Most new Retrievers begin their time at UMBC checking off a to-do list of essentials. New UMBC President Valerie Sheares Ashby was no exception on August 1, starting her first day by getting her computer set up, taking that all-important photo for her campus ID, and figuring out her go-to order in the Admin Coffee Shop.
And like other new Retrievers, once those duties were finished, the real fun began. For Sheares Ashby, that meant getting straight to what excites her most—getting to know the people of UMBC face to face.
“This day is just pure joy to me. I feel like I am among my people. We have similar values. We have similar goals,” she told a crowd gathered on Main Street in The Commons before calling dozens of students forward for a group photo, and sticking around to meet any and all who wanted to say hello.
Connecting with community
Sheares Ashby spent most of her first full day of work visiting colleagues and community members across main campus, traveling from the Administration Building and the Albin O. Kuhn Library in the morning, to Residential Life, Athletics, and the UMBC Police Station in the afternoon. Over the course of the coming year, she plans to conduct a “listening tour” in order to meet as many people as possible across the UMBC community.
Sharing her visible excitement with a crowd of students, staff, and faculty members, Sheares Ashby explained how her parents—teachers of English, and math and science—not only instilled in her an appreciation of the sciences and humanities, but also the importance of thanking people who show her kindness.
“Thank you all. I’m just grateful to each one of you. Those of you I have not yet met, I look forward to it,” she said. “It is a privilege and pleasure to join you. And I look forward to all the work we’re going to do together.”