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Wednesday, October 7, 2015

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UMD Study Finds Connecting Uninsured Patients to Primary Care Could Reduce ER Use

May 6, 2015

Kelly Blake 301-405-9418
Hillery Tsumba 301-628-3425

Montgomery County, Md. Initiative Could Improve Health, Reduce Costs

COLLEGE PARK, Md. – An intervention to connect low-income uninsured and Medicaid patients to a reliable source of primary health care shows promise for reducing avoidable use of hospital emergency departments in Maryland. A University of Maryland School of Public Health study evaluating the results of the intervention was published this week in the May issue of the journal Health Affairs

For twenty years, use of hospital emergency departments has been on the rise in the United States, particularly among low-income patients who face barriers to accessing health care outside of hospitals, including not having an identifiable primary health care provider. Almost half of emergency room visits are considered “avoidable.” The Emergency Department-Primary Care Connect Initiative of the Primary Care Coalition, which ran from 2009 through 2011, linked low-income uninsured and Medicaid patients to safety-net health clinics. 

“Our study found that uninsured patients with chronic health issues – such as those suffering from hypertension, diabetes, asthma, COPD, congestive heart failure, depression or anxiety – relied less on the emergency department after they were linked to a local health clinic for ongoing care,” says Dr. Karoline Mortensen, assistant professor of health services administration at the University of Maryland School of Public Health and senior researcher. “Connecting patients to primary care and expanding the availability of these safety-net clinics could reduce emergency department visits and provide better continuity of care for vulnerable populations.”  

Funded by a grant from the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services and the Maryland Department of Health and Mental Hygiene, the initiative engaged all five of the hospitals operating in Montgomery County, Maryland at the time, and four safety-net clinics serving low-income patients. Using “patient navigators,” individuals trained to help patients find the care they need and can afford, these hospitals referred more than 10,000 low-income, uninsured and Medicaid patients who visited emergency departments to four local primary care clinics, with the goal of encouraging them to establish an ongoing relationship with the clinic and reduce their reliance on costly emergency department care. 

Two hospitals in Montgomery County who participated in the intervention continued the program after the initial grant period concluded because of the benefits they saw for patients and for reducing emergency department visits and associated costs. These hospitals are currently testing a new version of the intervention specifically deigned to link emergency department patients with behavioral health conditions to appropriate community-based services. 

While hospital administrators and health policy experts throughout the country are recognizing that access to primary care improves continuity of care for patients and reduces avoidable use of emergency departments, the implications of this project are particularly important for hospitals in Maryland, which are now operating under a unique all-payer model for hospital payments. Within this new payment structure, Maryland hospitals will have to meet ambitious spending, quality of care, and population health goals. Reducing avoidable use of emergency departments can help in reaching these goals.

The project provides promise not only for hospitals in Maryland but throughout the nation to improve health care experiences and outcomes for their patients. Shared learning systems were an integral component of the project so participants were learning from each other and sharing best practices throughout the project and that learning has now been documented and can be replicated in other communities.

“This was an incredibly rewarding project to work on,” says Barbara H. Eldridge, Manager of Quality Improvement at the Primary Care Coalition. “We created a learning system that permits us to sustain improved communication between patients and their providers, between hospital discharge planners and community based clinics, and across five hospitals operating in Montgomery County.” The initiative has proven successful in Montgomery County, Maryland and is being replicated in communities in other parts of the country. 

“Linking Uninsured Patients Treated In The Emergency Department To Primary Care Shows Some Promise In Maryland” was written by Theresa Y. Kim, Karoline Mortensen, and Barbara Eldridge and published in the journal Health Affairs

University Launches Dynamic, Interactive Information Website UMD Right Now

December 4, 2012

Crystal Brown 301-405-4618 crystalb@umd.edu

College Park, Md. – Today, the University of Maryland launched a brand-new multimedia news and information portal, UMD Right Now, which provides members of the media and the public with real-time information on the university and its extended community.

