The News – Summer 2010

By: Magazine Editor
May 20, 2009

(People sit around black table)

The Doctors Are In

It’s Career Week at UMBC – an annual event focused on helping students and recent alumni select and secure jobs. Justin Alexander ’09, ancient studies, is looking for work this spring. He clutches a copy of his resume as he enters the University Center Ballroom.

He’s come to the right place. This is the Resume ER, a clinic staffed by a rotating team of employers and alumni dedicated to triage and surgery on clutter and disorganization in the gateway document for all jobseekers.

Two staffers from UMBC’s Career Services Center – Lori Logan-Bennett, associate director of recruitment and marketing, and Sue Plitt, coordinator of employer relations and job development – are on hand to help direct those seeking to make their c.v. just right.

Since the event’s inception in 2009, volunteers have pointed out flaws that may trip up jobseekers at the very first step. After all, the resume is usually the first impression a potential employer glimpses.

“Typographical errors and students underestimating their abilities are two of the biggest problems we see,” says Plitt.

“They don’t think critically about what they can offer an employer,” adds Logan-Bennett. “Sometimes, they follow a template.”

Plitt and Logan agree that resumes should be refreshed for each job opportunity. Including words from the employer’s job description is key.

Alexander says he got just what he was looking for at the clinic: “I had formatting issues and realized that I needed to make my words jump off the page.”

— Derek Roper ’11

Page Turners

Each fall, UMBC’s New Student Book Experience provides an opportunity for freshmen and transfer students to connect with the university community through a shared conversation about a single book. Faculty and staff moderate small-group discussions about the book during orientation, and new students can even enter a writing contest.

In 2010, the book is The Translator: A Tribesman’s Memoir of Darfur by Daoud Hari – a memoir that views the genocide in the Western Sudan through the eyes of a native who translates for foreign journalists.

But how does a book get selected? The process is a mirror of the experience itself: A committee comprised of faculty, students and staff gets together and reads.

Anyone in the UMBC community can nominate a book. But it is the committee – led by Michelle Scott, associate professor of history, and Janet McGlynn, director of communication and outreach in the Office of Undergraduate Education – that sifts through the nominations and finally settles on three books that go to President Freeman A. Hrabowski, III, and Provost Elliot Hirshman for a final decision.

Committee meetings are often the scene of passionate debate on the merits or flaws of particular books. The group must select books that are of a high quality and broad enough in appeal to take in the diversity of the university. The books must also be widely available for purchase, so that students can read them before arriving for the fall semester. Opinions fly fast and furious.

In the end, however, a consensus forms. And the winning book becomes an integral part of the university’s conversation.

— Richard Byrne ’86

A Legacy of Leadership

The UMBC community mourns the passing of Albin Owings Kuhn, the university’s first chancellor, at the age of 94. Kuhn died on March 24 at his home in Carroll County.

Kuhn’s oversight of UMBC’s initial planning, development and construction laid the foundation for the university’s continued growth and success as an institution of higher education.

Kuhn earned three degrees from the University of Maryland, College Park (B.S., M.S., Ph.D.). He taught there early in his career as a professor of agronomy (1941-1955) and as chair of the Agronomy Department (1948-1955). He then shifted his career in academic leadership, serving as assistant to the president (1955-1958) and then as executive vice president (1958-1965) of the University System of Maryland, which at that time included the College Park, Baltimore City and Eastern Shore campuses.

In 1965, Kuhn was selected as the chancellor of the University of Maryland, Baltimore (UMB) – the oldest campus in the system. At the same time, he was handed the task of developing a new campus for the University System of Maryland on rolling farmland in Catonsville.

At UMBC’s debut in 1966, Kuhn was proud of the fact that the university opened on schedule.”It worked,” he told The Maryland Magazine at that time. “We opened on the day we were supposed to, right on schedule. Buildings were ready to be occupied; sidewalks were installed; the faculty was here. There were blackboards and even chalk.”

Kuhn’s commitment to making it work was intensely personal. UMBC President Freeman A. Hrabowski, III, observes that “[Kuhn] and his family moved into one of the original farmhouses on the campus grounds – a small gray house that became his family’s residence, his office, and a welcoming place frequented by UMBC students and faculty members. Its porch became the catalog center for the library’s nascent 20,000-volume collection. That farmhouse is gone today, replaced by our library, which was named to honor Dr. Kuhn.”

Kuhn held both chancellorships until UMBC’s second commencement in 1971, when he gave up his leadership position at UMBC. He served as UMB’s chancellor until 1980.

Hrabowski notes that he continues to offer these thoughts – which Kuhn gave to the university’s first graduating class in 1970 – at each UMBC commencement: “If you bring to the future the same personal qualities and personal commitment you have brought to this campus as students, good and important things will happen to each of you, as well as to those around you… and the university community will be proud to have played a part in your life.”

— Richard Byrne ’86

Shovel Ready

As UMBC Magazine went to press, the university learned that the Maryland General Assembly approved $37.4 million for the first year of construction of a Performing Arts and Humanities Building.

Ground will be broken in June for the $170 million project. The first phase will include classrooms, class and open laboratories, multimedia study and collaboration spaces, a 275-seat main theater, a 100-seat black box theater, and support spaces.

John Jeffries, dean of the College of Arts, Humanities and Social Sciences, was delighted by the news. “At long last,” he observes, “our theatre department – and in the second phase, our music and dance departments – will have facilities worthy of their students and their talent.”

The presence of the humanities is also a big part of the equation, Jeffries adds. “The prominent position of the Dresher Center in the building,” he says, “and the presence of English and other humanities departments, will also substantially advance research, teaching and learning in the humanities at UMBC.”

Jeffries concludes by noting that “it will be a signature building on campus that will make it plain how important the arts and humanities are to UMBC and the state of Maryland.” The second phase of construction, which is planned for 2012, will include new dance and concert halls, and a new home for the departments of music, dance, philosophy and ancient studies.

— Richard Byrne ’86

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