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UMD Celebrates 2019 Winter Graduates, Bestows Honorary Degree

December 18, 2019
Contacts: 

Natifia Mullings mullings@umd.edu 301-405-4076

COLLEGE PARK, Md. - The University of Maryland hosted its 2019 winter commencement ceremony on Dec. 17, 2019, at the XFINITY Center, celebrating graduates from August and December who earned an estimated 2,503 bachelor's degrees, 1,564 master's degrees and 616 doctoral degrees from programs across the university. 

The commencement address was delivered by General James R. Clapper ‘63, the fourth director of national intelligence, leading the U.S. intelligence community and serving as the principal intelligence advisor to President Obama. He encouraged students to be kind and humble, use common sense, and be a champion of the truth. Student speaker Bita Riazi ‘19, who graduated with a B.A. in Communication, spoke to graduates about overcoming fear to succeed. 

In addition, Maryland Senate President Thomas V. Mike Miller Jr. ’64, the longest serving senate president in U.S. history, received an honorary doctorate of public service for his decades of service to the State of Maryland, commitment to public education and dedication to the public good. 

“Senator Miller has encouraged us to think of our school as a great university and with his leadership we have become just that. Without question our university would not be where it is today without Maryland's great President Mike Miller,” said Board of Regents member Gary L. Attman during the ceremony.

Learn more about President Miller’s service and accomplishments: 

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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 58 members of the national academies. The institution has a $2.1 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.

University of Maryland to Host Winter 2019 Commencement

December 13, 2019
Contacts: 

Hafsa Siddiqi hafsa@umd.edu 301-792-1052

COLLEGE PARK, Md. -- The University of Maryland will host its 2019 winter commencement ceremony on December 17, 2019 at XFINITY Center to celebrate this academic milestone for graduates from August and December, a group that earned an estimated 2,503 bachelor's degrees, 1,564 master's degrees and 616 doctoral degrees from programs across the university. 

The commencement address will be delivered by General James R. Clapper, the fourth director of national intelligence, leading the U.S. intelligence community and serving as the principal intelligence advisor to President Obama. The student speaker will be Bita Riazi, who is graduating with a B.A. in Communication. In addition, Maryland Senate President Thomas V.
“Mike” Miller Jr. ’64 will receive an honorary doctor of public service degree. 

WHO:

• University of Maryland President Wallace D. Loh
• General James R. Clapper, the fourth director of national intelligence under President Obama
• Maryland Senate President Thomas V. “Mike” Miller Jr. ’64
• Student Commencement Speaker Bita Riazi
• December Class of 2019 University of Maryland Graduates


WHEN: Tuesday, December 17, 2019

• Doors open -- 4:30 p.m.
• Processional -- 5:40 p.m.
• Ceremony -- 6:00 p.m.

*Media should arrive prior to the processional*

WHERE:
XFINITY Center, University of Maryland, College Park
XFINITY Center is located on Paint Branch Drive, near the intersection of Paint Branch Drive and Route 193/University Boulevard). Click here for directions.

PARKING/CHECK-IN:
Media must park in lot 4B and enter the Xfinity Center through the loading dock. To ensure access to the ceremony, media must RSVP and show credentials upon entry. 

LIVE VIDEO STREAM:
The ceremony will be streamed live on the University of Maryland’s YouTube channel, here.

For more information, visit https://umd.edu/commencement/ 

University of Maryland Named “Best Venue” by Unique Venues

December 11, 2019
Contacts: 

Joseph E. Criscuoli  301.314.7884 joecrisc@umd.edu

COLLEGE PARK, Md. For the fourth consecutive year, the University of Maryland was named the “Best Venue for Youth Retreats & Camps” by Unique Venues. 

 

The Best Of Awards, presented by Unique Venues, recognizes the standout campuses, conference and business centers, sports arenas, historical and cultural venues, camps and retreat centers, and other special event venues that made a lasting impression on guests. More than 55,000 event planners that regularly use the services provided by Unique Venues to connect with non-traditional spaces voted in a total of 22 categories.

