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University of Maryland Statement Against Hate and Bias

November 5, 2017
Contacts: 

 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
Contacts: 

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: 

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
Contacts: 

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
Contacts: 

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.

Fewer Americans Are Volunteering and Giving Than Any Time in the Last Two Decades

November 15, 2018
Contacts: 

Kaitlin Ahmad, 301-405-6360

COLLEGE PARK, Md. – While nonprofits have benefitted from record highs in volunteer hours and charitable fundraising totals, it’s a case of fewer people doing more, as the percentage of Americans who contribute time and money has fallen to its lowest point in two decades, according to a report released this week by the University of Maryland’s Do Good Institute.

In the first-of-its-kind analysis of data collected by the U.S. Census Bureau and Bureau of Labor Statistics, the report, “Where Are America’s Volunteers?,” examined adult civic engagement with community organizations in all 50 states plus the District of Columbia and 215 metropolitan areas.

From 2002 through 2015, community organizations saw record highs in volunteer hours served (topping out at 8.7 billion in 2014) and in charitable dollars given ($410.02 billion in 2017). But since 2005, the national volunteer rate declined from 28.8 percent to a 15-year low of 24.9 percent in 2015. Similarly, the percentage of Americans giving to nonprofits annually declined from 66.8 percent in 2000 to 55.5 percent in 2014.

“As a nation, we must commit resources and time to the challenging work of putting more Americans back to work improving and engaging with their communities,” said Robert Grimm, director of the Do Good Institute, housed in the School of Public Policy, who co-wrote the report with Nathan Dietz, associate research scholar in the institute.

“Continued declines in community participation will produce detrimental effects for everyone, including greater social isolation, less trust in each other, and poor physical and mental health,” Grimm said.

The report also found that throughout the country, 31 states experienced significant declines in volunteering between 2004 and 2015; none saw a significant increase. Surprisingly, this drop is more prevalent in states historically rich in social capital, meaning highly engaged in social and civic affairs.

The data also suggest that rural and suburban areas, which historically have higher levels of social capital than urban areas, saw the biggest downturns in volunteer rates in recent years. Between 2004 and 2015, they fell more than 5 percentage points in rural areas, and nearly 5 percentage points in suburban areas.

These trends help explain why significant changes in volunteer rate occurred less often in metropolitan areas than at the state level. Between 2004–06 and 2013–15, 57 metro areas experienced a significant decrease, 147 experienced no change, and only 11 produced a significant increase in volunteering.

The analysis also found that volunteer rates tended to decline in metropolitan areas with fewer places to volunteer, in places where people may be less likely to know their neighbors (like large cities with lower homeownership rates and a higher percentage of multi-unit housing), and in places where there is more economic distress (from high unemployment to high poverty rates).

The full report, which contains national, state, and metropolitan-level statistics on volunteeringand giving for adults is available for download here. And the full appendix can be found here.

 

University of Maryland Breaks Ground on E.A. Fernandez IDEA Factory

November 14, 2018
Contacts: 

Jessica Jennings, 301-405-4618

 

COLLEGE PARK, Md. - University of Maryland, state and local leaders gathered with donors and supporters yesterday to celebrate the groundbreaking of the E.A. Fernandez IDEA Factory. The latest addition to UMD’s innovation ecosystem, the IDEA Factory will incorporate open design to enable collaboration between diverse areas of engineering, business and science. Experts in robotics, quantum technology, rotorcraft and transportation will work alongside entrepreneurial students, faculty and partners to inspire creative thinking, new products and research breakthroughs.

“The road from idea to invention is filled with bumps, and this new building will pave the way for our innovators,” said University of Maryland President Wallace D. Loh. “We will build it solely with funds from private donors. They are demonstrating the power of philanthropy to transform our research and education.”

“We have to combine our engineering specialties so that our knowledge evolves into products and services that help humanity,” said Emilio Fernandez ‘69 (electrical engineering), an entrepreneur and inventor whose vision for a space that “allows the mind to expand” inspired the IDEA Factory’s open, collaborative design.

The IDEA Factory will bring together students, faculty and staff from various majors and fields to conceive ideas, create designs, build prototypes, develop business plans and bring products to the market to spur economic development in the region, state and nation.

