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UMD Athletic Director Kevin Anderson Announces Sabbatical, Damon Evans to Assume AD Duties

October 16, 2017

Katie Lawson, 301-405-4622

COLLEGE PARK, Md.-- Today, University of Maryland Athletic Director Kevin Anderson announced that he is taking a six-month professional development sabbatical. Damon Evans, the Executive Director, Chief Financial Officer and Chief Operating Officer of Athletics, will fulfill Anderson’s duties during the sabbatical.

Damon Evans joined the university in 2014. Since that time, he has overseen the day-to-day operations of the department, its finances and compliance functions along with other key areas. Evans will assume all of the leadership functions of UMD Athletics and report directly to President Wallace D. Loh.

The text of Anderson’s announcement is included below:


DATE: 10/16/17

FROM:          Kevin Anderson
TO:               Athletics senior staff and head coaches
SUBJECT:    Professional development sabbatical

Dear Colleagues,

During the past several weeks, I have received a tremendous response from across the nation to the Washington Post article that highlighted my work with our student-athletes through “Kicking it with Kevin.” This experience has led me to consider where I want to focus my energies at this point in my career.

To this end, the University of Maryland has granted me the opportunity to remain in my position of Athletic Director while I take a six-month professional development sabbatical to engage in various projects focusing on leadership development, including work with a broad coalition of groups focused on issues of equity, student athlete activism and inclusion in college athletics and working with the NACDA / John McLendon Minority Scholarship Foundation.

I will also continue my personal participation on certain NACDA and NCAA Committees. While on sabbatical, the regular duties of running the department will be performed by an administrator to be selected by President Loh.

Please share this news with staff members in your areas.   


Kevin Anderson
Athletic Director

UMD Receives $8 Million to Combat Hearing Loss in Older Americans

October 16, 2017

Sara Gavin, 301-405-1733

COLLEGE PARK, Md.—The National Institute on Aging awarded more than $8 million to the University of Maryland to develop an innovative approach for addressing hearing loss and communication challenges that affect millions of older Americans. The five-year, multidisciplinary research project will combine expertise from the College of Behavioral and Social Sciences, the A. James Clark School of Engineering, the College of Computer, Mathematical, and Natural Sciences and the Center for Advanced Study of Language

Photo of elderly man with cochlear implant“Cross-disciplinary collaboration, by its nature, allows researchers to develop creative solutions to the multifaceted grand challenges facing society today,” said UMD Vice President for Research Laurie E. Locascio. “The results of this research have the potential to positively affect the lives of so many people, and exemplifies the University of Maryland’s mission to perform rigorous scientific research with transformative impact.”

The overarching goal of the research will be to examine processes at the neural level that cause auditory and speech perception difficulties with aging, and to determine whether the brain can be effectively “rewired” through auditory and cognitive training to overcome these hearing and speech obstacles. To achieve this aim, the UMD research team will focus on three distinct projects:

  • Project 1 will examine whether neurons in the auditory cortex of the brain can be reorganized through specific training exercises.
  • Project 2 will assess the effectiveness of focused strategies in helping people process acoustic signals, including rapid speech—a common obstacle for senior citizens.
  • Project 3 will combine cutting-edge neuroimaging techniques—such as magnetoencephalography (MEG) and pupilometry—to measure the brain’s ability to form new neural connections following auditory and behavioral training.

“There are many training programs designed to help people deal with hearing loss as they get older,” said Professor Sandra Gordon-Salant from the Department of Hearing and Speech Sciences, who will serve as the overall project’s lead investigator. “What we don’t know is how well these training programs work and if they result in a true rewiring of the brain. We’re thrilled to have compiled this dynamite team that will help provide answers to these important questions.”

According to a recent publication by the National Academies of Science, Engineering and Medicine, nearly half of all Americans 65-years-old and above struggle with age-related hearing loss. That percentage climbs to 63 percent for people older than 70. Combined with data from the U.S. Census Bureau, that means roughly 25 million older Americans are currently dealing with hearing loss—a number likely to increase to 35 million by the year 2030. The biggest communication complaint of those with age-related hearing loss is difficulty understanding speech in challenging situations, which often leads to isolation and depression.

“We think that as the population ages, they’re going to be more demanding about solutions to their problems,” Gordon-Salant said. “Hearing aids are beneficial but they can’t do it all. There is a tremendous need for effective training programs and this research has the potential to transform the nature of rehabilitative services for millions of older people with communication problems.”

