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Big Issues

Brendan Iribe, co-founder of Oculus VR, makes record $31 million donation to U-Md. (The Washington Post)

Oculus CEO Brendan Iribe, originally from Montgomery County and a graduate of Atholton High School in Howard County, has pledged $31 million to the University of Maryland to fund scholarships and a new computer science building on the College Park campus, a record donation for the school.

Developer unveils plans for 4-star hotel at University of Maryland in College Park (The Washington Post)

For nearly a decade, the University of Maryland studied proposal after proposal for a parcel of vacant land in the heart of College Park’s Route 1 corridor. Now the site that once was home to the university’s research greenhouse facility is about to become the pinnacle of College Park luxury: Developer David Hillman plans to build a conference center and hotel with 276 guest rooms, a massive ballroom, high-end restaurants and an innovation incubator where students can launch start-up companies.

U Maryland Releases Grad Rates Through SAM Tracking System (Campus Technology)

A Web site that displays graduation rates has added the University of Maryland College Park to its inaugural roster. The institution, which has 37,000 students, has joined the Student Achievement Measure (SAM), which tracks the graduation rates of students who start and finish at their first institutions as well as those who move among colleges.

U Maryland Launches Supercomputer With the Power of 10,000 Laptops (Campus Technology)

A 300-teraflop supercomputer named Deepthought2 will now power research at the University of Maryland. Housed in the institution's new 9,000-square-foot Cyberinfrastructure Center, Deepthought2 was developed with high-performance computing solutions from Dell and will support advanced research activities ranging from studying the formation of the first galaxies to simulating fire and combustion for fire protection advancements.

New strategy would drop college textbook costs to zero (The Baltimore Sun)

This semester, the University System of Maryland is exploring ways to bring that cost to zero with "open-source" electronic textbooks — the latest experiment in changing the way students in Maryland and across the nation are taught...Scott Roberts, a University of Maryland, College Park professor who teaches an introductory psychology course, started writing his own open-source textbook for the class in 2010 and is participating in the pilot program.

At summit, Purple Line buzz is confident (WTOP)

At a summit of Purple Line supporters and county and state officials, a buzz is palpable in the crowd about a Record of Decision from the federal government, a key step toward getting the light-rail project off the ground... "The buzz around the room is that this is going to happen. I think the momentum is now such that it's a matter of when, not if. And the when is coming very soon," says Gerrit Knaap, Director of National Center for Smarter Growth at the University of Maryland.

As Purple Line Moves Forward, Supporters Convene (WAMU)

The Purple Line Corridor Coalition met for the first time Friday on the presumption the 16-mile light rail project will be built, and it's looking like it will be..."There will be opposition. We already know there is opposition and where it is coming from," says Gerrit Knaap, a coalition member and the director of the National Center for Smart Growth at the University of Maryland. "I am hopeful we can resolve these issues amicably without reverting to lawsuits, but it is really hard to predict these things."

Digital pioneers (The Baltimore Sun)

Where can you turn to avoid technology? Whether you squirm in your seat at the thought of using a computer, or whether you can navigate the world wide web like a pro, one thing is for sure: we live in a digital age and it is evolving. But what of the education system? Are digital devices distracting in the classroom, as some educators have suggested? Ronald Yaros, Ph.D. asks a provocatively different question. Yaros is a nationally recognized researcher and teacher of digital environments at the University of Maryland.