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At U. of Maryland, an Effort to Make Introductory Courses Extraordinary (Chronicle of Higher Education)

Required introductory courses are as important as they are unloved.

They are a key part of the general-education curriculum, which makes up as much as one-third of the typical baccalaureate student's education, and they are the subject of seemingly never-ending revitalization efforts.

UMD Philanthropy Class Donates $7,000 to After-School Group that Teaches Problem Solving through Chess  

December 18, 2012

Jennifer Talhelm - (301) 405-4390 

MSPP logo(Updated Dec. 18, 2012)

COLLEGE PARK, Md. – The 28 students in Professor Robert Grimm’s Art and Science of Philanthropy class in the School of Public Policy began the semester faced with a dilemma few college students experience: They had $7,000 to make a real difference by giving to a local charity focused on educating low-income children.
The question was which one – and how to reach a consensus.
The students, who take the class through UMD’s Honors College, learn about charitable giving by operating as a mini philanthropy; the class makes a real grant award.  They wrote a mission statement and a request for proposals, reviewed applications for 13 charities, conducted six phone interviews, made five site visits, and debated for four full class hours.  Ultimately, they settled on Chess Challenge in DC, a group that uses chess to teach strategic thinking to elementary school-aged children primarily from disadvantaged backgrounds.
On Monday, Dec. 17, 2012 the students awarded the grant for $7,000 to Chess Challenge at a ceremony in Taliaferro Hall Library on the UMD campus.
Chess Challenge in DC operates in 21 sites throughout Washington where chess coaches, who also have youth development experience, use chess as a stepping stone to teach reading, math, critical thinking and other skills – even poetry writing.
UMD Student Kyle DaileyThe Art and Science of Philanthropy students’ grant will enable Chess Challenge in DC to open a new site and serve 20 more children through its after-school program.

(Photo - UMD Philanthropy student Kyle Dailey holds DC Chess Challenge T-Shirt during the award ceremony. Photo by Jennifer Talhelm.)
Harrison Bridge, a sophomore finance major from North Potomac, Md., said he was initially skeptical that chess could resonate with young kids who face enormous challenges in life.  But he changed his mind when he saw the group in action.  The coaches use questions like “what chess piece would you most want to be” to encourage the kids to think through problems and defend their decisions.
“I’ve never taken part in a course where the culmination is so satisfying,” Bridge said.  “I wasn’t expecting it to be as rewarding as it was.  Chess Challenge is an amazing organization.”
Grimm, who teaches the class and directs the Center for Philanthropy and Nonprofit Leadership at the School of Public Policy, said that hands-on experience makes the class a powerful learning experience.  This will be the eighth grant award made through Grimm’s class, which has rapidly become one of the most popular courses offered on the UMD campus.
The first part of the class, which was first offered in spring semester 2010, is “philanthropy boot camp” and covers how to set up a grant program.  The class then reviews applications, interviews applicants, does site visits, and finally makes the tough group decision about which applicant most deserves funding and why.
Along the way, students learn about the evolution of philanthropic giving in American society.  They also learn about the importance of consensus building in order to make an impact as a group.
Bridge said the skills he learned will serve him well long after the class is over. “It’s so much more than just donating $7,000 to an organization.  And it has definitely inspired me to want to become involved in philanthropy for the rest of my life.  In learning to look at philanthropy from a strategic approach, we were shown how to most effectively make the greatest impact, and that is what has made this course such a rewarding experience.”
Grimm said that’s exactly what he hopes to accomplish through the class.
“It's not so much a class as an experience,” Grimm said.  “By the end of the semester, I want students to be using their heads as much as their hearts, to think objectively about which applicants are a good investment and how to work together to reach their goal.”
About the UMD School of Public Policy
The School of Public Policy at the University of Maryland is an internationally renowned program dedicated to improving public policy and international affairs.  It is the only such school in the capital area embedded within a major public research institution.  The school prepares knowledgeable and innovative leaders to make an impact on the profound challenges of the 21st century.  Faculty include the 2005 winner of the Nobel Prize in Economics;  former officials who have held key positions in Democratic and Republican administrations, including U.S. trade representative, undersecretary of defense, commissioner of the Social Security Administration, and director of the U.S. National Center on Child Abuse and Neglect; and leading researchers in a host of public policy disciplines.
Media interested in covering the award ceremony should contact Jennifer Talhelm at the School of Public Policy: (301) 405-4390 or

