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UMD Makes History in Eighth Annual Giving Day Raising Over $2.7M

March 5, 2021

Tiffany Blossom,

COLLEGE PARK, Md. -- The University of Maryland raised over $2.7 million on its eighth annual Giving Day, held on March 3 - an increase of 68% from last year. The 24-hour giving challenge raised money to support the university’s core missions, which include learning, teaching, research, the arts, student life, and public service initiatives.


“Giving Day is an incredible opportunity that supports all areas of campus,” said University of Maryland President Darryll J. Pines. “The support from our faculty, staff, students, alumni, donors, and so many others during this challenging time will have a lasting impact on the student experience. Every gift we receive will help us advance our mission with excellence.”


Donors were able to give to a wide variety of funds and programs dedicated to schools/colleges, athletics, libraries, performing arts and Greek and student organizations. Donors also had the option to support University funds, including the Keep Me Maryland Fund, UMD Student Crisis Fund, and the Student Success Emergency Scholarship.


Athletics led donations with a fundraising total nearly reaching $393,000, followed by the School of Public Health and the Robert H. Smith School of Business with totals of more than $220,000 and $169,000 respectively.


Throughout the day, there were several opportunities for donors to have their donations matched. Donors who gave to the Clark Challenge for the Maryland Promise, a need-based scholarship program for undergraduate students from underserved populations in the state of Maryland and the District of Columbia, will have gifts matched dollar for dollar by the A. James & Alice B. Clark Foundation and the University of Maryland. 


Since its launch in 2013, UMD Giving Day has raised more than $10 million from the UMD community.




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 297 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 more than $1 billion annually in research funding together with the University of Maryland, Baltimore. For more information about the University of Maryland, College Park, visit

New Partnership Aims to Help UMD Further Diversify D.C. Region’s Tech Ecosystem

March 2, 2021

 Abby Robinson 301-405-5845 


COLLEGE PARK, Md. –The University of Maryland will build programs to propel more students who identify as women and non-binary into tech education—and ultimately tech careers—thanks to a new partnership with Break Through Tech. The goal is to increase the number of these students graduating with a tech degree at UMD by 12.5 percentage points by 2026, through curriculum innovation, career access and community building.

“The University of Maryland is committed to making computing inclusive and accessible for all,” said UMD President Darryll J. Pines. “Break Through Tech will contribute to our efforts with programs focused on increasing the graduation rate and success of the nearly 1,000 women in our computer science and information science majors.”

UMD and George Mason University will be joining Break Through Tech as it expands from its hubs in New York City and Chicago to D.C. This expansion was made possible through the Gender Equality in Tech (GET) Cities initiative, which is led by a $50 million investment from Pivotal Ventures, the investment and incubation company created by Melinda Gates, as well as an additional $7 million investment from the Cognizant U.S. Foundation and Verizon. UMD’s Break Through Tech program will be administered by the Iribe Initiative for Inclusion and Diversity in Computing in partnership with the College of Computer, Mathematical, and Natural Sciences (CMNS) and the College of Information Studies (iSchool).

“Break Through Tech's programs and the expansion of our existing programs will greatly increase impact toward improving computing education and successful degree completion by a greater diversity of participants,” said Jandelyn Plane, director of the Iribe Initiative for Inclusion and Diversity in Computing and director of the Maryland Center for Women in Computing. Plane is also a principal lecturer in the Department of Computer Science.

UMD’s Break Through Tech program will include:

  • A summer program for rising first-year students designed to ignite interest in tech by teaching them how to code real-world, mission-driven applications;
  • New, innovative introductory computer science course sequences;
  • A paid, three-week mini-internship (called a Sprinternship®) program, which gives first- and second-year students a resume credential and real-world experience to make them more competitive when applying for a paid summer tech internship; and
  • The development of a networked community of individuals who identify as women and non-binary—both peer-to-peer and student-to-professional—in the D.C. metro area to support, engage and motivate one another.

“We have one of the largest groups of women and non-binary computing students in the country here at the University of Maryland,” said CMNS Dean Amitabh Varshney. “We are excited that this new grant from Break Through Tech will allow us to engage these students the minute they step on campus through experiential learning and networking with the regional computing community, which will lead to long-term career success.”

In Break Through Tech’s founding city, Cornell Tech partnered with the City University of New York (CUNY), which saw an increase in the number of women pursuing computer science bachelor's degrees by 61% since Break Through Tech New York launched in 2016.