 

The University of Maryland offers unparalleled options for youth groups, including a suburban location near the nation’s capital with two-layer security and 8,000 beds plus two dining halls where younger attendees can convene together. “Each summer, sports camps run by Big Ten Conference coaches combine with college immersion, special studies, and STEAM programs to create a thriving campus,” said Joseph E. Criscuoli, Marketing, Sales, Publications & Outreach Coordinator for the Conferences & Visitor Services department at the university. One of the most notable is the Maryland Field Hockey Camp, held at UMD’s state-of-the-art field hockey turf facility since 1995 with instruction from current and former National & Olympic team members. “Our ropes challenge course, rock climbing wall, ice cream socials from the Maryland Dairy, and TerpZone facility are ‘must-do’ add-ons for any youth program,” adds Criscuoli. The university can also provide in-house motor coach charters that make ground transportation to nearby Annapolis, Baltimore, and Washington, D.C. a breeze for additional educational components.

 

The University of Maryland was also named a Runner-Up in the highly competitive "Best Venue for Weddings" category, owing to the triple threat of the Memorial Chapel, Adele H. Stamp Student Union - Center for Campus Life, and the Samuel Riggs IV Alumni Center. These three venues provide a unique range of spaces, environments and services designed to meet and exceed a wide variety of requirements. When combined with the university's catering operations, the University of Maryland quickly becomes a one-stop shop for wedding ceremonies and receptions. 

 

With the announcement of these awards, the Conferences & Visitor Services department has now brought ten Best Of Awards to the University in just five years. 

 

2015

Winner "Most Easily Accessed Venue" 

Runner-Up "Best Venue for Trade Show/Exhibits"

 

2016

Winner "Best Suburban/Urban Venue" 

Winner "Best Venue for Youth/Sports Camps" 

 

2017

Winner "Best Venue for Unique or Locally Sourced Catering" 

Winner "Best Venue for Youth/Sports Camps"

 

2018

Winner "Best Venue for Youth/Sports Groups"

Runner-Up "Best High-Tech Venue"

 

2019

Winner "Best Venue for Youth Retreats & Camps"

Runner-Up "Best Venue for Weddings"

 

About Conferences & Visitor Services

Conferences & Visitor Services (C&VS) is a unit in the Division of Student Affairs at the University of Maryland.  C&VS is a one-stop shop that coordinates campus meeting facilities and the services of university departments for conferences and events during both the summer and the academic year.  In addition, C&VS offers meeting planning and registration services to programs hosted by the University of Maryland.

 

About Unique Venues

Unique Venues has been the go-to source for non-conventional meeting and event venues, and the planners looking for them, for the past 30 years. The marketing and membership company has grown to be the largest online database in the U.S. and Canada with member venues including colleges and universities, historical and cultural venues, arenas and stadiums, camps and retreat centers, conferences and business centers and other special event venues. Services include free RFP submissions, assisted searches and a quarterly magazine distribution that help planners find the perfect fit every time.

 

About University of Maryland, College Park

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 38,000 students, 9,000 faculty and staff, and 250 academic programs. Its faculty includes two Nobel laureates, three Pulitzer Prize winners, 60 members of the national academies and scores of Fulbright scholars. The institution has a $1.9 billion operating budget and secures $560 million annually in external research funding. For more information about the University of Maryland, College Park, visit www.umd.edu.

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UMD Researchers Receive $1M Spencer Award to Investigate Disparities in Resources for Children and Long-term Achievement Gaps

December 5, 2019
Contacts: 

Audrey Hill audreyh@umd.edu 301-405-3468

University of Maryland researchers, supported by a $1M award from the Spencer Foundation, will investigate inequality in investments in children from different backgrounds, and develop recommendations for interventions that best improve life outcomes for underserved youth.
 
Led by University of Maryland College of Education Assistant Professor David Blazar, who also directs the Maryland Equity Project, the research will help policymakers determine the most “bang for the buck” when making decisions about investing resources in children’s lives. The study will examine resources invested in children not only in education, but also in other sectors including health.
 