Former NASA Astronaut Reightler is Winter Commencement Speaker

December 17, 2012

David Ottalini 301-405-4076

Crystal Brown (Day-of at Comcast) 301-405-4621

Former NASA Astronaut Ken Reightler is the Fall, 2012 Commencement speaker at the University of Maryland.COLLEGE PARK, Md. - The University of Maryland will welcome former NASA Astronaut Kenneth S. Reightler, Jr. as its winter commencement speaker December 19.

As a young U.S. Naval Academy cadet watching the historic Apollo 11 Moon landing, he says "a lot of things in my head" clicked. The son and grandson of naval veterans, serving in the Navy came naturally to him. Reightler wasn’t as clear, though, about how to meld his interest in flight, the country’s burgeoning space program and his strengths in math and science.

“I started looking at résumes of people who were in the space program. What did they do? What did they study?,” says Reightler, the Robert A. Heinlein chair in the academy’s aerospace engineering department.

“A path started to take form for me.” After graduating in 1973, he entered the Navy’s aviator flight training program. Reightler later became a test pilot, studied aeronautical engineering in graduate school and then served as a the chief flight instructor at the U.S. Naval Test Pilot School.

In 1987, he joined the NASA astronaut program, piloting two shuttle missions before retiring from the Navy to work for Lockheed Martin as a senior executive. Reightler joined the academy this summer, sharing his expertise and experience with another generation.

“It provides me an opportunity to give back,” he says. “I can explain, ‘This is possible and this is how you do it.’ I have the operational knowledge in addition to the theoretical. I’ve built it, tested it and flown it.” Reightler, “a true son of Maryland,” was born in St. Mary’s County to parents whose families have been in the state for generations.

“I spent many summers on the Eastern Shore, learning the life of a waterman,” says Reightler. He and his wife, Maureen, have called Annapolis home for nearly 10 years. She has her own ties to Maryland, being a direct descendent of James McHenry, for whom Fort McHenry is named.

Being back at the academy, hoping to motivate and instruct future officers, brings him full circle. “There is truly an inspirational aspect to this job,” he says.

The University of Maryland Winter 2012 Commencement ceremony will take place on Wednesday December 19 at 7 pm. at the Comcast Center. Individual school and college ceremonies will take place on Thursday, December 20, 2012. Commencement will be streamed on the web (link provided on the home page) and on UMTV in Prince George's and Montgomery Counties.

Visit the Winter 2012 Commencement Web site

NASA Awards $36 Million to UMD for Earth Systems Study

December 14, 2012

Ellen Ternes, 301-318-4208


Hurricane Sandy COLLEGE PARK, Md. – NASA has awarded a $36 million cooperative funding agreement to the University of Maryland to continue collaborative research in the field of earth systems science.


The five-year agreement funds an already established partnership between NASA’s Earth Sciences Division, located at the Goddard Space Flight Center (GFSC), and the university’s Earth System Science Interdisciplinary Center (ESSIC) to study and forecast impacts of the Earth’s connected systems on global and regional environment, weather and climate.


“With NASA’s space-based observations and the university’s research expertise in earth systems science, we can look at how the atmosphere, oceans, land surface and frozen regions interact and make predictions about future impacts,” says Tony Busalacchi, director of ESSIC and professor in the university’s Department of Atmospheric and Oceanic Science.