“Participating in the Break Through Tech program to increase the graduation rate of women in UMD's computer science and information science programs aligns with the iSchool's long history of advocacy,” said iSchool Dean Keith Marzullo. “The program, which will bring together computing majors from both CMNS and the iSchool, will also serve as a way to rethink how we can more collaboratively deliver education at UMD to better serve other underserved populations.”

The combination of the current economic crisis brought on by the COVID-19 pandemic, along with the national awareness of COVID’s outsized impact across gender, race and other underrepresented identities in society, makes this a critical time to scale a movement toward equity in tech—an industry with the growth potential to support the kind of economic empowerment that should be available to everyone. 

“GET DC will impact an emerging tech hub that’s bustling with opportunity for women and underrepresented groups in an industry that continues to trend majority male and white,” said Judith Spitz, founder and executive director at Break Through Tech. “Break Through Tech will work towards tackling two key hurdles for women—access and experience.”

UMD Biological Sciences Senior Veeraj Shah Named 2021 Gates Cambridge Scholar

February 23, 2021

Abby Robinson, 301-405-5845,

COLLEGE PARK, Md - University of Maryland senior Veeraj Shah has been awarded a 2021 Gates Cambridge Scholarship, which allows students outside of the United Kingdom to pursue graduate study at the University of Cambridge. Shah is one of 24 scholars selected this year from across the country and the university’s fourth Gates Cambridge Scholar, following in the footsteps of Elfadil Osman (B.S. ’17, biological sciences), Abhishek Goel (B.S. ’16, biological sciences) and Krzysztof Franaszek (B.S. ’13, biological sciences; B.A. ’13, economics).

Shah—who will graduate this May from UMD with dual degrees in biological sciences with a specialization in neurobiology and physiology and individual studies majoring in health policy and technology—plans to use the scholarship toward a Ph.D. in public health and primary care at the University of Cambridge as a member of St Edmund's College. Following his Ph.D., Shah plans to earn his M.D. at the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai in New York City.
“My Ph.D. research combines my interests in preventive health and technology toward improving cancer prevention,” Shah said. “Specifically, I will develop and evaluate technology that automates provision of information on cancer-preventive lifestyle behaviors. My hope is that this research will provide evidence to integrate this technology into existing National Health Service primary care programs and help millions better manage their health.”

A native of Severna Park, Maryland, Shah received a citation from the Integrated Life Sciences program in the Honors College and was a finalist for the Rhodes, Truman and Marshall Scholarships. He has pursued a wide variety of research, policy, service and entrepreneurial opportunities while at UMD.

He is co-founder and CEO of Chat Health, which uses artificial intelligence text messaging technology to improve access to preventive care services and promote health literacy among students and low-income communities. 

“I began noticing how many UMD students were not getting access to accurate and real-time information on preventive care services and other health topics,” Shah said. “Knowing that the majority of college students access information via their cell phones, I reached out to friends in our computer science department with my idea for bridging this information gap.”

In just a few months, Chat Health debuted. And in March 2020, the company launched a COVID-19 prevention chatbot platform that has already been used by 4,000 individuals. In January 2021, the company launched a text messaging chatbot platform to improve UMD student adherence to COVID-19 prevention protocols, in partnership with the UMD Student Health Advisory Committee. They are also working to launch a Chat Health mobile app nationally.

Shah also co-founded and serves as co-CEO of Vitalize App, which launched in January 2020 to improve the wellness of health care professionals using tailored mindfulness and resilience practices. The company has already participated in Terp Startup, a summer accelerator program for student entrepreneurs; raised $15,000 in grant funding; and built a team of 10 user-experience designers and backend app developers. The team is currently beta testing its app with over 100 clinicians and preparing for a public launch in September 2021.

“I am excited by the opportunity to use technology to help an overburdened population and, as a downstream outcome, improve the quality of care for patients,” Shah said.

In addition to running two companies, Shah was a health policy intern with the former U.S. surgeon general, Dr. Jerome Adams. In this role, Shah contributed to the article “Preventing Suicide in the United States” that was published in Public Health Reports in December 2020 and contributed to the 2021 report “Community Health and Economic Prosperity: Engaging Businesses as Stewards and Stakeholders—A Report of the Surgeon General.”

