Senior Vice President and Provost Jennifer King Rice sent the following email to the campus community today:
Welcome back to a new academic year! I hope you all were able to find some time over the summer months for rest and renewal, and that you are ready to embrace the rich opportunities of a new semester. The start of the new academic year is always an energizing time at the University of Maryland! It’s exciting to see the campus flourishing with activity. Students are back and are diving into their studies, faculty are engaging in teaching and research, and staff are supporting our university mission in so many essential ways. It is encouraging to see our campus filled with people participating in meaningful conversations, sharing a laugh, taking the time to forge new friendships, and creating community. This collegial atmosphere is why so many of us look forward to the start of classes each fall!
This summer, many members of our campus community have been working collaboratively to begin implementing our strategic plan:Fearlessly Forward, In Pursuit of Excellence and Impact for the Public Good. To encourage broad participation, our campus community was sent a call to action to self-nominate for consideration as a committee member on one of four strategic plan pillar committees. These committees–aligned with our four strategic commitments–will shape the implementation of the strategic plan by adding critical oversight, feedback and accountability. Committee rosters will be listed on the Strategic Plan Website in mid-September, and the committees will begin their work this fall under the leadership of the following chairs:
We Reimagine Learning: Co-chairs: William Cohen, Associate Provost and Dean of Undergraduate Studies and Marcio Oliveira, Assistant Vice President, Academic Innovation and Technology
We Take On Humanity’s Grand Challenges: Co-chairs: Betsy Beise, Associate Provost for Academic Planning and Programs and Eric Chapman, Associate Vice President, Research Development
We Invest in People and Communities: Chair: James McShay, Assistant Vice President for Student Affairs
We Partner to Advance the Public Good: Chair: KerryAnn O'Meara, Special Assistant to the Provost for Strategic Initiatives
We also have been busy launching the first round of strategic initiatives. Below are a few examples of how our campus is investing in the bold vision of improving the lives of every person on earth by reimagining teaching and learning; accelerating solutions to the grand challenges of our time through creativity and discovery; and forging a diverse and inclusive community where our differences are celebrated and equity is relentlessly pursued.
Teaching and Learning Grants UMD is committed to the continuous transformation and evolution of teaching and learning in the classroom as well as in the community. In support of our strategic commitment to reimagine learning, this past spring we launched a competitive grant process to support innovative educational projects that focus on expanding active and experiential learning. We funded 115 projects that will directly impact over 19,000 students in 296 courses across 86 academic programs. Fifty projects will bring students out of the classroom, enabling them to apply their growing knowledge to real world scenarios, and 46 projects will instill more experiential and project-based learning into general education courses. For a full list of awardees, please visit: https://tltc.umd.edu/grantawardees22
Grand Challenges Grants In support of our commitment to take on humanity’s grand challenges, the university established the Grand Challenges Grants program, which will provide up to $30 million in institutional investments to fund initiatives and projects designed to accelerate solutions to the grand challenges of our time. The program has two distinct components: institutional grants and project grants. In response to the call for proposals for Grand Challenge institutional grants, 24 letters of intent were submitted, involving 210 faculty and well over 100 staff from all 12 colleges and schools and several campus divisions. The proposed projects address critical issues such as climate change, literacy, democracy, sustainable environments, pandemic preparedness, and many others. Team and individual project grant proposals are due Sept. 30. For more information on these grant programs, please visit: https://research.umd.edu/gc
Learning Environment Modernization Exciting changes have been made to our classroom spaces in the past three months. For example, a new Hyflex classroom has been created in the Parren J. Mitchell Art-Sociology Building to allow both in-person and remote students to attend classes together and interact seamlessly. The computer lab in the Atlantic Building has been renovated and upgraded to include a new AV system and iMacs for the students. Three new TERP classrooms have been created to expand our capacity to support collaborative, student-centered, team-based modes of teaching and learning. In addition, 19 classrooms in the School of Public Health, Jimenez Hall, and Chemistry have been upgraded with new technology and furnishings. These spaces will allow our instructors and students more opportunities for active and engaged learning.
Investments in our People and Community We have also taken action to invest in our people and support an inclusive community of excellence where all can fully participate and succeed. Across our divisions, we have increased salaries and stipends, charged a task force on mental health services to support our campus community, launched the development of five new cultural centers, and hosted dialogues with faculty to consider how we might better align our promotion and evaluation systems with our goals and values. During the summer months, we focused on our staff, who were invited to offer ideas for improving their work life at UMD. Over 2,400 staff replied to a short, anonymous survey; almost 400 engaged in campus conversations hosted by the Center for Leadership and Organizational Change (CLOC); and 328 staff offered their suggestions via Idea Booths at end-of-year celebration activities. Data from these activities are being analyzed and will be shared with campus leadership in mid-October, and then more broadly with the campus community. The Invest in People and Communities Pillar Committee will develop recommendations and action items based on this valuable community input.
Partnerships to Advance the Public Good We have accelerated partnerships on multiple fronts! Our Office of Undergraduate Admissions has strengthened outreach to Baltimore and Prince George’s County to create stronger admissions and enrollment pathways into UMD for students in our local communities. Our Discovery District is scaling up support to new start-up businesses in College Park, and our Global Fellows program is expanding to create more D.C. partnerships so students have access to broad opportunities to contribute as interns in their respective fields at various organizations. The Center for Educational Innovation and Improvement in the College of Education has developed a long-term partnership with Prince George’s County Public Schools to strengthen equity and achievement through innovation, outreach and research, with a particular focus in science and math.
These are just a few examples of the impactful and transformative work that is underway to support the shared values and goals outlined in our strategic plan. As the semester unfolds, I encourage you to consider ways in which your work contributes to our bold vision of advancing the public good. Our success will depend on the engagement of every member of our vibrant and diverse community through the work that we do, the experiences we share, and the way we envision our university’s impact on society. I hope you will join me in embracing this bold new path for our university.
I look forward to a successful year ahead, and wish to thank all of you for your contributions and dedication to our university. I am honored to be a part of this remarkable community and look forward to your continued engagement as we move Fearlessly Forward.
Jennifer King Rice Senior Vice President and Provost University of Maryland She/Her/Hers