UMD Right Now replaces Newsdesk, which previously served as the university’s news hub and central resource for members of the media. The new site is aimed at reaching broader audiences and allows visitors to keep up with the latest Maryland news and events, view photos and videos and connect with the university across all of its social media platforms.

“We designed UMD Right Now to be a comprehensive, vibrant site where visitors can find new and exciting things happening at Maryland,” said Linda Martin, executive director, Web and New Media Strategies. “Through social media, video, photos and news information, we hope to engage visitors and compel the community to explore all that Maryland has to offer.”

The new website, umdrightnow.umd.edu, contains up-to-date news releases and announcements, facts and figures about the university, a searchable database of faculty and staff experts, information highlighting innovation and entrepreneurship at UMD, additional resources for news media and other campus and athletics news.

“UMD RightNow is the place to go to find out all the things happening on and around campus on any given day,” said Crystal Brown, chief communications officer. “This website brings real-time news, events and information right to your fingertips.”

For more information and contact information for the Office of University Communications, please visit umdrightnow.umd.edu.

UMD to Host Inaugural Terp Farm Fall Harvest Festival

October 6, 2015

Allison Lilly 301-314-1016

Fall-themed event to highlight collaborative project combining sustainability and local food

COLLEGE PARK, Md. – The University of Maryland will host the inaugural Terp Farm Fall Harvest Festival on Friday, October 9, 2015 at Terp Farm, a collaborative project between UMD Dining Services, the College of Agriculture & Natural Resources and the Office of Sustainability

Terp Farm is housed at UMD’s Upper Marlboro agriculture research facility located 15 miles south of College Park, Md. Each week, several hundred pounds of vegetables are harvested from Terp Farm and transported to campus to be served in select dining halls and on the Green Tidings mobile dining food truck. Produce from Terp Farm is also donated to food-insecure members of the campus through the Campus Pantry program and nearby communities.

“We are so excited to invite the university community out to Terp Farm for our first Fall Harvest Festival so they can see first-hand how we are producing fresh, sustainable, local food for Terps on campus,” said Allison Lilly, Sustainability & Wellness Coordinator for Dining Services and manager of Terp Farm. “It’s Terps growing food for other Terps and that is certainly worth celebrating.”

This fall-themed event will feature food from Green Tidings Mobile Dining made with fresh ingredients produced at Terp Farm, a live performance from Hayley Fahey & Numbering Sundays, farm tours, pumpkin decorating, and information tables and activities provided by the College of Agriculture & Natural Resources.

UMD faculty, staff and students are invited to attend the Terp Farm Fall Harvest Festival on Friday, October 9th from 2 to 5 p.m. Free transportation to and from Terp Farm will be provided on the day of the festival. Shuttles provided by the Department of Transportation Services will be leaving from the side of The Stamp Student Union at Union Lane every half hour from 1:30 until 4:30 and returning from the farm every half hour from 2:15 until 5:15. 

The address is 2005 Largo Road, Upper Marlboro, MD 20744. Free parking will be available at the farm.  

Please visit the Terp Farm Fall Harvest Festival event page for additional information. To learn more about Terp Farm, watch a vignette produced by the Big Ten Network.

UMD Researchers Explore the Science of Retweets

October 5, 2015

Greg Muraski 301-405-5283

COLLEGE PARK, Md.  – What's the best time to tweet, to ensure maximum audience engagement? Researchers at the University of Maryland Robert H. Smith School of Business have demonstrated that an algorithm that takes into account the past activity of each of your followers — and makes predictions about future tweeting — can lead to more “retweets” than other commonly used methods, such as posting at peak traffic times.

The internet is full of advice about when to tweet to gain maximum exposure, but the new study subjects marketing folk wisdom to scientific scrutiny.

