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University of Maryland Statement Against Hate and Bias

November 5, 2017

 Katie Lawson, 301-405-4622

Statement Against Hate and Bias 
Joel Seligman, AVP for Communications and Marketing - November 5, 2017

UMD sincerely regrets the overwhelming misunderstanding resulting in the #UMDNotAHome social media conversation. The statements on social media connected to this hashtag do not reflect the positions of the university or our leaders' mutual commitment to diversity and inclusion on campus and across our nation.

To put it plainly, the UMD administration stands against hate and bias in all of its forms and wants every Terp to feel welcome, safe and at home at the University of Maryland. 

In recent months, there have been instances of intentional provocation by hateful, far-right groups spreading targeted messages that the administration finds despicable. These outside agitators want to divide our campus community into factions that are in conflict with one another from within UMD, rather than see our campus stand together in opposition to the broader forces of hate, white supremacy, anti-immigrant xenophobia, homophobia, transphobia and anti-semitism. 

It is understandable that some members of our community are also disturbed by remarks by university officials, even when the comments are quoted entirely out of context and in a manner that misrepresents the meaning. UMD has seen an example of one of our longtime colleagues unfairly criticized for her efforts to provide legal advice to the University Senate Campus Affairs Committee literally at the same time she is working to advance the cause of inclusion.

The administration encourages all members of our community to work together—students, faculty, staff, administrators and alumni—to increase respect, inclusiveness, and cohesiveness on our campus. A comprehensive list of efforts underway by UMD administration is available at umd.edu/umdreflects 



UMD Named a 2017 Best College by MONEY Magazine

July 12, 2017

Jennifer Burroughs, 301-405-4621

COLLEGE PARK, Md.  The University of Maryland ranked No. 11 among public universities according to MONEY Magazine’s 2017 list of Best Colleges. UMD ranked No. 20 overall among U.S. institutions. 

To calculate rankings, MONEY assessed more than 700 colleges in the U.S. based on three equally-weighted categories, including educational quality, affordability and alumni success. MONEY measured 27 factors within these categories covering areas such as instructor quality, measuring the study-to-faculty ratio, affordability for low-income students and value-added earnings, which measures if the school is launching students to better paying jobs. 

Earlier this year, UMD was also ranked a Best Value College by ForbesPrinceton Review and Kiplinger’s Personal Finance

UMD Capitol Hill Forum Addresses Health Disparities Research & Action for Equity

September 23, 2016

Contacts: Elise Carbonaro, 301-405-6501

COLLEGE PARK, Md. – The University of Maryland, in collaboration with Rep. John P. Sarbanes and the Big Ten Academic Alliance, recently convened more than 100 people for a Research on the Hill forum focused on strategies to achieve health equity at the Rayburn House Office Building in Washington, D.C. Moderated by Stephen B. Thomas, Ph.D., professor and director of the Maryland Center for Health Equity in the UMD School of Public Health, the panel discussion engaged experts from academia, federal health agencies and the private business sector in a candid conversation about how to eliminate racial and ethnic health disparities among vulnerable populations.

“Our exploratory research holds the solutions to many of the most challenging problems of our day,” said UMD Vice President and Chief Research Officer Patrick G. O’Shea, Ph.D. “As a university, it is our mission to create and understand knowledge to develop better ways to house and heal and fuel and feed our people in advanced societies that are just, secure, and free. Achieving health equity touches on the ‘heal’ aspect of that mission.”

The topics ranged from the progress that has been made in access to medical care as a result of the Affordable Care Act (ACA) to challenges that still remain in improving quality of care and in making the medical care system incorporate public health and address the social determinants of health that prevent people from acting health promotion and disease prevention recommendations. 

“The state of Maryland has embraced the ACA and there is clear evidence that the new incentives are indeed moving hospital systems away from a fee-for-service business model to one that rewards quality care and positive health outcomes over the volume of procedures,” said Thomas. “While the transition is not perfect, our state is a national leader for what the future of health care will look like.”

Panel members shared examples of effective and innovative community-based health interventions and public-private partnerships that are making a difference through culturally-tailored health promotion and disease prevention services, and highlighted the emergence of social determinants of health such as poverty, discrimination and residential segregation as factors that must be overcome.