“There are longstanding lines of research that demonstrate inequality in educational outcomes between rich and poor kids and between students from different racial and ethnic backgrounds, but also unequal access to resources like high-quality teachers and health care,” said Dr. Blazar. However, he says that much less is known about how differential access to resources compounds across sectors. 
 
“As education researchers, we know that we spend more on White kids versus Black kids, in part because White students attend better-resourced schools with more experienced teachers, access to after-school programs, and other resources. However, educational activities also occur outside of the home, in families and communities, where it is more difficult to quantify differences in access to resources. Education researchers infrequently look outside of these settings to also consider how underserved students may also be underserved in access to health care. We want to monetize these differences – to identify the dollar amount – in order to shed led on the extent of these disparities and make them understandable for policy audiences.”

The project also will synthesize information from the existing evidence base on which resources are most likely to mitigate the disparities identified.
 
The research team – which also includes Associate Professor Claudia Galindo, Professor Steven Klees, Dean and Professor Jennifer King Rice, and Associate Professor Marvin Titus from the College of Education, as well as Assistant Professor Michel Boudreaux from the School of Public Health – will first use national survey data to identify in which sectors (i.e. education, health, family, community) and time periods (i.e. early childhood, K-12, postsecondary) disparities in investments in children from different backgrounds are largest. 

The purpose of this part of the project is to bridge connections between research sectors (e.g., education, health) that traditionally have worked in silos. 

“While disparities in access to resources and high-leverage points for interventions have been identified previously, this research has tended to happen in disciplinary silos,” said Dr. Blazar. “By separating unequal investments in education and health, we are likely to underestimate disparities. Kids that have less access to education, often have less access to health care, which makes gathering information across sectors critical to understanding and addressing inequalities for youth.”

“Researchers have been talking about inequitable educational outcomes and resources in units that make a lot of sense to academics but not necessarily to others. By putting those disparities in a dollar scale, they may by more understandable to a public audience and can bring attention to the degree of disparities between groups of children,” Dr. Blazar added.

To do so, the research team will use tools to estimate the dollar amount that goes into each investment area (e.g., number of hours students spend in school, access to high-quality teachers and after-school activities, access to health care) captured by the national surveys.

Next, the team will conduct meta-analyses of causal studies to determine the effect of human capital interventions on outcomes for children. The team will combine these findings on impacts on investment disparities in order to develop a guide for policymakers on the most effective and efficient use of additional resources to address inequalities. 
 
The cross-sector research on inequality is designed to provide practical information to policymakers so that they can identify the most effective and efficient areas for investment, whether that is addressing disparities in early childhood education or K-12 settings or through community health outreach. 

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UMD Astronomers Catch Natural Comet Outburst in Unprecedented Detail

December 3, 2019
Contacts: 

Matthew Wright 301-405-9267

COLLEGE PARK, Md. – University of Maryland astronomers have made the most complete and detailed observations to date of the formation and dissipation of a naturally occurring comet outburst. Using data from NASA’s Transiting Exoplanet Survey Satellite (TESS), the researchers gained a clear start-to-finish image sequence of an explosive emission of dust, ice and gases during the close approach to Earth of comet 46P/Wirtanen in late 2018. The team members reported their results in the November 22, 2019 issue of The Astrophysical Journal Letters.

“TESS spends nearly a month at a time imaging one portion of the sky. With no day or night breaks and no atmospheric interference, we have a very uniform, long-duration set of observations,” said Tony Farnham, a research scientist in the UMD Department of Astronomy and the lead author of the research paper. “As comets orbit the sun, they can pass through TESS’ field of view. Wirtanen was a high priority for us because of its close approach in late 2018, so we decided to use its appearance in the TESS images as a test case to see what we could get out of it. We did so and were very surprised!”