As a health and human services intern in the Office of the Prince George’s County Executive during his sophomore year, Shah identified gaps in the county’s early childhood services. He worked with the county’s chief health administrator to develop a policy framework addressing these gaps. The framework, which was approved by the county executive in late 2019, led to Prince George’s County becoming the first U.S. county to receive recognition as a UNICEF “Child Friendly City.”

Shah has also worked as a research assistant since March 2019 with Neil Sehgal, assistant professor of health policy and management at UMD, to understand how U.S. graduate student health plan offerings affect student health outcomes and investigate gender-based pay parities among U.S. physicians. He also interned as a business analyst at IBM Watson Health building artificial intelligence technologies for state Medicaid programs and conducted cancer research at the National Cancer Institute and the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine.

He has authored five papers, including a first-author paper in the Journal of Applied Clinical Medical Physics, two papers in the International Journal of Radiation Oncology, Biology, Physics, and papers in the Journal of Neuro-Oncologyandthe American Journal of Health Promotion. He recently submitted three additional papers for publication on his work with Sehgal.

When he’s not working, Shah volunteers his time to help the UMD community and beyond. He served as the student member on the School of Public Health’s Dean’s Community Advisory Council and as a student member on the University Senate Research Council. He is also president of the student organization Public Health Beyond Borders, where he is currently leading initiatives to start partner chapters at other U.S. universities.

In his spare time, Shah enjoys playing the classical guitar, drinking coffee, boating and backpacking.

Shah’s long-term plans focus on developing and implementing digital health technologies to improve health care delivery and chronic disease management. As a health technologist, policymaker and clinician, he hopes to contribute to a future where access to safe, efficacious and cost-effective health care is universal. 



Leading Experts Call for Immediate Action to Address Inhalation Exposure to Prevent COVID-19 Infections and Deaths

February 17, 2021

Kelly Blake,

Leading scientific and medical experts are calling upon the Biden Administration to take immediate action to address inhalation exposure to the SARS-CoV-2 virus as a cornerstone of the COVID-19 pandemic response. 

In a letter to the Biden administrations’ top officials heading the response, the experts from the fields of aerosol science, occupational health and infectious disease urge the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), and other government agencies to fully recognize inhalation exposure as the primary way the virus spreads and to take immediate action to protect against this source of exposure. 

Commending the Biden administration COVID-19 plan that ramps up availability of life saving vaccines and calls for widespread use of masks, stronger measures to protect workers and the public, the experts emphasize that to be successful the plan must also strengthen measures to address inhalation exposure to the virus. 

The experts assert that the scientific evidence is clear: inhalation of small aerosol particles is one of the primary sources of exposure and transmission of the SARS-CoV-2 virus. CDC guidelines and recommendations are out of date and do not fully recognize inhalation exposure or include the necessary control measures to protect the public or workers from this mode of transmission. 

Out of date and inadequately protective recommendations particularly impact people of color, many of whom work on the front lines and who remain at the greatest risk of COVID-19 exposure, infection, and death.

 “CDC guidance and recommendations do not include the control measures necessary for protecting the public and workers from inhalation exposure to SARS-CoV-2,” write the letter’s authors. “The failure to address inhalation exposure to SARS-CoV-2 continues to put workers and the public at serious risk of infection. People of color, many of whom work on the front lines in essential jobs, have suffered – and continue to suffer – the greatest impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic.”

The emergence of more transmissible virus variants makes strong action to control the virus even more urgent: “While COVID-19 infections and deaths have started to decline in recent weeks, they remain at a very high level and, unless strengthened precautionary measures are implemented, the new variants will likely bring an explosion in new infections.”

To address and limit transmission via inhalation exposure, prevent COVID infections and deaths, and bring the pandemic under control, the experts call upon the Biden administration to take immediate actions, including:

  • CDC must make clear to the public that inhalation exposure through small aerosols is a principal way the virus spreads and update its policy and guidelines to address small particle inhalation in public and workplace settings, and must develop guidelines for 

better quality face coverings for the public. 

  • CDC and OSHA must issue recommendations and requirements for the use of NIOSH-approved respirators – like N95 filtering facepiece respirators - for all healthcare workers and other workers at high risk, including those in meat and poultry, corrections and transit operations. A year into this pandemic we must provide appropriate respiratory protection to all workers who need it.

  • OSHA must issue an emergency workplace standard on COVID-19 that requires an assessment of inhalation risk, adoption of controls including enhanced ventilation, physical distancing, effective respiratory protection for workers in high-risk jobs, and high-quality barrier face coverings and masks for other workers exposed to the virus on the job. 