 “I’m convinced that if you address racial and ethnic disparities with respect to the delivery of health care and health care coverage in this country, you will build the best health care system we can possibly have because diversity is our country’s hallmark,” said Congressman Sarbanes, who, as a member of the House Energy and Commerce Committee, has been a tireless advocate for improving healthcare quality and addressing health disparities.
To achieve health equity, researchers, policymakers, and industry leaders must address broader issues beyond the traditional biomedical model and build trust between those who control health care delivery system and those who have lost hope in the system, said members of the panel. 

The panelists recommended that health equity be incorporated into all public policies, not just those related to health care, to reduce and ultimately eliminate health disparities. 

Panel members included:

  • Margo Edmunds, Ph.D., Vice President, Evidence Generation and Translation at Academy Health;
  • J. Nadine Gracia, M.D., M.S.C.E., Deputy Assistant Secretary for Minority Health and Director of the Office of Minority Health within the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services;
  • Julia Huggins, President of Cigna Mid-Atlantic;
  • Kolawole Okuyemi, M.D., MPH, Professor of the Department of Family Medicine and Community Health, Director of the Program in Health Disparities Research and Inaugural Endowed Chair for Health Equity at the University of Minnesota; and
  • Eliseo Pérez-Stable, M.D., Director of the National Institute on Minority Health and Health Disparities at the National Institutes of Health.

House Democratic Whip Steny H. Hoyer, who represents Maryland’s 5th Congressional District and is a distinguished UMD alumnus, also joined the event and emphasized that as an interconnected community, we should all care about health disparities.
“It is unacceptable that in the United States, where all are created equal in the words of our Declaration of Independence, that one’s access to healthcare may be higher or lower as a result of race, gender, or income,” said Congressman Hoyer. “Everybody being healthy is of concern to each and every one of us.”
He discussed how we must continue to defend the patient protections that Americans are benefiting from thanks to the ACA, such as the no-cost access to preventive services like mammograms and immunizations, as well as remind people of the dramatic increase in the number of people, particularly people of color, who now have health coverage as a result.

The event was held as part of the University of Maryland’s Research on the Hill series, which is aimed at raising awareness of research with great societal significance.

View the conversation at: https://youtu.be/HPedKr0jZLQ

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.

University of Maryland Statement on Tax Bill -- November 20, 2017

November 20, 2017

Jessica Jennings, 301-405-4618

University of Maryland and University System of Maryland express concerns on tax bill attacking higher education

University of Maryland President Wallace D. Loh, alongside the Chancellor of the University System of Maryland and twelve of his counterparts in the state of Maryland, expressed concerns about the impact on higher education of H.R. 1, the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act. The letter, written to Maryland’s Congressional delegation, notes several provisions of most concern.

On the proposal to treat tuition remission as taxable income, they write, “The proposed repeal of Section 117(d)(5) would lead to a completely unaffordable increase in taxable income and make the pursuit of a graduate degree much more challenging, if not impossible, for many of our students.”

The full announcement and letter can be read below: 

USM Chancellor and Presidents Share Concerns with Maryland Lawmakers About Tax Bill
Jointly Sign Letters to Each Member of Maryland Congressional Delegation

Adelphi, Md. (Nov. 17, 2017) – On behalf of the University System of Maryland (USM) Board of Regents, Chancellor Robert L. Caret and the presidents of USM’s 12 institutions have co-signed letters to each member of Maryland’s Congressional delegation, expressing their strong concerns regarding several proposed tax changes in H.R. 1, the Tax and Jobs Act.  The leaders of the state’s public higher education system specifically cite several the bill’s provisions, including the proposed elimination of certain tax benefits, that threaten the ability of students and families to pay for college. 

“This legislation comes at a time when lawmakers and the public are keenly focused on college costs and debt,” they write.  “The USM has worked to keep higher education affordable and student debt burden low.  H.R. 1, in its totality, goes against those ideals by eliminating tax benefits that help students and families pay for college, increasing institutional costs, and diminishing our ability to raise revenue which, in turn, disrupts budgeting and planning for students and institutions alike.”

The text of the letter, signed and sent individually to each member of the Maryland delegation, is below:

On behalf of the Board of Regents, Office of the Chancellor and the 12 institutions that comprise the University System of Maryland (USM) we are writing to express our concerns regarding several proposed tax changes in H.R. 1, the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act. The USM includes institutions with a variety of missions that would be individually and adversely impacted by the wide-ranging scope of proposed tax changes.

