Chancellor's Report to the Board of Regents on Nov. 10

Report to the USM Board of Regents
Chancellor Jay A. Perman
Towson University | November 10, 2023

Thank you, Chair Gooden.

First, to Towson University and new President Mark Ginsberg, thank you for hosting us today. I had the pleasure of joining Towson in a welcome reception when President Ginsberg arrived, and I returned two days later for a terrific Systemwide symposium on civic education and engagement. Thank you for hosting.

I know President Ginsberg has begun a listening tour with the TU community to form a compelling, collaborative vision of Towson’s future. That future starts now—with national recognitions for inclusive academic excellence; with the largest incoming class in TU history; and with the community’s full faith in the greatness of this university. Congratulations and welcome, Mark. Could we give Dr. Ginsberg a round of applause?

I have more leadership transitions to acknowledge. As you know, Patrick Hogan, former vice chancellor for government relations, left the USM last month to join Cornerstone Government Affairs. While we’re grateful for Patrick’s invaluable service to the System, we wasted no time finding his successor.

Susan Lawrence, director of government affairs at the University of Maryland, Baltimore, will take on the vice chancellorship next month. I was lucky to work with Ms. Lawrence at UMB. I know her long administrative experience in the Maryland Senate and her deep knowledge of the USM will benefit us greatly.

I thank Assistant Vice Chancellor Andy Clark for serving in the interim role at a critical time in the legislative calendar, as we approach the 2024 session.

I have one more transition to announce. This week, Tim McDonough, vice chancellor for marketing and communications, shared that he’ll leave the USM next month to become senior vice president at NACUBO. I thank Tim for his dedicated service to the System and to our universities, and I wish him the best in his exciting new role.

Nan Mulqueen, director of executive communications, will take on the interim vice chancellorship, and Senior Vice Chancellor Ellen Herbst will steer our marketing and branding campaign until we find Tim’s successor. Thank you both.

Now let me pivot to the excellence of our universities. I want to start with a few of our universities together, because I think that’s when we’re at our best.

Last month, President Biden announced that—from a pool of 400 applications—the Greater Baltimore Region has been named one of 31 Federal Tech Hubs. The Baltimore consortium that pursued this designation includes UMB, Coppin State, Towson, and UMBC. The hub exploits one of the System’s great strengths: artificial intelligence intersecting with biotechnology, and emphasizing personalized medicine and predictive health.

This designation promises billions of dollars in investment—federal and otherwise. It promises economic growth, innovation, and equitable opportunity. It promises to revolutionize human health and wellness. I thank everyone who brought this opportunity home.

Of course, we just got another huge win 48 hours ago: The consolidated FBI headquarters are coming to Greenbelt. We contributed to this. To lure the agency to Maryland, nearly all of our universities have volunteered their research capabilities in dozens of FBI domains and their capacity to supply and train the FBI workforce.

Seven long years ago, UMB and College Park launched a joint terrorism and counterterrorism academy to serve the FBI’s intelligence needs. With Bowie State, they’re ready to stand up an academy for innovation in national security. The System is teeming with National Centers of Academic Excellence in Cybersecurity: UMBC, Bowie State, College Park, Towson, UMGC.

Our well-funded research centers, our tight federal and industry partnerships, our students and workforce that are second-to-none—all of it makes Maryland the perfect place for the FBI headquarters. And that was the pitch we made over and over again. Thank you all for making it happen.

Now, on to some individual excellence.

I was excited to join Coppin State last month as they cut the ribbon on their new College of Business. The $45 million facility—the first new building to open at Coppin since 2015—will be a hub for business education in Baltimore and a catalyst for university growth and community development. As I said at the ribbon-cutting, it’s an investment in the next generation of students who will remake not only how we do business in America, but who does that business.

And honoring its commitment to #ExpandEagleNation, Coppin inked a transfer agreement with the Colorado Community College System, offering graduating two-year students in-state tuition rates. Congratulations, President Jenkins.
The University of Maryland, College Park affirmed its status as the Capital of Quantum with the opening this fall of the National Quantum Lab. The world’s quantum experts will gather at QLab in the university’s Discovery District to build quantum technology with real-world impact.

Speaking of the Discovery District, President Pines announced this fall that it’s growing by 22 acres, enabling even more R&D partnerships. And speaking of R&D, College Park’s research enterprise swelled to a record $834 million, a 23 percent surge over its FY22 record high. An incredible feat, President Pines.

UBalt has launched a multidisciplinary center within its College of Public Affairs to support local and national communities in improving mental health and community health; to prioritize prevention in tackling the underlying, or “upstream,” issues that lead to substance use and behavioral challenges, and threaten our collective well-being.

And this fall, UBalt’s Second Chance College Program held a commencement ceremony for its students at Jessup—actually at Jessup—the first time a graduation ceremony has taken place inside the prison. The coverage was deeply moving. President Schmoke, thank you.

Keeping with our justice system, at Bowie State, the Institute for Restorative Justice and Practices—together with the Judge Alexander Williams, Jr. Center at College Park—is joining the Maryland Equitable Justice Collaborative. Led by the Office of the Attorney General, the collaborative will address the disproportionate incarceration of Black men in Maryland prisons.

Additionally, three U.S. Department of Education grants to BSU, worth $3.5 million, will provide scholarships to future teachers and leaders serving children in special education—children who are increasingly diverse, while the teaching profession itself remains largely white. Thank you, President Breaux.

At UMB, Maryland Carey Law launched the Gibson-Banks Center for Race and the Law, providing a critical space for scholarship, engagement, and action on issues of equality and justice, with a focus on systems and institutions.

