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A Welcome, and Call to ‘Contribute to Solutions to Improve Our Planet’

Pines Commits to Fossil Fuel-free Power Plant by 2035; Student Minimum Wage to Rise to $15 on Jan. 1

By Maryland Today Staff

Pines poses with student in frame that says, "umdhillel: Happy first day of classes, Terps!"

Peter Ervin ’23 poses for a first-day-of-school photo on Monday with President Darryll J. Pines, who visited several classrooms to greet students and faculty and handed out his signature terrapin pins on McKeldin Mall.

Photos by Stephanie S. Cordle

University President Darryll J. Pines sent the following email to the campus community today:

My fellow Terrapins,

Welcome to the Fall 2022 semester!

It seems like only yesterday we were celebrating our graduates at spring commencement, but the events of this summer demonstrate that our world is moving forward fast. If there’s a theme of our forthcoming semester, it is this: Do not sit on the sidelines to see what happens next. Help create the world, community and university you want.

Every year, our university offers countless ways to engage in critical and evolving issues. I challenge every member of our campus community to find ways to get involved, advocate for your beliefs, listen respectfully to other perspectives and embrace our open marketplace of ideas. Our campus is where change can begin.

Taking on grand challenges

This summer, the Supreme Court handed down decisions that have significant impacts on our ability to safeguard rights for women, fight climate change and regulate guns. We saw the income gap continue to widen, with more American families in hardship.

As a university, as scientists, as innovators, as truth-finders, it is our duty to be at the forefront of today’s most pressing issues. Here at Maryland, we are uniquely positioned to take on the grand challenges of our time, and we should rise proudly to that call for action. We do not take our mission to serve the public good lightly, and as an administration, we will do our part.

In June, our country was divided by a Supreme Court decision that undermines individuals’ ability to make personal health decisions. Maryland is one of about a dozen states that long ago took measures to preserve abortion access. Here on campus, our University Health Center and Counseling Center will continue to provide a wide variety of services and support to our campus community. But these rights should not be taken for granted, and I encourage anyone who feels strongly about this issue to continue to advocate for your beliefs, your rights and the rights of others.

Our outstanding faculty and researchers across campus are working to address climate change–from global policy to atmospheric chemistry. In fact, this year’s First Year Book, “All We Can Save: Truth, Courage, and Solutions for the Climate Crisis,” is an anthology of essays, poetry and art by a diverse group of women leading the charge on climate solutions. One of my very first announcements as president was to commit this university to carbon neutrality by 2025 on an accelerated timeline. A carbon-neutral campus is a significant step, but now it’s time to set our sights on greatly reducing dependency on fossil fuels. I am announcing today that we are committed to a fossil fuel-free power plant under the NextGen Energy Program by 2035.

I am proud to be leading a call for change on gun violence with the launch of a new partnership with George Mason University and the Consortium of Universities of the Washington Metropolitan Area. The 120 Initiative, named in honor of the more than 120 people who die on average each day from gun violence, brings together experts from 15 area universities to research solutions aimed at reducing gun violence. This is a uniquely American grand challenge.

And as for wages, I am proud to announce today that we will be raising the minimum wage for every student employee to $15 an hour, effective January 1, 2023—three years before the state requirement. This is a significant multimillion-dollar investment in a key pillar of our strategic plan: to invest in people and communities.

These initiatives are important, but I’ll say it again. Do not sit back and watch. We all live in the same world, and we all need to contribute to solutions to improve our planet for all humankind.

A changing campus

While there are traditions on our campus that I hope never change—may Testudo’s bronze nose never grow dull!—we can always count on change that helps reshape our leadership, surroundings and daily routines.

First, we welcome three new deans as bold leaders for the College of Arts and Humanities, College of Behavioral and Social Sciences, and College of Education. Deans Stephanie Shonekan, Susan Rivera and Kimberly A. Griffin bring decades of expertise, exemplary research in their fields, and a strong sense of identity and inclusion to the work that lies ahead.

Second, we welcome the Class of 2026 to College Park. This class is the most diverse in our history and includes increased numbers of students of color, first-generation college students and low-income students. This amazing diversity reflects our commitment to creating a multicultural community where every Terrapin can reach their full potential and embark on an educational journey to launch their careers.

Pines hugs staff member
Yansihalexi Humana, North Hill supervisor for facilities, gets a hug from Pines during his “thank you” visit with Department of Resident Life and Department of Residential Facilities staff in Annapolis Hall.

Third, our campus landscape is also changing. With the opening of Johnson-Whittle Hall and Yahentamitsi Dining Hall, our new Heritage Community is now complete. I announced on my first day as president the importance of honoring those who have shaped our past and present, and I am proud that we now have four new structures that honor Maryland trailblazers. The new state-of-the-art home for the School of Public Policy has opened its doors, and ground will be broken soon on an interdisciplinary engineering building.

And finally, College Park’s worst best-kept secret is that Trader Joe’s will open on Baltimore Avenue this fall. Welcome to the neighborhood!

Leading the change

All of our incoming faculty, staff and students now know what it is to be TerrapinSTRONG: to engage diversity, acknowledge our history, show Terrapin pride and take action to ​​advance equity, inclusion and social justice. A program that is only a year old, it perfectly embodies the two priorities you will hear me state again and again: to promote excellence in everything we do; and to create an inclusive, multicultural campus environment.

This summer, our understanding of the distant universe expanded. We were dazzled by a glimpse of interacting galaxies and a new view of the cosmos. Thank you, science. We also recognized 50-year milestones of both the Pell Grant and Title IX, each hailed for increasing opportunities and equity in higher education.

As we enter into a new academic year amidst tremendous change, I am reminded of the words of two trailblazers. First, the late Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg: “Fight for the things you care about, but do it in a way that will lead others to join you.” Second, the late Congressman from Georgia John Lewis: “Never ever be afraid to make some noise and get into some good trouble, necessary trouble.”

Let’s have a great school year together, Terps, as we look Fearlessly Forward.


President Darryll Pines Signature

Darryll J. Pines
President, University of Maryland

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