"This legislation comes at a time when lawmakers and the public are keenly focused on college costs and debt.  The USM has worked to keep higher education affordable and student debt burden low.  H.R. 1, in its totality, goes against those ideals by eliminating tax benefits that help students and families pay for college, increasing institutional costs, and diminishing our ability to raise revenue which, in turn, disrupts budgeting and planning for students and institutions alike."

The following provisions of H.R. 1 are of most concern to the USM: 

Individual student and family benefits 

The proposed elimination of the Student Loan Interest Deduction and the Lifetime Learning Credit would increase college costs for millions of undergraduate and graduate students across the US.  Separately, the modified American Opportunity Tax Credit proposed in H.R. 1 eliminates the ability of part-time students to claim an education tax credit while acquiring or improving job skills, the purpose of the Lifetime Learning Credit. 

Employee and graduate student benefits 

The bill would eliminate Section 127, a popular employer-provided benefit that allows an employee to exclude from income up to $5,250 per year in assistance for any type of educational course work at the undergraduate and graduate level. H.R. 1 also eliminates Section 117(d), which gives colleges and universities an important tool for recruiting and retaining valued employees. The elimination of these popular and bipartisan provisions in the tax code would have an immediate and adverse consequence on students and employers. 

Section 117(d), for instance, allows colleges and universities to lower the cost of tuition for their graduate students who are serving as teaching or research assistants without the tuition reductions counting as taxable income.  According to recent Department of Education data, nearly 55 percent of all graduate students have adjusted gross incomes of $20,000 or less and nearly 87 percent had incomes of $50,000 or less. The proposed repeal of Section 117(d)(5) would lead to a completely unaffordable increase in taxable income and make the pursuit of a graduate degree much more challenging, if not impossible, for many of our students. 

Charitable giving benefits 

In an era of tight state budgets, USM institutions have relied on the generosity of donations both large and small. H.R. 1 doubles the standard deduction and eliminates the charitable deduction for a significant number of taxpayers. The House bill would destabilize charitable giving to all nonprofit organizations and Maryland’s public universities would not be immune to the ramifications. 

Higher education financing benefits 

We are also concerned that the bill would eliminate Section 3602, which allows state and local governments to execute tax-exempt “advance refundings” of outstanding tax-exempt bonds. Tax-exempt advance refundings provide states and localities with an important tool for refinancing outstanding debt at lower interest rates and have generated many billions of dollars of interest savings over decades, lowering the cost of important infrastructure investments. Universities within USM have saved millions through tax exempt bond refinancing, lowering the cost of important building projects such as student housing, academic buildings, laboratory facilities, and more.   

State and local income tax benefits 

Another provision, which may have downstream impacts on public higher education, is the proposed elimination of the state and local income tax deduction (SALT). Maryland ranks #10 in the country for state and local tax collections.  This could make a challenging situation worse in the state’s effort to generate revenue to support public higher education. 

The USM, Board of Regents, Chancellor and institution presidents are committed to active and constructive participation with our national association partners in coming weeks as the tax reform proposal continues to take shape. We hope that you’ll help share our voice in the coming weeks with your colleagues and work with us to protect these important tax benefits for our students, our employees, and residents across the state of Maryland. 


UMD Astronomers Partner on Powerful New Automated Sky Survey

November 15, 2017

Leon Tune, 301-405-4679

COLLEGE PARK, Md. -- University of Maryland astronomers are celebrating the first image of the sky taken by a new robotic camera with the ability to capture hundreds of thousands of stars and galaxies in a single shot. Astronomers refer to such a first image as "first light".  The camera is the centerpiece of a new automated sky survey project called the Zwicky Transient Facility (ZTF), based at California Institute of Technology's Palomar Observatory near San Diego, California.

Photo of 'first-light' image

Among the scientists partnering with Caltech in the project are UMD astronomers who made important contributions to the planning and design of it. UMD participation in ZTF is facilitated by the Joint Space-Science Institute, a partnership between UMD and NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Maryland. Maryland scientists are looking forward to detections of new explosive supernovae, hungry black holes, hurtling asteroids and comets, and other astronomical phenomena that can be captured by ZTF’s new telescope-mounted camera during nightly scans of a large swath of the Northern sky.

“The ZTF survey will be transformative for the study of supermassive black holes feasting on stars in the centers of galaxies,” said Suvi Gezari, an assistant professor of astronomy at UMD and a fellow of the Joint Space-Science Institute whose research focuses on time-domain astronomy. “The timing of these events, known as tidal disruption events, can be used to constrain the mass and spin of black holes. Data from ZTF may also offer a rare, real-time glimpse into the formation of an accretion disk—and possibly relativistic jets—around a supermassive black hole.”  