  • The federal government must use the Defense Production Act to ramp up production of respirators and high-quality barrier face coverings.


Under President Biden’s leadership, the country is moving forward to tackle this pandemic. To be successful, we must finally recognize inhalation exposure as the primary way this virus spreads and take the needed actions to protect the public and workers from this deadly virus.  


Media Briefing

Wednesday, February 17, 1:00-2:00 p.m. Eastern

Learn more about the recommendations outlined in the letter in a press briefing, hosted by AIHA, which will include several signatories of the letter. They will be available to answer reporters’ questions, articulate the case for why immediate action is needed and discuss the consequences of inaction. 

Register to Attend 

Link to Letter

List of scientific and medical expert signatories:

  • Rick Bright, PhD, Former Director of BARDA, Dept of Health and Human Services

  • Lisa M. Brosseau, ScD, CIH, Professor (retired), Research Consultant, Center for Infectious Disease Research and Policy (CIDRAP), University of Minnesota

  • Lynn R. Goldman, MD, MS, MPH, Michael and Lori Milken Dean and Professor of Environmental and Occupational Health, Milken Institute School of Public Health, George Washington University

  • Céline Gounder, MD, ScM, Clinical Assistant Professor, Department of Medicine, NYU Grossman School of Medicine & Bellevue Hospital Center

  • Jose-Luis Jimenez, PhD, University of Colorado at Boulder

  • Yoshihiro Kawaoka, DVM, PhD, Professor, University of Wisconsin-Madison School of Veterinary Medicine and University of Tokyo

  • Linsey Marr, PhD, Charles P. Lunsford Professor, Department of Civil Engineering, Virginia Tech

  • David Michaels, PhD, MPH, Professor, Environmental and Occupational Health, Milken Institute School of Public Health, George Washington University

  • Donald K. Milton, MD, DrPH, Professor of Environmental Health, University of Maryland, College Park School of Public Health and Professor, Internal Medicine, University of Maryland, Baltimore School of Medicine

  • Michael Osterholm, PhD, MPH, Regents Professor, McKnight Presidential Endowed Chair in Public Health and Director, Center for Infectious Disease Research and Policy (CIDRAP), University of Minnesota 

  • Kimberly Prather, PhD, Distinguished Chair in Atmospheric Chemistry and Distinguished Professor, Dept. of Chemistry and Biochemistry, Scripps Institution of Oceanography, University of California San Diego

  • Robert T. Schooley, MD, Professor of Medicine, Division of Infectious Diseases and Global Public Health and Co-Director, Center for Innovative Phage Applications and Therapeutics, University of California San Diego

  • Peg Seminario, MS, Safety and Health Director (retired), AFL-CIO


Press Contacts for Expert Interviews:

Lisa Brosseau, University of Minnesota,

Céline Gounder, NYU Grossman School of Medicine & Bellevue Hospital Center,

Jose Jimenez, University of Colorado at Boulder, [Spanish language inquiries]

Linsey Marr, Virginia Tech, [Primary contact: Jordan Fifer,]

David Michaels, George Washington University, [Primary contact: Kathleen Fackelmann,]

Don Milton, University of Maryland, [Primary contact: Kelly Blake,]

Michael Osterholm, University of Minnesota, [Primary contact: Brad Robideau,; 651-808-7178]

Kim Prather, University of California San Diego, [Communications contact: Lauren Fimbres Wood,]

Robert Schooley, University of California San Diego, [Communications contact: Lauren Fimbres Wood,]

Peg Seminario, AFL-CIO (retired),


University of Maryland Named a Top Producer for Fulbright Students and Scholars

February 17, 2021

Maryland Today Staff 

The University of Maryland was named a Top Producing Institution for the Fulbright U.S. Student and Scholar programs for 2020-21 in rankings published by The Chronicle of Higher Education. Maryland was one of 17 colleges and universities in the country honored in both categories.

Sixteen awards were offered to UMD students in the Fulbright U.S. Student program, and six were offered in U.S. Scholars program that supports faculty, researchers and administrators. Due to the pandemic, the 2020-21 Top Producing data reflects the total number of awards offered, rather than the number of awards accepted, as was done in the past. 

Regularly among the top research institutions for the student program, UMD is listed for both the Fulbright student and scholar awards for the first time since 2017-18.