The agreement will continue to give GFSC’s Earth Sciences Division access to ESSIC’s academic and research faculty, students  and its collaboration with NOAA, including ESSIC’s partnership with NOAA’s National Center for Weather and Climate Prediction in the University of Maryland M Square Research Park and the Cooperative Institute for Climate and Satellites (CICS).


Research to be funded by the agreement includes study of aerosols and human-generated pollutants that travel long distances through the atmosphere and oceans; how models and observations are being used together to investigate how the Chesapeake Bay breeze affects surface air pollution levels and deposits over the Chesapeake Bay watershed;  ways to improve drought monitoring; and real time analysis to detect falling snow on a variety of surfaces.


Other projects include an on-going activity to make a global flood and landslide technique available for decision-making to reduce disaster around the globe; and determining how satellite observations can better diagnose ground level air pollution.


“The interdisciplinary research embodied by this new cooperative agreement demonstrates how the NASA/Goddard-ESSIC-University of Maryland partnership is focused on delivering science in support of society,” says Busalacchi.


Over the past 15 years, the university has built on its long tradition of excellence in atmospheric, climate, biological and earth science to develop major partnerships with NASA, NOAA and other federal agencies in the areas of earth science, remote imaging, climate change and energy research, including the Joint Global Change Research Institute, a partnership between the university and the Department of Energy and the collaborative UMD initiative Climate Information: Responding to User Needs (CIRUN).



Arts and Humanities Dean Thornton Dill’s Term Extended

December 13, 2012

Crystal Brown, 301-405-4618 or

Dean Thornton DillCOLLEGE PARK, Md. – Arts and Humanities Dean Bonnie Thornton Dill, who heads one of the University of Maryland’s largest colleges, will serve an additional three year term.  Originally appointed to serve through this June, her term will now extend through June 30, 2016.

“Dr. Thornton Dill has proven to be a strong and effective advocate for the arts and humanities, while at the same time, bringing an entrepreneurial and creative spirit to her college,” says University of Maryland Senior Vice President and Provost Mary Ann Rankin. “Bonnie has actively pursued new interdisciplinary research partnerships and grants, intensified innovative approaches to global engagement, stressed excellence through diversity, and expanded opportunities for students to apply their skills and knowledge to the solution of real-world problems.”

During their recent transition, Rankin and her predecessor, Ann Wylie, offered to extend the Dean’s two-year appointment to a full five-year term.

In her first full year leading Arts and Humanities, Dean Thornton Dill has shepherded 18 candidates through tenure and promotion, hired 20 new faculty members, presided over far-reaching leadership transitions, and worked to improve communication and cohesion.

“The skills we teach are the skills employers seek in the 21st century,” says Dean Thornton Dill, stressing the vital importance of the arts and humanities. “I like to remind people that a distinctive strength of the U.S. system of higher education has been the practice of educating all students broadly – teaching the ‘whole person.’”

 Thornton Dill is internationally recognized for her scholarship on race and gender, Black and Latina women in higher education, as well as issues such as work, family, and poverty. She led Women's Studies at Maryland to national prominence.  It is, for example, one of a select few universities in the United States to offer a doctoral degree in the field and serves as the base for the National Women's Studies Association and editorial home of the pioneering journal, Feminist Studies.

UMD's Chincoteague Hall Renovation Project Wins Gold LEED Certification

December 12, 2012

Dave Ottalini 301-405-4076

By Eveyln Rabil

Video by Louie Dane

COLLEGE PARK, Md. - The Chincoteague Hall Renovation project at the University of Maryland has earned LEED Gold Certification through the Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design program. Developed by the U.S. Green Building Council, the program is an internationally recognized green building certification system.

"This is a great example of renewing an aging building in a very sustainable and energy efficient way," says Associate Vice President for Facilities Management Carlo Colella. "We replaced old building systems, connected the facility to a district chilling and heating plant, improved ADA accessibility and updated building finishes."