From 2009 to 2017, the blinking and flaring of transient objects in the sky was captured by the Palomar Transient Factory (PTF), a predecessor to the new Zwicky Transient Facility (ZTF). The previous project took advantage of the Palomar Observatory’s three telescopes—the automated 48-inch Samuel Oschin Telescope, the automated 60-inch telescope and the 200-inch Hale Telescope.

During PTF's surveys, the Oschin Telescope acted as the discovery engine, then the 60-inch telescope followed up on the targets, gathering information about their identities. From there, astronomers used either the Hale Telescope, the W.M. Keck Observatory in Hawaii, or the Discovery Channel Telescope in Arizona to zoom in on the various cosmic phenomena that enliven our night skies.Photo of horsehead nebula

The powerful sequel to PTF is the new ZTF that is named after Caltech’s first astrophysicist, Fritz Zwicky. Zwicky discovered 120 supernovae in his lifetime. Recently installed at the Oschin Telescope, ZTF's new survey camera can take in seven times more sky in a single image than its predecessor. At maximum resolution, each ZTF camera image is 24,000 by 24,000 pixels—so huge that the images are difficult to display on a normal computer screen.

Additionally, ZTF's upgraded electronics and telescope drive systems enable the camera to take more than twice as many exposures every night. Astronomers will not only be able to discover more transient objects, they will also be able to catch more ephemeral features that appear and fade quickly.

"There's a lot of activity happening in our night skies," said Shrinivas (Shri) Kulkarni, the principal investigator for ZTF and the George Ellery Hale Professor of Astronomy and Planetary Science at Caltech. "In fact, every second, somewhere in the universe, there's a supernova that's exploding. Of course, we can't see them all but with ZTF we will see up to tens of thousands of explosive transients every year over the three-year lifetime of the project."

Images from ZTF will be adjusted, cleaned and calibrated at IPAC, Caltech's astronomy and data center. Software will search the flood of ZTF data for light sources—in particular those that change or move. These data will be made public to the entire astronomy community for both research and education.

“Data from ZTF presents a really great opportunity for students here at UMD, because large survey programs like ZTF will play a big role in the future of astronomy,” said Melissa Hayes-Gehrke, a principal lecturer and undergraduate director of astronomy at UMD. Hayes-Gehrke has led efforts to develop educational materials that make use of data from PTF and ZTF. “It is fantastic to get students in on the ground floor. Astronomers will be mining this data for years to come, so this is an important step to help prepare students for a career in research.”  

Photo of Orion constellation

ZTF's new first-light image is a taste of what's to come. It showcases the large scale of the images and highlights the turbulent star-forming nebula known as Orion.

Astronomers are excited for the unexpected findings that ZTF will likely yield. One of PTF’s biggest discoveries came in 2011 when it caught a supernova, named PTF11kly, just hours after it exploded. The ZTF survey will further expand astronomers’ knowledge of a host of cosmic objects, including young supernovae, planets around young stars, exotic binary star systems and near-Earth comets and asteroids.

“I am most excited for ZTF’s potential to catch interesting comet outbursts. We know that they happen, we just don’t know how often. Many are caught by amateur astronomers,” said Dennis Bodewits, an astronomy associate research scientist at UMD who specializes in comet research. “This will change with ZTF, which will pick up between 30 to 50 comets every time it scans the whole sky. Comets are found all over the sky, so we’re interested in seeing as many of them as we can, in as much detail as possible.”    

Photo: The Zwicky Transient Facility (ZTF) took this "first-light" image on Nov. 1, 2017, after being installed at the 48-inch Samuel Oschin Telescope at Palomar Observatory. The full-resolution version is more than 24,000 pixels by 24,000 pixels. Each ZTF image covers a sky area equal to 247 full moons. The Orion nebula is at lower right. Computers searching these images for transient, or variable, events are trained to automatically recognize and ignore non-astronomical sources, such as the vertical "blooming" lines seen here. Photo credit: Caltech Optical Observatories.

Photo: The Horsehead nebula can be seen in this portion of the "first-light" image from ZTF. The head of the horse (middle) faces up toward another well-known nebula known as the Flame. Violet to green wavelengths detected by ZTF are represented as cyan, while yellow to deep red wavelengths are shown as red. Computers searching these images for transient, or variable, events are trained to automatically recognize and ignore non-astronomical sources, such as the vertical "blooming" lines seen here. Photo credit: Caltech Optical Observatories. 

