William E. “Brit” Kirwan

DSC_7468 Kirwan now small

In a few days, Brit Kirwan will retire from his position as System Chancellor. The position has been the highest achievement of his long career with higher education in Maryland. He began as an Assistant Professor in UMCP’s Department of Mathematics in 1964, and with a short out-of-state interruption he has moved steadily upward as a Maryland academic and then academic leader. We are proud to publish comments about Brit in this issue, and not just because he was instrumental in launching The Faculty Voice way back when. Brit is a warm and supportive leader who has good ideas and knows how to implement them working with faculty members (a tough lot) and others. The accomplishments of higher education in Maryland can in large part be traced to his leadership. Thanks, Brit. Below are several observations by people who know Brit well. -Bill Hanna

Brit Kirwan’s Leadership of UMCP

By J. R. Dorfman, Emeritus Professor, UMCP/ Physics and IPST

Brit Kirwan is without a doubt one of the most admired and effective university presidents or chancellors in the country. I served as Dean of the College of Computer, Mathematical, and Physical Sciences when he was Provost of UMCP and then as Provost during his first years as President, before I returned to teaching and research. Consequently, I was able to see him up close, so to speak, and could see how the University benefitted from his leadership. His integrity, his academic values, as well as his ability to find solutions for the many issues that arose involving campus personnel and students all made him very effective and a very respected leader. One could not fail to be impressed by Brit’s attention to the fairness of the tenure and promotion process and his regard for the importance of tenure in the university setting. His personal warmth and approachability enabled him to develop strong friendships with governors, national and state legislators, and other government officials of both political parties. Brit could discuss the university and its needs in a very personable, honest, and convincing way. As a result, the University was able to compete successfully for state funds during the several years of restricted or falling state budgets. Under Brit’s guidance, the University secured Flagship status, and its reputation as an excellent educational and research institution reached a very high level. These achievements naturally led to an improved ability to recruit students with high academic credentials and to substantial increases in research funding and outside donations. Brit also guided the expansion and innovations in honors programs for gifted students, as well as the growth of support and retention programs for all students. I am certain that the University System benefitted in a similar way from Brit’s leadership, his warm and open personality, and his integrity.

One of the admirable features of Brit’s administration was his insistence that the entire university community be involved, in one way or another, with aspects of decision-making and in planning. This applied when decisions were made about the allocation of enhancement funds as well as when decisions were made about the best way to respond to difficulties caused by cuts to the University’s budget.

It was under Brit’s direction as President of UMCP that the University constructed the Clarice Smith Center for the Performing Arts, the Eppley Recreational Center, and Van Munching Hall, and carried out many renovations and improvements to existing buildings. The new centers and buildings brought new cultural, educational, and recreational opportunities to the campus with a concomitant improvement of the quality of life for all the members of the campus community.

Brit’s tenure as President, and no doubt also as Chancellor, was marked by his devotion to the wellbeing of the University. This concern can be illustrated by the following incident: Late one evening as Brit and Patty were in their pajamas about to go to sleep, Brit happened to change the television station to one that was broadcasting deliberations of the College Park City Council. They were discussing an issue that affected the campus so Brit quickly got dressed and went to the Council meeting in order testify on behalf of the Campus.

I am proud to say that while I served as Dean and Provost, Brit and I managed to accomplish some things that seemed quite difficult at first. These included finding funds that enabled our astronomers to participate in the still expanding Maryland-Berkeley-Illinois radio telescope array. We were able to move the entire Department of Computer Science to the A. V. Williams Building after many years of its being located in three or four separate buildings, and we were able to find innovative ways to respond to the financial opportunities and difficulties that inevitably arose from time to time. Brit’s enthusiasm and optimism helped him and those who worked with him find ways to overcome difficulties, to maintain and improve the quality and morale of the campus community, and to convince government officials and potential donors of the vitality and abilities of the members of the university’s faculty, staff and student body. I will always be grateful for the wisdom and support that Brit provided to Ray Gillian, the committee members, and me when we worked on studying and making recommendations about the academic lives of student athletes in 1986, following the death of Len Bias. This experience certainly came to bear in Brit’s subsequent roles with the NCAA and the Knight Commission that gave him a national forum for encouraging positive changes in intercollegiate athletics.

As Brit and Patty enter this new phase of their lives, they both deserve our thanks for their devotion to the University, the University System, and to those of us who have had the privilege of working with them and of seeing the growth of the University during Brit’s tenure as President and as Chancellor.


Statement on Brit Kirwan’s retirement

By Freeman A. Hrabowski, III, President, UMBC

“It is difficult to say what is impossible, for the dream of yesterday is the hope of today and the reality of tomorrow.” – Robert H. Goddard, 1904


Credit: John T. Consoli

Credit: John T. Consoli

When talking about Brit’s leadership in American higher education, we’re reflecting on a 50-year period that is among the most important in the history of the country. I like to think of this period as one of experimentation, a special time when we started to believe that people of all races – men and women from all economic backgrounds – should have the opportunity to become educated citizens. This experiment has demonstrated the importance of higher education to the future of individuals, families, American society, and beyond. No one has been more instrumental in bringing about this success than Brit Kirwan.

When Brit has spoken at UMBC leadership retreats, he has often reminded us that when the first students started taking classes on our campus in 1966, he had already been an Assistant Professor at College Park for two years. In 1964, when Brit started, only 10 percent of Americans had earned college degrees. Throughout his career, in so many ways, he has focused on expanding higher education opportunities for all and on closing the achievement gap. He fought for the opportunity for students of all races to study at College Park, focused on racial justice at Ohio State, and has insisted that all campuses in the University System of Maryland make closing the achievement gap a top priority.

Fifty years ago, none of us could have imagined this country and the University System of Maryland as they are today. As Chancellor, Brit has encouraged institutions to explain to public officials the importance of teaching and of research — applied and basic. He has encouraged us to get involved and help solve the problems of the state and beyond. Brit is a national spokesperson on a range of issues. Perhaps most important, he has helped the public appreciate the value of a strong public higher education system.

His tenacity and unquestionable authenticity have made him believable. You know he’s sincere. He has this passion for life and for helping people. He has empowered countless people to excel, and he has helped many others build and sustain substantive relationships.

All of us are products of our childhood experiences. Brit’s father, Albert Dennis Kirwan, was a historian whose long career at his alma mater, the University of Kentucky, included a period serving as the university’s president. As the UK trustees noted, President “Ab” Kirwan followed the precept that “we are here to add what we can to life, not to get what we can from it.” Similarly, Chancellor William “Brit” Kirwan lives by that same precept.

Brit’s career reflects the essence of enlightened leadership. For him, leadership is about shared governance and a deep appreciation for the power of education to solve problems. What problem is stickier in America than closing the achievement gap? As a professor, college president and university system chancellor, Brit did not turn his head from this challenge. He faced it squarely, and he continues to do so.

On Kirwan

By Sharon Fries-Britt & Marvin Titus, UMCP/Higher Education

President Kirwan on McKeldin mall in 1994. Credit: John T. Consoli

President Kirwan on McKeldin mall in 1994.
Credit: John T. Consoli

Dr. William L. Kirwan is an extraordinary leader who brings superior intellectual and leadership capacity to his work with every constituency at the local, state, national and international levels! His influence over five decades in higher education is reflected in every aspect of higher education policy and practice nation- wide. His record of accomplishment is astounding and of the highest caliber. Even more important his work rests on a solid foundation from which many others have built programs and initiatives to improve educational excellence, equity, and social justice.

Any one of Dr. Kirwan’s many accomplishments as a mathematician and senior leader in higher education could stand alone as reason to admire and respect his work. We offer two examples that we believe have changed the nature of higher education. His Maryland’s Effectiveness and Efficiency (E&E) initiative, which was mentioned by President Barack Obama, became a model for changing the perspective of higher education with respect to its accountability to taxpayers. Launched in 2003, the E&E initiative forged a new way forward for the state, students, faculty, and administrators to work together to realize common goals and objectives. More specifically and relevant to the University System of Maryland, the E&E initiative resulted in a substantial increase in enrollment, need-based financial aid, and a reduction in students’ time-to-degree. Brit also recognized the importance of diversity in higher education and the important role that colleges play with respect to economic growth as well as social equity. He elevated this discussion at the national level, as evidenced by serving as chair of the National Research Council Board of Higher Education and Workforce and his presidential appointment to the Board of Advisors on Historically Black Colleges and Universities.