William Rand, director of the Center for Complexity in Business in UMD’s Robert H. Smith School of Business, with co-authors from the departments of scientific computation and physics, examined the retweeting patterns of 15,000 Twitter followers during two different five week intervals, in 2011 and 2012, from 6 a.m. to 10 p.m. Retweets are especially valuable to marketers because they help to spread a brand's message beyond core followers.

Most marketers are well aware there's a pattern to Twitter traffic. In the early morning, nothing much happens. Then people get into work and retweet intensely, as they do their morning surfing. The number of retweets drops as the day progresses, with a slight uptick at 5 p.m. Then it picks up again later “when people get back to their computers after dinner, or are out at a bar or restaurant using their phones,” as Rand puts it. Monday through Friday follow roughly that pattern, but Saturday and Sunday show markedly different behavior, with much smaller morning spikes and less decline during the day.

A “seasonal” model of posting — the folk-wisdom model — would suggest posting whenever there are peaks in that recurring weekly pattern. (Which peaks you choose would depend how many tweets you expect to send.)

The authors compared that model to two others: The first added to the seasonal model a component that looked for unusual surges and declines (caused by, say, big news events) and adjusted posting patterns correspondingly. They built the final model from scratch: It took into account the individual tweeting behavior of each follower and predicted his or her likelihood of tweeting in the next 10 minutes.

The authors first had to write software that collected the tweets. For each five-week period studied, the authors used the first four weeks to build a model and the final week for testing it, by tweeting and watching what happened.

All three models were reasonably effective, but the algorithm that the authors wrote, which took each individual’s behavior into account, was the most successful at generating retweets. The paper serves as a demonstration that applying analytic methods to Twitter data can improve a brand’s ability to spread its message. The authors made the open-source software developed for the study available online.

"Forecasting High Tide: Predicting Times of Elevated Activity in Online Social Media," by Jimpei Harada (Center for Complexity in Business, Robert H. Smith School of Business); David Darmon (applied mathematics and scientific calulation, University of Maryland); Michelle Girvan (physics, University of Maryland); and William Rand (Center for Complexity in Business), will be published in the Proceedings of Advances in Social Networks Analysis and Mining (ASONAM).

The Phillips Collection and University of Maryland Form Dynamic Partnership to Transform Scholarship and Innovation in the Arts

October 5, 2015

Elizabeth Lubben 202-387-2151 x 235
Crystal Brown 301-405-4618

Collaboration includes new curriculum, experimental and community-focused education programs, naming of The University of Maryland Center for Art and Knowledge at The Phillips Collection, and a new Phillips Collection gallery and open storage facility in College Park

WASHINGTON, DC and COLLEGE PARK, MD — The Phillips Collection’s Director Dorothy Kosinski and University of Maryland President Wallace D. Loh announced today a bold partnership between the two institutions with a shared vision to dramatically transform scholarship and innovation in the arts. 

Layered with rich opportunities to collaborate, the agreement is ambitious, entrepreneurial, and risk-supportive, which are considered essential qualities in today’s competitive arts and academic environments. Together, The Phillips Collection will expand its education programs, reach new and diverse audiences, and pursue key initiatives that align with the museum’s strategic mission as an “experiment station” and institution for learning. At the same time, UMD will grow its established scholarship and academic programs within the arts, provide unparalleled research and education opportunities for UMD faculty and students, and expand its footprint in the nation’s capital. 

“This is a pivotal moment in Phillips history. As we look toward the museum’s 100th anniversary in 2021, we intend to redefine its role within the cultural community locally and globally,” says Kosinski. “Together with the University of Maryland—one of the country’s leading institutions for research and innovation—we can reach new audiences, disrupt conventional thinking, and inspire new heights of achievement and impact.”

“This remarkable partnership fulfills a long-time dream for this campus,” said Loh. “Not only does it provide access to this priceless collection, but it brings a new vigor to our arts education, and to the entire campus.  We are genuinely a STEAM university—Science-Technology-Engineering-Arts-Math.”