“They represent strongly the range of important international studies and professional paths Maryland students and alumni pursue,” said Francis DuVinage, director of the National Scholarships Office and Maryland Center for Undergraduate Research. “While it was heartbreaking that COVID severely impacted our awardees’ ability to pursue their projects, we're confident many will return to apply in the coming years.”

The Fulbright Program gives outstanding students, scholars, teachers, artists and professionals of all backgrounds and fields the opportunity to study, teach and conduct research, exchange ideas and seek solutions to important international problems. Sponsored by the U.S. Department of State’s Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs, it offers academic exchanges with more than 150 countries.

$9M Gift from Michael and Eugenia Brin Establishes New Institute for Performance and Technology in the Arts at the University of Maryland

February 15, 2021

Katie Lawson

COLLEGE PARK, Md. - The University of Maryland (UMD) announces today a $9 million gift to its School of Theatre, Dance, and Performance Studies (TDPS) to boldly reimagine the future of education in the performing arts. Mathematics Professor Emeritus Michael Brin and his wife Eugenia and the Brin Family Foundation are establishing the Maya Brin Institute for New Performance, which will add courses, expand research and fund new teaching positions, undergraduate scholarships, classroom and studio renovations, and instructional technology.  
The gift brings the university’s fundraising total for its Fearless Ideas campaign to $1.4 billion, approaching its record $1.5 billion goal by the end of this year. The campaign has engaged 109,000 donors to date. 
“We are incredibly proud of our university's connection to Michael, Eugenia and the entire Brin family, and we are grateful for their continued generosity as champions of Maryland. There has never been a more timely moment to apply technology to the arts to extend their reach and inspiration,” said Darryll J. Pines, president of the University of Maryland.
The institute will advance TDPS’s role as an innovator in design and performance, and prepare graduates to launch careers in emerging media formats such as webcasts, immersive design technology and virtual reality performance.


The institute will allow TDPS “to make transformative advances in the work that they have begun doing to bring technology into the performance domain,” said Bonnie Thornton Dill, dean of the College of Arts and Humanities. “We will be at the forefront of applications and modifications of technology and theater. We’ll  be able to expand our existing work and really become a national leader. Our students will have knowledge and experience that will prepare them to be among the first people hired as this new technology develops.”
A new light and technology studio and multimedia labs and an upgraded dance studio in the university’s Clarice Smith Performing Arts Center will provide creative space for five additional faculty positions in lighting design for camera, live digital performance, technology and multimedia production, and other fields. Full-stage green screens, GoPro cameras, laser projectors and remote rehearsal technology will broaden performing options. Future classes will include “Video Design for Dance and Theater” and “Experimental Interfaces and Physical Computations.”
The idea of combining the arts and technology inspired this new gift. “I want to … open opportunities to the students and faculty in interactions between new media and traditional art,” said Michael Brin, who retired from UMD in 2011 after 31 years on its faculty. The Brins, parents to Google co-founder Sergey ’93 and Samuel ’09, have previously made several significant gifts to support the university’s computer science and math departments and Russian and dance programs, the latter two to honor Michael Brin’s late mother, Maya. She emigrated with her family from the Soviet Union in 1979 and taught in UMD’s Russian program for nearly a decade. 
"We’re going to see (the influence of this gift) in every performance," said Maura Keefe, TDPS director and associate professor of dance performance and scholarship. "The excitement from the students who are exploring the ideas—that’s going to show up across the work we’re making."
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 297 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 more than $1 billion annually in research funding together with the University of Maryland, Baltimore. For more information about the University of Maryland, College Park, visit

A New Vision for College Park

February 15, 2021

Natifia Mullings, mullings@umd.eduTiffany Blossom,

This article was originally published in Maryland Today.

College Park, Md. - In less than a decade, the University of Maryland and city of College Park could launch a community preservation trust to stabilize neighborhoods and help more employees live in College Park, create more bike paths, and reap benefits from a fully renovated Baltimore Avenue south of University Boulevard as the area continues its progress toward becoming one of the nation’s top college towns.

Those initiatives are part of “University Community Vision 2030,” a strategic plan formally adopted last night by university, city, county and state government officials to guide the next decade of housing and development, transportation and mobility, public health and safety, and education. The guiding principles were sustainability and equity, focusing on how to preserve existing neighborhoods while increasing public health and safety and making sure historically marginalized communities benefit as well.

The plan updates the University District 2020 report and was written by the College Park City-University Partnership in consultation with U3 Advisors over eight community engagement sessions. 

