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Op/ed: Building on Black Leadership in Higher Education

Pines Lauds Foundational Work by UMD’s First Black Chancellor

By Darryll J. Pines

John Slaughter

Former Chancellor John Slaughter, UMD's first Black leader, was a groundbreaking engineer whose career spanned government agencies, nonprofits and academia.

Photo courtesy of UMD Archives

University of Maryland President Darryll J. Pines was an engineering student who hadn’t given a thought to leading an institution of higher learning when John B. Slaughter was boosting diversity in science, mathematics and engineering as the institution’s first Black leader.

Pines today realizes that his predecessor helped create a path on which he could rise to excellence, and established a legacy that the UMD president seeks to carry on himself: “building toward a world where Black achievement was so abundant, there was no need to keep track of first, second or third,” he writes in an essay in The Baltimore Sun.

From my position of leadership at a top public research university in the world, I hold in my sightline the leaders who came first. As the first Black chancellor of the University of Maryland, John Brooks Slaughter endured the hardships that accompany being the first at anything, so that my hopes and potential could be inclusive of just about everything.

Dr. Slaughter passed away last year. His legacy stands in a category all its own.

He was a Black engineer who, like me, rose to the highest ranks of higher education. I am struck by how similar our professional paths have been, while also acknowledging that it is still somehow rare. I hold great optimism for Dr. Slaughter’s legacy and what it means for building more Black leadership.

Read the rest in The Baltimore Sun.

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