As impressive as Brit’s professional record is, what we both admire most about him is his generosity, sincerity, humility, ethic of care and astonishing ability to make others feel valuable. We have each enjoyed a personal relationship with Brit and like so many others we feel honored and blessed to have received his counsel. Even more awe-inspiring has been his willingness to accept invitations to lecture in our classes, to attend personal events in our lives, to share a conversation to simply catch up on the life of the university. He also had an open-door policy with respect to meeting in his office and making his staff available to students of higher education policy. On one memorable occasion, Brit was invited to guest lecture an evening class and appeared on crutches rather than cancel his lecture.

What is particularly remarkable about Brit is that with every level of increasing influence and responsibility over the course of his career, he continued to offer access and opportunity to fellowship with him. Certainly if he interacted with us in these ways, we know that we stand in a long line of individuals who felt equally attended to by him. This is a remarkable skill and ability for someone of his stature and responsibility. He is quite simply an amazing man who has modeled for everyone how to build capacity for excellence and grace in leadership.

We wish Brit the very best as he moves into his retirement; absolutely no one deserves it more! Several years ago a small group of us met with him in his office to gain his insights about issues facing leaders in higher education. As you can imagine it was a very memorable conversation. As a small token of our appreciation we gave Brit a paperweight carved out of red alabaster stone in the shape of a heart. At the time we simply said to Brit that he was the heart of the campus, system and the state. We add to that list the nation. Congratulations Brit, you are loved by all!



On Kirwan

By Stewart L. Edelstein, Shady Grove

I have known Brit Kirwan for almost 40 years, including all of my years at College Park and my 12 years as Executive Director of the Universities at Shady Grove (USG). Brit did not establish USG, but it was during his tenure as Chancellor that USG flourished into the state’s largest regional higher education center and become nationally recognized for its unique structure and success in expanding access to baccalaureate, graduate and professional degrees.

USG is not one institution, but a partnership of 9 USM institutions which offer their degrees in one location in Montgomery County. Over 50% of the students who are enrolled in the bachelor’s programs offered at USG are the first in the family to receive degrees.  Many of these students and countless others would not be able to obtain a university degree from a USM institution without the presence of USG.

Access to affordable quality higher education in service to the greater good has been a cornerstone of Brit’s many contributions to the state of Maryland and the nation. Over his career, Brit has touched and affected almost every aspect of higher education and we as a University System are the better for his efforts. His contributions are indelible and his legacy will be long-lasting. It has been an honor to work so closely with him to build USG and to see up front his skill, commitment and dedication to what education can do to change lives and build thriving communities.


“Ugly, Blocky & Stale” or Innovative? Adding a Campus Building: A Collision of Cultures

By Steven Hurtt, UMCP/Architecture*

On seeing the proposal for the new hotel in what is now called the University of Maryland’s “Innovation District,” I had the same reaction as the campus’s student newspaper, the Diamondback, reported late in the Fall Semester quoting senior English major, Kelly Trimble: “It looks ugly,” she said.

The hotel as it would be seen from campus looking across the Engineering Fields. Courtesy: Facilities Management

The hotel as it would be seen from campus looking across the Engineering
Fields. Courtesy: Facilities Management


Fitting In

Her more extended statement hit the crux of the issue dead on. “It’s just really blocky and our campus is really beautiful, and if we start building architecture that’s really stale like that – that doesn’t have the type of architecture that we have on campus – it’s going to stick out like a sore thumb.”

Many people call our Maryland campus beautiful, rarely saying the same about a single building. Most everyone intuitively knows that for a campus, it’s how it all adds up that really matters, each building contributing to the look of the whole. But it’s not so with a proposed hotel. Why not? Is the hotel’s lack of “good fit” accidental or intentional? If intentional, why? And is that the best idea over the long term?

The University has long hoped to have a medium size, quality, hotel-convention facility somewhere near the east face of campus. It appears to have finally attracted one, a good thing. In presenting it to the campus, President Loh has called its glassy, blocky look a symbol of “innovation.” Innovation is likewise the new moniker for what, just a few years back, was envisioned as the East Campus College Town. Now renamed, it is touted as the “Innovation District” to be, the hotel a first and symbolic step in a “new vision.”

Apparently “not fitting in” is a matter of clear intention. But is that the right thing to do? If not, why not? There are really several questions. First, how does the beauty of a campus, the image conveyed by its built environment, come about, and how is it maintained over time? What should the role of those who hold the temporary power of a campus’s highest offices be with regard to those characteristics, both on the campus proper and areas like the “Innovation District,” which is also part of the extended campus?

Many U.S. campuses possess an exceptional beauty that mainly results from their visual coherence and consistency, their pedestrian-dominant quality, the complementarity of their landscapes and buildings. At UVA, Stanford, Columbia, Cornell, Duke and many others, it has been a founders vision, made specific in word and image, then followed by an allegiance to that founding vision which acquired the power of myth. One thinks of Thomas Jefferson, Ezra Cornell, Leland Stanford, James B. Duke….

For other campuses, coherence has been primarily the result of historical circumstance: the adoption of a particular architectural style at a moment in time of significant growth and again followed by a commitment to sustain that image. Many campuses are dominated by one of three such styles, Collegiate Gothic, Neo-Classical, or Georgian. There are stylistically “Modern” versions as well, such as IIT and the Air Force Academy. In all such cases, there is deliberate intention and a constancy that rarely wavers.

When I came to the UMCP campus in 1990 as dean of the School of Architecture, my reaction to it was like Kelly Trimble’s. I thought it quite attractive, cohesive, no great buildings, nice landscape. A beauty resting first on the complementarity of buildings and landscape; most dramatically evident in McKeldin Mall, Chapel Lawn, Fraternity Row, and the Engineering Fields, but subtly present other places too. Next, the coherence of the buildings: while sporting a diversity of styles and scales, they clearly shared common features.

I got involved with Facilities Management in various ways. I soon discovered that, despite the overall coherence of the campus, there were no written design guidelines and not much to design review. However, there were three important unwritten standards: 1) Reddish brick; 2) No flat roofs (although extremely low slopes were accepted); 3) Traditional near or in the central campus, less so further away. Not bad, but might we do better?

A reading of George Calcott’s book on the history of the University tells part of the story of how Maryland got the more traditional look that is its primary image. Among his many contributions to the growth of this University, President Curly Byrd promoted the idea that American History at Maryland, including a regional focus, would be among its most superior academic fields of study, and he sought a campus that would be both grand in its plan and embrace the historical architecture of its region, particularly its Georgian and Colonial era buildings of locally made brick. Byrd’s era was the same one that promoted grand city and campus plans nationwide – the National Mall as we know it among them. It was also the era that honored our nation’s forefathers by discovering and preserving the physical symbols of their lives and activities: Independence Hall, Monticello, and Williamsburg. The architecture of our campus can be thought to convey through associated meanings the foundational ideas of our nationhood. Hence, allegiance to Byrd’s “vision” and subsequent allegiance to it, however vaguely promoted or monitored.

After several years of experience with our campus planning processes, I made a number of recommendations on how they might be improved. Several were adopted: 1) conduct design studies of sub-districts of the campus at a scale between the individual building and the master plan; 2) create design guidelines for these various sub-districts, and 3) establish a design review committee.

Why not just design review, why bother with design guidelines? There are several reasons. First, without guidelines, design review is prone to degenerate into little more than an opinion fest dominated by current “trends” and strongly influenced by seductive imagery and either the most authoritative or the most charismatic person in the room.