According to Farnham, the TESS observations of comet Wirtanen were the first to capture all phases of a natural comet outburst, from beginning to end. He noted that three other previous observations came close to recording the beginning of an outburst event. Observations of a 2007 outburst from comet 17P/Holmes began late, missing several hours of the initial brightening phase of the event. In 2017, observations of an outburst from comet 29P/Schwassmann-Wachmann 1 (SW1) concluded early, due to limitations on pre-scheduled observation time. 

And, while observations from the UMD-led Deep Impact mission captured an outburst from comet Tempel 1 in unprecedented detail in 2005, the outburst was not natural—created instead by the mission’s impactor module. However, the current observations are the first to capture the dissipation phase in its entirety, Farnham said.

Although Wirtanen came closest to Earth on December 16, 2018, the outburst occurred earlier in its approach, beginning on September 26, 2018. The initial brightening of the outburst occurred in two distinct phases, with an hour-long flash followed by a more gradual second stage that continued to grow brighter for another 8 hours. This second stage was likely caused by the gradual spreading of comet dust from the outburst, which causes the dust cloud to reflect more sunlight overall. After reaching peak brightness, the comet faded gradually over a period of more than two weeks. Because TESS takes detailed, composite images every 30 minutes, the team was able to view each phase in exquisite detail.

“With 20 days’ worth of very frequent images, we were able to assess changes in brightness very easily. That’s what TESS was designed for, to perform its primary job as an exoplanet surveyor,” Farnham said. “We can’t predict when comet outbursts will happen. But even if we somehow had the opportunity to schedule these observations, we couldn’t have done any better in terms of timing. The outburst happened mere days after the observations started.”

Artist's rendering of NASA’s TESS spacecraftFarnham and his colleagues are also the first to observe Wirtanen’s dust trail. Unlike a comet’s tail—the spray of gas and fine dust that follows behind a comet, growing as it approaches the sun—a comet’s trail is a field of larger debris that traces the comet’s orbital path as it travels around the sun. Unlike a tail, which changes direction as it is blown by the solar wind, the orientation of the trail stays more or less constant over time.

“The trail more closely follows the orbit of the comet, while the tail is more offset from it, as it gets pushed around by the sun’s radiation pressure. What’s significant about the trail is that it contains the largest material,” said Michael Kelley, an associate research scientist in the UMD Department of Astronomy and a co-author of the research paper. “Tail dust is very fine, a lot like smoke. But trail dust is much larger—more like sand and pebbles. We think comets lose most of their mass through their dust trails. When the Earth runs into a comet’s dust trail, we get meteor showers.”

While the current study describes initial results, Farnham, Kelley and their colleagues look forward to further analyses of Wirtanen, as well as other comets in TESS’ field of view. The team has generated a rough estimate of how much material may have been ejected in the outburst (about 2.2 million pounds, which could have left a crater close to 65 feet across), but further analysis of the estimated particle sizes in the dust tail may help improve this estimate. Observing more comets will also help to determine whether multi-stage brightening is rare or commonplace in comet outbursts.

“We also don’t know what causes natural outbursts and that’s ultimately what we want to find,” Farnham said. “There are at least four other comets in the same area of the sky where TESS made these observations, with a total of about 50 comets expected in the first two years’ worth of TESS data. There’s a lot that can come of these data. We’re still finding out the capabilities of TESS, so hopefully we’ll have more to report on this comet and others very soon.”

In addition to Farnham and Kelley, UMD-affiliated co-authors of the research paper include Astronomy Associate Research Scientists Lori Feaga and Matthew Knight.

 

The research paper, “First Results from TESS Observations of Comet 46P/Wirtanen,” Tony Farnham, Michael Kelley, Matthew Knight and Lori Feaga, was published in The Astrophysical Journal Letters on November 22, 2019.

 

Two University of Maryland Engineers Named 2019 Fellows of the National Academy of Inventors

December 3, 2019
Contacts: 

Lee Tune 301-405-4679

COLLEGE PARK, Md. – University of Maryland Professors Ray Liu and Min Wu in the A. James Clark School of Engineering’s Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering have been named 2019 Fellows by the National Academy of Inventors, joining the ranks of some of the nation’s most prestigious and creative academic inventors.

