UMBC Again Named a “Great College to Work For”

To: The UMBC Community
From: President Freeman Hrabowski and Provost Philip Rous

For the fifth consecutive year, The Chronicle of Higher Education has named UMBC one of the best academic workplaces in the nation. UMBC is among just 92 colleges included in the Chronicle’s full list of “Great Colleges to Work For” and is the only four-year public university on the “honor roll” recognized as exceptional in almost every category.

Each year, the Chronicle asks faculty and staff across the country to rate their workplaces on a host of factors. The assessment also includes an analysis of demographic data, benefits, and workplace policies at each participating college. The Chronicle’s 2014 results are based on responses from over 43,500 people at nearly 300 public and private institutions nationwide, including UMBC.

This year, UMBC received high ratings in 11 recognition categories:

  • Collaborative Governance
  • Compensation and Benefits
  • Confidence in Senior Leadership
  • Diversity
  • Job Satisfaction
  • Professional/ Career-Development Programs
  • Respect and Appreciation
  • Supervisor or Department-Chair Relationship
  • Teaching Environment
  • Tenure Clarity and Process
  • Work/Life Balance

This recognition affirms what we all know: UMBC is a community that truly cares about people. Each day, our faculty, staff, and students demonstrate that excellence and inclusiveness go hand in hand.

Thank you for all you do for the UMBC community.

Lee Boot, visual arts, in What Weekly

Shifting control of the Internet from the consumer to those with the most wealth means the flow of content will go to the highest bidder, writes Lee Boot, a media researcher and IRC Associate Director, in Why Surrendering Control of the Internet to Market Forces is Crazy Talk, a commentary piece on net neutrality published in What Weekly.

“The Internet Service Providers we pay to connect our homes and business to the Internet and broker content, now want also to charge the content companies like Netflix according to the bandwidth their media require to deliver,” says Boot.

Boot compares the current threat of ISPs controlling the flow of content to when cable service providers promised ad-free digital access to television programming, only to slowly reintroduce advertising into subscriptions after the fact. The fear, Boot argues, is that ISPs—many of which used to be (and still are) cable providers—will honor companies that pay the most with choice quality and delivery.

“It would open a Pandora’s Box of ways to turn new media into the kind of restrictive tool of money and power TV was because it shifts power away from consumers (citizens) toward those with the power to manipulate the media landscape,” says Boot.

Read the full article »

Update on the Campus Entrance Project

Nearly a month into the New Campus Entrance project, an important construction project to upgrade the roadways, pedestrian pathways and parking surrounding the main campus entrance, construction is well under way in several locations across campus, including the Plaza and Administration Garage.

Campus Plaza

The main entrance to campus officially closed late last week and temporary signage has been posted to direct people to alternate routes to access the Retriever Activities Center (RAC), Admin Building and other parts of campus. We are in the process of installing permanent pedestrian detour signs to clearly mark access routes.

In an effort to increase accessibility to campus during construction, we will be making several alterations around the entrances between Administration Garage and the campus detours, including renovations to the walkways surrounding the upper level of the garage and upgrading the detour path between Sherman Hall and the Admin Building.

Campus Entry Road

The work area of the campus entry road, the location on the east side of the Administration Garage (the corner of Hilltop Circle and Admin Dr.), will be expanded starting the week of July 7. Crews will begin preparing the site for the construction of a new parking area that will include access to the Administration Garage, scheduled for completion later this year. This work will consist of standard site clearing, vegetation removal and re-grading.

In keeping with our tree and vegetation conservation efforts, all trees, shrubs and plantings that could be successfully transplanted, have been, and more trees will be added. Any trees and plantings that are removed during this project will be recycled as mulch to be used on campus.

Please visit the Campus Entrance website and join our myUMBC group to receive news and updates and stay apprised of how construction on this project may impact you.

Come Celebrate Spring in Catonsville (5/4)

April showers will bring May flowers, and the best place to find them is at the Catonsville Flower Fest & Garden Party on Sunday, May 4. Featuring more than just flowers, the event is a celebration of all things spring and provides an opportunity to find the perfect Mother’s Day gift. A variety of cut flowers, hanging baskets and bedding plants will be available, of course, but there will also be one-of-a-kind gift items hand made by the area’s finest crafters, including jewelry, embroidered and knitted goods, glass and ceramic ware and much more. Master Gardeners from the University of Maryland Extension will be on hand to share information and answer questions. And live music will provide a festive atmosphere throughout the day. It all takes place from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. on Egges Lane next to the Firehouse, sponsored by the Greater Catonsville Chamber of Commerce.