Photo: The "first-light" image from ZTF is shown here (inset) within the Orion constellation. The Orion nebula can be seen within the ZTF image. Each ZTF image covers an area of sky equivalent to 247 full moons. Such large images will enable the camera to scan the sky quickly to discover objects that move or change in brightness, such as asteroids and supernovas, even when rare and short lived. Photo credit: Caltech Optical Observatories. 

UMD Ranked in Top 10 for Innovation & Entrepreneurship Education for Third Straight Year

November 15, 2017

Brooke Smith, 301-405-5882

COLLEGE PARK, Md. – For the third consecutive year, the University of Maryland has attained a top 10 ranking in The Princeton Review’s annual survey of the Top Schools for Entrepreneurship. In the 2018 rankings, released this week and featured in the December issue of Entrepreneur Magazine, UMD improved one spot to No. 8 for undergraduate entrepreneurship education overall and No. 4 among all public universities. This marks the seventh consecutive year that UMD has been named a top 25 program for entrepreneurship studies. 

Photo of stickies with various UMD partnerships

The recent string of top 10 rankings coincides with the UMD’s campus-wide presidential initiative aiming to engage all 38,000 students in innovation and entrepreneurship (I&E). This collaboration is spearheaded by the Academy for Innovation & Entrepreneurship (AIE) and engages partners in undergraduate studies, student organizations, social innovation, and not only business and engineering but all 12 schools and colleges. In 2016-2017, there were over 15,000 student enrollments in UMD’s 195 I&E-related courses representing over 50 different campus departments. 

“We talked to students from all over campus and discovered that they’re often forced to choose between either graduating on time or pursuing real-world projects or ventures they’re passionate about. We’re solving that problem by embedding I&E modules in more and more of the existing required general education and pre-requisite courses for various majors so that students no longer have to choose,” said Dean Chang, associate vice president for innovation and entrepreneurship at UMD and the head of AIE. “They get a small taste of innovation, real-world creative problem-solving, and entrepreneurship directly in the courses they were already going to take to graduate.”

The Princeton Review tallied its rankings for top entrepreneurship programs based on a survey it conducted from May through August 2017 of more than 300 schools offering programs in entrepreneurship studies. While most entrepreneurship rankings only include UMD’s extensive business or engineering entrepreneurship programs, The Princeton Review additionally reflects UMD’s unique efforts to engage all 38,000 students in I&E across all 12 colleges and schools. 

The 60-question survey looked at each school’s commitment to entrepreneurship studies inside and outside the classroom. More than 40 data points were analyzed for the rankings. Among them were the percentage of faculty, students, and alumni actively and successfully involved in entrepreneurial endeavors, the number and reach of mentorship programs, and funding for scholarships and grants for entrepreneurial studies and projects.  

For more information on The Princeton Review and Entrepreneur’s rankings, visit www.entrepreneur.com/topcolleges. To learn more about innovation and entrepreneurship at UMD, visit innovation.umd.edu/learn







University of Maryland Start-Up Company Grip Boost Inc. Goes Global

November 13, 2017

Alana Coyle, 301-405-0235

COLLEGE PARK, Md. - University of Maryland start-up company Grip Boost Inc., which developed its grip enhancing gel technology at the university, will now be distributing Grip Boost Batting Gel worldwide. The company has announced that Lizard Skins, a global manufacturer and distributor of sports accessories, has become the product’s exclusive worldwide distributor.

A product of the UMD entrepreneurship ecosystem, Grip Boost’s patent-pending technology was originally invented by the Complex Fluids and Nanomaterials Group in UMD’s A. James Clark School of Engineering.

Former Maryland Football tight end Matt Furstenburg teamed up with engineering graduate students Chanda Arya and Kevin Diehn to spearhead the creation of Grip Boost. With the help of UMD’s Maryland Technology Enterprise Institute and Office of Technology Commercialization, the team filed for a patent on the technology and began customer research into its target market segments. After receiving strong customer feedback, the Grip Boost team set out to develop the technology into a commercial product through seed funding and mentorship from the Dingman Center for Entrepreneurship at the Robert H. Smith School of Business.

“To see the technology move from idea to prototype to a top-rated product across multiple sports has been remarkable,” says Harry Geller ’81, successful entrepreneur and business mentor to Grip Boost Inc. “Grip Boost is a prime example of what is possible when students’ entrepreneurial passions flourish with the support of the entire UMD community.”