“The IDEA Factory will be like no other building on campus,” said Darryll J. Pines, Dean and Farvardin Professor of the A. James Clark School of Engineering. “It is a truly unique space where student design teams, faculty researchers, venture creators and industry experts will work side-by-side to meet the challenges of the 21st century by creating disruptive engineering breakthroughs.”

The 60,000-square-foot facility will be connected to the Jeong H. Kim Engineering Building. With five floors, the IDEA Factory will include open workspaces for students, dedicated areas for student competition teams and a new home for UMD’s student-run incubator, Startup Shell.

It will house the Alfred Gessow Rotorcraft Center, Robotics Realization Laboratory, Quantum Technology Center and the Maryland Transportation Institute.

The $50 million project is fully made possible by private philanthropy supporting Fearless Ideas: The Campaign for Maryland, UMD’s $1.5 billion fundraising campaign, and is expected to open in 2021.

### 

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 www.umd.edu.

 

 

 

New Research Report Explores Lessons Learned From University of Missouri’s Racial Crisis

November 13, 2018
Contacts: 

Audrey Hill, 301-405-3468

COLLEGE PARK, MD-- A report released today by the American Council on Education (ACE) explores what led to the University of Missouri’s 2015-16 racial crisis and how the institution has since responded, offering recommendations to college and university leaders who strive to create and maintain a positive racial climate on campus. University of Maryland College of Education Professor Sharon Fries-Britt is a co-lead author of the report.

Mizzou student protest

The report, “Speaking Truth and Acting with Integrity: Confronting Challenges of Campus Racial Climate,” is a collaboration between the University of Missouri’s Office of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion and ACE’s Center for Policy Research and Strategy (CPRS), spearheaded by ACE’s Vice President for Research Lorelle Espinosa and the University of Missouri’s Vice Chancellor for Inclusion, Diversity, and Equity Kevin McDonald. Lead authors are Adrianna Kezar, of the University of Southern California, and Dr. Fries-Britt, of the University of Maryland, College Park.

The report and its findings are informed by 52 interviews conducted with University of Missouri students, staff, faculty, and other community members. The authors also considered previous research on diversity, inclusion, campus racial climate, crisis response, and institutional leadership. They describe longstanding racial tensions and overt incidents on Missouri’s flagship campus and in its surrounding communities, culminating in the now well-known unrest that took place in 2015-16 and resulting in the resignation of the president and chancellor.

The authors chronicle steps taken since this period, including by the university’s current leaders–President of Missouri System Mun Choi, University of Missouri Chancellor Alexander Cartwright, and McDonald–and their commitment to working steadily to provide a diverse and inclusive environment. Using the Missouri case as a jumping off point, the authors introduce a template for other campus leaders facing similar crises and explore best practices for addressing key emotions and trauma that may linger after such incidents.

“This research brings up important insights and actions on the issues of diversity and inclusion, core areas of ACE’s work to improve access, equity, and diversity on our college campuses,” said ACE President Ted Mitchell. “We appreciate the opportunity the University of Missouri has provided for reflection and learning. Such leadership is necessary in today’s higher education environment, not only to learn from the challenges of racism and other forms of discrimination, but also to use that learning to chart a purposeful path forward for the benefit of our communities and society.”

“Higher education institutions nationwide are grappling with racial incidents on campus,” Dr. Fries-Britt said. “We’re participating in a national classroom on diversity, as political leaders are keeping the topic in the public domain, leading to a heightened awareness of climate and bias in society. Universities are a small microcosm of our broader society. The interactions on campuses matter and offer an important opportunity to develop the ability to move past biases and work with people different from you.”

The authors lay out several key takeaways learned from their research and provide a framework for other campuses to build their own capacity to respond to racial crises. These takeaways include:

  • Campus context matters. Leaders are encouraged to enhance their own understanding and acknowledgement of the historical legacy of race and racism on campus and in the surrounding community. 
  • Commitment to diversity and inclusion. Demonstrations of long-term commitment to issues of diversity and inclusion allow for resiliency following a racial crisis.
  • Acknowledge and respond to collective trauma. Following a racial crisis, leaders are right to acknowledge racism, hatred, microaggressions, and pain. This response will emphasize to the community that their institution stands up for anti-racist values and, in turn, supports them through the crisis.
  • Collective trauma recovery. Leaders should avoid immediately trying to “solve” the problem and instead engage in active listening, speak and connect with the community to recognize hurt and trauma, and build a strategy to move forward. 