As in past years, the Flower Fest & Garden Party coincides with the opening of the Catonsville Farmers Market right next door in the parking lot at 730 Frederick Road. This market is a “producer-only market,” which means that all the vendors are offering items that they themselves have grown or produced. Buyers get the freshest fruits, vegetables, meats and other products direct from the source.

Now going into its fifth year, the Sunday Catonsville Farmers Market has developed a reputation for offering a variety of quality products in a fun and festive atmosphere with live music. The Market is open Sundays from 10 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. starting on May 4 and continuing every week (rain or shine) up until the weekend before Thanksgiving, Sunday November 23. Vendors offer a wide array of everything from heirloom garlic and tomatoes to boutique spice mixes, pickles and salsas to Maryland varietal wines, gourmet olive oils, artisan breads and French pastries. New vendors are always being added—for the latest offerings, check the market’s Facebook page.

So get in step with spring and ready for Mother’s Day on Sunday, May 4 with a visit to the Catonsville Flower Fest & Garden Party and the Catonsville Farmers Market. To learn more about either event, visit the Greater Catonsville Chamber of Commerce or call 410-719-9609.

Advancing Excellence: The Student Experience

Our UMBC: A Strategic Plan for Advancing Excellence is founded on a broadly inclusive process. With campus input, the Strategic Planning Steering Committee identified four areas widely viewed as drivers of future success for UMBC: The Student Experience, Innovative Curriculum and Pedagogy, Collective Impact in Research, Scholarship, and Creative Achievement, and Community and Extended Connection. A strategy group will explore and recommend goals for each area, and will recommend metrics to assess how well we are addressing our objectives.

This is the first in a series of interviews with the co-chairs of each focus area.

StrategicWebSeries01-9431The primary goal of The Student Experience Strategy Group is examining ways to create vibrant, exceptional and comprehensive undergraduate and graduate student experiences that integrate in- and out-of-classroom learning to prepare graduates for meaningful careers and civic and personal lives. Student Experience Strategy Group Co-Chairs Devin Hagerty, professor of political science and program director of global studies, and Kim Leisey, associate vice president of student affairs, believe that students continue to prioritize a strong sense of community and belonging, a theme that will help inform their work as co-chairs.

Both Hagerty and Leisey bring important perspectives to the Strategy Group research, which will examine the roles of safety, community and belonging; preparation in and out of the classroom; the impact of diversity; participation in global citizenship; delivery of services; and faculty and staff infrastructure.

While Hagerty’s focus is academics and Leisey’s is student affairs, the collaborative nature of the campus helps them to see the big picture and hear from all members of the community. As former chair and now program director, Hagerty’s work centers on the classroom experience, but he also has worked with students in a variety of settings, including bringing workshops into residence halls. “I’ve seen all of the student issues, both academic and personal, and the relationships I have across campus have been helpful to that experience,” he explains. On the other hand, although Leisey’s work focuses on both undergraduate and graduate students, she also works closely with faculty and staff across the campus.

As they begin their work as co-chairs, Hagerty and Leisey say they are reflecting on how the campus and the student experience have changed since they first came to UMBC 13 and 23 years ago, respectively. UMBC has grown into a nationally and internationally recognized institution, and an inclusive strategic planning process is critical to understanding the needs of its students and the role the university plays in a rapidly changing world. Both feel it is important to make sure students feel they are a part of a community, and are connected with and supported by the institution.

“I’ve worked with both undergraduate and graduate students and I get a lot of input from them,” says Leisey. “For me, co-chairing this group is an opportunity to share that input and focus on what we want UMBC to look like in the next few decades – what exists now and what’s missing. In doing that, we also have to project what’s ahead in the world and the impact that will have both in and out of the classroom.”

Hagerty agrees, sharing, “This also is a good opportunity to audit ourselves as we are proactive, creative and innovative in keeping up with the student body. There’s a lot we do well, and it’s good to take a fresh look to make sure we’re doing as well as we think. We try to excel at everything, and we want to stay on the map without losing the liberal arts teaching. We want to know how that feels for students: How do they interact with all of the different parts of the campus and what kind of experience do they have?”