Secondly, design guidelines help the various architects selected for different campus projects. Often new to the campus, they are not compensated for the hard work of creating design guidelines for themselves. Such efforts require the close scrutiny and codification of numerous landscape and architectural patterns. Those patterns exist at three scales, the immediate vicinity, the context of the entire campus, and the broad history of landscape, planning, and architectural design.

With the blessing of the campus administration, design review was adopted with a mandate to also develop design guidelines and this has been accomplished.

A few examples of this process in action include the Clarice Smith Performing Arts Center; three additions to Van Munching Hall (Smith Business School); Kim Engineering; and Knight Hall (housing Journalism). Somewhat more conservative in look are the additions to Zoo-Psych and the Health Center. None of these buildings stick out like “sore thumbs.”

The District

CIMG0612 Hotel sign

This brings us to the story of the “Innovation District.” The idea to develop that 32 acre parcel of land including service buildings and others in need of replacement first emerged in a conversation I had with then Vice President of Administration Chuck Sturtz. He supported an Architecture School design studio study of the possibilities. The vision then, just as it is now, was the creation of a better “college town.” When schemes demonstrating the possibilities were presented to a group led by then-President Mote, he grasped the vision and opportunity and said, “We have to do this.” That goal emerged in the next campus Strategic Plan.

Shortly afterward an opportunity was lost. That opportunity was to develop a coherent plan for the area, not based on immediate need, but the kind of general vision Curly Byrd exercised: the guiding idea, a plan, illustration of what it could be at best, and a set of design guidelines. Instead, faith was placed in the wisdom of the market and the result was a developer’s vision, not truly the vision of the campus. A recession destroyed that market-driven vision. But something did come of it.

With considerable rancor and the consternation of a few about what the unrestrained results emerging from the developer might be, design guidelines did emerge. Late in coming, compromised by developer resistance and administrative reluctance, the process nevertheless provided a forum for debate and some resolution. Most fundamental of these was, to what degree, how much and where should the then-called “East Campus College Town,” now “Innovation District,” project an image clearly related to the campus or one entirely distinct from it? Arguments on both sides were made. Some argued for the “new,” the unrestrained, that the area should look nothing like the campus. Others countered that, “We don’t want K Street or Bethesda.” As the impacts of various possibilities began to be understood, discussion became more nuanced.

A good plan would need to make crossing Route 1 safer. The proposed light-rail Purple Line needed accommodation and provided great opportunity if handled correctly. Iconic vistas, such as views of Memorial Chapel, could be protected and extended. Old Town could be better connected. The area is big. Build out would take time. Many buildings would be the likely result. Styles of these buildings might reasonable differ. That being so, how best to achieve a quality image for the campus? Most of us finally agreed that the most memorable, beautiful and enduring thing that could be done was to celebrate and improve upon the “image” and “presence” of the University by extending and elaborating its “face” along the perimeters of the new “district” as well as in areas already projecting a positive campus image such as Fraternity Row.

It was an expanded design review group that had taken on the task of reviewing the developer’s proposals. But while design guidance was given and guidelines developed, there was little support for them. The developer promised much and acquiesced little. The upper administration showed disinterest at best.

Here we are again, to fit in or stand out? To symbolize the modern, the innovative, however briefly, or to symbolize the enduring? Note that nearby is a cluster of delicate campus buildings of merit and historical distinction, Turner Lab, Rossborough, and the Armory. The “ugly” hotel will stand in stark contrast.

Among the illustrations used in selling the new hotel to the campus community are views of a wonderful terrace at its highest level. It was at a thirteen story height, now I think reduced to ten, but still very high up and affording views of the campus. But, what about the opposite view, the view from campus? Do we want to look across the Engineering Fields and see a blocky, glassy façade, a nighttime view of randomly lit hotel rooms? Do we risk a view from the steps of Memorial Chapel that might include a huge hotel logo sign? Do we want such a thing competing in the night sky with the flood-lit Chapel’s portico and tower with its little blinking red light on top?

Broader Questions

This is not just about a hotel on one campus. There are broader questions for those who hold high office in an institution of higher education. What is their role? How is that role best applied to the campus, to a special place such as the Innovation District? Certainly, they must be innovators. Just as certainly they must also be guardians and transmitters of culture and tradition. We need them to exercise great wisdom in striking a balance between symbols of continuity while accommodating change, symbols of tradition that likewise nurture innovation.

The vision for a campus, the image it projects, inevitably changes over time, but a campus need not undergo radical change with each change in the few people who temporarily exercise the authority of its highest offices.

*Steven Hurtt is a Professor in the School of Architecture, Planning, and Preservation. From 1990 until 2004 he served as dean of the School and served on numerous campus planning and design review committees at diverse levels through 2008.

Faculty Members as Witnesses or Protagonists in University Re-Structuring?

By Nelly P. Stromquist, UMCP/Education

A book on university environments that has been making the rounds recently is The Fall of the Faculty: The Rise of the All-Administrative University and Why It Matters (Oxford University Press, 2011). Written by Benjamin Ginsberg, a political scientist at nearby Johns Hopkins University, the book provides much food for thought.

Ginsberg documents a series of developments that have transformed US universities in the past 20 decades. These transformations, widespread, deep, and most likely irreversible, include: the swelling ranks of administrators, the upsurge of academic decision-making without faculty input, the increase in part-time faculty, and the imposition of new values such as managerialism, entrepreneurship, and innovation. The author presents persuasive examples of how these changes create a culture in which the pressure to compete among institutions and to seek new ways of raising funds for the university is paramount. While these trends have been documented before, Ginsberg’s merit is to update the evidence and to show its omnipresent and overwhelming force. In particular, he considers that administrators are responsible for their own growth by creating work for themselves.

While we learn many details about changes in finances, staffing, governance, and values, Gingsberg makes no attempt to situate the restructuring of the university in a broader explanatory framework. Is the growth of administrators a product of their own voracity? Or are exogenous forces inducing universities to increasingly emulate commercial enterprises?

Let us consider the following conditions: As the modern world has become increasingly technological, universities are burdened with a compelling demand to carry the brunt of serving the “knowledge economy.” This has largely targeted science and technology, with the result that disciplines in those areas face a positive climate of unqualified support. In contrast, the social sciences and especially the humanities have seen their status reduced. Only a few top-level administrators have been able to defend the “soft” sciences and have usually done so through the careful cultivation of the few donors still persuaded that understanding ourselves—our histories, cultures, and identities—are not only noble and irreplaceable objectives in themselves but, mixed with STEM courses, also produce more rounded, imaginative scientists.

In many cases, as a consequence of state retrenchment, financial support for public universities has declined. This has generated two major outcomes: First, universities increasingly depend of non-governmental funds for their existence. UMD receives only 26% of its funds through support from Annapolis. The search for funds unleashes a permanent scanning of the environment, where it is clear that contracts and grants dealing with the sciences are a must, not only for direct funding but also for the indirect revenues they generate. Second, when students search for their own financial sources, they generate a flood of demands for loans and grants that, being processed internally by the university, require a staff to deal with regulations and concomitant paperwork. The average university student today graduates with a $30,000 debt. The processing of contracts and student loans spawns a large contingent of administrators, working in separate offices with titles that range from associate provost to program director to program coordinator to administrative assistant. Once contracts and grants are secured, they fall into complementary channels for equipment purchases, travel, disbursement of funds, monitoring, and evaluation. These functions are not performed by faculty-researchers but by others and are often centralized at the university level through the corresponding creation of accounting units, legal offices, departments for government relations, administrative offices for industrial cooperation, and so on.

The search for financial resources has also led the university to internationalize. This is a concept that in principle should comprise a large number of objectives, ranging from greater awareness and solutions to global problems to newer forms of research collaboration beyond national borders to greater exchanges of international scholars, and to greater numbers of international students on US campuses. The discovery of international students as a source of budgetary relief through elevated tuition fees has fostered a narrow definition of internationalization bent on securing as many students from other countries as possible. The recruitment and servicing of these students brings in their wake the establishment of international offices dealing with visas, student housing, health insurance, and the requirement for frequent reporting by students to the central administration and by universities to the government. Internationalization has also meant a greater exposure of US students to study abroad. Again, this generates administrative offices to organize and process their overseas experiences, which sets up another wave of administrative positions.