This partnership, rooted in shared values and a commitment to arts integration and innovation, will provide rich and meaningful opportunities for education, innovation, research, entertainment, interdisciplinary collaboration, and exploration.  University faculty and programming will complement the museum’s expertise in scholarship, exhibitions, and publications, and will serve as a partner in the exploration of topics related to the museum’s collections and programs.  

With long-term goals in mind and a forward-looking entrepreneurial spirit, this partnership—through investment from both institutions—will position the Phillips and UMD to achieve the goals articulated in their strategic plans while providing rich and meaningful opportunities for local and global audiences.  

To increase greater public viewing to more of the museum’s exceptional 4,000-piece collection, the Phillips and UMD plan to develop a new gallery and open storage facility in Prince George's County. The new public facility will serve as a cutting-edge, modern and contemporary art center, hub for experimentation and innovation, and an artistic laboratory for a global community. This project would spark county and statewide economic development and dramatically expand outreach to students, faculty, the local community and a range of national and international visitors. 

UMD will also now be the primary presenter of all Intersections exhibitions at The Phillips Collection. Intersections is the Phillips’s series of contemporary art exhibitions that invites artists of today to explore the intriguing intersections between old and new traditions, modern and contemporary art practices, and museum spaces and artistic interventions. This partnership builds on UMD’s already sterling reputation for building the future of the arts—from world-class performances at The Clarice Smith Performing Arts Center to cutting-edge training in arts management at the DeVos Institute.


The University of Maryland Center for Art and Knowledge at The Phillips Collection is the expansion of the Center for the Study of Modern Art—the museum’s nexus for academic work, scholarly exchange, and innovative interdisciplinary collaborations. Key collaborations under the newly named Center will include:

  • Expanding on and developing new arts curriculum and extended studies courses and seminars focused on art, art history, arts management, museum studies, cultural diplomacy, conservation and interdisciplinary studies. 
  • Supporting two or more postdoctoral fellowships at the Phillips annually, with research conducted in the areas of modern art, conservation, music, and cultural diplomacy.
  • Partnering on the Phillips’s International Forum Weekend, which, since 2009, has brought together leading art collectors and committed philanthropists from around the world to engage with artists, art professionals, and diplomatic, Congressional, and Administration leaders to explore topics in modern and contemporary art in a global context.  
  • Co-publishing the UMD-Phillips Book Prize, a biennial book prize for an unpublished manuscript presenting new research in modern or contemporary art from 1780 to the present. 
  • Co-presenting a new music series at the Phillips, developed in partnership between the Phillips and UMD’s School of Music.  
  • Enhancing programming for Creative Voices DC and other public programs, which includes expanding programming and academic offerings to UMD’s campus, such as public lectures, college courses, symposia, interdisciplinary projects and artist talks. 
  • Digitizing of the museum’s archives of 9,500 scholarly books, exhibition catalogues, and correspondence to preserve the archives in perpetuity and make valuable educational resources easily accessible to scholars, researchers and students around the world.

“By providing new opportunities for sustained inquiry, this partnership will enable the Phillips to deepen its educational mission and become internationally recognized as the leading resource for the study and appreciation of modern and contemporary art, while also enhancing the University of Maryland’s reputation as a leading institution for the arts and a trailblazer for the STEM-to-STEAM movement nationally and globally,” says Board Chairman George Vradenburg. “Picasso purportedly said of computers, 'They are useless.  They can only give you answers.'  Our increasing visual world demands that we add arts to STEM curriculum, so we can ask—and answer—the right questions. We believe this type of provocative and inclusive conversation can only arise from a collection of such specific and singular identity as the Phillips’s."

As part of the new partnership, UMD students, faculty, staff and Alumni Association members will receive free admission to the Phillips, and have special access to the collection, facilities and museum staff for research and educational purposes. The Phillips will also offer internships for UMD graduate and undergraduate students in interdisciplinary fields.

