To You – Winter 2009

Published: Jan 19, 2009

Welcome to UMBC Magazine!

The university has created this magazine to make connections. And, more specifically, reconnections. I can modestly put myself forward as one of those reconnections. I graduated from UMBC in December 1986 with a degree in English. I spent a lot of time away from the university’s orbit – in St. Louis, Prague, Sarajevo, Belgrade – pursuing a career in journalism and creative writing. And while I valued the education that UMBC gave me, I had essentially disconnected.

A few years ago, I moved back to this area and went to work at The Chronicle of Higher Education. In the course of my work there, I came back to UMBC for a visit and was bowled over by the changes that had occurred on campus in the 15 years since I had graduated.

The UMBC I left in 1986 was a good state university that catered largely to commuters – many of whom had the gumption and tenacity to obtain their degrees as they worked full or part-time jobs. It had a terrific (and underrated) faculty and staff, but it also had self-esteem issues. It was rare, for instance, to see students wear UMBC gear around campus. The UMBC that I saw on my return earlier this decade had impressive new buildings – and a soaring reputation for excellence in research, teaching and diversity. On-campus life was more vibrant. I heard multiple languages in the Commons. I saw lots of black and gold.

In short, I was proud that I had attended UMBC and proud of what it had become. And when the opportunity to edit this magazine came to my attention last summer, I jumped at it. I reconnected.

If you’re holding this publication, you are likely one of our growing number of alumni.

The university has invested in this magazine to reconnect with you. We want to tell you what’s going on here at UMBC right now: plug you in to the university’s research, teaching and student life. We also want share some of the pride in the university’s past accomplishments and its future endeavors.

But reconnection is never a one-way street. We have provided numerous spaces – in the magazine itself and on our Web site – for you, our alumni, to tell us your stories in class notes and in first-person essays, and to give us the feedback and ideas that will be so crucial to this publication’s success.

We hope you enjoy UMBC Magazine. And we hope it spurs you to use this place to reconnect: Ask questions. Get involved. Find old friends – and make new ones – across years and across colleges and departments. Let the reconnection begin!

— Richard Byrne ’86


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