Chincoteague Hall is the first LEED Gold Certified Renovation project on the College Park campus.  Formerly the home of the Philip Merrill College of Journalism, the 22,648 square foot  building is now home to a number of departments within the College of Behavioral and Social Sciences (BSOS) including the Sadat Chair for Peace and Development, Baha'i Chair for World Peace, the Center for International Development and Conflict Management, as well as faculty and graduate student offices.

"I am delighted by the certification at the gold level. I want to give congratulations to all those concerned with facilities in the college and university who contributed to this wonderful achievement," says BSOS Dean John Townshend.

"The accomplishment of earning LEED Gold Certification for the Chincoteague project is another milestone for the university as it learns how to best design, build and renovate buildings to strict environmental standards," says Scott Lupin, director of the university's Office of Sustainability.

Lupin says the rating system - once considered novel - has now become the standard for major building projects undertaken on campus.
"Facilities Management and other project stakeholders should be proud of this new addition to our growing list of green buildings," he says.


LEED Certification provides building owners and operators with a framework for identifying and implementing practical and measurable green building design, construction, operations and maintenance solutions. LEED-certified buildings are designed to lower operating costs and increase asset value, reduce waste sent to landfills, conserve energy and water, be healthier and safer for occupants, reduce harmful greenhouse gas emissions and help organizations qualify for tax rebates, zoning allowances and other incentives.

Facilities Management staff involved in the Chincoteague Hall Renovation project included Mar Ossi, Paul McDonald, Greg Restivo and Skip Dean along with other members of the UMD Capital Projects team.

Innovative Drug Delivery System Wins Venture Fair at UMD Bioscience Research Day

December 11, 2012

Ted Knight 301-405-3596

Researchers Silvia Muro, Rasa Ghaffarian Recognized for Innovative Technology

COLLEGE PARK, Md. - A pair of researchers were honored at the University of Maryland's annual Bioscience Research & Technology Review Day for their presentation of a novel drug delivery strategy that uses targeted carriers capable of crossing the gastrointestinal (GI) tract into the circulation. Dr. Silvia Muro (left),  Clark School of Engineering associate professor in the Fischell Department of Bioengineering (BioE) and Institute for Bioscience and Biotechnology Research, and her advisee, BioE graduate student Rasa Ghaffarian (right), won first place in the Professor Venture Fair at the 2012 Bioscience Research & Technology Review Day. (Photo by Loretta Kuo.)

Hosted by the Maryland Technology Enterprise Institute (Mtech), the university's Office of Technology Commercialization, and the College of Computer, Mathematical, and Natural Sciences, the annual Professor Venture Fair gives faculty inventors the opportunity to pitch their new technologies to a team of regional venture capitalists and entrepreneurs. The competition encourages scientists to consider the commercial viability of their work and challenges them to translate their ideas into a presentation for a general, non-technical audience.

Muro’s innovation uses the GI tract's built-in transportation system, the transepithelial pathway, to move orally administered therapeutic or diagnostic molecules into the bloodstream. The delivery process, which takes advantage of the natural behavior of the intestines' epithelial cells, is safe, fast, and efficient.

Oral administration of drugs and therapeutics is usually preferred due to its simplicity, low cost, and higher level of patient comfort and compliance. However, in many cases, only a fraction of the dose swallowed ever reaches its target due to the harsh environment of the digestive system. This is particularly true for biological treatments, such as vaccines or antitoxins, which cannot currently be administered orally. Muro’s group has been able to overcome this obstacle by strategically and effectively targeting biologicals to the GI epithelial cells to provide safe and speedy transport with no negative effect on GI permeability.

"We are proud to have this invention recognized in such a prestigious forum," says Muro. "It's a culmination of years of effort in what we believe to be a very important therapeutic intervention. There is no doubt that…this discovery will be able to enhance oral biological therapies as well as the safe targeting of drug delivery carriers.”

The technique, she adds, holds great potential as a general platform for gastrointestinal delivery into the circulation and for the treatment of gastrointestinal epithelial cells involved in infections, inflammatory conditions, and cancer. The delivery system also holds promise for other applications, including the oral delivery of therapeutics for lysosomal storage disorders and for Alzheimer’s disease, small molecular drugs for the treatment of genetic conditions, and treatments against inflammation, thrombosis and oxidative stress.