Improvements in social justice legislation have resulted in provisions for people with disability, enactment of sex anti-discrimination policies, and measures to protect LGBTQ groups, leading to the creation of diversity and equity offices, with corresponding support staff.

To distinguish one university from others, the use of university rankings has entered the picture in a big way, leading to a compulsion for each university to excel over others in as many areas as possible. The related indicators create a tremendous demand for data, which in turn creates a machinery to compile information on enrollment and retention, graduation and placement statistics, various categories of assets, and so on for each school, department and program. While in their early phases, university rankings seem to have had limited use, today they play a significant role among decision makers in assigning contracts and grants and, reportedly, in the calculations of top-quality students in selecting graduate programs. Offices of admissions today must process requests for increasing numbers of transcripts, now that students apply to at least five institutions before deciding where to go for graduate study.

These demands for expanded administration are only some of those that have tipped the faculty-administration balance. They and many other factors have created a chain reaction that is self-reproducing—something akin to perpetual motion. In this context, administrators are a key and expanding piece. But the faculty is playing a crucial role here too. Unfortunately, despite the presence of active academic senates, tenure and tenured-track professors have become too concerned with their own careers to examine and challenge their surrounding environment. This includes not only the growth of administrative positions but also the growth in part-time, unsecured faculty members. These radical shifts and their consequences have not yet received the research attention they deserve.


The Art of Jamison Odone

About the Artist

Professor Odone, an Assistant Professor of Illustration at Frostburg State, is an author and illustrator of Children’s Books and Graphic novels as well as an exhibiting artist. He received his BFA in 2002 from The Art Institute of Boston in Illustration and his MFA in 2012 from Western Connecticut State University, also in Illustration. With his debut book, Honey Badgers in 2007, Publishers Weekly said, “Odone, tapping into a powerful vein of fantasy, has created the kind of book certain children will cling to, years after they abandon the rest of their picture book collections.” Since then there have been a string of releases which include The Bedtime Train, Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland, Mole Had Everything, Annabel Lee; and in 2014 he published two graphic novels, Lies In The Dust: A Tale Of Remorse From The Salem Witch Trials and Accused: The Fairfield Witch Trials.

In 2009 Jamison was selected as a recipient of the Connecticut State Fellowship Grant Award for his body of work. In 2011 he was offered a professorship to head the Illustration Focus in the BFA program at Frostburg State University in Maryland. In 2013 he had a solo exhibition of his work from the book Mole Had Everything displayed at the Mercurial Gallery in Danbury, CT. In 2014 an exhibition of the work from Lies In The Dust at Salem State University in Salem, MA, and the work from Accused was exhibited at The Fairfield Museum. In 2015 there will be a retrospective exhibition of his career in illustration and books shown at St. John’s University in New York. Also in 2015, Odone co-founded the independent publishing collective, Box Books* with fellow author/illustrator Tomithy Decker.

Publications for 2015 will include the illustrated books, Poor Joseph and An Aria For The Plains, and a reissue of his Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland to commemorate the 150th anniversary of the book.

*www.theboxbooks.com, http://www.facebook.com/theboxbooks

Page from Mole Had Everything, 2013 Blue Apple Books (written and illustrated)

Page from Mole Had Everything, 2013 Blue Apple Books (written and illustrated)

Page from Annabel Lee by Poe, 2014 Box Books (illustrated)

Page from Annabel Lee by Poe, 2014 Box Books (illustrated)

Page from Poor Joseph, 2015 Box Books (written and Illustrated)

Page from Poor Joseph, 2015 Box Books (written and Illustrated)

Page from Honey Badgers, 2007 Front Street Books (written and illustrated)

Page from Honey Badgers, 2007 Front Street Books (written and illustrated)

Book Notes

The Faculty Voice hopes to note the publication of books by faculty and staff members, so readers-authors are encouraged to send us the necessary information. In this issue, we note two books of significance.

Don-Thomas-book-cover smallOrbit of Discovery by Don Thomas. The author is the Director of the Willard Hackerman Academy of Mathematics and Science at Towson. Thomas writes: “About 550 people have flown in space, so few that I felt I had a responsibility to document the flight and share the story. This particular mission, STS-70, was pretty “vanilla” by NASA standards—we were deploying a communications satellite and doing some secondary experiments. I wanted to cover every aspect of the mission, including details of day-to-day life in a weightless environment. Everybody wants to know about the space shuttle bathroom, but I also explain what we ate, how we shampooed, exercised and even what music we listened to. (Fact: inserting contact lenses is easier in space than on Earth.) I also wanted to recognize the other members of the All-Ohio crew and the NASA ground team at the Kennedy Space Center. It took a lot of people to put us into orbit and return us safely to Earth.”



Dancing to Learn: The Brain’s Cognition, Emotion, and Movement by Judith Lynne Hanna. The author is an Affiliate Research Professor in Anthropology at UMCP. She writes: “Scientists are studying dancers’ brains that hide from our sight the complex operations that underlie the feat of dance. My book is grounded in neuroscience and integrated with work in education, the arts, humanities, and social sciences. The book explains that dance is nonverbal language with similar places and education processes in the brain as verbal language, thus a powerful means of communication. Dance, I show, is physical exercise that sparks neurogenesis and neural plasticity, the brain’s amazing abil­ity to change through­out life. Moreover, dance is a means to help us cope with stress that can motivate or interfere with learning. We acquire knowledge and develop cognitively because dance bulks up the brain and, consequently, dance as an art, recreational, educational, and or therapeutic form is a good investment in the brain. The ‘brain that dances’ is changed by it.”

Senryū by Robert Deluty, UMBC/Psychology

meditating prof
repeating his mantra,

telling the student
her grade of D-minus
was a huge gift

Harvard freshman
hiring three note-takers
so he can sleep late

Dr. Vole learning
his surname means idiot
in Czech

a grad student
describing her adviser
as soul-shrinking

Dallas twelfth grader
asking if Rhode Island
has an A&M

a linguist loving
Clint Eastwood’s anagram,
old west action

his Sikh R.A.
reminding Dr. Goldstein
today’s Yom Kippur

a young professor
wishing he could educate,
not just entertain

The Personal Essay: Secret to World Peace?

by Marion Winik, U. Baltimore/Communications Design

A few years back, I was invited to read from my work at a high school on Long Island. I assumed I’d present a section of Rules for the Unruly, an advice book I wrote with young people in mind. But when I got there, the principal asked if I’d read “Mrs. Portnoy’s Complaint,” an essay about parenting, in particular about the challenges of raising adolescents, about the insanity and the heartbreak of having the cuddly little darlings who once worshipped the ground you walk on metamorphose into testy zombies who cannot stand to speak to you. And while they are biologically programmed to make this break, you are programmed only to keep loving them with every cell of your being.

This was an essay written for other parents, I explained to the principal. I sincerely doubted a roomful of teenagers wants to hear me whining about how hard it is to be a mom. Plus, I pointed out, it has the F-word in it. Twice. It’s an essential part of the story, so it couldn’t easily be cut. Saying that word into a microphone on the stage of a high school auditorium seemed scary. Wouldn’t I get detention or something?

The principal told me not to worry, just go ahead and read it. So I did. To my surprise, the students listened raptly, alternately laughing and exclaiming at my detailed accounts of conflicts and arguments with my sons — including the one with the F-word, at which there was a collective gasp.


In the Q&A that followed, several kids said that what they’d heard could have been transcribed from events in their own homes, but this was the first time they had ever been able to imagine what their moms felt. They heard those harsh words and saw those slammed doors from the other side. “I’m going to call my mom right now,” one boy said, and a girl who was on her way back through the double doors from the hall said, “I just did.”

