Winter 2016

Firm Foundations

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… Continue Reading Firm Foundations

Working the Water

Melanie D. Harrison-Okoro ’11, Ph.D. environmental science, was raised outside Tuskegee, Alabama, where her family taught her to catch bass and catfish on Lake Martin. “My twin sister and I were out on the lake all the time with my great-grandmother,” she says. “She was the person who taught us about conservation and preservation. It just stuck.” Twenty-five years later, Harrison-Okoro is responsible for the well-being of fish species across the Western United States. As an environmental scientist and water quality specialist for the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), Harrison- Okoro monitors the health of rivers in California, Idaho,… Continue Reading Working the Water

Firm Foundations – Unlocking Knowledge

“What is the main reason you are here?” That’s the question Stephen Slowe asks at the end of every training session he holds with the UMBC students who work alongside him as maintenance assistants. Slowe says that he often gets the same answers from his trainees. “I’m here to learn how to fix locks.” Or, “I’m here to earn money.” Each time, however, he corrects them: “Your main job here is to get an education.” Slowe has worked at UMBC since 1984, and he received his 30th year service award at a ceremony in December. He spent his first year… Continue Reading Firm Foundations – Unlocking Knowledge

Talk Up the Town

The challenges facing Baltimore City are significant – and have garnered international headlines. But listen to Tom Sadowski ’89, political science and public administration and policy, talk about the city and region, and you’ll hear a pep rally for a great metropolis. As president and CEO of the Economic Alliance of Greater Baltimore, Sadowski has more than words to sell the city. He likes to tell the stories of local innovators and entrepreneurs who drive the area’s economic development and commercial success and create its public-private partnerships. And there is data undergirding the anecdotes. To date, projects organized by the… Continue Reading Talk Up the Town

Tales of Grit & Greatness

At Homecoming 2015, more than 300 members of the UMBC community (with alumni in the majority) gathered to kick off a more-than-year-long commemoration of the university’s 50th anniversary with an event that focused on alumni pride and volunteerism. The gathering brought together committed UMBC alumni volunteers and donors to inaugurate an effort to connect almost 70,000 graduates to the celebration of UMBC’s 50 distinctive years as a public research university. The motto for the 50th celebration – “Grit and Greatness” – was also unveiled at the event, and stories of UMBC alumni who embodied those qualities were a key part… Continue Reading Tales of Grit & Greatness

Firm Foundations – Taking Stock

Even in its earliest days, UMBC had a bookstore. At the university’s founding, the bookstore was the “go-to” place for the textbooks and course materials students needed to succeed. A university bookstore is also a hub of university life – selling everything from batteries to swag – and strategically placed to be where the students are. For many years, UMBC’s bookstore was located in the Academic Services Building and in the University Center before moving to its current two-level home in The Commons. The appeal of a career in the university bookstore biz was something that Robert Somers – the… Continue Reading Firm Foundations – Taking Stock

Firm Foundations – Striving for the Best

UMBC is lauded for its strength in undergraduate teaching and its ability to involve undergraduates in academic research across disciplines. But how was this culture created? Some of it was there from the beginning in the hiring of young, ambitious professors who were eager to innovate. That pioneering spirit was crucial to the creation of UMBC’s interdisciplinary studies program (first known as “Option II”) in 1969. But much of the infrastructure has been developed by staff members dedicated to student success. UMBC’s Meyerhoff Scholars Program, created in 1988, is one of the landmark contributions to student success at the university… Continue Reading Firm Foundations – Striving for the Best

Firm Foundations – Resident Experts

The UMBC journey of Clolita Vitale ’75, theatre, eventually took her to a top leadership position at the university. But one of her first steps was moving into one of UMBC’s then-new residence halls as a student. Vitale vividly recalls the thrill of those first days of dorm life at UMBC. When she arrived at the university, the first dormitory building had not even opened. But as soon as Dorm I (now “Susquehanna Hall”) was ready in autumn 1970, Vitale was one of the first to move in. As a student and then as a resident assistant (RA), Vitale lived… Continue Reading Firm Foundations – Resident Experts

Power Player

Ernie Kent ’77, M.P.P. public policy, recently returned to campus to talk about her time as one the first group of 12 students enrolled in UMBC’s public policy master’s program – a group dubbed “the Dirty Dozen.” Many of those students – including Kent and other members of the program’s first graduating class of seven students in 1977 – went on to have distinguished careers in public service in Maryland and elsewhere. Indeed, Kent was among the most knowledgeable and effective figures in Maryland politics from the 1960s through her retirement from state government in 2000. Her career was spent… Continue Reading Power Player

Firm Foundations – Kathy Sutphin

Kathy Sutphin As assistant dean for academic affairs in the College of Natural and Mathematical Sciences, Kathy Sutphin ’95, political science, has had a key role in creating, implementing and/or supporting a number of projects to assess and advance student outcomes, including new teaching spaces such as the CASTLE and the Science Learning Collaboratory. She has also been active in programs that support transfer student success (the CCCSTEP, and the STEM Transfer Student Success Initiative) and help provide pathways for students into research careers (the MARC U*STAR Program at UMBC). Sutphin’s most recent collaborative project – the STEM BUILD at… Continue Reading Firm Foundations – Kathy Sutphin

Firm Foundations – John Martello

John Martello John Martello ’76, M.S. psychology, held a number of key positions during his lengthy and influential career at the university, including vice provost for the Division of Professional Studies, chairman and CEO for UMBC Training Centers, and founder and executive director of The Shriver Center. (He will officially retire at the end of the Spring 2016 semester.) What follows are edited excerpts from a recent UMBC Magazine interview with Martello. Read our full story about how staff built UMBC’s infrastructure for postgraduate success. On the path from applied learning programs at UMBC to The Shriver Center: I got… Continue Reading Firm Foundations – John Martello

Firm Foundations – John Haskell

John Haskell John Haskell was UMBC’s first employee, hired in 1964 to build what has become the Albin O. Kuhn Library and Gallery. What follows are edited excerpts from a recent UMBC Magazine interview with Haskell. Read our full story about how staff built UMBC’s information infrastructure. On how he was hired as UMBC’s first employee In 1964, I was finishing up my Master’s in Library Science at Rutgers. and at that point, Howard Rovelstad, who was the head librarian in College Park, interviewed me. There was no such thing as a search committee. If there was somebody they wanted… Continue Reading Firm Foundations – John Haskell

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