According to the National Academy of Inventors (NAI), the NAI Fellows Program “highlights academic inventors who have demonstrated a spirit of innovation in creating or facilitating outstanding inventions that have made a tangible impact on quality of life, economic development and the welfare of society.  ...To date, NAI Fellows hold more than 41,500 issued U.S. patents, which have generated over 11,000 licensed technologies and companies, and created more than 36 million jobs. In addition, over $1.6 trillion in revenue has been generated based on NAI Fellow discoveries.” 

The 2019 Fellows represent 136 research universities and governmental and non-profit research institutes worldwide and they collectively hold over 3,500 issued U.S. patents. Among the 2019 Fellows are six recipients of the U.S. National Medal of Technology & Innovation or U.S. National Medal of Science and four Nobel Laureates.

Professor Ray Liu

"I am honored to be named an NAI Fellow for the recognition of wireless AI technology that my team and I are developing,” said Liu, who is a Distinguished University Professor and the Christine Kim Eminent Professor of Information Technology in the Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering. “[This technology] has been deployed as Belkin's Linksys Aware for WiFi sensing for home security to over 150 countries worldwide. I am excited that we are making a real impact to the world with our technology.”

Professor Liu, who joined the UMD faculty in 1990, is the leader of the University of Maryland Signal and Information Group (SIG). Liu's main fields of study are in signal processing and communications. As part of multiple teams, he as three times received the University’s Invention of the Year Award: in 2013 for Time-Reversal Division Multiple Access for Wireless Broadband Communications, in 2011 for Active Sensing for Dynamic Spectrum Access, and in 2004 for Coding Techniques for Maximum Achievable Diversity in Space, Time and Frequency for Broadband Wireless Communications.        

As an entrepreneur, in 2013 Prof. Liu founded Origin Wireless, based in Greenbelt, Maryland.  This start-up company develops wireless AI analytic technologies for smart home systems. It invented the world’s first centimeter-accuracy indoor positioning/tracking system and the company’s patented TRM (Time-Reversal Machine) Technology has been applied to motion detection, home security, well-being monitoring, human breathing monitoring and fall-down detection without wearables or cameras. This technology can be used in many applications from Wi-Fi smart homes to smart tracing, with high performance, low cost and ease of use. The TRM technology won the Combined Exhibition of Advanced Technologies (CEATEC) Grand Prix Award after its worldwide debut. Since then, in partnership with industry companies such as Qualcomm and Marvell Technology Group, TRM technology is being deployed to millions of users worldwide in a variety of applications.

Among many pioneering works, Prof. Liu has also revolutionized wireless communication with the concept of cooperative communication by improving communication capacity, speed and performance; reducing battery consumption rates to extend network lifetimes, increase throughput and stability and expand transmission coverage area. Liu also is a Fellow in both the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) and the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE). 

Professor Min Wu

UMD Professor Min Wu“I am honored to be named a Fellow of the National Academy of Inventors, and feel very much blessed by having supportive inventors as mentors and collaborators along the way. Not only do I find the joy in discovery and innovations that can make a positive impact on the society, I also appreciate the opportunities to give back by sharing the invention process with students and helping them become future inventors,” said Wu, who was recognized by NAI for her contributions to the field of signal processing, particularly for multimedia security and forensics.

Wu joined the faculty of UMD’s Electrical & Computer Engineering Department (ECE) in 2001 and currently is an ECE Professor, a University Distinguished Scholar-Teacher, and Associate Dean for Graduate Programs in the A. James Clark School of Engineering. 

Wu also is affiliated with the University of Maryland Institute for Advanced Computer Studies and UMD’s Institute for Systems Research. She leads the Media And Security Team (MAST) with main research interests in information security and forensics, and multimedia signal processing. 