What I saw that day was the power of speaking from the heart, even across enemy lines, or perhaps especially across them. Without recourse to polemics or persuasion, memoir has the rare capacity to allow people to fully experience other points of view and other lives. And possibly to change because of it.

I left the high school that day thinking perhaps I should go teach personal essay classes to would-be suicide bombers. At least we might get to understand what they’re trying to say.

Instead, I ended up teaching at the University of Baltimore, to undergraduates and in the MFA program. Because of the extremely rich diversity of the student body, UB is a terrific place to teach memoir, and to observe its power to increase understanding. I’ve taught in a room that included African-Americans from the Baltimore and DC projects, kids of all races from middle-class suburbia, a white woman who grew up under apartheid in South Africa, and writers ranging in age from their teens to their eighties. I have taught people who are deaf, who are gay and transgender, who were adopted. Single teenage parents, military in Iraq and Afghanistan, professional cheerleaders, cops, musicians. We have students who were bullied in high school, were raped, were abused by their parents. We also encounter beginning memoirists who are ashamed to confess that nothing of interest has ever happened to them. Of course, this has never turned out to be true.

Sometimes, understanding doesn’t dawn instantly. The group has questions. Why did you do that? How could you do that? What were you feeling? Why did you feel that? What happened next? Those discussions can be tricky, but as long the questions come from curiosity, not from judgment, what usually happens is that the writer ends up narrating a big, important part of the story he or she forgot to include. And so, on to revision.

In business writing and journalism classes, one of the questions we teach students to ask themselves is “who is the audience for this piece?” In memoir classes and storytelling workshops, the audience is anyone. Everyone. And the less you think they would care to hear this story, the more profound the result may be.


Dining Around

Chicken Bulgogi served at Kangnam BBQ. Courtesy: Kangnam BBQ.

Chicken Bulgogi served at Kangnam BBQ. Courtesy: Kangnam BBQ.


By Bill Hanna/UMCP

It is amazing how the culinary culture of the College Park, Maryland, has blossomed. From a few pizza places and a couple of mediocre so-called Chinese restaurants, the area has added Latin, Vietnamese, Thai, Korean, and more. The latest addition is a Korean restaurant on Route 1 near downtown. Kangnam BBQ (8503 Baltimore Avenue, 301-220-1635, replacing Seven Seas) has a wide-ranging menu of good Korean food. On my last visit, for dinner, I ordered Chicken Bulgogi (pictured below being BBQed at the table) and my partner ordered BiBimBap. Both were very good. Of course there were side dishes, “banchan,” and they were not only good but the dishes were refilled when empty (a unique event for me). They included potato, mung bean sprouts, and seaweed. Plus, of course, kimchi – which was sufficiently mild that I had a second helping.
The two dinners with tip were under $30, not cheap by local Korean standards but certainly good value. The menu is quite comprehensive, including among my favorites, soy bean stew, dumpling stew, and seafood pancake. At lunch, there are specials. Oh yes, most of the diners were Korean – a very good sign.
It’s worth noting that the College Park–Beltsville area of suburban Maryland has quite a few Korean restaurants, all at least good. The three in Beltsville are Da Rae Won (5013 Garrett Ave., 301-931-7878), Gah-Rham (5027 Garrett Ave., 301-595-4122), and Myong Dong (11114 Baltimore Ave., 301-595-4173. And the Beltsville area only has a small Korean population!

Thinking About Change

By Bill Hanna/UMCP

What will higher education be in, say, the next decade? Not, I think, like a decade or so ago. And will the attraction of being a professor in a quality undergraduate/graduate institution change? I think the answer to that is yes. Here are a few of the changes in higher education that I think about.



Evaporating public support: Nationally, state support for universities has declined from about 80% to 20% and tuition plus grants and contracts have made up the difference, but how high can tuition go? And of course how high can student indebtedness go? I sure know some young people who aren’t in college because of the costs. And maybe the brightest undergrad I’ve had in recent years left UMCP because she couldn’t afford the cost. Yes, I tried to get her more funding, but that proved impossible.

My memory of paying tuition at UCLA is vivid. In the pre-computer days, I stood in line for several hours to pay the semester’s tuition of $32! Thank goodness, California picked up the rest of the cost. Yes the times are different now. UCLA charges $12,998 for in-state students, and $42,184 for those out of state. Of course $40k these days is below the mean. Wow, what bargains we have in Maryland, e.g., UMCP is at $9,427 and $29,720! And UMBC is at $10,068 and $21,642.

Tighter state resources, rising costs, high tuition rates and other factors make the current model of financing public higher education unsustainable. The present system may have worked well in past decades, but fiscal changes at the federal and state levels, as well as private market changes, make reform necessary. (NASBO)

A 5% tuition hike is likely in the University of Maryland system next year, top administrators said Thursday. Republican Gov. Larry Hogan’s budget calls for such an increase to make ends meet, and school officials say they see no way to avoid it unless the system gets more from the state. Chancellor William E. Kirwan said the $15.4 million increase in Hogan’s budget does not cover rising expenses. Combined with a cut made by Gov. Martin O’Malley in January, the university has a $47 million budget hole. (Baltimore Sun)

Why the increase in running a university? Partly it’s the increase in numbers of students, and some would add the increase in numbers of well-paid administrators. (To make a very high salary plus, become a private college president. Some universities play millions.)

Free Community College: With public support for higher education falling, President Obama’s proposed free two years of community college seems like a dream. But it is not unlike what currently exists in Tennessee (“The Tennessee Promise”) and the City of Chicago. The GI Bill, the Pell Grant, and now this. Of course, funding is a big barrier to implementation and vested interests are another. So the free community college won’t happen tomorrow or the day after. Put aside the many critiques of the proposal, especially the lack of resources to support the marginal students.

Just think what the impact of the free tuition will be for Maryland’s thirteen public universities. Fewer freshmen and sophomores will mean fewer tuition dollars and therefore smaller budgets. I can hear in the distance some campus presidents screaming “oh no” and vowing to fight against the change – or to have the change cover two years at community college plus the four-year public colleges. Of course, the private profit colleges will scream even louder unless they are cut in despite their very poor student completion record. And some faculty members in public and private institutions will have to be let go or furloughed.

A jobs focus leads to the proposal because secondary schools no longer ready young people for many of the available jobs. That’s a comment on job changes and perhaps the quality of secondary education in many parts of the country.

If the community college proposal is implemented nationally in some fashion, let’s hope that the support for the student is more than tuition. Free tutoring, free child care, and more are needed to enable many students to complete their degree – that is, some wraparound.

The non-college alternative: Of course, everyone need not go to college, and certainly not to a four-year college. Yes, college can be a nice experience socially, culturally, and intellectually. I think I profited by going to UCLA some decades ago. But there are lots of jobs that pay well and do not require a framed diploma. Most do require an apprenticeship or internship, and that’s a path we should improve. Germany is said to do that well.



The preferred content of our courses – preferred by our department and/or ourselves – has shifted over time towards the more applied. I don’t know whether that’s good for ourselves and/or our country. Governor Scott Walker may be in the mainstream when in his new budget he deleted “Basic to every purpose of the system is the search for truth” from the University’s 100-plus-year-old mission and replaced them with the purpose of public higher education is “to meet the state’s workforce needs.” Trade school! (Walker backed off the change later, when challenged.)

The turn to the applied – jobs for students: The US Secretary of Education calls for information about post-college jobs and salaries. Graduation rates are also sought. So anthropology becomes applied anthropology, and more. Better learn software rather than prepare to understand a culture from the inside. English offers many sections of technical writing plus business writing and writing for non-profit organizations. Urban planning deemphasizes social planning (the impact of plans on people, and the preferences of people) and inserts more statistics and of course GIS. From the provosts’ survey, almost nine of ten respondents agree that their institution is paying increased attention to the ability of their degree programs to help students get jobs.

The jobs focus fits many students’ preferences. The 2014 CIRP Freshman Survey shows that the leading reason for deciding to go to college is “to be able to get a better job.” High ranking is “to get training for a specific career.” At the bottom of the list is “to make me a more cultured person.” Asked what the student considered to be essential or very important, top ranked is “being very well of financially.”