Gordon-Salant will be joined on the UMD research team by:

  • Shihab Shamma, Department of Electrical & Computer Engineering and Institute for Systems Research
  • Patrick Kanold, Department of Biology and Institute for Systems Research
  • Jonathan Fritz, Institute for Systems Research
  • Matthew Goupell, Department of Hearing & Speech Sciences
  • Samira Anderson, Department of Hearing & Speech Sciences
  • Jonathan Simon, Department of Electrical & Computer Engineering, Department of Biology, and Institute for Systems Research
  • Stefanie Kuchinsky, Center for Advanced Study of Language
  • Didier Depireux, Institute for Systems Research
  • Edward Smith, Department of Psychology

University of Maryland Statement on Athletic Director -- October 14, 2017

October 14, 2017

Katie Lawson, 301-405-4622

The University of Maryland released the following statement today:

Kevin Anderson is the University of Maryland Athletic Director. Media reports to the contrary are false. 

University of Maryland Recognized as a Top Public Institution in 2017 College Scorecard

October 13, 2017

Jennifer Burroughs, 301-405-4621

COLLEGE PARK, Md. – The University of Maryland was recognized as a top university for producing graduates and high incomes after attending in the new College Scorecard from the U.S. Department of Education. UMD students graduate at a rate of 86 percent, and earn over 80 percent more than the national average in salary.

The updated College Scorecard allows students, families, and their advisers to compare colleges and universities using accessible, and reliable national data on cost, graduation rate, debt, and post-college earnings.

Among institutions with more than 15,000 students, UMD received high marks for its overall value, with emphasis on a below average annual cost. The University of Maryland's College Scorecard profile also notes that:

  • UMD's graduation rate is 40 percent higher and retention rate is nearly 30 percent higher than the national average
  • 79% of UMD students earned, on average, more than those with only a high school diploma, and;
  • The percent of students who have repaid at least $1 of the principal balance on their federal loans within 3 years of leaving school is 34 percent higher than the national average

According to the U.S. Department of Education, the College Scorecard is designed to increase transparency, and allow students and families to compare how well individual postsecondary institutions are preparing their students to be successful.


University of Maryland Statement on a Hate-Bias Incident Regarding a Swastika on Campus

October 12, 2017

Katie Lawson, 301-405-4622

On October 5, UMPD served a criminal summons to an individual for one count of malicious destruction of property and one count related to disturbing the operations of a school. This person has been served with a denial of access to campus and is no longer an employee of the university.  

Diversity and inclusion are core values of our institution, and these values will and must be upheld. We are currently leading forward a campus-wide action plan to combat hate and create a safer campus for all. 

In addition to long-standing programs to increase dialogue and promote diversity, recent initiatives include a task force to review all policies and practices with the goal of shaping a culture that is more inclusive and respectful; developing a trained, rapid-response team for hate-bias incidents; and compiling and publishing an annual report on hate-bias incidents on campus. To support this work, we have increased funding for campus-wide diversity and inclusion efforts.

Statement on UMPD Reward Announcement

October 12, 2017

Katie Lawson, 301-405-4622

UMPD recently announced a reward for information leading to the identification of individuals spreading hate on campus. Offering this reward is one of many ways our university community is demonstrating our deep commitment to combating hate and creating a safer campus. We encourage anyone with information about these reprehensible incidents to contact UMPD. 

We are currently leading forward a campus-wide action plan to reaffirm our core values of diversity, inclusion, respect and civil discourse, and we are proud that Congressman John Lewis is joining us on campus tonight as part of these efforts. In addition to long-standing programs to increase dialogue and promote diversity, recent initiatives include a task force to review all policies and practices with the goal of shaping a culture that is more inclusive and respectful; developing a trained, rapid-response team for hate-bias incidents; and compiling and publishing an annual report on hate-bias incidents on campus. To support this work, we have increased funding for campus-wide diversity and inclusion efforts.

UMD-led Research Will Leverage Technology to Create “Smarter Baltimore”

October 12, 2017

Maggie Haslam202-258-8946

College Park, Md. — Four of Maryland’s leading universities are developing a plan that applies cutting-edge technologies—such as free public internet, smart street lights and innovative transportation hubs—to improve the lives of residents in West Baltimore. Led by the University of Maryland, College Park, and supported by a grant from the National Science Foundation, the “Smart Cities” initiative will pair smart technology with the latest research in equity, health and urban planning to outline a roadmap for city policymakers as they work to increase quality of life in Baltimore. Other universities involved include the Center for Government Excellence (GovEx) at Johns Hopkins University, Morgan State University and the University of Baltimore.

