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Honorary degrees to be awarded at Commencement this evening

Dear University of Maryland community:

At the 2017 winter commencement this evening, the University will confer two honorary degrees. 

U.S. Representative Elijah E. Cummings of Maryland's 7th congressional district (Baltimore area) since 1996, and previously Speaker Pro Tem of the Maryland House of Delegates, will receive a Doctor of Public Service.  We honor his distinguished public career of uplifting and empowering the community he serves and championing greater access to education, housing, health care, jobs, and a better future for all Americans.​ He will also deliver the commencement address.​

Richard W. Collins, Jr. and Dawn M. Collins, the parents of 2nd Lt. Richard W. Collins, III will receive on behalf of their son a posthumous Bachelor of Humane Letters. This is a fitting memorial to a young man whose life and death have touched our community so deeply.

Lt. Collins was killed on our campus last May in a senseless and unprovoked attack. The assailant, a former UMD student, has been indicted for murder and a racially-motivated hate crime. Newly commissioned as an Army officer, Lt. Collins was just days away from graduation at Bowie State University (BSU), our neighboring and sister campus in the University System of Maryland. Shaken, both campuses grieved for a promising life ended far too early.  He was known for devotion to his family, his faith, and ​our​ country. The pain of this loss does not abate.

Last May, Lt. Collins' father received posthumously his son's bachelor's degree in business from BSU. Today, we follow their lead with a posthumous honorary degree. BSU's president, Aminta Breaux, will join me in presenting the diploma ​to Lt. Collins' parents. BSU's ​former and long-serving ​president, Mickey Burnim, will also be present at ​this commencement​ to show ​his ​​respect​ and solidarity.Together, we will ​preserve​ Lt. Collins' name in our collective memory. We ​will ​wrest meaning from this tragedy.

As members of the University System of Maryland, BSU and UMD are family. This tragedy has united us in grief and in acts of healing. President Breaux and I are resolved to promote ​academic ​collaborations​ ​that will benefit both of our campuses. ​

In this spirit, we are ​also ​resolved to counteract the ​tide of ​violence and hate that would cleave our campuses and our nation ​in these fraught times​. We reaffirm core values that define us as a university and as a democracy: ​​respect for ​human dignity; ​diversity and inclusion​; ​civic rights and ​responsibilities​. Our common efforts can help unify and strengthen our respective campuses.

​In the words of the psalmist, "I will lift my eyes to the hills, from whence comes my help​?​ " ​We can draw strength from our deepest values​. We will continue ​​to move forward—beyond the hills of grief​ and sorrow—on our journey of ​healing, hope, and deliverance. ​

May your ​holiday season ​be ​filled ​with​ peace, joy, and goodwill.


Wallace D. Loh
President, University of Maryland