Vision 2030 will contribute toward the university’s goals of pursuing excellence in all endeavors and supporting a multicultural, inclusive environment, said UMD President Darryll J. Pines. While COVID-19 and racial injustice have presented life-defining challenges, he said, “I know a moment of difficulty can create a moment of opportunity.”

“The university and the city are truly in a unique partnership,” he said. “We must continue to envision and work toward a post-COVID-19 world.”

College Park is now home to more than 32,000 residents, according to the report, an increase of about 7% since 2011 and a greater rate of growth than in Prince George’s County and the state. Young professionals have been at the forefront of that influx, as more than 2,000 jobs have been created in UMD’s Discovery District and more than 50 new retail and dining operations have boosted the number of local and independently owned businesses.

The cost of housing built since 2011, however, is more expensive than older stock—47% more for multifamily dwellings, 40% for student-focused apartment buildings and 70% more for a room in a newly constructed apartment than in a single-family home. In addition to noting the need to increase the affordable housing options for students and full-time residents, the report also advocates creating a nonprofit community preservation trust that would work with neighborhoods and ensure long-term housing affordability.

In education, the report notes that while the number of College Park children under 5 and in elementary school has risen 16% and 26%, respectively, since 2011, the number of residents enrolled in middle and high school has declined 11%. Proposed solutions include expanding the popular College Park Academy charter school to elementary grades and a “Support a School” program that would increase professional development for educators at UMD and provide them with more homeownership incentives.

Communication in general will also be key, the report notes. For example, surveys of UMD students show that they generally feel half as safe in College Park as local residents, even though violent and property crimes fell almost 50% from 2011 to 2019.

College Park Mayor Patrick Wojahn said the plan “takes on some of the greatest challenges we face,” but is confident the regional partnership will provide the support necessary to make a more equitable community even in the face of a pandemic.

“We’re going to be coming out of this much stronger because of the systems we develop and documents like Vision 2030,” he said.


About Maryland Today

Maryland Today is produced by the Office of Strategic Communications for the University of Maryland community weekdays during the academic year, except for university holidays.  

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 297 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 more than $1 billion annually in research funding together with the University of Maryland, Baltimore. For more information about the University of Maryland, College Park, visit

University of Maryland Thanks Provost Mary Ann Rankin for Eight Years of Service

January 11, 2021
COLLEGE PARK, Md. - University of Maryland President Darryll J. Pines announced today that Senior Vice President and Provost Mary Ann Rankin has decided to resign from her position as Provost as of January 29, 2021. 


“As a community, we owe a significant debt of gratitude to Provost Rankin for her vision, leadership and commitment to academic excellence during a period of steady ascent for our institution,” said Pines. “I thank and applaud Dr. Rankin for her numerous accomplishments.”


"I am deeply proud of the work we have accomplished in partnership over the last eight years at the University of Maryland. We have charted new paths to academic success, multiplied opportunities in undergraduate and graduate research, and fostered interdisciplinary collaboration for the betterment of the campus,” said Rankin. “Together, we have brought to scale teaching transformation and reimagined our academic enterprise from new modes of instruction to innovative programs. I thank the Deans, Associate Provosts, Chairs and faculty who have contributed to Maryland's unending pursuit of innovation on behalf of our students." 


Shortly after her arrival in 2012, Dr. Rankin led an update to the University's Strategic Plan, which led to a budget redesign and launch of the Administrative Modernization Program (AMP) aimed at improving campus operations. This included the TerpEngage program to improve student advising, and the recently launched ERP initiative to upgrade software infrastructure in human resources, finance and student services.


Dr. Rankin spearheaded significant advancements in academic opportunities for students as well, establishing the First-Year Innovation & Research Experience (FIRE) that offers over 500 new students annually hands-on research experience. Her vision for student success opportunities also led to the reinvention of the university's Honors College.


She has been a driving force in the development of numerous new undergraduate programs in business, information sciences, public health sciences, public policy, neuroscience, immersive media design in computer science and art, and two new majors in data science.


Dr. Rankin established the Academy of Innovation and Entrepreneurship that has led to nearly 15,000 undergraduates annually enrolling in an innovation course to pursue fearless ideas. She also established the Teaching and Learning Transformation Center (TLTC), which provides faculty with support and training in the best pedagogical practices and oversees several student success initiatives. This was particularly important in assisting faculty and students in the recent, rapid move to online instruction. With colleagues in the College of Education and College of Computer, Mathematical, and Natural Sciences, Dr. Rankin founded Terrapin Teachers, a Maryland replication of the UTeach program she developed at UT Austin to address the need for more discipline-based STEM teachers trained by both experienced public school teachers and university experts. She was inducted into the American Academy of Arts and Sciences in 2016, in part for her role in developing UTeach nationally.


