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The Year in Pictures: 2021

Cicadas, COVID-19 Vaccine Clinics and Historic Celebrations Illustrate Our Unusual Year

By Karen Shih ’09

Graduates and their families sit spread out at commencement

Under a cloudless sky and cooled by a light spring breeze, Spring 2021 graduates and their families sat—physically distanced—in Maryland Stadium to celebrate the first outdoor commencement in 66 years.

Photo by Stephanie S. Cordle

Stroll through campus today and you’ll see students chatting over sandwiches in dining halls, browsing the stacks at McKeldin Library or raising their hands during classroom discussions. It’s enough to make you think it’s 2019 again—except for the masks and jugs of hand sanitizer at every building entrance, of course.

At the start of the year, such scenes weren’t a given. But thanks to the widespread availability of vaccines starting this spring, the University of Maryland community was able to start celebrating the milestones missed during the pandemic year.

They included the delayed inauguration of university President Darryll J. Pines; UMD’s first outdoor commencement ceremony in six decades; the historic opening of Jones-Hill House, honoring trailblazing student-athletes who broke racial barriers; and a ground blessing for the new Yahentamitsi dining hall, set to open in 2022.

Relive the past year with some of the University of Maryland photo staff’s favorite images from 2021.

Student sleds down snowy hill in laundry basket

Photo by Stephanie S. Cordle
The campus population was down during the “dedensified” Spring 2021 semester, but students who were here, including Madison Herron ’21, took advantage of January’s freshly fallen flakes to sled behind McKeldin Library. She followed the time-honored tradition of using any prop necessary, from dining hall trays to laundry baskets, to get down the hill.

Celebratory streamers falls as Darryll J. Pines is officially inaugurated

Photo by John T. Consoli
Celebratory streamers flew as Darryll J. Pines was officially inaugurated as the 34th president of the University of Maryland on April 22. He celebrated with family members at the "Moving Maryland Forward" event at The Clarice Smith Performing Arts Center, featuring music, poetry and an overview of Pines' ambitious goals for the university.

Man receives COVID-19 vaccine

Photo by Stephanie S. Cordle
In April, Gerard Toussaint, a food service aide at the 251 North dining hall, rolled up his sleeve at the Samuel Riggs IV Alumni Center during the university’s first COVID-19 vaccine clinic. “You’re still going to do what you have to do regardless, but with the vaccine, you can feel more confident,” he said.

Campus aerial showing School of Public Policy building construction

Photo by Eric Kruszewski
The new School of Public Policy building, bottom right, is just one of many new buildings under construction during a time of rapid growth on campus.

Cicada skin on a tree

Photo by John T. Consoli
The deafening collective shriek of Brood X cicadas, which blanketed campus trees in late May and June, are now a distant memory. Miss them? They’ll be back in 2038 to do it all over again.

Football players run into red-lit Jones-Hill House locker room

Photo by Greg Fiume
Tight end Justin Brown led the way as Maryland football players sprinted into their new locker room in Jones-Hill House. The facility, which officially opened in Cole Field House as the headquarters of Maryland football on June 14, is named in honor of Billy Jones, who became the first Black basketball player at Maryland and in the ACC in 1965, and Darryl Hill, who broke the same color barrier in football in 1963.

Kimberly Griffin poses

Photo by Stephanie S. Cordle
“Embracing my hair and falling in love with my hair didn't happen until I got a little bit older,” said Kimberly Griffin, professor and associate dean of graduate studies and faculty affairs in the College of Education. She and other Black Terps celebrated natural hair and Maryland’s CROWN Act, a new state law that protects against discrimination based on hair, in July.

Students walk on McKeldin Mall

Photo by Stephanie S. Cordle
On the first day of the Fall 2021 semester, a familiar stream of students brought McKeldin Mall back to life as they headed to class after more than a year of virtual learning for most.

Running back Tayon Fleet-Davis poses with hyped-up Terp fans

Photo by Zach Bland/Maryland Athletics
Running back Tayon Fleet-Davis posed with hyped-up Terp fans at the Homecoming football game, a rousing 38-35 win over Indiana, capping off a week of fun in-person events.

Maurice Proctor, a member of the Piscataway Conoy Tribe, leads the November ground blessing ceremony for Yahentamitsi

Photo by Stephanie S. Cordle
Maurice Proctor, a member of the Piscataway Conoy Tribe, led the November ground blessing ceremony for Yahentamitsi, the first dining hall built on campus in nearly 50 years, as well as the first UMD building to be named for Maryland’s Native American heritage. Pronounced "Yah-hen-tuh-meet-c," it means “a place to go to eat” in the Algonquian language spoken by the Piscataway.

Maryland Today is produced by the Office of Strategic Communications for the University of Maryland community weekdays during the academic year, except for university holidays.