For more information, visit the following publication:
Rasa Ghaffarian, Tridib Bhowmick, and Silvia Muro. "Transport of nanocarriers across gastrointestinal epithelial cells by a new transcellular route induced by targeting ICAM-1," Journal of Controlled Release, 163(1):25-33 10 October 2012.

President Loh Announces Commission for UMD, Big Ten/CIC Integration

December 11, 2012

Crystal Brown 301-405-4618

College Park, Md. -- University of Maryland President Wallace D. Loh today announced the formation of the “President’s Commission on UMD and Big Ten/CIC Integration,” which will provide analysis and advise President Loh on the upcoming institution-wide integration with the Committee for Institutional Cooperation (CIC) and the Big Ten Conference. The announcement was made in advance of the university’s move to the Big Ten in 2013 and membership in the CIC, the nation’s premier higher education consortium of top-tier research institutions.

“Through the commission, my objective is to generate strategic insight into maximizing CIC and Big Ten membership across the campus – including advancing the university’s excellence in education, research and innovation; athletics; finance and business administration; and communications, fundraising and marketing,” said President Loh.  

The president’s announcement comes on the heels of UMD’s decision to accept an invitation to join the CIC, which includes Big Ten Conference members and the University of Chicago. Senior Vice President and Provost Mary Ann Rankin said that membership in the CIC marks a major leap forward for UMD’s students, faculty, researchers and staff and that “joining the CIC will provide significant opportunities for wide-ranging collaboration and will produce benefits for the entire campus.”

Examples of CIC opportunities include: shared library resources and digitization of library holdings; study abroad programs; summer research opportunities; traveling scholar programs for graduate students; leadership programs for faculty and professional staff; collaborative research projects; a high-speed network among CIC institutions; and group purchases of goods and services to reduce costs.

The commission will be guided by the commitment of the University and Intercollegiate Athletics (ICA) to the success of the university’s student-athletes, including ensuring that they are well supported to succeed in their studies and careers after graduation and that every sponsored team has the resources to compete successfully in the Big Ten and nationally.  

The work of the president’s commission will include a review of the operations and finances of ICA, which is a self-supporting enterprise. It will also review the teams eliminated last year due to budget deficits and recommend possible reinstatements and a potential timeline. A plan for ensuring the financial health of Maryland athletics for at least the next two decades will also be developed.

The commission also plans to examine the current ICA fundraising organization and recommend ways to elevate ICA development efforts to better support student-athletes. The commission will consider how the University of Maryland can use the Big Ten Network to tell the university’s story, in academics and athletics, to more than 70 million households in the U.S. and abroad.

The commission will submit its final recommendations to President Loh by June 30, 2013. 

UMD School of Public Policy Expert Talks Legalized Marijuana's Impact

December 11, 2012

Jennifer Talhelm 301-405-4390

1st True Legalization in the World will Cause Prices to Drop, Use to Increase, Reuter says
MSPP logoCOLLEGE PARK, Md. – By approving referenda legalizing possession of small amounts of marijuana for recreation use and allowing the production and distribution of the drug, voters in Colorado and Washington state have changed the landscape for laws governing marijuana, says Peter Reuter, a professor at the School of Public Policy and the Department of Criminology at the University of Maryland, and a senior economist at RAND Corporation. 
A leading expert on illegal markets and alternative approaches to controlling drug problems, Reuter says the new laws in Colorado and Washington are “the first true legalization of the drug anywhere in the world. “ He adds, “No matter what method each state uses to distribute the drug the price will drop sharply and use will go up.  Whether that just brings marijuana use back up to the levels of the early 1980s or to levels never before seen is impossible to forecast.”
More from Professor Reuter: 
“Colorado and Washington voters have approved a completely new set of rules for marijuana, the first true legalization of the drug anywhere in the world.  No matter what method each state uses to distribute the drug the price will drop sharply and use will go up.  Whether that just brings marijuana use back up to the levels of the early 1980s or to levels never before seen is impossible to forecast.  The states will have to struggle with control of smuggling to the rest of the country, which would drive down prices for illegal marijuana in much of the nation.  Given how aggressively the US has pushed international bodies to prevent other nations experimenting with less restrictive systems of drug control, the moves in Colorado and Washington send an important signal to Latin America in particular, where there are questions about why police should be at risk of dying in order to prevent the importation of a drug that is legal in part of the United States.”
Professor Reuter is available for interviews.  Please contact Jennifer Talhelm, director of strategic communication for the UMD School of Public Policy at (301) 405-4390 or
Peter Reuter
Office: 301.405.6367
Cell: 240.988.6605