Baltimore is poised to integrate smart cities technology, with infrastructure components such as fiber backhaul already in place, and 5G wireless technology a future initiative. The university team will evaluate how to couple these existing resources with new innovations to create a pilot smart community. In addition to bringing Wi-Fi to residents and businesses, the team will look at how to enhance school technologies, improve health service delivery, ease traffic congestion, elevate public safety initiatives and increase public transportation access. Technical and social scientists from the four university partners will work with smart city technology providers to guide recommendations. 

“We know from other places that new technologies can enhance the quality of life of city residents,” said Dr. Gerrit-Jan Knaap, project lead and director of the University of Maryland’s National Center for Smart Growth. “How to do that in Baltimore in an equitable and effective way is what this study is intended to identify.”

"We are excited to hear the news that Morgan will be a part of the NSF-funded planning grant that proposes a research center focused on developing ‘Smart Cities,’” said Michael G. Spencer, Dean of the Clarence M. Mitchell Jr. School of Engineering at Morgan State University. “With Baltimore poised to implement smart technology, such a center will be a great resource for all citizens of Baltimore."

Central to this effort will be engaging Baltimore residents in the design, use and evolution of technology resources. The university team will engage with West Baltimore residents to understand which technologies would improve their quality of life and have the potential to become a sustained part of their community. Coupled with comprehensive research on the impact of smart city investments, the residents’ insight will help to inform the city’s strategic plan.

"The opportunity to use community-based knowledge and data to best deploy and integrate smart technology in our neighborhoods is exciting," said Seema D. Iyer, who oversees the Baltimore Neighborhood Indicators Alliance at the University of Baltimore. "Many of our neighborhoods are looking for ways to address entrenched issues while building capacity to use technology to do so."

While the plan will focus on the area of West Baltimore, the university team expects their findings to have city-wide and national implications. In particular, their approach will address the “digital divide” that often accompanies the adoption of smart technology, in which disadvantaged populations often have less access or ability to utilize the technological resources. Their plan will ensure that the implementation of smart city technology increases access to opportunity and shapes social mobility, particularly for young people in low-income areas. 

"By leveraging existing technologies and mobile applications, we will be able to gather rich behavioral data, revealing hurdles that residents experience on a daily basis with the urban infrastructure,” says Dr. Vanessa Frias-Martinez, assistant professor at the UMD College of Information Studies and co-lead on the project team. “We will share these findings with decision makers and the residents to raise awareness, empower residents and shape the smart city plan in a way that will truly be accessible and beneficial to the community.” 

"Partnering with other leading institutions, GovEx will bring our expertise in data management to the discussion around creating community-based solutions in West Baltimore that will be meaningful and sustainable,” said Katherine Klosek, Director of Applied Research at GovEx. “Because we are building on best practices from cities that have already explored Smart Cities technology, we have a unique perspective to address critical aspects of smart cities planning."

The team will work closely with a number of stakeholders on this effort, including the mayor’s office, Baltimore city planning, Baltimore Department of Transportation, Maryland Transit Authority, Mt. Royal Community Development Corporation, and Upton Planning Committee.

“The possibilities for smart technology solutions are endless, and we are beyond excited about the doors this will open for the city and the residents and visitors to Baltimore City,” said Baltimore Mayor Catherine Pugh. “I know that to fully become a smart city requires careful planning, enlightened collaboration, innovation and lots of hard work; these challenges are opportunities for us, so I look forward to the smart growth and development solutions that will grow from this initiative.”

UMD Research Finds Human Brains Synchronize, Coordinate Under Collective Threat

October 12, 2017

Sara Gavin, 301-405-1733

COLLEGE PARK, Md.—When humans encounter threatening scenarios such as natural disasters, pandemics or terrorism, their survival often depends on the ability to cooperate and coordinate with others. New research from the University of Maryland Department of Psychology reveals how humans actually synchronize brain waves with one another when they are exposed to these threats.

Photo of brain synchronyDistinguished University Professor Michele Gelfand and Post-doctoral Associate Yan Mu recruited students from Peking University in Beijing, China for the research. Participants were divided into pairs and asked to read articles outlining a specific societal threat, such as increased military pressure from Japan. Afterwards, the teams had to work together to complete a task-- counting time in unison without the aid of a watch or clock.

Using hyperscanning electroencephalography (EEG) to monitor the brain activities of the participants, researchers discovered the students’ high frequency gamma brain waves, which are related to fear and threat processing, became synchronized and helped to facilitate coordination.

“While past research has suggested that humans need to have a heightened ability to work together when under threat, we didn’t know what neurobiological mechanisms help to make this happen,” Gelfand said.

“We were excited to find out how societal threats become ‘embrained,’” Mu added.

