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UMD's Arts for All initiative Partners the Arts with the Sciences, Technology and 0ther Disciplines

April 28, 2021

Tiffany Blossom,


COLLEGE PARK, Md. - University of Maryland President Darryll Pines announced a new initiative, Arts for All, during his Inauguration Ceremony on April 22. The initiative will expand arts programming across campus and create new opportunities for students and faculty to fuse the arts, technology, innovation and social justice. 


Arts for All will include an Academy for Immersive Arts and Performance, new majors and certificates, new courses that sync computer science with the arts, added faculty and staff positions, pop-up musical performances in spaces across campus, a scaled-up NextNOW Fest and more.


The initiative aims to improve the student experience by “addressing what we see as growing demand and interest of integrating the arts into life both within and beyond the curriculum, and providing opportunities to combine arts interests with other fields,” said Bonnie Thornton Dill, dean of the College of Arts and Humanities (ARHU).


The initiative also includes the David C. and Thelma G. Driskell Award for Creative Excellence, to be given annually to a graduate student or recent alum whose research is inspired by David C. Driskell or the David C. Driskell Center collections, and embodies the late artist and professor’s values of leadership, collaboration, mentorship and racial justice. “The goal is that every student at Maryland would have a meaningful arts engagement while they’re here,” said Thornton Dill.


The Academy for Immersive Arts and Performance will provide a place where students, researchers and members of the community “can come together and create new things in really innovative ways,” said Thornton Dill. 


The new immersive media design major exemplifies how the initiative links together the arts and STEM fields. A joint offering from the Department of Art and the Department of Computer Science, the major, which launches in the fall, teaches students to use technologies like virtual and augmented reality, computer graphics, coding for new ways of displaying art virtually, 3D modeling and more. 


“We are the first in the nation to launch such a major that is perfectly balanced and harmonious between computer science and art,” said Amitabh Varshney, dean of the College of Computer, Mathematical, and Natural Sciences. “From the very beginning, one of the things I loved about this major was that it was striking that balance.”


In addition, the Maya Brin Institute for New Performance, established through a gift from mathematics Professor Emeritus Michael and Eugenia Brin and the Brin Family Foundation, will add courses, expand research and fund new teaching positions, undergraduate scholarships, classroom and studio renovations, and instructional technology. The Brin family, including Google co-founder Sergey ’93 and Samuel ’09, have long been supporters of UMD and of STEM in the arts.


ARHU and the School of Architecture, Planning and Preservation (MAPP) are also developing a new certificate in creative placemaking, led by architecture Professor Ronit Eisenbach.


Students will participate in the Purple Line Corridor Coalition’s Thriving Communities Initiative, which seeks to build on opportunities and address the challenges of incorporating a light rail line into the community, and with the Partnership for Action Learning in Sustainability (PALS), which works with local governments and community groups to tackle social, economic and environmental sustainability projects.


“We in (MAPP) are thrilled to partner with ARHU on this new initiative,” she said. “Artists and designers can play a valuable role in exploring our shared humanity and addressing some of our major challenges, whether … climate change or celebrating the diverse communities and cultures around us.” 


For more information about Arts for All, visit Arts for All Maryland.




About the University of Maryland

The University of Maryland, College Park is the state's flagship university and one of the nation's preeminent public research universities. A global leader in research, entrepreneurship and innovation, the university is home to more than 40,000 students, 10,000 faculty and staff, and 280 academic programs. As one of the nation’s top producers of Fulbright scholars, its faculty includes two Nobel laureates, three Pulitzer Prize winners and 57 members of the national academies. The institution has a $1.9 billion operating budget and secures $514 million annually in external research funding. For more information about the University of Maryland, College Park, visit