In his first news conference since being named the University of Maryland’s 34th president, Darryll J. Pines on Friday reflected on the power of land-grant universities to change lives—including his own.

“(Education) is the only thing that equalizes everything, allows everyone the fair opportunity to achieve their dreams and their careers,” said Pines, a first-generation college student who attended the University of California, Berkeley on a scholarship. “That happened to me, and it happens to anyone who goes to a land-grant institution.”

Darryll J. Pines speaks at the podium at a news conferenceIn an address to the media and campus stakeholders at The Hotel at the University of Maryland, Pines, the A. James Clark School of Engineering dean, outlined how he’ll use his long experience at UMD to continue working toward excellence, embracing diversity and inspiring Maryland pride.

He’s spent 25 years on campus, serving first as a professor and then as both the Clark School dean and the Nariman Farvardin Professor of Aerospace Engineering since 2009. He will succeed Wallace D. Loh, who will retire on July 1 after a decade as president.

“I know firsthand his strong leadership ability,” said College of Behavioral and Social Sciences Dean Gregory Ball, vice chair of the presidential search committee, as he introduced Pines, “how capable he is of addressing problems, and that his overall talents as a scholar and an academic administrator are unparalleled.”

Among his goals, Pines said he’ll use his experience creating a more diverse faculty and student body at the Clark School to guide him in bolstering diversity across the campus. He’ll look to build on partnerships with high schools and community colleges throughout Prince George’s County, Baltimore, D.C. and beyond that serve underrepresented populations, he said.

Later Friday afternoon, Pines met informally with the campus community at an ice cream social meet and greet at the Stamp Student Union. Students, faculty and staff—enjoying Free State Vanilla, Fearless Ideas chocolate and 1856 strawberry flavors, as well as other sweets and fruit—lined up to shake their new president's hand, share a quick chat or snap a picture on their phone.

“It is our people and our community that makes Maryland special,” Pines said. “I am honored that as president I will have the chance to share experiences, build relationships and earn new opportunities with each and every one of the people I serve.”