Among her many previous awards and recognitions are a National Science Foundation (NSF) CAREER Award in 2002, an MIT TR100 Young Innovator Award in 2004, an Office of Naval Research Young Investigator Award in 2005, a Computer World "40 Under 40" IT Innovator Award in 2007, a 2015 University of Maryland Invention of the Year team award, a 2012 Innovator of the Year award from the Maryland Daily Record, and recognition as the IEEE Distinguished Lecturer in 2014. Wu is also a Fellow in both the AAAS and the IEEE.

Previous UMD NAI Fellows

Professors Liu and Wu join four other highly acclaimed University of Maryland, College Park faculty as NAI Fellows. These are 2017 NAI Fellow C.D. (Dan) Mote, Jr., president emeritus of the National Academy of Engineering and a Regents’ Professor and former president of the University of Maryland; Distinguished University Professor Rita Colwell, a 2016 Fellow; and Distinguished University Professors John S. Baras and Benjamin A. Shneiderman, both 2015 NAI Fellows.  

The NAI was founded in 2010 to: recognize and encourage inventors holding patents issued from the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO); enhance the visibility of academic technology and innovation; encourage the disclosure of intellectual property; educate and mentor innovative students; and translate the inventions of its members to benefit society.

 

 

 

Two UMD Scientists Named Fellows of the American Association for the Advancement of Science

November 27, 2019
Contacts: 

Lee Tune 301-439-1438

COLLEGE PARK, Md. ﹘ Two University of Maryland, College Park faculty members have been named 2019 fellows of the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS). Ellen D. Williams, a Distinguished University Professor in the Department of Physics and the Institute for Physical Science and Technology, and John R. Townshend, a Research Professor/Emeritus Professor, a past dean of the College of Behavioral and Social Sciences and a past chair of the Department of Geographical Sciences, are among 443 members of the association being recognized this year for their “efforts toward advancing scientific applications that are deemed scientifically or socially distinguished.” New Fellows will be presented with an official certificate and a gold and blue (representing science and engineering, respectively) rosette pin on February 14th at the AAAS Fellows Forum during the 2020 AAAS Annual Meeting in Seattle, Washington.

According to AAAS, Professor Williams was recognized for scientific contributions to nanotechnology as well as leadership on technical issues in national security and policy, and Professor Townshend was recognized for fundamental contributions to earth resources remote sensing, especially the global study of deforestation and land cover change, and significant administrative leadership in academe. 

Williams, who works at the interface of energy technology and policy, is known for her research in surface properties and nanotechnology and for her engagement with technical issues in national security, both as chief scientist at  British Petroleum (BP), and in government service as director of the U.S. Advanced Research Projects Agency-Energy (ARPA-E).

“I am honored to receive this award and delighted that it affirms the important role of scientists in providing clear technical assessments to support policy decisions,” Williams said.   

Williams came to UMD in 1981 for a postdoctoral fellowship and rose to the rank of professor by 1991. At Maryland, she established an internationally recognized research program in experimental surface science, exploring fundamental issues in statistical mechanics and nanotechnology. She also pioneered the use of very powerful electron scanning, tunneling microscopes to study the surface of materials like silicon at the atomic level. In 1996, Williams founded the University of Maryland Materials Research Science and Engineering Center, serving as its director until 2009.  

Williams served as the chief scientist for British Petroleum (BP) from 2010 to 2014, before her confirmation by the U.S. Senate as the director of the Advanced Research Projects Agency-Energy (ARPA-E) on Dec. 8, 2014. Launched with bipartisan support in 2009, ARPA-E’s mission is to advance high-potential, high-impact energy technologies that are too early in development for private-sector investment.  Williams returned to UMD in January 2017. Since then, she has been working to bridge policy and technology perspectives for clean energy innovation. Recently, she completed a report to the State of Maryland on “The Present Status and Future Potential of Maryland’s Clean Energy Innovation System.”

Townshend is an internationally renowned scholar and author whose research focuses on the rates and causes of vegetation cover change, especially deforestation, through the use of remotely sensed data from satellites; his work is funded primarily through NASA grants. He has headed UMD’s Global Land Cover Facility, which houses the largest open access non-governmental online collection of Landsat data in the world.