The partnership between The Phillips Collection and University of Maryland will serve as a catalyst for an even more dynamic use of the museum’s permanent collection and for the development of new educational programs across disciplines and audiences. 

University of Maryland Math Building Named for William E. Kirwan

October 2, 2015

Crystal Brown 301-405-4618
Anne Moultrie 301-445-2722

Former System Chancellor and University President to be Honored Where Academic Career Began

William E. “Brit” Kirwan

COLLEGE PARK, Md. – The University of Maryland today announced that the Board of Regents of the University System of Maryland (USM) has approved the naming of UMD’s Mathematics building in honor of William E. “Brit” Kirwan. His highly distinguished 51-year career in public higher education includes 13 years as USM Chancellor and 35 years at the University of Maryland, where he rose from assistant professor of mathematics to department chair and eventually to UMD president. 

The Mathematics building located on Campus Drive will be named William E. Kirwan Hall.

“In the 51 years since Brit Kirwan first set foot in the mathematics building as an assistant professor, he has led the department, the campus and higher education in Maryland to unprecedented levels of distinction,” said University of Maryland President Wallace D. Loh.  “It is more than fitting to name this building in his honor, and we do so with great affection.”

Guided by his long-held core belief that higher education plays a critical role in creating a more just and inclusive society, Kirwan has considerably impacted the higher education landscape. Common threads running through his career include his unwavering commitment to excellence and to increasing underrepresented minorities' access to higher education. 

“It is difficult to find words to express how much this honor means to me,” said Chancellor Emeritus Kirwan, who is also a professor emeritus in the UMD mathematics department. “Fifty-one years ago last August, I walked into the mathematics building as a newly minted PhD graduate and was in awe of it. The thought that a half century later the building would bear my name would never have occurred to me even in my wildest dreams. My life has come full circle because I am moving back into the building now that I have stepped down as chancellor. I am deeply, deeply appreciative of this very special recognition, which I consider to be the greatest honor I have ever received.”

Kirwan, who currently chairs the National Research Council Board of Higher Education and Workforce, also co-chairs the Knight Commission on Intercollegiate Athletics and serves on the Business-Higher Education Forum. Along with his national and international presentations on key issues, Kirwan has authored many articles on issues in higher education and has been profiled and cited in academic and mainstream publications.

Among the many initiatives Kirwan has championed is USM’s Closing the Achievement Gap initiative launched in 2007 to address the gap in college participation, retention, and graduation rates between low-income students, first-generation college students, and underrepresented minorities, as well as the general student population. As University of Maryland president, his leadership launched UMD’s rise into the top tier of public universities, while also making it one of the most diverse public research universities in the United States. 

Kirwan joined the University of Maryland as an assistant professor in the Department of Mathematics in 1964. In 1977, he became chair of the math department. Kirwan also served as vice president for academic affairs and provost before serving as president of the University of Maryland for 10 years (1988-1998), president of Ohio State University for four years (1998-2002) and USM Chancellor (2002-2015).

In March of this year Kirwan received the 2015 Circle of Discovery award from the University of Maryland's College of Computer, Mathematical, and Natural Sciences, which honors the college's most notable faculty members and alumni for their visionary leadership and outstanding research. He received the award during the Kirwan Mathematics Festival, a celebration of Kirwan's 50 years as a mathematician. 

New Residential Community to Open in UMD Research Park

October 1, 2015

Katie Lawson 301-405-4622

Dynamic Mixed-Use Project Next to College Park/UMD Metro Station Part of University of Maryland's Greater College Park Initiative

COLLEGE PARK, MD – The University of Maryland today announced plans for a 370-unit housing and retail community adjacent to the College Park/UMD Metro and proposed Purple Line stations. The apartments will be located in the university’s Research Park in the new College Park-Riverdale Park Transit District.  The University of Maryland Research Park was also named Outstanding Research Park by the Association of University Research Parks at the AURP National Conference today in Buffalo.  