Findings from the research were published in Social Cognitive and Affective Neuroscience. Gelfand and Mu say their study represents an important frontier in social neuroscience: moving beyond single-brain analysis to study the collective brain processes of human groups. It also adds to growing literature on how societal threat affects the tightness of human groups, originating with Gelfand’s work published in Science.

“Through new technologies such as EEG and fMRI, we can study the neural mechanisms underlying group processes like decision-making, negotiation, leadership and many other important phenomena,” Gelfand said.  

The research was funded by the Alexander von Humboldt Foundation. Professor Shihui Han from Peking University is a study co-author.

UMD College of Education Launches Center for Educational Innovation and Improvement

October 11, 2017

Audrey Hill, 301-405-3468

College Park, MD—The University of Maryland College of Education announced today the launch of its new Center for Educational Innovation and Improvement. Designed to foster collaborations between the university, school systems and educational organizations that focus on improving pre-K-12 education, the Center will serve as an incubator for innovative initiatives that address critical issues in public education in Maryland and the region, advance collaborative research partnerships and provide professional education programs. 

“The Center is designed to cultivate robust partnerships amongst the university and pre-K-12 educators across Maryland, so that together we can help improve teaching and learning in school districts,” said Segun C. Eubanks, director of the Center for Educational Innovation and Improvement and chair of the Prince George’s County Board of Education. “We want to ensure that faculty research and expertise are meeting the needs of the school districts and addressing their most pressing issues.”

The Center will bring together key faculty from UMD, educators from area school systems, and policymakers from local, state and national organizations to tackle challenges in pre-K-12 education, such as the growing student population of English learners and teacher attrition. The Center will also serve to advance school leadership and teacher preparation in Maryland and the region through the development and expansion of new and existing professional education programs. The Center will  house the Doctorate of Education in School System Leadership, an innovative, practice-based model that brings together school administrators from a particular county to work collaboratively on solving a problem in the school system.

"The Center will serve as a vehicle for an interdisciplinary, collaborative approach that enables us to address critical issues that face our school systems and the state,” said College of Education Dean Jennifer K. Rice. “With our faculty expertise in research and educator preparation, the Center will also help expand the College of Education’s role as a local and national leader in education policy, scholarship and practice.”

An advisory committee, comprised of members who hold college and pre-K-12 leadership roles, will play an important role in providing input that will help guide the Center. 

“The Center is grounded in an improvement science model, which is a problem-centered approach to issues in education,” said Margaret McLaughlin, associate dean for research and innovations and partnerships at UMD College of Education. “We can help school districts address significant issues and provide tools to ensure that improvements are measurable. Our goal is to foster interaction between researchers and those responsible for developing research based policies and practices to create meaningful and sustainable change.”

FDA Awards $17M to UMD to Improve Food Safety

October 10, 2017

Samantha Watters301-405-2434

College Park, Md -- The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has awarded $17M to the University of Maryland (UMD) to help improve national food safety programs and international food standards. The grant will allow the Joint Institute for Food Safety and Applied Nutrition (JIFSAN), a partnership between the FDA and UMD that is focused on increasing global knowledge of effective food safety practices, to conduct multi-institutional, multidisciplinary research projects over the next five years. These research projects, along with the development of innovative education and outreach programs, will help JIFSAN create strategies to improve public health, food safety, and applied nutrition using risk analysis principles.

“The work conducted by JIFSAN is important on a global scale, helping food safety professionals from across the world understand how to properly implement and advance a healthy food system,” said Craig Beyrouty, dean and director of UMD’s College of Agriculture and Natural Resources. “JIFSAN’s partnership with the FDA remains strong, and through this generous award we’re looking forward to making significant strides in the next five years.”

As an FDA Center of Excellence, JIFSAN conducts various research and outreach activities in food safety and applied nutrition to help ensure that regulatory decisions are guided by scientific research and that the best methods and tools are available to advance food safety. JIFSAN has also developed innovative capacity-building partnerships with various stakeholders to support the Food Safety Modernization Act that emphasizes the concept of preventing food safety-related problems and enhancing FDA’s global efforts to improve U.S. and worldwide health.

Since its inception in 1996, JIFSAN has funded numerous UMD faculty research projects and provided 350 undergraduate students with internships with the FDA. JIFSAN’s international food safety training programs have trained over 9,000 food safety professionals who represent more than 40 countries.

“We thank FDA for its support to JIFSAN for the past 20 years, and are excited about the opportunities it provides us to improve food safety globally through our research, education and outreach programs,” said Professor Jianghong Meng, director of JIFSAN.


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