Communications

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Welcome! Bienvenido! Huanying!

Dear University of Maryland community, 

Welcome to another year of promise, the 162nd academic year since our founding.

Welcome to one of the most talented and largest group of incoming students ever. Some 38,000 students applied and we accepted the very best. Because of our academic success, many more students than usual—4,700 freshmen and 1,800 transfer students—committed to Maryland, creating tight quarters in residence halls. Though it won’t offer immediate relief, planning is well underway for a complex of two new residence halls and a dining facility.

Our new undergraduates—more than three-quarters from Maryland, but also 40 states and 25 countries—come with outstanding credentials and wide experiences. The class includes an award-winning robot builder; an eco-conscious online entrepreneur; and an active fundraiser for mental health. They join a highly diverse and accomplished student body—more than 43 percent students of color. Our academic rise has paralleled growing demographic pluralism.

Welcome to the 3,100 new masters and doctoral students. They come from around the world to play essential roles in the educational and research missions of our University.

We welcome 212 new faculty members this year. They include 46 tenured and tenure-track professors, also highly diverse: 50% women; 37% persons of color (26% from historically underrepresented groups).

Welcome and congratulations to the new campus leaders: Graduate School Dean Steve Fetter, Vice President and Chief Information Officer Jeff Hollingsworth, and Athletic Director Damon Evans.

Thanks to Roger Worthington for his valued service as interim Chief Diversity Officer, as he returns to the faculty of the College of Education. Ombudsperson Cynthia Edmunds will serve in the interim role, as we launch a nationwide search to fill the newly created position of Vice President for Diversity and Inclusion. A search firm will be on campus next month to gather input from students, faculty, and staff on the desired qualities for this senior leadership role.

After several years as our first Title IX officer and founding Director of our Office of Civil Rights and Sexual Misconduct, Catherine Carroll has taken a position closer to home.  We thank her for her pioneering work.  While a search is underway, this office will be co-directed by two seasoned campus leaders: Andrea Goodwin, Director of the Office of Student Conduct, in charge of upholding standards of integrity and resolving allegations of misconduct; and Steve Petkas, Associate Director of Residential Life, in charge of promoting a campus environment that supports our academic mission and the rights and responsibilities of all students.

Undergraduates will have new academic opportunities, as we launch a track in environmental and resource economics, as well as minors in Hebrew studies, demography, nonprofit leadership and social innovation, naval science and army leadership. Our research enterprise continues to thrive—over a half-billion dollars in awards last year—rising on vital Congressional support.

To meet an increasing student need, we have added new Counseling Center professionals, including two triage social workers to ensure students in urgent need get immediate health support and an accessibility/disability specialist. We will also offer more group counseling, workshops, and online resources.

To foster a more inclusive and welcoming campus environment, we are implementing many of the Joint President-Senate Task Force recommendations approved last spring. You will also find several new events as part of our “Year of Immigration.” In October, the campus will host a national conference on “difficult dialogues” in the digital age.

There are important new developments on and off campus, widening academic and research opportunities, while making College Park a more thriving place to learn, work, and live. This includes the new A. James Clark Hall that will spur new engineering and biomedical technologies to advance human health innovation. The Brendan Iribe Center that brings together computer scientists and engineers will open next spring. We will soon break ground on the IDEA Factory, a hub for innovation and entrepreneurship. Construction of the School of Public Policy building, housing the Do Good Institute, begins next spring. We are soliciting proposals for a design-build contractor for a replacement Chemistry building.

The Discovery District thrives with new companies coming to establish research and innovation hubs, lured by the opportunity to partner with faculty and students, and new, flexible co-working spaces. Next spring an international food hall, with live entertainment, will open—all next to The Hotel.  Later this year, improvements will begin to transform Baltimore Avenue into a more pedestrian-friendly boulevard. Purple Line light rail construction has started and will continue for several years. When completed, it will dramatically improve the connection between campus and the Greater Washington area, spur transit-oriented economic development, and reduce vehicular traffic to campus.

Amid this progress, the campus suffered two major tragedies this summer. In June, 19-year old student-athlete Jordan McNair collapsed during a football conditioning session and died two weeks later. As we grieved, preliminary observations from an external sports medicine expert showed that our training staff made mistakes diagnosing and treating Jordan. Upon receiving this information, we accepted legal and moral responsibility for these mistakes.

We will do everything in our power to ensure that no student-athlete ever again is put in a situation where safety and life are at foreseeable risk. We await the final results of the investigation now under the direction of the University System of Maryland Board of Regents.

Meanwhile, Jordan’s teammates have dedicated themselves to his memory. More than ever, the team needs your support. On September 1, we will provide students free buses to Fed-Ex Field for the opening game against Texas. 

In July, gun violence at the Capital Gazette newsroom in Annapolis killed five people, including journalism alumni Gerald Fischman ’79 and John McNamara ’83 and journalism adjunct lecturer Rob Hiaasen. Campus plans are underway to honor and memorialize the victims this fall. A targeted attack on a newsroom assaults an institution essential to our democracy—a free press.

In fraught times, strength lies in community. Our shared values and commitments—pluralism, inclusiveness, respect, fairness, intellectual freedom—support us and undergird our resiliency. Working together, we strengthen our ability to get the most from our University’s academic excellence and promise. I wish all a productive and fulfilling year.

Sincerely,

Wallace D. Loh
President, University of Maryland

Maryland Today,” a new daily news service about campus life for faculty, staff, and students, launches today.  It publishes every weekday during the academic year at today.umd.edu.