UMBC is well known for its diversity. Leisey explains that one challenge is taking advantage of that diversity in helping people connect and provide experiences that help students learn about one another – and find commonalities among the differences. Hagerty adds that it is important to understand the student experience as a whole, and how it transforms and prepares students for the future. “The challenges students have now are preparing them to be global citizens and professionals.”

While the role of technology has grown exponentially, both feel that students may be missing more face-to-face connections. “I’d like to better understand the role of technology [in the student experience], but I have a hunch that, although this generation is connected technologically, they miss just being with people,” says Leisey.

Hagerty and Leisey would like to receive input on the student experience from students and colleagues across the campus, and look forward to meeting with focus groups during the strategic planning process. They also welcome questions and comments from the campus. You can contact them at dhagerty@umbc.edu and leisey@umbc.edu.

Smoke-Free Campus Update: Smoking Shelters

TO: The Campus Community
FROM: Valerie A. Thomas and Nancy Young

As we shared with the community earlier last year, in accordance with USM policy, UMBC has become a smoke-free campus. We would like to thank faculty, staff and students for their cooperation throughout the implementation of this new university policy.

As part of this transition, the university has allowed smoking in two designated areas removed from major pedestrian traffic, in order to provide a safe space for any students, faculty, or staff who may continue to smoke.

After valuable feedback from the community, we have decided to move the Fine Arts Service Smoking Area to a new location, away from the Fine Arts Building and the surrounding high traffic sidewalk areas. The new smoking area will be located near Lot 8 between the campus police headquarters and the new Performing Arts & Humanities Building. Signage directing individuals to the relocated Lot 8 smoking area has been installed.

We are also pleased to report that the smoking shelters for these areas have arrived. The shelter for Park Road, adjacent to Lots 1 and 3, and the shelter for Lot 8 have been installed and are available for use.

As we near the end of our first year as a smoke-free campus, we appreciate your support and assistance as we implement this new policy designed to make our campus community healthier for all who study, work, or visit here. For more information about Smoke-Free UMBC, visit smokefree.umbc.edu.

Ways to Get Involved in Our Campus Community – Make UMBC Yours!

There are many ways to engage and make a difference at UMBC. Please check out the list of various ways faculty and staff can volunteer and get involved in our campus community. Find it on the HR website under New Employee Resources.

We hope you will browse this list and find something that sparks your interest or ways to share your talents. Contact department representatives directly.

Thank you for all the ways you are making a difference.

The Chronicle of Higher Education “Great Colleges to Work For” Survey

TO: The Campus Community
FROM: Valerie A. Thomas, Associate Vice President for Human Resources

Each year, The Chronicle of Higher Education asks faculty and staff at colleges and universities across the country to rate their workplaces on a host of factors, including benefits, workplace policies and demographics, to recognize institutions that have built great workplaces.

The Chronicle has again asked UMBC to participate in its “Great Colleges to Work For” program. An important part of this program is an employee survey distributed to a random sample of UMBC’s full-time faculty and exempt and non-exempt staff.Earlier this month, an invitation to take this survey was emailed to a random sample of UMBC faculty and staff. If you have received the anonymous survey, we ask that you take a few minutes to respond. Your feedback helps ensure more accurate results for the program. The deadline to complete the survey is Monday, April 14, 2014.

The Chronicle will publish a special issue this summer detailing the program findings and recognizing those institutions that are leading the way in their commitment to creating great workplaces.

In 2013, for the fourth consecutive year, UMBC was named one of the best colleges in the nation to work for, and earned its second consecutive spot on the list’s “Honor Roll.” The campus received high ratings in key areas such as teaching, senior leadership and diversity.

Understanding Performance Management: A Guide for Non-supervisory Staff (4/24)

In this overview of the Performance Management Process (PMP) with Labor Relations Specialist Shobhna Arora, you will have an opportunity to learn about performance management and its components, the importance of setting goals and on-going communication, how to solicit and receive feedback, the benefits of completing a self-assessment, and strategies for enhancing professional development.  This session also covers tips and assistance in preparing for performance review meetings.

The workshop will be Thursday, April 24th, 9:00 a.m. – 12:00 p.m., at The Commons Room 331.

Register by April 16th and get a flyer with details at: http://my.umbc.edu/groups/training/events/21287