An article by Dan Berrett in the Chronicle of Higher Education asserts that the change took place much earlier, in 1967, when then Governor Ronald Reagan said, “There are certain intellectual luxuries that perhaps we could do without.” And taxpayers should not be “subsidizing intellectual curiosity.” An LA Times editorial responded, “If a university is not a place where intellectual curiosity is to be encouraged, and subsidized, then it is nothing.” If not nothing, then a trade school.

But what jobs? The STEM fields appear to be in relatively good shape, but other fields are challenged. I want students to study history, English, philosophy, and more, but why should they bother if getting a job is paramount?

Grads who majored in one of the STEM fields—science, technology, engineering or math—might get multiple job offers, while other college grads work at low-paying jobs that don’t even require a degree, because it’s all they can find. And some older college grads have drifted backward in their careers after losing one job and taking another that pays less. (Yahoo Finance, 9 February 2015)

Consider English: the number of English majors at the UMCP has declined by about 40% in about three years. So we don’t need so many faculty members. Triage! And those students who receive advanced English degrees probably don’t have jobs well linked to their education.

Few English majors, few students serious about their English. Shakespeare who? Indeed, how many students use who or whom? So English departments increasingly introduce résumé writing and proposal writing into the classroom. (Question from a student: what is that line above the “e” letters?)

Of course, English majors and others in the liberal arts get jobs. One study showed that of the top eight job types for the liberal arts grad, four are in the field of teaching. (You know, that underappreciated occupation often blamed for the achievement gap.) Let’s hope school funding holds up. The same study shows that in the peak earning ages (56-60), liberal arts grads earn about 74% of what is earned by the physical and natural sciences and mathematics.


Who Teaches, AND How

Decline of Tenure: We all know there has been a dramatic change in tenure. Once upon a time, the vast majority of faculty members were tenured or on tenure tracks, whereas now the opposite is emerging. Increasingly dominating the lectern or PowerPoint projector are part-time faculty members or those full-time but not on tenure tracks. The contingent faculty member comes and goes, sometimes without a desk where he or she could meet students. Rarely are these “outsiders” integrated into the department even though they may teach half the classes or more. But the academic units and universities sure save money. Instead of a tenured faculty member teaching four courses during the year for, say, $80k, those courses might cost $20k.

Professor Everybody: My subtitle is the title of Jeffrey R. Young’s article in the Chronicle of Higher Education. He points out that the exclusivity of the professor in teaching college and other courses has significantly declined. These days, more and more people with some or imagined expertise are teaching. Thanks to online education, anyone can set up an account on Udemy or other site, upload a series of lectures, and get paid for site access. Credentials? Not a requirement so long as the teacher is filling a perceived need and therefore attracting students. Surely some high school students could offer a Udemy course on hacking; no need for the higher education degree. But so could a computer science professor. And the potential student certainly doesn’t have to enroll in an institution of higher education for perhaps thousands of dollars when he or she can find a Professor Everybody course that appears to meet the needs. Udemy has more than five million students!

Much has been written about how Uber is disrupting the taxi business by letting people moonlight as taxi drivers using their own cars, and how Airbnb offers an alternative to hotels by helping people rent out their spare rooms. But little attention has been paid to emerging platforms that let people use the knowledge in their heads to teach occasional courses online, for a fee. … The … more immediate threat to colleges is indirect. These sites that let anyone teach courses might just change the way people think about the value of education, about the nature of expertise, and about what teaching is worth. (Young)

My area of teaching has been urban studies and planning, but maybe some students would learn more by taking a Udemy course from a smart kid living in a poor urban neighborhood.

What about a credential? After all, taking a course from me leads to a transcript that the student can show to others to claim some expertise. What about that B.A. or B.S. or more? Surely the employer’s shortcut using a credential rather than finding out the candidate’s abilities will be in decline. That’s especially true because the high grades have less meaning these days.

High Grades: Once upon a time the awarded grades were close to a normal curve, but that’s a memory from long ago. These days, getting a grade below a B is rare in many classes. That inflation has some positives. First, more students are likely to graduate, which is a goal at the national level and within campuses. Second, it avoids the complaint problems that too often follow from issuing a low grade. I’ve spent many hours dealing with student protests (most recently by a student who argued her case a dozen times to my chairman and me), always maintaining the issued grade but not succeeding in convincing a student that a C grade is fair whereas a B grade is good – and good is not average.

The contingent faculty members appear, based upon my small non-random sample, to be generous graders. Maybe I would be too. After all, they are not embedded within the academic unit’s culture, and to be rehired they don’t want student complaints to dominate student feedback. (Ah student feedback; its validity for judging the quality of teaching is problematic.)



Performance-based funding: Some universities have turned to this form of funding which rewards units that retain and graduate students and perhaps also raise outside funds. Maybe that will make faculty members and advisors work harder, but another possibility is to grade higher. We all know that the normal curve of ABCDF grading disappeared long ago. We are proliferating Lake Wobegon.

What if a faculty member or academic unit doesn’t score well with performance-based funding? I guess there is always Bill Gates and some others. But a new alternative is crowdfunding. A man who walked 21 miles to and from work was crowdfunded for about $300k, so why not the neuroscientist or specialist in Plato? I guess we’d better become experts at self- or project-promoting. Hustlers!

Where to cut: Detroit, Michigan, is not the only place where benefit cuts are a significant factor. From NASBO: “If employee benefit cost growth is not reduced, all new funds going to higher education—and this increasingly means student tuition revenues—may have to go to pay for employee benefits, rather than increased capacity or quality.” Hum: health, retirement, more.

We can, of course, also cut tenure and tenure-track lines. Adjuncts are cheaper, so we can teach more courses with contingent faculty. And done right, MOOCs are cheaper. Maybe we can record a good version of a course and repeat offering it – perhaps long after the instructor has left.

From teach to hustle: Once upon a time, professors spent a major portion of their time teaching – in and beyond the classroom. Yes, research was important, but not so heavily emphasized. No more! Already, the research money brought in is a very significant factor in hiring, promotion, and tenure. Some universities make the link quite explicit. Departments rise or fall on the basis of the money brought in. In a survey of provosts by the Institute for Higher Education, nearly half of the respondents agreed or strongly agreed that too many teaching institutions now overemphasize faculty research. But that’s the road to success.

Academic success lies in publishing academic journal articles that make incremental contributions to theory, not in summarizing the broader contributions of the community of scholars. Specialization, not generalization, is the signal of academic rigor. The conventional rules of academic tenure and promotion steer all in that direction. (Hoffman)

Over the past months I’ve been receiving treatment at Johns Hopkins Medicine in Baltimore. My doctor is a nationally known expert in his field. He has a short window to see patients, but most of his time is devoted to research. It’s clear he knows his field, but he seems almost awkward at times when dealing with patients. A fund raiser contacts me at home and also while waiting to see the expert. Hustle! I have seen another Hopkins doctor, this time at one of the satellites Hopkins purchased a few years ago. He seems to be smart and knows his field, but he is a patient-focused clinician during the week. He knows whom to contact, and even calls other doctors to make sure my treatments are appropriate and coordinated. It’s a research/hustle vs. clinician split. I think this split is expanding in many fields, including within our universities’ departments: some mostly research, some mostly teach – with the balance shifting towards the former. Seniority goes to the former, and increasingly the latter are not on a tenure line. The split seems to me not to be in a healthy direction.

If I turn back the clock and think about a career, I wonder if I would be less enthusiastic about a career as a professor in a first-rate university. I like to teach, but teaching is less emphasized now. I like to explore ideas with students, not to prepare them for a career. I like to conduct research, but much of it unfunded. I’m not much of a hustler, but that’s a part of the job now. Maybe I’d try to get a job at a high-quality liberal arts college where the focus – I hope – is intellectual explorations with students. And I’d still want to do research, but not necessarily hustle for money to do that research. I wonder how many of my colleagues feel the same way.