Dr. Rankin also played a key role in establishing a partnership with the Phillips Collection to expand scholarship, visibility and innovation in the arts. She leads the university's partnership with the Big Ten Academic Alliance, and serves on the Joint Steering Council for the University of Maryland Strategic Partnership: MPowering the State with the University of Maryland, Baltimore.


Dr. Rankin was a leader in the creation of the Maryland Promise Program, an effort to build a $100 million endowment to support need-based awards for undergraduates. She also leveraged a $3 million gift to support an endowed chair and new partnership in machine learning; solicited support for the Clarice Smith Performing Arts Center and related programs; and facilitated significant private gifts to support the design and construction of the Brendan Iribe Center for Computer Science and Engineering.


A major focus for the last eight years has been upgrading existing academic facilities and working to expand and enhance capital projects, including adding the new vivarium to A. James Clark Hall and the chemistry teaching addition to the Edward St. John Learning & Teaching Center. Most recently, she was a key driver in obtaining support for construction of the new Wing 1 of the Chemistry Building, and making the new Cole research wing Phase 1A of the Brain and Behavior Research Building and the administrative home of the Brain and Behavior Institute. She has also supported construction of the School of Public Policy building that will provide a new home for the Do Good Institute and a new program in civic innovation.


Dr. Rankin and her senior leadership team expanded the role and effectiveness of the Office of Faculty Affairs, and initiated new programs through that office that expanded the hiring of underrepresented minority faculty, improved job titles and opportunities for professional track faculty, and made the APT process more equitable, consistent, inclusive, and teaching focused.


In 2020, Dr. Rankin led UMD’s academic response to the COVID-19 pandemic. Working with deans, chairs, and senior campus leadership, she and her team transformed the campus' physical teaching spaces to provide safe, functional in-person instruction; and with the Division of IT and the TLTC developed a highly successful grant program to assist faculty in improving UMD's online and blended instruction.


Dr. Ann G. Wylie, Professor Emerita of Geology, will serve as interim Provost, and President Pines has announced his intent to launch an internal search to name a permanent Provost. 




University of Maryland Honors Campus Trailblazers with Naming of New Residence Halls

December 21, 2020

Natifia Mullings, 301-405-4076

COLLEGE PARK, Md.--The University of Maryland announced today that two of its new residence halls will be named after four trailblazers who played an important role in diversifying its campus: Hiram Whittle, Elaine Johnson Coates, Pyon Su, and Chunjen Constant Chen. This is the first time since 1914 that residence halls will be named for individuals. 

“All four of these pioneers contributed to the rich diversity and culture that defines our campus today,” said University of Maryland President Pines. “Each exemplifies Terrapin grit, desire and determination to succeed against all odds. Their stories serve as valuable examples for the University of Maryland students of today and in the future, as we continue to celebrate and advance diversity in our university community.”

The Whittle-Johnson Hall will honor Whittle, the first African American male to be admitted to the university in 1951, and Johnson Coates, the first African American female to graduate with an undergraduate degree in 1959. Whittle was an engineering major and enrolled as an undergraduate student at a time when the university was still segregated. Johnson Coates attended the university on a full scholarship and graduated with a B.A. in education. Both Whittle and Johnson Coates received an honorary degree from the university at the spring 2020 commencement.

“This is a University of Maryland honor that signifies perseverance, hope, and change,” said Whittle. “I thank the University for honoring my journey. My hope is that my story will continue to inspire the campus community to move forward and follow their dreams.”  

“I am always humbled and so grateful to be honored by my alma mater,” said Johnson Coates. “I had no idea when I walked on to the campus of University of Maryland in 1955, that 65 years later, you would still be speaking of me. I’m thankful to the university for honoring me, for letting me know that my journey mattered, and now letting my journey become my legacy.”

