Category Archives: Features

UMBC Awarded Maryland Charity Campaign Governor’s Cup

Nancy Abell accepts Governor's Cup

For the third time, UMBC brought home the Governor’s Cup for per capita giving in the category of medium-sized state agencies during the 2010 Maryland Charity Campaign. The university also earned the award for highest participation with a rate of 62 percent.

During the campaign, 1,195 members of the UMBC community contributed more than $165,000 to charities and causes around the region and world.

“The UMBC community continues to demonstrate its remarkable generosity in helping those who are less fortunate,” said Lynne Schaefer, co-chair of the UMBC campaign along with John Jeffries. “We came together, as we always do, during a time of need out in the world, and we gave in record numbers. I am so proud to be a part of this community. Together we have made a great difference in the lives of so many in need, in Maryland and around the world,” she said.

Nancy Abell, lead coordinator of the Maryland Charity Campaign at UMBC, accepted the award. UMBC previously the Governor’s Cup home in the 2007 and 2008 campaigns.

Nancy Abell accepts Governor's Cup

Nancy Abell accepts UMBC's participation award

UMBC Welcomes Folklorists

On Wednesday, March 30, folklorists from throughout the state came together to share their work at the “Meet Maryland Traditions” panel discussion.

Panelists included:

  • Elaine Eff, folklorist-in-residence in the American studies department, and Cliff Murphy, Co-directors, Maryland Traditions
  • Kara Rogers Thomas, Folklorist, Frostburg State University
  • Cynthia Byrd, Curator, Ward Museum of Wildfowl Art, Salisbury
  • Mark Puryear, Curator, Rhythm and Blues Program, Smithsonian Folklife Festival
  • Lafayette Gilchrist ’92, Africana studies, jazz pianist and recipient of MD Traditions’ Master and Apprentice award.

The event was sponsored by the Dresher Center for the Humanities and the Orser Center for the study of Place, Community, and Culture.

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Anne Rubin, History, Tells Story of Pratt Street Riot

April 12 will mark the 150th anniversary of the start of the U.S. Civil War. In the video below, Anne Rubin, associate professor of history, shares the story of the Pratt Street Riots, which took place in Baltimore on April 19 and resulted in the conflict’s first casualties.

President Freeman Hrabowski Receives Hesburgh Award for Leadership Excellence

UMBC President Freeman A. Hrabowski, III, often says that part of his formula for the success of his campus is engaging his colleagues in questions about education and innovation.

“We are constantly asking questions about important issues. How do we ensure that students from all backgrounds excel? How do we use technology to strengthen teaching and learning?”

It’s this practice that has helped UMBC create an institutional model of inclusive excellence and increase the representation of minority students in science and engineering.

Now, Hrabowski has been recognized for this work with the 2011 TIAA-CREF Theodore M. Hesburgh Award for Leadership Excellence. Developed to recognize leadership excellence that reflects both commitment to higher education and contributions to the greater good, the Hesburgh Award is one of the most prestigious and respected awards in the higher education community.

“The achievements this award celebrates are really those of my colleagues and students,” said Hrabowski. “The award says that people around the country are recognizing what we are doing. We believe in the power of education to transform lives.”

The Hesburgh award is named in honor of Reverend Theodore M. Hesburgh, C.S.C., president emeritus of the University of Notre Dame, nationally renowned educator and world humanitarian.

“On behalf of the University System of Maryland, I am very pleased to congratulate Freeman Hrabowski on receiving this prestigious and well-deserved honor,” said University System of Maryland Chancellor Brit Kirwan. “As president of UMBC and throughout his career, Freeman has championed academic and research excellence; diversity and inclusion; and access and success for underrepresented students, especially in the STEM fields.”

“It’s an honor to be in the company of Chancellor Kirwan, who received last year’s Hesburgh award,” said Hrabowski, who became president of UMBC in 1992. “This recognition highlights the strong support that our Governor, legislators and other state officials give to higher education in Maryland.”

In 2008, Hrabowski was named one of America’s Best Leaders by U.S. News and World Report, which in both 2009 and 2010 ranked UMBC the #1 “Up-and-Coming” university in the nation. In 2009, Time magazine named him one of America’s 10 Best College Presidents.

With Baltimore philanthropist Robert Meyerhoff, Hrabowski co-founded the Meyerhoff Scholars Program at UMBC in 1988 for minority students committed to pursuing advanced degrees in science and engineering. Today, UMBC is among the nation’s leading institutions in producing African American graduates who go on to complete STEM Ph.D.s and M.D./Ph.D.s. Hrabowski recently chaired a National Academies committee that has recommended strategies for expanding underrepresented minority participation in science and engineering.

UMBC is committed to providing a distinctive undergraduate experience, providing students with learning communities and hands-on research and creative opportunities throughout the Baltimore-Washington region and beyond. The success of the Meyerhoff program has led to initiatives that provide opportunities for all students to learn in community. For example, the University has redesigned first-year STEM courses, emphasizing group learning and technology, resulting in higher pass rates, and the campus is now part of an NSF-funded program to track student success and enhance STEM retention and graduation rates.

Model undergraduate scholars programs in the humanities, arts and public affairs; living-learning communities in residence halls; and First-Year Seminars and the Introduction to an Honors University course also build on the group-learning model, while at the same time providing connections to faculty from the moment students arrive on campus. Competitive awards in undergraduate research are offered across disciplines, and student work is celebrated during Undergraduate Research & Creative Achievement Day and in two undergraduate journals.

In addition, UMBC’s NSF-funded PROMISE program is providing support and resources for graduate students in order to increase the graduate student population in STEM fields. Also, UMBC’s NSF-supported ADVANCE program has been instrumental in helping to increase the number of women faculty in science and engineering.

