For most of the past two years, save for a small population of campus sustainers, the UMBC campus lacked the bustle of student life as Retrievers learned and communicated online and then a hybrid format, but campus itself was not silent. During the pandemic, Facilities Management and other operations on campus had the unique opportunity to continue building and reshaping campus at an extraordinary rate.
Craig Goodwin, director of design and construction at UMBC, saw a silver lining to an otherwise undesirable situation—with fewer people on campus during COVID, fewer people were inconvenienced by large-scale projects, like replacing the façade on Sherman Hall or the construction of the new Center for Well-Being. So, whether you’re frequently on campus or are exploring UMBC for the first time, allow us to introduce you to UMBC’s newest spaces and hidden gems.
Makeovers and transformations
The temporary trailers nestled between Susquehanna and Chesapeake halls (formerly home to XX services) have been replaced with a modern building. This new fixture houses the Retriever Integrated Health, Student Conduct and Community Standards, and Inclusive Excellence & Initiatives for Identity, Inclusion, & Belonging’s (i3b) Gathering Space for Spiritual Well-Being. The range of offices housed in the Center for Well-Being indicates the range of activities for students, from massages to prayer.
Across Erickson field, on the first level of The Commons, right under the UMBC Bookstore is the Yum Shoppe. The Yum Shoppe (next door to the campus Dunkin Donuts) underwent a full renovation, and is now even better stocked with all your needs, from your white cheddar popcorn cravings to the necessities like paper towels.
Another campus glow up is the Retriever Activities Center. Better known as the RAC, the exercise facility has undergone a major transformation with the theme of more everything. Students and staff now have access to more weight rooms, lockers, multipurpose spaces, group fitness rooms, and cardiovascular workout space. The renovations include a completely new exercise option: the spin cycle room.
New features and spaces
A true mark of our updated UMBC campus is our greater access to coffee. A fully functional Starbucks food truck is now located right beside the Performing Arts and Humanities Building (Mondays through Thursdays) making for a rewarding experience for those who make the trek up the hill. Follow UMBC Dining on social to track the truck, which occasionally makes its way around campus.
If you want a relaxing space to enjoy your coffee, Erickson Hall’s courtyard features bright lawn furniture, attractive cabanas, and fire pit. From the colorful chairs to the functional décor the courtyard has already been put to good use, like this past summer’s BBQ with Chip event.
A new-to-UMBC space that’s yet to be completely redone is the former courthouse on Walker Avenue. This facility, which currently houses research space, is now a part of campus, extending the boundaries of UMBC property. It’s likely that the building will see updates going forward as new
Centers of research
One of UMBC’s core values is diversity. However, as President Freeman Hrabowski said (WHERE?), “It’s important for institutions to have a clear understanding of their values, and also to find ways to assess whether they are living up to those values,” One way that this value has been made tangible is through the new Center for Global Engagement. This Center houses the Education Abroad office, the English Language Institute, and the International Student and Scholar Services. These offices now find their home under the banner of CGE on the second floor of University Center.
Another new center can be found on the fourth floor of the Public Policy building—the Center for Social Science Scholarship (CS3). Spanning disciplines and programs, CS3 connects scholars who engage in social scientific study—asking key questions about social life, addressing problems of local and global concern, sharing knowledge about public issues, and connecting research to practice and policy.
CS3 supports social science research in numerous, innovative ways like the CS3 podcast Retrieving the Social Sciences. To foster high quality social science inquiry, they also offer research and grant support, host trainings, promote campus and community events, and provide opportunities for academic as well as public debate, for the benefit of the university and society.
Not far from Public Policy, is the Interdisciplinary Life Sciences Building (ILSB). While the ILSB is not a brand new space, the pandemic stopped the newly built facility from getting its moment in the spotlight. The labs promote interdisciplinary research, the classrooms promote active applied learning, and the study spaces promote innovation and inspiration. The interior artwork alone is worth a walk through—and make sure you track the sundial as it migrates across the floor.
All photos courtesy of Marlayna Demond ’11, unless otherwise noted.