From 1989 to 1995, and again from 2001 to 2009, Professor Townshend served as Chair of the Department of Geographical Sciences. From 2009 to 2014, Professor Townshend served as Dean of the College and Behavioral and Social Sciences.

“I am honored to have been awarded a fellowship by the American Association for the Advancement of Science. My endeavors have been greatly aided by colleagues in the Department of Geographical Sciences in the College of Behavioral and Social Sciences at the University of Maryland. In particular, I would like to acknowledge the contributions of the many postdocs and graduate students with whom I have worked. Finally, my work—and in particular my international peregrinations—would not have been possible without the tremendous support of my wife, Jan.” Professor Townshend said.

 

UMD Alumnus A.J. Pruitt Named as Mitchell Scholar

November 25, 2019
Contacts: 

Laura Ours, lours@umd.edu, 301-405-5722

COLLEGE PARK, Md. - The US-Ireland Alliance recently named the 12 members of the George J. Mitchell Scholar Class of 2021. Among the winners is Baltimore native and University of Maryland alumnus Adler “A.J.” Pruitt, B.A. ’18, a double-degree major in economics and in government and politics.

The Mitchell Scholarship sends future American leaders to Ireland for a year of graduate study. Pruitt will pursue a master’s degree in comparative criminology and criminal justice at the National University of Ireland, Maynooth.

“I applied to the Mitchell Scholarship for the unparalleled opportunity to study criminal justice and conflict transformation in Ireland. I believe Irish universities are pushing forward a modern form of criminology that is beginning to acknowledge that effective crime prevention requires a more holistic approach,” Pruitt said.

“Given the history of the island of Ireland, I look forward to learning how the people of Ireland have worked to overcome their violent past and continue to dismantle systems of oppression. I also don’t know of a better place to observe as the UK, the EU, and of course Ireland continue to grapple with the consequences of Brexit.”

Pruitt serves as Chief of Staff to the Maryland House Judiciary Committee, and works on the leadership’s legislative efforts on criminal and juvenile justice reform. He also volunteers as a Court Appointed Special Advocate for Children and Youth.

Pruitt said his interest in criminal justice began when his supervisor, Del. Luke Clippinger, was appointed to serve as the Chair of the Maryland House Judiciary Committee. “Since then, I've been fortunate enough to have a front-row seat to the development of our criminal and juvenile justice policy in Maryland. Moving forward, I’m excited to bring policies and programs back to Maryland that have been effective in Ireland.”

During his time on campus, Pruitt represented students charged with conduct violations as part of the campus Legal Aid Office and co-founded Maryland Discourse, a non-partisan student organization designed to research, explore, and discuss politics. He was elected to serve as Student Body President during his senior year.

“This distinguished scholarship attests to A.J.’s academic achievements, leadership, and community service,” said University of Maryland President Wallace D. Loh. “He brings honor to the University, and we’re sure he will continue to do so as he advances his education and career.”

Ultimately, Pruitt hopes to return to Baltimore to play a role in reducing the levels of violence facing communities, and to help build a more equitable criminal justice system.

“Baltimore requires a new approach to violence intervention, and I remain committed to partnering with communities across the city to create grassroots change,” Pruitt said.

Dean Gregory Ball of the College of Behavioral and Social Sciences said that Pruitt’s scholarship and work to date are inspiring to the entire campus community.

“A.J. represents the ideal we are trying to foster in all our students in the College, namely a commitment to academic investigation and a commitment to issues of fundamental significance to society; in his case, to promote justice and to strengthen communities.”

In his role as UMD’s advisor for UK/Ireland fellowships and scholarships, Dr. Richard Bell, an associate professor in the Department of History guided Pruitt through the application process.

“A.J. is about as fearless a Terp as you’ll find. He is bursting with ideas to make this state and this country safer and fairer for everyone, and will fight with every fiber to achieve them,” Bell said. “The award of a George J. Mitchell Scholarship to study in Ireland is an important and deserved acknowledgment of AJ’s dauntless vision and character.”