“Building trust requires continuous learning around diversity issues. This research is designed to help people evaluate their own campuses and whether they have been ignoring signals of concern,” Dr. Fries-Britt said. “There is no recipe for addressing conflicts around racial issues. Leaders need to be willing to be vulnerable and wrong, as opposed to simply looking for an immediate solution to complex diversity issues and their related trauma.”

“Our students, faculty, and staff have risen to the occasion and have worked hard to ensure that all members of the university community feel welcomed and encouraged to share their unique perspectives and experiences. As a result, we are stronger and more united as a campus,” Cartwright said. “Identifying the best ways to support diversity, equity, and inclusion is a challenge at universities across the country. We know we will continue to have difficult conversations as we remain vigilant in our commitment to an environment of respect.”

Since 2015, the University of Missouri has undergone an institutional transformation that includes the hiring of the university’s first chief diversity officer and the creation of a university-wide plan to improve compositional diversity and the learning, living, and working environment. A new required course introduces all new students to the values and culture at the university, and underrepresented minority faculty grew by more than 14 percent. In 2018, the freshman class rose by 13 percent from the year prior, showing a return of students from throughout the state, from both urban and rural areas.

“This work required leadership from our students, faculty, staff, supporters, and alumni,” Choi said. “We invited this review in partnership with ACE because it was important to have an outside view of our progress. We don’t want to take anything for granted and we must continually evaluate our development and commit to doing better. We remain committed to providing leadership that is engaged and transparent in order to become a national model for inclusion and free speech.”

Click here to see the full report.

ACE invites you to register to attend, either virtually or at ACE’s offices in Washington, DC, a discussion on Nov. 29 to learn more about the report and its findings, and to engage in dialogue with Chancellor Cartwright, Fries-Britt, and McDonald. For additional information about this event and to register, click here.


Photo: Mizzou students of color protesting. Credit: Sarah Bell/Missourian via AP. 

 

 

UMD Research Finds Congo Basin Native Forests Vanishing at Alarming Rate

November 9, 2018
Contacts: 

Sara Gavin, 301-405-1733

COLLEGE PARK, Md.-- New research from the Department of Geographical Sciences finds that tropical forests in the Congo Basin are being cleared at an increasingly fast pace, and if the trend continues, its native forests could vanish by the end of this century.   

Using time-series satellite data, researchers analyzed the extent and immediate causes of forest loss in this region of sub-Saharan Africa, home to the world’s second-largest rainforest, from 2000 to 2014. Their results, published yesterday in Science Advances, demonstrate that 84% of forest disturbance in the region was due to small-scale, predominantly manual clearing for agriculture, and that the annual rate of this type of clearing almost doubled in this period.

The findings are particularly alarming amid the United Nations’ predictions that the number of people living in the Congo Basin will increase fivefold by 2100, with the population in the Democratic Republic of the Congo alone reaching 400 million, said Alexandra Tyukavina, a postdoctoral associate and one of the lead authors of the study. “People in this region rely on the natural resources in primary forests to survive, but the forests won’t be able to keep pace with demand for long.”

This is the second in a series of detailed studies by the Department of Geographical Sciences on the causes of forest loss across the three major tropical forest regions. The first, published in 2017, focused on the Brazilian Legal Amazon. A future study will examine factors driving forest loss in Indonesia.

“Topical forests play a crucial role in climate regulation and provide critical ecosystem services,” said Professor Matthew Hanson, the study’s other lead author. “Our research seeks to assess and quantify the factors impacting forest loss across large regions in a methodologically consistent manner so we can figure out ways to slow or stop the process before it’s too late.”

Funding for the study was provided by the United States Agency for International Development, through its Central Africa Regional Program for the Environment, and the National Aeronautics and Space Administration. 

 

UMD Releases First of Seven New Apples Bred for Maryland Growers

November 7, 2018
Contacts: 

Samantha Watters 301-405-2434 

 

COLLEGE PARK,Md. – Researchers in the University of Maryland’s College of Agriculture and Natural Resources are releasing the university’s first ever patented apple variety, Antietam Blush. This and the six more varieties of sturdy, disease-resistant dwarf apple trees are a culmination of 27 years of research and crossbreeding.

