Reflecting on Events in Baltimore

UMBC President Freeman A. Hrabowski, III, and Provost Philip Rous shared this message with the UMBC community on Tuesday evening, April 28, 2015:

“We write now to encourage our community to continue to engage in thoughtful reflection, dialogue, and service around the complex social and economic challenges facing our Baltimore community—and communities across the nation.

Freddie Gray’s family has suffered a tragic personal loss, and we send them our sincere condolences. This event stands as a reminder of systemic issues of social injustice and inequality. These difficult times mark an opportunity to engage in honest conversations about these issues.

Our words and our actions speak volumes about our values. Courage to address critical social challenges—while respecting others—is a hallmark of the UMBC community. As a university, we have a civic responsibility to lead these conversations. We thank our faculty and staff who are supporting our students and leading discussions in classes and other venues on campus. We also thank our students who are participating in discussion and helping with clean-up activities and other initiatives in the city.

We recognize that one of the greatest strengths of our nation is the right of citizens to protest. As you each consider your personal response to the events unfolding in Baltimore, we ask that you act safely and responsibly.

The University’s administrative leadership met today with representatives of the faculty, staff, and student leadership to discuss our approach to supporting the broader Baltimore community. We encourage you to continue to be involved in programs and services that improve and enrich the lives of others through civic engagement.

UMBC has a long tradition of engaged scholarship, service learning, and community service. We are deeply involved in addressing critical social challenges in Baltimore and surrounding communities, whether in courses and research or providing direct services for youth through the Shriver Center and other programs. Through these programs we have established partnerships that will continue to serve our community in the months and years ahead.”

Speaking Up for UMBC

Delana Gregg is assistant director of the Sondheim Public Affairs Scholars Program.

Delana GreggAfter 90 days in session, the Maryland General Assembly adjourned “sine die” (without plans to reconvene on another day) last week. Thanks to Governor O’Malley and state legislators, next year’s budget provides UMBC with much-needed resources to sustain programs and support new capital projects without undermining the affordability of a UMBC education.

Testimony provided at General Assembly budget hearings by UMBC students Kaylesh Ramu (SGA President), Meghan Carpenter (SGA Director of Community and Governmental Affairs) and Michael Collins (SGA Assistant Director of Community and Governmental Affairs), as well as UMBC President Freeman A. Hrabowski, III, undoubtedly helped UMBC’s prospects. I’m proud to say all three of the students have taken my classes, and I’m thrilled to see them make these important contributions.

From Kaylesh Ramu’s testimony:

Kaylesh RamuThis funding is crucial in ensuring that our students are receiving the best possible education, one that teaches us to be both scholars and active problem solvers….From my first day at UMBC I realized the difficulty of having to always consider affordability. I did not have enough financial aid to stay on campus, and I noticed that commuting impacted the ability I had to participate in study groups and other educational experiences on campus. … [Proposed cuts to higher education] could have a detrimental effect…and cause many students to see dropping out of school as their only option.

From Meghan Carpenter’s testimony:

Meghan CarpenterI have been a part of the UMBC community for thirteen years as the very proud daughter of a faculty member and resident of Catonsville. I know firsthand that UMBC is a vital part of our community. My neighbors rely on UMBC for employment, for the occasional night class, or just for a safe walk around the campus loop. Growing up, I always knew that I could count on UMBC for a good education and as a safe place to spend time. The Catonsville community as a whole would be adversely impacted if budget cuts to the University System of Maryland created a strain for UMBC.

President Hrabowski’s testimony illuminated the results of continued support for UMBC “in student success and in faculty and staff productivity, developing brainpower and discoveries that drive innovation and economic momentum in Maryland and beyond.” I was especially thrilled to see him highlight

Freeman Hrabowski 2012…the area of social entrepreneurship and UMBC’s collaborative, campus-wide civic engagement initiative, BreakingGround, which enables students to address real-world needs through 14 courses in areas ranging from American Studies to Mechanical Engineering.  The initiative aims to help students envision their careers as opportunities to have a public impact, reflecting the responsibility of higher education institutions to play a central role in strengthening American democracy and preparing citizens to tackle the challenges of our age.

Contact the author, Delana Gregg, at delana1@umbc.edu.