Pruitt said he is grateful for the support he received from faculty and staff through the rigorous application and interview process.

“I was encouraged to pursue this opportunity by my scholarship advisors at UMD. UMD is fortunate to have two of the best in the business in Dr. Francis DuVinage, director of the National Scholarships Office, and Dr. Bell. They not only directed me toward the Mitchell program, but have provided resources and guidance throughout the application and interview process. I could not have done this without their tireless effort, and would encourage anyone interested to seek their guidance.”

The Mitchell Scholarship was created by the founder and president of the US-Ireland Alliance, Trina Vargo. The prestigious award is named in honor of Senator George J. Mitchell’s contributions to the Northern Ireland peace process.

Pruitt is now the third Mitchell Scholar from UMD since the program’s founding in 1999.

Learn more about the award, and the latest cohort of Mitchell Scholars.

Photo: UMD Alumni Association 

 

UMD International Programs Show Resilience and Progress, U.S. State Department ‘Open Doors’ Survey Reports

November 19, 2019
Contacts: 

Sarah Marston smarston@umd.edu 301-405-4312

COLLEGE PARK, MD—The Institute of International Education and the U.S. State Department 2019 Open Doors annual survey of U.S. international exchange activity, released today as part of International Education Week, reported progress in Education Abroad (EA) programs and resistance to declining trends for international student enrollment at the University of Maryland College Park (UMD). UMD ranked #20 nationally for number of students participating in semester-long EA programs, and #32 nationally for number of students studying abroad for academic credit, among both public and private universities.
 
In its analysis of international students in the U.S., the survey found nearly flat overall international enrollment, inching up .05 percent, but reported a 10 percent decline among first-time international students at U.S. institutions in 2018-19 from their peak of over 300,000 in 2015-16. UMD, meanwhile, maintained its #31 ranking among doctorate-granting universities for international students, with more than 6,400. The top five countries of origin for UMD’s international students included China, India, South Korea, Taiwan and Iran.
 
The survey reports a total of 340,751 U.S. students studying abroad for the 2017-2018 academic school year, an increase of 2.6 percent over the previous year. UMD’s EA programs doubled that national rate increase, sending 1,871 students abroad for an increase of 5 percent. 
 
“We are happy to see growth in our EA program enrollment, but we continue to focus our efforts on increasing enrollment to further reflect the diversity of our campus community,” said Leeanne Dunsmore, Director of EA. “We will do this through our commitment to inclusion; seeking to create welcoming, supportive learning environments for students historically underrepresented in study abroad.”
 
Nationally, the U.S. is experiencing a decline in the admission of international students for the third consecutive year. 
 
“It is vital that we build on work to date to ensure that international students and scholars feel very welcome to campus,” said Sue Dougherty, Director of International Student & Scholar Services. “We value them as important members of the UMD community, and their contributions both academically and socially make the university stronger.”   
 
“We’re working collaboratively with schools, colleges and centers across the university to more deeply integrate international programs into curricula,” said Ross Lewin, Associate Vice President of International Affairs. “The goal is to give all students across the university an opportunity to engage globally as part of their UMD experience.”
 
International education programs and exchanges allow students to see the world’s rich diversity and cultural commonalities, helping to develop a global perspective and skills valuable to employers in an increasingly global economy. The National Association for College and Employers’ 2018 Job Outlook reports that more than 30 percent of surveyed employers rate global and multicultural fluency as an essential attribute for college graduates entering the workforce—yet only 20 percent of their incoming employees are proficient in these cultural skills. Research has demonstrated that these attributes and qualities in students are cultivated through study abroad. 
 
“Our future world will be shaped by UMD graduates with the knowledge and skills to collaborate across cultures to address pressing global challenges,” Dunsmore said. “It is vital that we continue to grow students’ access to these global experiences through inclusive practices that enrich their education and future opportunities.” 
 
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