Some years ago, I began to worry about the changes and wrote a poem, which is below.



Our students are crying
As budgets cut deep.
So my colleagues are helping…
But they’re helping themselves (!)
As they write their proposals,
Tease-whores on a street.

I think of the words
That I used to admire,
Ones like “teacher” and “educate.”
Such words now seem funny
Or tragically sad
‘Cause I know colleagues’ thinking;
It sure makes me mad:

the students,
Every one.
A teacher’s day is never done
Until the grant is in the mail
Or the contract’s on the scale.

the students
Every day.
Let’s make money,
Let’s make hay;
Nothing counts but a big payday.

the students,
Keep ‘em out.
That we don’t care
Is not in doubt;
They’re not what our job’s about.

the students
One more time;
There’s a money tree to climb.
Without a sense of guilt or crime.

Teacher, educator?
Perhaps no more;
Now we have the hustler-whore!

Association of American Colleges and Universities, Liberal Arts Graduates and Employment, 2014.

Berrett, Dan. “The Day the Purpose of College Changed,” Chronicle of Higher Education, 30 January 2015.

Cooperative Institutional Research Program of the Higher Education Research Institute at UCLA (CIRP), The American Freshman, The American Freshman 2014

Hoffman, Andrew J. “Isolated Scholars: Making Bricks, Not Shaping Policy,” Chronicle of Higher Education, 13 February 2015.

Inside Higher Ed, The 2015 Inside Higher Ed Survey of College and University Chief Academic Officers, 2015.

National Association of State Budget Officers (NASBO), Improving Postsecondary Education Through the Budget Process, 2013.

Young, Jeffrey R. “Here Comes Professor Everybody,” Chronicle of Higher Education, 6 February 2015.


Art by Julie Simon

 Artist Statement

In many ways, I feel I’ve rejected elements of my formal training in photography and film. I spend a lot of time teaching the rules in both media. Yet, I pay very little attention to any of them when creating my own work. I’ve adapted a non-representational style where elements of color, texture, and form are abstracted and woven together. While many of the photographic layers begin as recognizable objects, these source images are rarely discernible in the end. My work is intended to evoke fleeting impressions that viewers can interpret, and reinterpret, for themselves.

 Artist Bio

Julie Simon has been working with lens-based media for more than 30 years. She has been exhibited on television, film festivals, in art galleries/museums and on the web winning a number of prestigious awards for a wide range of media projects. She is a professor and directs the B.A. degree in Digital Communication at the University of Baltimore.

Tyre: 12.47.52

Tyre: 12.47.52

Augustine: 3.16.02

Augustine: 3.16.02

AVAM: 4.05.17

AVAM: 4.05.17

Mosaic: 6.37.39

Mosaic: 6.37.39

Palm: 1.18.13

Palm: 1.18.13


News and Notes: The Future

Send us the news from your campus. Many of us want to know what is happening not only on our campus but on other System campuses. Send the news to facultyvoice@umd.edu.

Uber University

“Uber (market cap $40 billion) owns no vehicles. Airbnb (market cap $10 billion) owns no hotel rooms. What they do have are marketplaces with consumer-friendly interfaces. By positioning their interfaces between millions of consumers and sophisticated supply systems, Uber and Airbnb have significantly changed consumer behavior and disrupted these supply systems. The online marketplace is the software that is eating the taxi industry and the hotel industry. Is there a marketplace that could eat the university? There is, and it has 40 million college students and recent graduates on its platform. It is called LinkedIn.”

Source: Ryan Craig in VentureBeat.com. Craig is the author of College Disrupted: The Great Unbundling of Higher Education, 2015.

Free Higher Education

            In France. “In the United States, Silicon Valley often symbolizes the outside forces disrupting traditional higher education. For the French, it’s not a location or even a technology company, but a nonprofit school known simply as ‘42’. It doesn’t provide a degree, charges no tuition, and offers only a training program in computer science. But after starting just two years ago, 42 has already shaken up how some here think about teaching, the value of credentials, and how best to prepare students for technology jobs. And it’s been wildly popular.” (Chronicle of Higher Education, 15 May 2015) Is this a step towards deemphasizing university degrees and providing certifying alternatives? When will 42 arrive here?

Stackable Credentials

The University of Illinois is creating an interesting alternative to the finish or drop-out that are the only options so many institutions of higher education offer. A set of three courses leads to a credential. The degree is still offered, but on the way a student can receive a credential, and if s/he does not complete a four-year degree, there is still something to leave with. For the online MBA, The “stackable credentials” is offered in topics such as digital marketing, accounting and finance.

“Stackable credentials are a core feature of emerging state and local career pathway systems. These systems are intended to connect progressive levels of education, training, and supportive services in specific sectors or cross-sector occupations in a way that optimizes the progress and success of individuals with diverse abilities and needs in securing marketable credentials, family-supporting employment, and further education and employment opportunities.”

Source of quote: http://www.clasp.org/resources-and-publications/files/2014-03-21-Stackable-Credentials-Paper-FINAL.pdf

News and Notes: Money

In February 2015, Chancellor Kirwan stated at a House of Delegates subcommittee hearing about the Maryland System: “This is far from the budget any of us would like to see. It has no enhancement funds, and it’s a budget that will make it very difficult for us to sustain [our] progress and momentum.” And in late April, as the Faculty Voice goes to press, the budget has not increased. Kirwan says the result will be that System institutions will face hiring freezes, larger class sizes, and various service reductions in the coming year.
Wallace Loh, the UMCP President, reports via email: “With the conclusion of the legislative session in Annapolis …, next year’s financial prospects for UMD look better than they did four months ago. At that time, the State faced a structural deficit of some $800 million and made deep cuts. The University System of Maryland had to give back some $40 million, squeezed into the remaining six months of this fiscal year. In this session, Governor Hogan and the General Assembly provided some relief for, and showed their commitment to, higher education. Their actions represent progress in a year when state revenues have yet to rebound fully and money remains tight. With respect to the operating budget, which pays for day-to-day expenses, Governor Hogan increased funding for the University System of Maryland  by 1.3% on a base budget that was reduced mid-year by the previous administration.  In effect, he restored about 40% of the $40 million reclaimed last January to cut the structural deficit. The General Assembly concurred. This partial restoration of support will enable us to end furloughs — an interim measure because of the earlier deep cuts–as of this June 30. It also enables us to lift the hiring freeze as of this July 1. However, the State-approved budget also included a 2% base budget cut to all state agencies and does not fully fund all our mandatory cost increases. System-wide, these unfunded requirements could total as much as $47 million. Even with the partially restored funding, we must continue to monitor carefully all hiring and spending throughout the coming year.”
Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker’s proposed budget has serious cuts, and that has prompted the state’s public university system from moving to lay off staff. There are fears on campus of a “massive brain drain.” Let us hope that Wisconsin is not at the forefront of a major shift in the states’ funding of higher education.

The debt a graduate student incurs depends, on average, in the field of study. For instance, it the social sciences and education, it’s about $34,000, but in the physical sciences and engineering, it’s about $12,000.


Money Inequalities

The Century Foundation found in 2013 that for every 14 wealthy students at the most elite and selective colleges, there was one low-income student. Thus the wealth gap not only creates inequities among universities, but also among the students they serve. Said a higher ed researcher: “We are spending the most money as a society educating the wealthiest people. The people who need help the most are the most disadvantaged. They end up going to the universities that spend the smallest amount per student.”

Source: Inside Higher Education, 21 May 2015


Montgomery College

Community colleges too: Montgomery College might need to charge students more in tuition than planned next school year to help pay for increases to employee compensation and benefits. The college had planned in its proposed fiscal 2016 operating budget to increase tuition by $3 per credit hour for students who live in the county, $6 per credit hour for students who live elsewhere in Maryland, and $9 per credit hour for students who live outside the state. However, larger tuition increases may be necessary, officials say, because the college might get far less in additional funding from the county than it needs.

Source: Gazette, 25 March 2015


Why Have the Costs Gone Up?