The Pyon-Chen Hall will honor Pyon, the first Korean student to receive a degree from any American college or university, and Chen, the first Chinese student to enroll at the Maryland Agricultural College (now the University of Maryland). Pyon spent several years as a diplomat in Korea and was the first Korean diplomat envoy to visit the United States in1883, before emigrating to the United States for political reasons. He eventually enrolled in the Maryland Agricultural College in 1887, where he earned a B.S. degree in 1891. Chen entered the university in 1915 and completed three years of study before transferring to Cornell, where he earned a B.A. He returned to College Park, earning an M.S. in Agriculture in 1920. He later taught Chinese on campus from 1956 to 1967. Both Pyon and Chen have since passed away, and President Pines has been in communication with their families to inform them of the recognition and share the significance of this milestone.  

Residence halls at the University of Maryland are named after Maryland county seats, with the exception of Calvert Hall which is named for UMD Founder Charles Benedict Calvert. The decision to name the residence halls after Whittle, Johnson Coates, Chen and Pyon is one of several initiatives and recommendations Pines outlined on his first day as president aimed at helping to build a more diverse and welcoming campus community. This effort included submitting a request to name the two residence halls after Whittle, Johnson Coates, Chen and Pyon to the University System of Maryland. In November 2020, the University System of Maryland Board of Regents approved the name request.  

The Whittle-Johnson and Pyon-Chen residence halls are being constructed as part of the University’s On-Campus Housing Strategic Plan. The two new residence halls will house about 900 first- and second-year students in single and double rooms and the dining facility will seat about 1,000 once complete. The new facilities are being constructed on the field adjacent to Ellicott Hall and across Farm Drive. Construction on the new Whittle-Johnson and Pyon-Chen residence halls began in 2019 and are slated to open during the 2021-2022 academic year.




Maryland Developmental Disabilities Council Funds Inclusive Postsecondary Education Program at the University of Maryland

December 21, 2020

Audrey Hill, Associate Director of Communications, UMD College of Education, 301-405-3468

Christy Russell, Director of Operations, Maryland Developmental Disabilities Council, 410-767-3671

COLLEGE PARK, Md. – The Maryland Developmental Disabilities Council awarded $100,000 to the University of Maryland Center for Transition and Career Innovation (CTCI) to create “Terps-EXCEED”, an inclusive higher education program for students with intellectual and developmental disabilities. The program will launch in the fall of 2021 with a small pilot of students.

“As an organization dedicated to the full inclusion of individuals with disabilities in all facets of community life, we know there is a tremendous need for high quality, inclusive college opportunities for people with intellectual and developmental disabilities. People with intellectual disabilities seek opportunities to work, learn, play and lead full, meaningful lives. An inclusive college experience is a pathway to those continued learning opportunities as well as important social interactions, life experiences, and employment,” said Rachel London, Executive Director for the Maryland Developmental Disabilities Council.

“We are pleased to be able to support post-secondary opportunities at UMD for students with disabilities,” said Jennifer King Rice, dean of the UMD College of Education. “With this funding from the Council, we can expand inclusive higher education programming and become a model for the state in serving students with intellectual and developmental disabilities, which helps to ensure college and career access for all.”

Students with intellectual and developmental disabilities have the lowest rates of both competitive employment and college enrollment compared to all other disability groups. Yet, students with intellectual disabilities who complete an inclusive postsecondary program achieve better employment outcomes, expand peer and social networks and increase independence. 

istock image 535297293 credit: monkeybusinessimagesTerps-EXCEED will provide a person-centered approach to inclusive postsecondary education and a diverse array of academic and nonacademic courses, career development and activities. Ultimately, the program is designed for Terps-EXCEED students to leave the program with an expanded social network of friends, colleagues and mentors, a meaningful credential, and better options for lifelong careers.   

The University of Maryland is the perfect place to launch a new inclusive college program for students with intellectual and developmental disabilities,” said Amy Dwyre D'Agati, senior faculty specialist at the UMD Center for Transition and Career Innovation. “We have so many opportunities - courses, internships, social activities - that a Big Ten school can offer, and so many departments are excited to bring this initiative to campus.”

"Having a program like this at the University of Maryland is such an obvious opportunity to harness the potential and talent of this population of students. Really it's a win-win for the Maryland community," said Kellie Racette, a parent of a child with a developmental disability in Howard County, Maryland.

The Council is committed to expanding opportunities for people with developmental disabilities in all facets of community life by eliminating barriers, creating opportunities, empowering people, and promoting innovation. The UMD College of Education is committed to furthering inclusive education for students with disabilities in both K-12 and higher education.

For more information about the Maryland Developmental Disabilities Council, visit For more information on the Center for Transition and Career Innovation, visit






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