Dear Terrapin Community,
I have proudly served as your president for one week, and I continue to prioritize keeping you informed as we remain physically distant and dispersed.
Seven days in, I want to provide some important updates to our community:
Solidarity with International Students
On Monday, July 6, the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) Student and Exchange Visitor Program (SEVP) issued new guidance that restricts online course enrollment for international students on F-1 visas during the Fall 2020 semester. This is troubling, to say the least. During these uncertain times, as we continue to fight a pandemic, these new regulations do not align with the university's priority to put the health and safety of our community first.
I stand in solidarity with our international students, who are highly valued for everything they contribute to our diverse and vibrant community. We will continue to look out for all Terrapin students from every country of origin, and we are working with our representatives in Congress to protect immigration status of our international undergraduate and graduate students. We are urgently considering alternative options, as this newly announced rule has caused great concern. I am asking Provost Mary Ann Rankin to direct colleges and schools to seek academic solutions that ensure more in-person instruction, including the use of independent research, discipline seminar courses and other courses that offer in-person instruction to our international students.
Announcing ADA Coordinator Position
This month marks the 30th anniversary of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), and the university is making significant progress on how we champion and provide resources for our community with disabilities. For the first time, a newly created ADA coordinator position will sit separately from our disabilities services office, which provides another layer of support, protections and accountability.
I am pleased to announce this new role in partnership with the Vice President for Diversity and Inclusion, Dr. Georgina Dodge, as another initiative that moves us forward in creating a more inclusive environment for us all.
Middle States Commission on Higher Education
In June 2019, the Middle States Commission on Higher Education (MSCHE) announced that it was placing UMD on warning due to a governance issue.
I am pleased to announce that after a yearlong review, MSCHE found that the university is now in compliance and accreditation is reaffirmed. I'd like to thank all of the members of our university community who worked hard this past year in partnership with the University System of Maryland and the Board of Regents. I would like to particularly highlight the excellent work of Associate Vice Provost, Dr. Elizabeth Beise, who coordinated and led our response back to the Middle States Commission.
Fall 2020 Academic Instruction Updates
Provost Rankin recently provided updates to students and faculty regarding academic instruction for the fall 2020 semester. I know many of you are eager to have a better understanding of what course schedules will look like this fall. Our staff and faculty are working diligently to finalize these plans and expect to have an updated fall course schedule on Testudo on July 15, including the in-person, online, or blended format for each course.
We anticipate that about 20% of undergraduate courses will be offered at least partially in-person.
Free, Voluntary COVID-19 Testing: July 14 & 15, 2020
The ability to test members of our community for COVID-19, particularly healthy people who have not exhibited symptoms, is key to helping us respond quickly and help stop the spread of the virus. We are now able to offer free, voluntary COVID-19 testing for UMD employees, graduate assistants and students. The next testing events will take place on campus on Tuesday, July 14, and Wednesday, July 15, from 9 a.m. - 3:00 p.m. at Maryland Stadium. More information is available on the Human Resources website, including how to make appointments online or over the phone.
I Want to Hear From You
Last week on my first official day as President, I had the opportunity to meet with some of our hardworking housekeeping and facilities staff, public safety officials, researchers and student-athletes on campus—and many more virtually. I have already received a tremendous amount of feedback from the community, which I value and take into account as we chart our collective future. If you haven't had the opportunity yet, I ask you to read my letter outlining 12 new initiatives for Maryland, and please continue submitting feedback at president.umd.edu.
Thank you for all that you do in pursuit of excellence at the University of Maryland. I look forward to meeting many of you virtually over the next several months.
Darryll J. Pines
President, University of Maryland