 

Christopher Walsh, professor in the department of Plant Science and Landscape Architecture, said these new apples are part of his Maryland Apple Tree Architecture Project, launched to create apple varieties tailored for growers in Maryland, and the Appalachian region and intended to replace older varieties of apples, such as Red and Golden Delicious, which have lessened in popularity among consumers. The new Maryland apple variety is named Antietam Blush based on its color and on the Civil War battlefield Antietam that is just north of the Western Maryland Research & Education Center where the variety was bred.

 

Walsh said these new types of apple trees are resistant to disease, shorter (aka dwarf) with stronger tree architecture for easier maintenance and harvesting. They are more cost effective because more trees can be planted in a small area and because the sturdiness and low height of these trees makes them ideal for pick- your-own farm operations . These advances create potential for broad adoption and use, while improving orchard and farm viability and potentially strengthening the state and regional apple industry, according to Walsh.

 

The new Maryland apple variety is named Antietam Blush based on its color and on the Civil War battlefield Antietam that is just north of the Western Maryland Research & Education Center where the variety was bred.

 

“In Maryland, we have a very good climate for apple production, but we also have a couple of limitations because of our hot summers and rainy weather,” he said. “One day they're green. The next day they fall on the ground. We needed [varieties] that were heat tolerant. We also needed things that fit into the climate and didn't require spraying for a particularly bad bacterial disease called fire blight. "

 

“The primary goal [of these new apples] is for eating fresh, not cooking or cider. The return to the grower is greater for fresh fruit than fruit that is grown for processing,” Walsh said.

 

Julia Harshman, a former student of Walsh’s and a co-creator of the new apples said: “The mid-atlantic apple region has a need for new varieties. It's a fairly large region, and most apple varieties do not fit well for several reasons. It's my hope that our work here can fill that void."

 

“We targeted the mid-October harvest season for Antietam blush because that's when the pick your own markets are really popular. That's when people want to take their kids to the farm, pick pumpkins , drink cider, have that full farm experience. And that includes apples,” said Harshman.

 

Bob Black, owner of Catoctin Mountain Orchard, has been unofficially growing Antietam Blush for a few seasons for grower taste testing. “[Antietam Blush] will be very important, especially in October because the regular Pink Lady most times is not quite ready - it’s an advantage for this apple to be ready when lots of folks are picking apples and pumpkins.”

 

Walsh notes that this apple program came about naturally and without initial external funding. “It was serendipity I guess you’d call it,” he said. “No one else was doing it, and it just needed to be done. So Western Maryland Research & Education Center] gave me the land and the support, and we just started following a dream.”

 

However, the growth of the Maryland Apple Tree Architecture Project really took off in 2007 when Harshman came into the picture. She met Walsh in the Plant Sciences building. That chance interaction led to a change in direction: from undergraduate biochemistry work to enrollment in the horticulture program and involvement in the apple project.

 

The apple program is now seeing the fruits of its labors with multiple apple patents. And growers have said they are very excited by the new varieties, and love the taste of Antietam Blush. “Consumers like it,” said Walsh. “When Bob Black brings them to the winter horticulture society meetings, he gives away 10 or 20 bushels one apple at a time. The growers eat them. So that tells us that this is a good one. We expect to have a commercial nursery selling trees for commercial growers in two years.”

 

“[Antietam Blush] was developed here,” said Black, “and I think it's going to go a long ways for a lot of folks. It just puts Maryland on a map as one of the states to watch and see what's next, because I know Chris has some other apples in the pipeline, and that's what it's all about - producing an apple that'll do well here in this region.”

 

According to Walsh both traditional and organic apple growers can benefit from the new varieties. Organic apple production is very difficult in the eastern US, because the heat and rainfall in the summer make it difficult for organic farmers to keep diseases in check. “These [varieties] would help sustainability as the resistance to fire blight reduces problems with that disease, which damages and frequently kills many apple trees.”

 

Pages

November 19
Students with disabilities, African-Americans suspended at disproportionately high rates, research finds Read
November 15
UMD's Do Good Institute’s new report examines trends for all 50 States, 215 metro areas. Read
November 14
New building will inspire innovation and entrepreneurship, enable world-class research, and spur economic development. Read