New Seigel Learning Center at UMD Takes Distance Learning to New Heights

December 7, 2012

Marty Ronning - 301-405-4899

Seigel Learning Center ClassroomEdited by Evelyn Rabil

COLLEGE PARK, Md. - Engineering students and faculty now have access to cutting-edge technology and the best practices in online learning at the new Arnold E. Seigel Learning Center, inaugurated in October by the University of Maryland’s Clark School of Engineering.

The learning center adds six studio classrooms, ranging from 17 to 122 seats, to the J.M. Patterson Building. Equipped with state-of-the-art lighting, acoustics, high-definition cameras, and sophisticated lecture-capture software that can record and live-stream classrooms in session, the suite enables high quality, blended education both face-to-face and at a distance. Each spacious instructor workstation includes a computer, overhead document camera, touch-screen room controls, and an electronic tablet for drawing and annotating.

“The [dedication ceremony] attendees were impressed by the level of detail in the space,” says Marty Ronning, Assistant Director of Distance Education Technology and Services. “We strive to give the remote students as identical of an experience as the in-class students get.”

Learning Center Vision

Seigel Learning Center - Control RoomThe vision for the Arnold E. Seigel Learning Center began in the 1970s when Dr. Arnold Seigel, then a part-time engineering teacher, was convinced that distance education for engineering students could be as authentic and rich as face-to-face education. He began the Instructional Television unit (ITV), which commenced operations in the fall of 1980 as a two-channel black-and-white television system, broadcasting from a 40-foot tower atop the Centerville Hall dormitory. Over the next two decades, ITV operations expanded to include various locations around the state such as Hagerstown, Annapolis, and Baltimore. ITV has since shifted away from television toward a digital delivery mode, evolving into Distance Education Technology and Services (DETS). Today, DETS offers more than 500 students worldwide per semester the opportunity to earn advanced degrees in subjects such as Sustainable Energy Engineering and Project Management.

“The start of this service was in support of Dr. Seigel’s vision, when the Internet wasn’t being dreamt of yet,” Ronning says. “This vision is about delivering education to students wherever they are, and over the years we have evolved to do that on a global scale.”

Dedication Ceremony

The October 12, 2012 dedication ceremony, held in one of the studio classrooms in 3201 J.M. Patterson, featured remarks by Jim Zahniser, Executive Director of Engineering Information Technology, Marty Ronning, Assistant Director of DETS, faculty member John Cable, Director of Project Management Center for Excellence, and Dean Darryl Pines of the A. James Clark School of Engineering. Notable attendees included former University of Maryland President, University System of Maryland Chancellor - and one-time ITV instructor -William ‘Brit’ Kirwan and previous Clark School Deans Herb Rabin and George Dieter.


January 27
Partnership to raise awareness of student-athlete health issues  Read
January 11
President Pines applauds Rankin for exemplary accomplishments as the university’s chief academic officer  Read
December 21
Part of its larger diversity and inclusion efforts, UMD marks first time in a century that residence halls will be... Read
December 21
UMD Center for Transition and Career Innovation (CTCI) gets $100,000 award from Maryland Developmental... Read