“A major factor driving increasing costs is the constant expansion of university administration. According to the Department of Education data, administrative positions at colleges and universities grew by 60 percent between 1993 and 2009, which Bloomberg reported was 10 times the rate of growth of tenured faculty positions.” Someone has to process the grant proposals and contracts, someone has to keep track of the hordes of adjuncts who come and go, someone has to work in a heightened recruitment program and don’t-drop-out program, and more. Justified?

Source: New York Times, 5 April 2015


Why Go to College?

The answer is money! According to the Higher Education Research Institute, in the late 70s just over half of freshmen who responded indicated they were in college to be well off financially and attending college was to make more money. But in the 2010-2013 period, the figures rose to about 80%. In the 20 14 report: “Students are becoming increasingly focused on the importance of a college degree in relation to employment after college.”

News and Notes: Opinions

Robert Reich on his Blog

America clings to the conceit that four years of college are necessary for everyone, and looks down its nose at people who don’t have college degrees. This has to stop. Young people need an alternative. That alternative should be a world-class system of vocational-technical education. A four-year college degree isn’t necessary for many of tomorrow’s good jobs. For example, the emerging economy will need platoons of technicians able to install, service, and repair all the high-tech machinery filling up hospitals, offices, and factories. And people who can upgrade the software embedded in almost every gadget you buy. Today it’s even hard to find a skilled plumber or electrician. Yet the vocational and technical education now available to young Americans is typically underfunded and inadequate. And too often denigrated as being for “losers.”(23 March 2015)


Academia once offered a secure job track that had both the opportunity to explore research interests and the ability to maintain a livelihood. Alas. new research out from UC Berkeley’s Center for Labor Research and Education shows that for many who teach at universities, economic security is a thing of the past. It shows that part-time—adjunct—faculty members at colleges and universities are on some form of public assistance at about half the rate of fast-food workers.

Source: http://laborcenter.berkeley.edu/pdf/2015/the-high-public-cost-of-low-wages.pdf

Handicap Placards

“Drivers who truly need the placards are being displaced by those who forge them with color copiers, buy them online or take them from ailing relatives to secure free parking for themselves.” The comment in the Washington Post (18 April 2015) about D.C. applies to campuses as well. Every day, well-body students park in handicap spaces and jump out of the automobile to run to class. And campus officials seemingly don’t act to stop the fraud. Those who have a handicap pay the price. The state can help by placing on placards information about the legitimate owner of the placards and also providing the owner with a relevant ID card.

Ph.D. in IR?

An IR professor at Tufts writes: “Most of the professoriate in international relations comes from the elite schools. Whether this is because these schools function as a prestige cartel or not is immaterial: the reason will not change the current realities. The academic job market is brutal; getting an academic job without a degree from a top-20 institution is even more brutal. … Anyone who tells you that getting a Ph.D. is a great foreign policy career move is selling you something.”

Source: Washington Post, 18 April 2015

Liberal Arts

“The future of a country like the U.S. rests on our ability to master how technology interacts with how humans live, work and play,” Fared Zakaria said to The WorldPost. “And that depends on skills fostered by the liberal arts, such as creativity, aesthetic sensibility and social, political and psychological insight.” He has just issued his latest book, In Defense of a Liberal Education. From the book: “In an age defined by technology and globalization, everyone is talking about skill-based learning. Politicians, business people, and even educators see it as the only way for the nation to stay competitive. They urge students to stop dreaming and start thinking practically about the skills they will need in the workplace. An open-ended exploration of knowledge is seen as a road to nowhere.” And that’s what, in book length, Zakaria challenges.

News and Notes: Institutions

Medical Center

University of Maryland Medical Center is getting its own board of directors, stacked with Baltimore heavy-hitters who can help the hospital grow, raise money and better tackle community health problems.

The flagship hospital of the University of Maryland Medical System has until now been governed by the medical system’s board of directors. Meanwhile every other hospital in the system has its own board.

Source: Baltimore Sun, 19 March 2015

Kirwan Center

The University System of Maryland will name its Center for Academic Innovation in honor of retiring chancellor William E. “Brit” Kirwan. The center will take on its new name, William E. Kirwan Center for Academic Innovation, when Kirwan steps down June 30 after 12 years as the university system’s top administrator. University officials announced the name and $3 million raised to support the center at a recent gala honoring Kirwan. The center is located at USM’s offices in Adelphi.

Source: Baltimore Business Journal

UMCP: International Reach

The UMD Graduate School and the Office of the President at the University of Tübingen (UT) in Germany have developed a joint program that fosters collaborative international research and teaching among teams of faculty and students from both institutions. The interdisciplinary program, which evolved from a long-term collaboration between Dr. Charles Caramello, Dean of the UMD Graduate School, and Dr. Bernd Enger, Rektor of UT, focuses on neuroscience and cognitive science and the broader biomedical sciences – areas in which both universities boast long histories of excellence.

UMCP: Design

An interdisciplinary team from the University of Maryland’s School of Architecture, Planning and Preservation has won the 2015 ULI/Gerald D. Hines Student Urban Design Competition (ULI Hines). The UMD team of five graduate students – representing architecture, urban planning and real estate development – won over an international jury of experts with their development plan for the Tulane/Gavier and Iberville neighborhoods of New Orleans. The team’s advisors are Professor Matthew Bell, FAIA, and Dr. Margaret McFarland, JD.

UMBC and Northrop

Defense contractor Northrop Grumman and UMBC are teaming to analyze the health data of people suffering various maladies with the goal of improving medical care. The five-year program, supported by about $600,000 in grants from NSF, builds on a cybersecurity partnership between the university and the contractor. The grants support big data-analytics projects to advance science and technology.

Source: Washington Post, 15 April 2015

UMCP: 3-D Printing

The campus now has a 3-D printing center linked with engineering. So far there are 64 such printers installed, and more may be on the way.


The university is said to be at a crossroads as it drafts a new, five-year campus master plan. The university of nearly 23,000 students is designated by the Maryland Board of Regents as a growth institution, and already has the second-highest enrollment in the state, after UMCP with 38,000 students. Towson, however, has little room to grow and, at the suggestion of the regents, plans to cap enrollment at 25,000 by the year 2024, meaning it would enroll fewer than 3,000 new students in the next nine years.

Source: Towson Times, 24 March 2015

UMCP: Consortium on Race, Gender & Ethnicity

At UMCP, this consortium has been active for sixteen years. The faculty members associated with this unit have a wide range of interests. The following paragraph is from its web site:

“CRGE received a $137,500 grant from the Annie E. Casey Foundation to encourage practices that improve diversity and inclusivity in higher education. … Minority faculty [members] are disproportionately underrepresented across all degree-granting institutions. Together, African American, Mexican American, Puerto Rican, and Native American professors in U.S. colleges and universities represented less than nine percent of tenure track and tenured university faculty in 2011, according to the U.S. Department of Education. … Each year, the Consortium publishes Intersections & Inequality. Short versions of research are available online at http://www.crge.umd.edu/index.html. This year, there are reports linked with medical anthropology, diversity in the academy, the sociology of inequalities, and “the landscapes of race and gender on a Maryland plantation.”


The School of Medicine is creating a new Institute of Global Health. It will be housed at the School in Baltimore, and will focus on vaccine development and malaria research. A new Center for Malaria Research and the school’s existing Center for Vaccine Development will be components of the global health institute. Dean Albert E. Reece described the institute as a “landmark initiative” that will allow University of Maryland doctors and researchers to make a “powerful and lasting impact on global health.” Dr. Christopher Plowe, a professor at the School of Medicine specializing in combating malaria, will lead the new institute as director, and he will also head the newly formed Center for Malaria Research.


Without a new facility in which to house the program, the School of Pharmacy at the University of Maryland Eastern Shore could lose its accreditation, the university’s president said Monday. So President Juliette B. Bell asked the University System of Maryland Board of Regents Monday to fast-track funding for the new building.

Source: The Daily Record, 11 May 2015