The apartment community is designed to appeal to recent graduates and professionals who seek easy access to the 3,000 jobs in the Research Park, public transit and a vibrant college town. It begins to diversify the area’s housing options, which are currently comprised of mostly single-family homes and student housing.  This housing and retail project is part of the university’s Greater College Park initiative to enhance the academic campus and the surrounding communities. 

“This project moves us toward a more vibrant Greater College Park where work, play, home and transit all connect,” said University of Maryland President Wallace D. Loh. “It offers a mix of amenity-rich apartments, retail and strategic location.”

The development proposal includes 370 apartment units, 5,000 square feet of retail space and 395 parking spaces. The residential units will be located in a five-story structure above a garage. The amenity areas for the apartments are planned to include an integrated clubhouse with boutique hotel feel, large fitness center, great room, cyber café, and a landscaped courtyard with pool and concierge services.

A bridge over the Metro and MARC rail lines will be built to link the Research Park to the adjacent Whole Foods and related development, now under construction in Riverdale Park Station.

The development team, led by Ronald D. Paul, has signed a letter of intent to lease university property located at 4301 River Road. “I am thrilled to be part of helping develop a walkable community to serve the Research Park, university, and larger community,” said Ronald D. Paul, developer.

“We are at the beginning of a vibrant transformation for our community. The Hotel at the University of Maryland, FlexEl Inc. headquarters, and mixed-use housing opportunities are creating a serious buzz.  It is an exciting time for College Park, and it's a great to see so many partners come together who share in the vision of creating a world-class university town,” said Ken Ulman, the university’s top economic development advisor.

Greater College Park ties together the many efforts supporting the university’s goal of becoming a premier college town.  It focuses on three inter-related components: 1) Dynamic academic spaces; 2) A vibrant downtown community; and 3) A public-private research hub that brings together businesses and the university’s academic community in the research park and innovation district. The vision for Greater College Park is the result of collaborative partnerships with Prince George’s County, the City of College Park, the University of Maryland College Park Foundation, the College Park City-University Partnership, UMD alumni and local developers.

University of Maryland Research Park Named Top in the Nation

October 1, 2015

Katie Lawson 301-405-4622

Association of University Research Parks honors UMD with 2015 Outstanding Research Park Award

COLLEGE PARK, Md. – The University of Maryland Research Park has been honored as the Association of University Research Parks’ 2015 Outstanding Research Park. Presented today at the AURP Annual Awards of Excellence, this award recognizes the achievements of outstanding university research parks and those who direct them, and encourages the development of best practices.

The M Square Research Park is a public-private partnership between the University of Maryland and Corporate Office Properties Trust.  UMD works with all Research Park companies to provide synergistic and collaborative opportunities. The Research Park offers locations from incubator space for start up companies to build-to-suit options for larger technology clients. 

“Not only is our Research Park the largest in the state, but it stimulates major partnerships among private, federal, and academic scientists,” said University of Maryland President Wallace D. Loh. “It helps make Greater College Park a major international hub of climate, food and language research, and the park will only grow in importance as our new startup innovation district develops next to it,” he added.

“As one of the most research-intensive states in the nation, we are honored with the Association of University Research Parks’ (AURP) recognition of the University of Maryland Research Park as the nation’s Outstanding Research Park for 2015," said Governor Larry Hogan.  "The University of Maryland Research Park has attracted more than 3,000 jobs by partnering with federal agencies and the private sector, addressing major national needs, including climate prediction, foreign languages, cyber security, food safety and high performance computing. With this recognition, and the University’s role in graduating the largest number of STEM students in the region, Maryland continues to be a great place of innovation and discovery."