UMBC also is committed to supporting economic development and enhancing the region’s quality of life. Over the past 20 years, UMBC has been a model for developing partnerships focused on technology development and commercialization, supported by bwtech@UMBC, UMBC’s research park and incubator. Two sites house more than 70 biotech, IT/engineering and cybersecurity tenants.

Hrabowski said that innovation within the academy is critical as the nation faces an unprecedented set of challenges. “It takes all of us in the academy to build our institutions and prepare the next generation of leaders. Higher education is more important now than ever before for both our nation and humankind. I am honored to accept this award on behalf of my UMBC colleagues and students, and to have our work associated with the example of extraordinary leadership provided by Father Hesburgh.”

Watch Brian Grodsky’s New Video on Transitional Justice

Brian3.jpgWhat motivates a new regime to pursue justice measures against previous human rights abusers, from condemnations to criminal prosecutions? What deters them? In his new book, “The Costs of Justice,” UMBC assistant professor of political science Brian Grodsky argues that transitional justice is a function of the new leadership’s capacity to provide goods and services expected by constituents.

As he explains in his new Talking Heads video, “New leaders who come to power have to balance the desire for justice that they may have with the public’s perceptions of [their] efficacy.” In other words, politicians responsible for making sure electricity stays on, schools remain open, and the employment rate is stable “pursue justice to the degree to which they think they can get away with pursuing justice.”

This book speaks to students, scholars, human rights practitioners, activists and policymakers, helping them to understand, from a domestic perspective, how political leaders make important decisions impacting the international community.

Photos from the UMBC Service Awards

Student Volunteers Build Bluebird Boxes with Arbutus Middle School Students

Munanachu Poudel '14, Jeanie Lai '14, Zayan Mahmooth '12, Sarah Khalife '14 and Melissa Huselton, service-learning coordinator at the Shriver Center

Jeanie Lai ’14, environmental science; Sarah Khalife ’14, computer engineering; Munanchu Poudel ’14, biological sciences; and Zayan Mahmooth ’12, bioinformatics, led by Melissa Huselton, service-learning coordinator at the Shriver Center, braved one of the first cold and blustery afternoons of the season to assist students at Arbutus Middle School install bluebird boxes on school grounds.

The middle school students are members of the Green Club at AMS, a new club organized this fall by teachers Michael Guarraia and Sean Astrakhan. Earlier in the year, Green Club members built and painted bluebird boxes. Installing poles at four locations on school grounds was one of the final steps in the project.

Guarraia quizzed his students about materials and procedures, and were then broken into groups with UMBC student volunteers.

The first objective was to dig holes in the ground, “as deep as the length between your elbow and your fingertips,” Guarraia reminded his students. After digging two holes at each site, bags of concrete mix were opened and mixed with water. The volunteers helped students find the proper mix-to-water ratio, which proved a bit of a challenge in some spots because of the previous day’s rain.

Next, students secured metal poles, cut and assembled by Guarraia and Astrakhan, into the concrete, taking special care to make sure they were level. Finally, the poles were secured by string tied to stakes in the ground. It would take about a day for the concrete to set in the colder weather, Guarraia said.

After the concrete had hardened, Green Club members planned to install their bluebird boxes atop the poles and hoped their birdhouses would soon have new inhabitants.

Sarah Khalife '14 and Munanchu Poudel '14 help AMS students keep a birdhouse base level


Bambi Chapin, Anthropology, on Mothering

What makes a good mother? Bambi Chapin, assistant professor of anthropology, tackles this question in a new three-minute UMBC Talking Heads video: “Mothering as Everyday Practice.” Chapin’s upcoming special issue of Ethos explores not just what mothers say about parenting, but what they actually do, and how diverse value systems, social structures, traditions, habits and life circumstances shape mothering practices. Chapin undertook this research while parenting her own child in the field, and she describes how others’ reactions to her mothering had unexpected effects on her fieldwork.

Party Celebrates Orser’s Retirement

On November 11, about 150 people gathered in the Commons Skylight Room to celebrate Ed Orser, who recently retired as chair of the American Studies department.

“It was truly a wonderful event. It exceeded our best expectations,” said Nicole King, assistant professor of American studies, who helped to plan the event along with Kathy Bryan, associate chair of American studies, and Carol Harmon, administrative assistant in American studies.

“The diverse turnout speaks to the reach of Ed’s contributions as a public intellectual of the first notch and his connection with generations of students,” said King, pointing out that alumni from as far back as the 1970’s and from as far away as California came to the event. Orser’s family, UMBC colleagues, and friends from the Catonsville community also came to wish him well.

“I was thrilled—it was a wonderful celebration of where American Studies has been as a department and its bright future,” said Orser.

As a tribute to Orser, the department raised over $27,000 for the Orser Center fund, which will support the newly-formed Orser Center for the Study of Place, Community, and Culture.

“The center promises to provide a basis to sustain initiatives that bring the university and the community together in such important ways,” Orser said.

Orser started at UMBC in 1969 and helped to build the American Studies department into the innovative incubator for creative research that it is today. He served as the department’s chair for 20 years. “When I came to UMBC, it was exciting to be asked, ‘what would you like American Studies here to look like’? That’s a rare opportunity—if also a daunting challenge—for any new faculty member only recently out of graduate school, but I look back at that opportunity as being the right place at the right time,” said Orser.

Orser has published four books and helped to record UMBC’s history for its 30th anniversary. He has served as a historian for the Catonsville and Arbutus communities, recently being featured as the keynote speaker for Catonsville’s 200th anniversary celebration. He plans to continue working on public history projects within those communities. And King is quick to point out that although Orser is now a professor emeritus, his influence will be felt in the department for years to come. “Ed’s commitment to community engagement and public programming offer a model that the department will continue,” she said.

Maryland Charity Campaign: Janice O’Neill