Firm Foundations

Published: Feb 15, 2016

(Firm Foundations cropped)

Dedicated staff members are a key element in UMBC’s rise to prominence.

Every December, the UMBC community gathers together for the university’s annual Service Awards. It’s an event so large and vibrant that the crowd spills out of the University Ballroom.

Part of why the Service Awards are a “save the date” event at UMBC is the way that the university’s staff members across departments and offices are inextricably woven into the fabric of the institution. Staff members marking anniversaries of five years, ten years, and upwards, in increments of five years, are called to stage to receive recognition. At the December 2015 awards, 58 UMBC staffers celebrated service milestones totaling 20 years or more.

“A culture of pride is passed on from year to year,” observes Valerie A. Thomas, associate vice president of human resources at UMBC, “with long-term employees setting an example for the new employees.”

Beyond the numbers (and pervasive positive influence) of UMBC employees who make long-term careers at the university, however, are the individual stories of vision and perseverance in advancing the mission of the institution.

Rochelle Sanders, a director in UMBC’s human resources department, says that the feeling among UMBC staff members past and present that they have the power to make a difference in the lives of students has played an immense role in the university’s success over 50 years.

“In listening to employees who are initially coming on board [at UMBC],” Sanders observes, “the consistent thing that comes to mind is that they know the university cares for students, and that they want to be part of making the student experience better.”

Talk with UMBC staff members past and present as we did, and you find that the “caring” and “community” they speak of exists not just for students, but across the university community. It’s a thread that is woven through UMBC’s history. These are stories of that community.

Resident Experts —Mary K. Tilghman ’79

Books and Bytes —Jenny O’Grady

Taking Stock —Theresa Donnelly ’13

Striving for the Best —Richard Byrne ’86

Finding Paths —Richard Byrne ’86

Green and Growing —Mary K. Tilghman ’79

Unlocking Knowledge —Nichole Zang Do ’15

Biology and Family —Nichole Zang Do ’15


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