“Earlier this week I spoke at the University of Maryland where a real estate symposium was held that attracted nearly 500 developers and real estate executives discussing the amazing transformation of Prince George’s County, College Park and the University of Maryland and its research park,” said Prince George’s County Executive Rushern L. Baker, III. “It is fitting that as the state of Maryland celebrates Economic Development Week that the University of Maryland Research Park receives this national recognition and honor.  I want to congratulate the University of Maryland, the City of College Park, and our private sector, non-profit, and federal partners for implementing and fulfilling their vision of this critical development to the future of Prince George’s County.”

To learn more about the UMD Research Park, visit http://msquare.umd.edu

UMD Extension Encourages Residents to Get Walking

September 30, 2015

Sara Gavin 301-405-9235

COLLEGE PARK, Md. – University of Maryland Extension (UME) is partnering with the state Department of Mental Health and Hygiene and the state Department of Education to sponsor Walk Maryland Day on October 7th, calling on Marylanders of all ages to lace up their sneakers and participate in the state’s official exercise. 

Historically, October 7 has been designated national Walk to School Day, a day when students of all ages are encouraged to get to school on foot rather than drive or ride the bus. This year, UME is taking the event a bit further, expanding it to involve all Marylanders as part of the organization’s Walk MD! program that encourages participants to “Get Fit! Get Healthy! Get Moving!” 

Individuals, teams and schools can register to log their miles, keep track of where they walk on the site’s 500 mile statewide map, and create inter-group challenges and competitions to accomplish school and office activity goals.

Walk Maryland Day coincides with the U.S. Surgeon General’s most recent Step It Up! call to action promoting walking as a means to overcome health challenges such as heart disease and diabetes. Health experts say walking can also reduce blood sugar and blood pressure levels, improve cholesterol, maintain a healthy body weight, enhance mental well-being, and reduce the risk of osteoporosis and other diet-related chronic diseases.

“Walk MD is about more than increasing an individual’s physical activity through walking,” said Lisa Gonzalez, a UME Family and Consumer Sciences Agent. “It is our hope that this collaboration for Walk Maryland Day will also promote and support safe and accessible walking opportunities in Maryland through enhanced state agency coordination.”

Here are some easy ways to get involved in Walk Maryland Day:

  • Grab a friend and catch up over a stroll through the neighborhood. 
  • Organize an event at your school to encourage kids to walk to school or take a school-wide walk during lunch. 
  • Get your community or worksite together by hosting a walking event. 
  • Participate in the Walk MD! challenge to travel 500 miles on a virtual walk throughout the state.

Individuals, groups and schools are encouraged to register online and get walking!

University of Maryland Announces Significant Investment in the Department of African American Studies

September 28, 2015

Graham Binder, binderg@umd.edu, 301-405-4076
Laura Ours, lours@umd.edu, 301-405-5722

Key Appointments Will Focus on Exploring Solutions to Issues Facing the African-American Community

COLLEGE PARK, Md. – The University of Maryland today announced a milestone investment in its Department of African American Studies with the appointment of two leaders with deep experience in the field. Pursuant to UMD’s land-grant mission of providing service to the state, the new leadership will advance this academic discipline on campus and work to address problems facing the African-American community in Prince George’s County and statewide.

This evening, the University will host a reception honoring two key figures, both integral players in the University’s on-campus and subsequent community-focused efforts. They will unveil their vision as heads of UMD’s Department of African American Studies, and as director of a new community-focused center founded to support education, justice and ethics, all of which are important policy issues for Prince George’s County and the statewide community.

Dr. Oscar Barbarin, Chair of UMD’s Department of African American Studies, and the Honorable Alexander Williams Jr., director of the new Judge Alexander Williams, Jr. Center for Education, Justice and Ethics, have been tapped to lead this important University charge. Barbarin is working to refresh the mission and vision of the Department of African American Studies, while Williams will spearhead efforts to develop solutions for and provide a forum for discussing and tackling the prevailing issues facing underserved, minority communities today.