The Grip Boost gel technology was initially invented to restore grip to football gloves. After gaining strong traction with football players across the country, the Grip Boost team set out to bring its clean grip technology to athletes in other sports.

The team added UMD chemical and biomolecular engineering alumnus Alex Langrock and soon released a reformulated version of the product for baseball players. The Grip Boost Batting Gel is a quick drying, alcohol-based gel that aims to give batters the extra grip and bat control they need without the mess of traditional grip enhancers, such as pine-tar. With product in hand, the team began showcasing their new baseball gel at tournaments and tradeshows across the country where they met Lizard Skins, the official bat grip supplier of MLB.

“When we first met Grip Boost we were very excited and enthralled by their product and knew that this was a product we wanted to be associated with,” said Brad Barker, general manager of Lizard Skins.

“We are extremely excited about this partnership,” said Kevin Diehn, executive vice president of Grip Boost. “Over the past 5 years, Lizard Skins has revolutionized baseball at all levels with their innovative grip products. Through their sales and distribution networks, we will put the Grip Boost batting gel into the hands of elite players across the country. This partnership is an enormous milestone for Grip Boost Inc. and the University of Maryland community has provided us with tremendous support through each stage of our growth.”


University of Maryland Receives Top Prize at APLU Innovation & Economic Prosperity University Awards

November 13, 2017

Jessica Jennings, 301-405-4621

COLLEGE PARK, Md. – The University of Maryland was honored for its contributions to the economic development of the community at the 2017 Innovation & Economic Prosperity (IEP) University Awards by the Association of Public and Land-grant Universities (APLU). As winner of the Economic Engagement Connections Award, IEP’s top prize, and the Place Award. UMD is the first two-time winner of the Connections Award, and the first institution to garner both a category award and the Connections Award in the same year. The award winners were announced at the the 2017 APLU Annual Meeting on Nov. 12, 2017. 

Photo of President Loh at APLU AwardsUMD was recognized mainly for its Greater College Park initiative, a $2 billion public-private investment to rapidly revitalize the Baltimore Avenue corridor and academic campus, which includes dynamic academic spaces, a public-private research hub and vibrant downtown community. The Greater College Park initiative is the result of cooperative work among the City of College Park, Prince George’s County, the State of Maryland, private developers and the university. 

UMD took the top honor, the Connections Award, which recognizes the institution that is doing the most to build connections across all categories of economic engagement — innovation and entrepreneurship, talent development, and social, community, and cultural development. UMD also won the Place Award, which focuses on universities excelling in community, social, and cultural development work, including launching the nation’s first ‘Do Good’ campus. 

“Our close working relationship with College Park is helping us create a destination for research partners and families looking for a vibrant home,” said University of Maryland President Wallace D. Loh. “We are deeply gratified to receive this double honor. It validates our growing success.”

In 2015, UMD was also honored with the top-prize Connections Award, and was a finalist for the Talent Award for the university’s partnership with Northrop Grumman to build a talented pipeline of students in cybersecurity. 

A key component of the partnership between UMD, the city and county is the College Park City-University Partnership. The partnership serves an important role in creating a sense of place, including a homeownership program that provides incentives for university and city employees who become homeowners in College Park; and a public charter school, the College Park Academy. 

As part of the Greater College Park initiative, UMD debuted the Discovery District in 2017, encompassing more than 150 acres that stretch from Baltimore Avenue to the research-rich and metro-accessible community along River Road. Discovery District is the epicenter of academic, research and economic development as home to the research park formerly known as M Square, and features amenities like The Hotel at the University of Maryland and the The Art Walk. In addition, a new $2 billion Purple Line light rail system crossing the campus and Discovery District will link UMD and College Park to a set of economically diverse cities 10 miles to the east and west of campus.  

For additional information on the APLU and the IEP University Awards, visit https://go.umd.edu/iepuniversityprogram



Headshot of Rita Colwell
November 21
Colwell's career bridges many areas, including microbiology, ecology, infectious disease, public health and computer... Read
November 20
University of Maryland and University System of Maryland express concerns on tax bill attacking higher education. Read
November 15
UMD scientists will use powerful new telescope camera for research and education. Read
November 15
Campus-wide initiative earns UMD No. 8 ranking from Princeton Review & Entrepreneur Magazine. Read