And UMB’s School of Medicine continued its worldwide leadership in xenotransplantation, conducting the second-ever surgery implanting a genetically modified pig’s heart into a human patient. The school pioneered the procedure with the first surgery in 2022. The patient lived for nearly six weeks following surgery, and in so doing, may one day be credited with helping to save thousands of people who die each year awaiting transplant organs. Thank you, President Jarrell.

Frostburg State is partnering with the West Virginia School of Osteopathic Medicine in a program that prepares students to pursue a career in osteopathic medicine close to home, so that they can stay in their communities and provide vital care where it’s often least accessible.
And the inaugural Bobcat Innovation Launch Pad this fall was a huge success. Partnering with TEDCO, Deloitte, and the USM Launch Fund, Frostburg hosted multidisciplinary teams of 70 students who developed and pitched business models and tech solutions to problems in energy generation and climate change. Congratulations, Vice President Delia.

Salisbury University is playing a key role in a $28 million Maryland Tutoring Corps grant from the Maryland Department of Education, partnering with Wicomico County Public Schools to improve middle and high school math proficiency, especially among historically underserved students. Thirty tutors, primarily SU students and retired educators, will provide rigorous intervention and high-dosage tutoring to meet individual growth targets for students struggling in math. Provost Couch, thank you.

At our regional centers, the USM at Hagerstown partnered in a Washington County Town Hall Series on the opioid overdose crisis. Community members and leaders came together to inventory regional needs and map a plan for addressing them. Thank you for this important advocacy, Dr. Ashby.

Last month, the Universities at Shady Grove hosted the 11th annual Montgomery County Business Hall of Fame induction ceremony. Over the years, the event has raised more than $1.6 million for scholarships at USG, benefitting 1,200-plus students. Well done, Dr. Khademian.

Later this month, I’ll be traveling to the USM at Southern Maryland to talk with employers, public officials, and community organizations about the growing number of bachelor’s programs offered at USMSM, and to activate these stakeholders as champions for education and employment in the region. So very important. I can’t wait for it, Dr. Abel.

Just last week, UMES flew higher than hawks normally do. Aboard the Virgin Galactic 05 space launch was a payload designed by UMES’s Dr. Aaron Persad to test how confined fluid behaves in a low-gravity environment.

Back on Earth, UMES was the lead sponsor for An Evening with Joyce Abbott. Now, for the uninitiated, Ms. Abbott is an educator in Philadelphia. She was a beloved teacher to a young Quinta Brunson. She’s the inspiration for Ms. Brunson’s wildly popular sitcom, Abbott Elementary. And, yes, Ms. Abbott is a proud UMES alum. Thank you, Dr. Anderson, for UMES’s work in educating the teachers who inspire us all.

UMBC has announced some significant grants in recent weeks: Dr. Yonathan Zohar will lead a $10 million international partnership to scale land-based salmon aquaculture—advancing global food security, environmental sustainability, and economic resilience; Dr. Erin Green has won $1.2 million to study cellular pathways involved in cancer and neurodegenerative diseases; and Dr. Vandana Janeja will partner with UMCES on a $1 million grant using high-performance computing to understand—and predict—critical changes in the environment.

Speaking of which, last month, UMCES hosted more than 150 public- and private-sector leaders to launch a collaboratory harnessing big data and advanced cyberinfrastructure to tackle environmental challenges. UMCES’s Chesapeake Global Collaboratory is what they call a “think and do tank” to shape environmental action that’s improved by more people, deeper data, better technology, and broader engagement—for more nimble, more democratic science.

And the big splash that Gov. Moore made about 1.7 billion juvenile oysters being planted in the Chesapeake Bay? A planting that exceeded the 2023 goal and set a new record? Most of those oysters came from the hatchery at UMCES’s Horn Point Lab. Congratulations, President Dennison.

The University of Maryland Global Campus recently announced a new location at Vandenberg Space Force Base in California, teaming with base personnel to support service members, veterans, and their families who aspire to a degree.

And brand-new rankings from the Military Times’ Best for Vets program names UMGC the country’s #1 Public Online or Combination University for veterans and service members—with a #3 rank overall–and the country’s #1 university in terms of employment. Well done, President Fowler.

Dr. Fowler, I know you’ve been deeply engaged with your students around the world who are affected by the horrific situation in the Middle East—students and families who are sheltering in place; service members who may have to deploy. Our thoughts are with you and your team and, of course, with everyone in the UMGC family facing danger and displacement.

And it’s on this topic that I want to end my report. We’re not insulated from the turmoil of the world—not overseas and not here either. Many of our students, faculty, and staff have friends and family directly in harm’s way in Gaza and Israel, and in countries where the violence is spilling over.

I know we all have strong feelings about what happened on Oct. 7, and what’s been happening every day since. I know each of us is shaped by who we are, by our life experiences, by our lived history and that of our loved ones, those here today and our ancestors.

That said, I am committed, this System is committed, to our people; that they feel safe no matter who they are. And what that requires is dialogue, community, connection. It requires civility, even when—especially when—that feels so difficult. It requires that we engage with one another across our differences and without incendiary speech; that we share and listen.

I’m not naïve enough to hope for agreement. But I am optimistic enough to hold out for the very things that higher education promises us: to draw on our shared humanity and our shared values, to bridge divides, to model empathy and practice compassion.

I know all of our universities are offering support and resources to students who are struggling. I know you’re offering opportunities to gather and comfort one another; to talk and to reflect; to remember the dead and pray for the living. My hope is that we emerge from this agony more committed than ever to using what we do for light and for peace.
Madame Chair, this concludes my report.

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Contact: Mike Lurie
Phone: 301.445.2719