“This evening, we look forward to celebrating the investments that have been made to date by the College of Behavioral and Social Sciences and welcome both Oscar Barbarin, and Judge Williams and his center into the UMD fold,” stated Dr. Gregory Ball, UMD’s Dean of the College of Behavioral and Social Sciences. “Thus far, BSOS, in conjunction with the Provost’s office, has committed to hiring 4 to 5 additional faculty members—the first of which is Dr. Barbarin—and will invest more as progress is made at the Center and here on-campus.”

“Our investment in our Department of African-American Studies and the resources of the Judge Alexander Williams, Jr. Center for Education, Justice, and Ethics will not only benefit our students, but will strengthen our outreach efforts in Prince George's County and beyond,” said University of Maryland President Wallace D. Loh. “This is our home and we are committed to enhancing Prince George's County's public education, economic development and community resources.”

The University of Maryland continues to be a higher education leader in the areas of diversity and inclusion, most recently being recognized with a national award from Insight Into Diversity magazine. UMD is a model example of engagement both on-campus and off to promote equal opportunity for students, faculty, staff, and county and statewide residents.

About the Department of African American Studies at the University of Maryland

Founded in 1969, the African American Studies Department at the University of Maryland offers a truly interdisciplinary program of excellence focused on the black experience in the United States, Africa and the African Diaspora. We work closely with interdisciplinary partners across campus, throughout the region and across the nation, including the Consortium on Race, Gender and Ethnicity; the Maryland Population Research Center; the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation; and the National Institutes of Health. Our proximity to the nation’s capital helps us transform the student experience through our unique research and internship opportunities, programming and site visits with entities including the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the National Museum of American History and the Library of Congress. Learn more at www.aasd.umd.edu.

About the Judge Alexander Williams, Jr. Center for Education, Justice and Ethics

The Judge Alexander Williams, Jr. Center for Education, Justice and Ethics at the University of Maryland researches, develops solutions for and provides a forum for discussing the prevailing issues facing underserved, minority communities today. The Center especially focuses on: educational preparedness and bridging the achievement gap; justice and fairness in social, civic, economic, jurisprudential and media matters; and ethical guideposts for building integrity and community values.

Dr. Oscar Barbarin recently joined UMD as Chair of the Department of African American Studies and as a member of the faculty of the Department of Psychology. His research has focused on the social and familial determinants of ethnic and gender achievement gaps beginning in early childhood. Dr. Barbarin has developed a universal mental health screening system for children Pre-K to age 8. He was principal investigator of a national study whose focus is the socio-emotional and academic development of boys of color. His work on children of African descent extends to a 20 year longitudinal study of the effects of poverty and violence on child development in South Africa. Dr. Barbarin was recently awarded a Wilson H. Elkins Professorship at UMD. He previously served as the Lila L. and Douglas J. Hertz Endowed Chair in the Department of of Psychology at Tulane University.

Judge Alexander Williams, Jr. was nominated by President Bill Clinton to serve on the United States District Court for the District of Maryland. Following his confirmation by the United States Senate, Judge Williams served as a federal judge from September 2, 1994 to January 3, 2014. Prior to his appointment to the federal bench, Judge Williams was Chairman of the Washington Suburban Sanitary Commission, and also served two terms from 1987 to 1994 as the elected State's Attorney for Prince George's County, Maryland. Judge Williams is also the Founder and Chief Executive Officer of the Judge Alexander Williams, Jr., Center for Education, Justice, and Ethics, Inc. Judge Williams is a native of Washington, D.C. and has practiced law in both the State of Maryland and the District of Columbia. Judge Williams presently teaches at the Howard Law School.



October 6
A UMD research team is the first to compare eight global, satellite-based maps to determine the planet’s total forest... Read
October 6
Fall-themed event to highlight collaborative project combining sustainability and local food. Read
October 5
UMD researchers have demonstrated that an algorithm can lead to more “retweets” than other commonly used methods, such... Read
October 5
Collaboration includes new curriculum, experimental and community-focused education programs, naming of The University... Read