Darryll J. Pines takes the helm of the University of Maryland today as its 34th president, following a 25-year career on campus as a faculty member, then dean of the A. James Clark School of Engineering.

The Glenn L. Martin Professor of Aerospace Engineering is well known as a nationally prominent voice for engineering education, a leader intent on diversifying his field, an advocate for the student experience, a successful fundraiser for the university and an accomplished researcher in his own right.

But unless you’ve seen him leading engineering students in a cheer at the annual Alumni Cup competition, heard him crank some ‘70s funk or watched him reunite with his goldendoodle, Rocky, at the end of the day, you might not know how eminently approachable he is.

He paused as Maryland Today tossed him a rapid-fire series of fill-in-the-blank questions, and his responses reinforce his reputation as student-centered, equity-minded and relentlessly future-focused:

It’s been a good day when: I’ve met a new student.

A book I’ve recently recommended: “White Fragility: Why It's So Hard for White People to Talk About Racism”

If I could go back in time, I’d: want to witness Lincoln’s signing of the Emancipation Proclamation.

Who most inspires me: Nelson Mandela

Best musical artist or band is definitely: I’m old school: Earth, Wind & Fire.

A skill I wish I had: Play the violin or guitar

World’s most underappreciated invention: Navigational instruments. It’s so important to know where you’re going!

What my kids have taught me: Patience

Little-known guilty pleasure: Pralines and cream ice cream

Favorite thing about my dog: Uncompromising love

Best life decision: Marrying my wife, Sylvia

Who would play me in a biopic: My twin brother

My motto: "Excellence is expected, miracles are preferred."

Favorite sci-fi technology: As a Trekker, I’ll go with the Communicator.

The world would be a better place if: we could eliminate all forms of bias.

Best leadership advice I've heard: Think B1G!