Meet a Retriever —Diane Tichnell ’70, political science, Founding Four alum

Published: Nov 7, 2023

Four alumni hold books in front of a large quilt.
Diane Tichnell '70 (third from left) celebrates the publication of This Belongs To Us with fellow book editors Mimi Dietrich, Bob Dietrich, and Dale Gough. Photo by Marlayna Demond '11.
Meet Diane Tichnell ’70, a political science graduate of UMBC’s very first class of Retrievers! As a member of UMBC’s “Founding Four” group of alums from the university’s first four graduating years, Diane has stayed involved with her alma mater, participating as an editor of This Belongs To Us, a collection of Founding Four stories, and establishing the Tichnell Aging Gracefully Graduate Scholarship to support students in the Erickson School of Aging Studies. Take it away, Diane!

Q: What’s one essential thing you’d want another Retriever to know about you?

A: I have been a loyal Retriever since that first day on campus, September 19, 1966, and have tried my best throughout the development of my family life, career, and alumni activities to maintain that Retriever spirit!

Q: What would you want someone who hasn’t joined the UMBC community to know about the support you found here?

A: Frankly, once you are a member of the UMBC community, you are a member of a solid family! You are always welcome on campus. Faculty, staff, and even the students take time to chat with an alum!

Black and white photo of a woman with straight hair
Diane Tichnell from the 1970 Skipjack, UMBC’s yearbook.

Q: Tell us about someone in the community who has inspired you or supported you, and how they did it.

A: Mimi Haw Dietrich ’70 has encouraged me through her continuous involvement and support of UMBC to maintain contact with our Retriever roots consistently. Together with two other alums we feel we have helped to preserve some of our Founding Four history by editing a collection of stories by Retrievers on campus those first four years and publishing the collection this year.

UMBC was just what I needed to equip me for my life and its effects are with me even today.

Diane Tichnell ’70, political science

Q: Tell us what you love about being involved as an alum.

A: The UMBC Alumni Association reaches out frequently to keep alumni engaged in and aware of all the great things happening within the thriving, growing UMBC community. We stay connected no matter where we are in the world. The connection is lifelong and beyond! The association can help an individual stay engaged through a number of legacy giving opportunities which can actually extend long after life ends!

Q: What brought you to UMBC in the first place? Tell us about your primary WHY, and how it led you to UMBC.

A: My “why” in 1966 was a desire to receive a solid education for my future in a way that was affordable to me. My parents had many compelling financial obligations then and could only provide me with a limited amount of financial support for higher education. UMBC was in close proximity to my home, was a choice of many of my friends, and offered an exciting opportunity to be a kind of pioneer at a brand new university in Maryland.

Members of UMBC's class founding four classes celebrate the launch of their book
Members of UMBC’s founding classes celebrate the launch of This Belongs to Us. Pictured to the right of Tichnell, in red, is her grandson Colin McFarland ’22, who helped out with book design. From left to right: Dale Gough ‘70, Donna Heckler ‘70, Louie Lyall ‘70, Gail Williams Rouse ’70, Louise Izat ‘70, Royce Bradshaw ‘70, Mimi Dietrich ‘70, McFarland, Tichnell, Bob Dietrich ‘70, and staff member Jess Wyatt in foreground.

Q: Since you’ve been a part of the UMBC community, how have you found support of your WHY?

A: The creative and competent faculty and staff at UMBC in 1966 made me totally comfortable with my decision and made me excited about the career in journalism which I had dreamed of. I had planned to possibly transfer to College Park to complete the journalism major, but I totally fell in love with the unique UMBC environment and changed my major to political science, which was still an awesome preparation for a journalism career. My political science professors as well as the incredible visiting personalities of those first four years prepared me with an open mind and solid principles on which to base my future. Professors in every area of my studies played an integral part in shaping my ability to think, plan, envision, and experience what I needed to do to follow my dreams. UMBC was just what I needed to equip me for my life and its effects are with me even today.

A woman in a black suit poses for the camera
One of Tichnell’s passions since 1988 has been participating in Toastmasters International speaking group. Here she is at a recent District 18 conference. Photo courtesy of Tichnell.

Q: As an alum, what’s your favorite part of Retriever Nation?

A: Seeing the great growth and the direction that UMBC is heading make me so happy to be a part of Retriever Nation! We had no idea in 1966 that this campus would become the amazing, accomplished place it is! What a thrill it is to experience it as it continues to thrive and become much more than just a college campus! It is having a significant impact on the entire area surrounding it and beyond!

A group of alums stand with university president holding a gift
Presenting former UMBC president Freeman Hrabowski with his copy of This Belongs to Us in May 2023. From left, Dale Gough ’70, Tichnell, Hrabowski, Mimi Dietrich, and Bob Dietrich ’70.

Q: You recently established the Tichnell Aging Gracefully Graduate Scholarship to help students in the Erickson School of Aging. Tell us about what that means to you.

A: The Erickson School of Aging Studies intrigued me from the moment of its conception! It is not just a program designed to teach students how to administer senior communities! It goes way beyond that by insisting that students examine every facet of the aging process! Looking at the psychology of aging, as well as the physical, social, and economic realities of that time of life equips the students with a total understanding and appreciation of the process. I recently began the process of endowing a scholarship for graduate students in the Erickson School of Aging Studies. I made the gift from my IRA as a part of my required minimum distribution. It was easy to do and I am so excited to announce the Tichnell Aging Gracefully Graduate Scholarship!

Diane Tichnell and Erickson School Dean Dana Burr Bradley embrace.
Tichnell and the Dean of the Erickson School of Aging Studies, Dana Burr Bradley, Ph.D., FGSA, FAGHE, at the 2023 UMBC donor appreciation dinner.

Partnering with UMBC is really just an extension of being here all those years ago. It makes me feel that I have never left the campus I walked onto that first day. Its growth and current compelling state have never left me behind! I love being a part of it still!

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UMBC’s greatest strength is its people. When people meet Retrievers and hear about the passion they bring, the relationships they create, the ways they support each other, and the commitment they have to inclusive excellence, they truly get a sense of our community. That’s what “Meet a Retriever” is all about.

Learn more about how UMBC can help you achieve your goals.

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