The News – Summer 2011

Published: May 19, 2011


The progress on the construction of Phase I of UMBC’s new Performing Arts and Humanities Building is impressive when seen from the outside. But put on a hard hat and get into the guts of the new building that will open in Fall 2012 and that progress is even more apparent.

Already, one can see the shape of the new 275 seat theater – with high-ceilinged passageways between the scenery workshop and the stage to make set construction easier. The elegant curved lines of the James T. and Virginia M. Dresher Center for the Humanities – which overlook one of the new building’s lobbies – are also clearly discernible.

Outlines of new classrooms on the top floors are also taking shape. And did we mention the views? The building’s perch at the north end of campus offers up sweeping vistas south and west to Baltimore and the Key Bridge.

But the best news about the Performing Arts and Humanities Building, however, isn’t that Phase I is going so swimmingly. It’s that lawmakers gathered in the recently-concluded session of Maryland’s Legislature decided to close a proposed two-year gap in funding for Phase II of the building – including new concert and dance venues – and allow the university to begin construction of the final wing in 2013.

“It is clear that our governor and other state officials understand how important this project is for our campus,” says UMBC President Freeman A. Hrabowski III. “And the leadership of our alumna, House Speaker Pro Tem Adrienne Jones ’76, was pivotal in ensuring in the building’s completion in 2015.”

— Richard Byrne ’86


UMBC’s reputation as a magnet for adult and returning students attracts many who have served in our nation’s military. In Fall 2010, for instance, 219 Maryland veterans receiving GI Bill education benefits were studying at UMBC.

And UMBC’s outreach to veterans is expanding. A new initiative – The Maryland Campus Compact for Student Veterans – was signed by UMBC President Freeman A. Hrabowski, III, in January. It committed UMBC and other state colleges and universities to centralize efforts to guide student veterans through all facets of university life and provide more training across campus in issues affecting veterans.

The compact was spearheaded by Maryland Lt. Governor Anthony G. Brown – a colonel in the Army Reserves, a graduate of the Reserved Officer Training Corps (ROTC) and the nation’s highest ranking elected official to have served a tour of duty in Iraq.

The agreement formalized outreach efforts that were already under way. In February 2010, the university’s division of student affairs established a Vets 2 Vets program in its off-campus student affairs office, offering support services, networking opportunities and referrals to a wide network of resources on-and-off-campus. UMBC’s Vets 2 Vets program will also offer an orientation session for new veterans on campus in early August.

“The UMBC community is proud to welcome returning veterans to campus,” said Hrabowski after signing the compact. “We know the transition back to the classroom can be challenging, and we are committed to supporting student veterans with access to the information and services they need to be successful.”

— Richard Byrne ’86


If you’re an alumna or alumnus who’s already plugged into getting UMBC information via email, you’ve likely discovered that our online community – Retriever Net – has a brand new face.

The makeover began over a year ago, when we asked alumni what they wanted from a web community. Among the priorities that emerged from the feedback were more campus news, more notice about alumni events and easier ways to reconnect with former classmates. Alumni also wanted a fresher look and greater clarity in the website.

The Retriever Net redesign addressed all those priorities and desires – linking alumni directly to events on campus and to news from faculty and students. Plus the site makes it easier to find information about alumni events, discounts and other benefits of being a UMBC graduate. The range of things you can now do via Retriever Net includes:

• Submit class notes with photos that will be published online and in the magazine
• Search a password-protected alumni directory
• Update your personal information and even upload a photo
• Send messages to old classmates
• Browse an up-to-date calendar of alumni events
• Use your new login to access both Retriever Net and myUMBC, the central campus web portal

But don’t take our word for it! Check out the new Retriever Net and tell us what you think! Fill out our user survey by July 31 at and you may win a $15 Amazon gift card!

— Meredith Purvis


The TIAA-CREF Theodore M. Hesburgh Award for Leadership Excellence is among the highest awards for academic leadership. Named after the former University of Notre Dame president who guided that institution to national preeminence, the annual prize recognizes the personal leadership that a university or college president has provided for the greater good of society.

In 2011, a distinguished panel of judges singled out the work of UMBC President Freeman A. Hrabowski, III, for the prize, which he received at the American Council on Education (ACE) annual meeting in Washington, D.C., in March.

Stephanie Bell-Rose, head of the TIAA-CREF Institute, which sponsors the prize, observed that “Dr. Hrabowski’s leadership at UMBC and commitment to underrepresented groups in science and engineering has had a powerful impact on both the Maryland system and on higher education as a whole. The Hesburgh award honors those higher education leaders who demonstrate innovative thinking, a positive impact on both higher education and society and a willingness to collaborate both within and outside the university, all of which are embodied by Dr. Hrabowski’s work.”

UMBC’s president used the occasion to urge greater innovation within the academy as a critical element in helping the nation face an unprecedented set of challenges. “It takes all of us in the academy to build our institutions and prepare the next generation of leaders,” Hrabowski said. “Higher education is more important now than ever before for both our nation and humankind. I am honored to accept this award on behalf of my UMBC colleagues and students, and to have our work associated with the example of extraordinary leadership provided by Father Hesburgh.”

— Richard Byrne ’86


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