our community and the world.
Today marks a new start for all of us, a fresh beginning. Today I ask everyone to take the opportunity to recommit ourselves to the two priorities that I have established for our university: pursue excellence in everything we do; and establish a more inclusive, multicultural campus. These two goals are intrinsically interconnected to inclusive excellence. You can't have one without the other.
Driving research and innovation
This year has already proven to be impactful in leading innovation and research in the region and beyond. The work of our faculty and researchers catapulted our rankings to the top 10 for public institutions in research and development spending. Our work at the frontier of a technology revolution is further positioning us as the "Capital of Quantum." We recently broke ground on the new Chemistry Building, the new School of Public Policy is taking shape, and we are readying our campus to explore Arts for All. Maryland research continues to make strides in confronting the grand challenges of our time from climate change to health equity to social justice.
Our new Provost Jennifer King Rice is spearheading the development of a new and visionary strategic plan that refines and reinvigorates our core mission of excellence in teaching, research and service. I have no doubt that our collective work will drive us to the top of the rankings, enhance our reputation internationally, allow us to provide a best-in-class student experience, all while creating a campus that is diverse, inclusive and welcoming to all.
Creating a welcoming and inclusive campus
In recent days, we have all witnessed tragic events unfold in Afghanistan and Haiti. These heartbreaking stories and images are a reminder that we are all global citizens, committed to empathy, respect, social justice and progress.
That work starts right here on campus. I am thrilled that our incoming freshman class today joins our incredibly diverse, academically talented student body, and are ready to take on grand challenges. The FAMILE program - a $40 million initiative that will add 100 underrepresented faculty members to our tenure track ranks over 10 years - is on track in its first year. And our staff remain as dedicated as ever to support and improve our ever-changing campus.
Over the past year, I have had the true honor of meeting with individuals and their families who have made a profound impact on our campus for over 100 years, paving the way for those to come. Pyon Su, Chunjen Constant Chen, Hiram Whittle, Elaine Johnson Coates, Billy Jones and Darryl Hill are some of the trailblazing individuals whose legacies will now be cemented on our campus. I hope you will take a moment to learn about their importance to our past and future.
I am grateful to all of the members of our community who have been working since my first day in office to create a program that establishes an inclusive environment where every member of our community feels that they belong and are empowered to reach their full potential. I am proud to say that as of this summer, all new students, faculty and staff will now participate in the new TerrapinSTRONG onboarding program.
More than just an onboarding program, TerrapinSTRONG is who we are as a community: united, respectful, secure and safe, inclusive, accountable, empowered and open to growth. Thank you to each and every one of you, for your commitment as Terrapins.
A New Start
We begin this semester still facing the threat of COVID-19. The health and well-being of our campus community remains our top priority, and our actions and policies will continue to be shaped by data trends and by guidance from national, state and local health officials. As president, I pledge to fight the spread of the virus on our campus. Each one of you plays a critical role in that fight and I encourage you to stay informed about our collective efforts.
At the same time, I will make another pledge: We will not let the virus detract us from our academic mission. We have great expectations that this academic year will be filled with rich learning opportunities, critical research advancements, exciting college athletics, inspiring artistic performances, engaging in-person experiences, and, importantly, the chance to connect and reconnect with our fellow Terps.
I couldn't be more optimistic for a new start.
Darryll J. Pines
President, University of Maryland