Advancing Excellence: Research, Scholarship and Creative Achievement

This is the second in a series of articles on the four focus areas that are part of UMBC’s strategic planning process.

DSC_1866The primary goal of the Collective Impact in Research, Scholarship, and Creative Achievement focus area is to elevate UMBC as a nationally recognized and regionally relevant research university. The key drivers in achieving this goal are: creating an inclusive environment for faculty and students, developing excellence in new intellectual frontiers, and fostering multidisciplinary and inter-institutional approaches that build research, scholarship and creative achievement across the campus.

Strategy group co-chairs Aryya Gangopadhyay, professor and chair of information systems, and John Schumacher, associate professor and graduate program director of sociology and anthropology, primarily envision their group as a means to reach out to the entire campus community and make sure all the voices across campus are heard. “It’s important to look at research, scholarship and creative achievement across the colleges and ask ourselves how we want to develop as a university – as UMBC,” says Schumacher.

Group members are charged with engaging the campus community to examine current strengths in research, scholarship and creative achievement; to identify areas that will elevate UMBC’s national prominence in the next five years; to articulate connections with local communities and regional assets; to consider multi- and inter- institutional initiatives; and to develop priorities and metrics to track progress and success.

“We need to create the right environment for people to succeed and grow,” says Gangopadhyay. “People come here because they see a top class research university with great potential and people. The will and expertise are here to go to the next level. We want to examine what needs to get done, what roadblocks exist, what changes need to be made in the infrastructure and how we actualize the creative ideas people have. We’ll be successful if 10 years from now we see a measurable impact in our research, scholarship and creative achievements.”

Both Gangopadhyay and Schumacher believe that promoting research, scholarship and creative achievement across colleges and exploring how interdisciplinarity contributes to addressing important issues are critical to the strategic planning process. “We’re tackling problems of interest to the entire world. In today’s world, we can’t just look to one area for solutions; no one person alone can solve these problems. It’s our intra- and interdisciplinary research that brings solutions,” says Gangopadhyay.

Gangopadhyay and Schumacher add that their university roles and committee participation keep them engaged in campus-wide processes where they hear diverse perspectives from faculty, staff and students, and learn about projects and programs on and off campus. These experiences inform their work as co-chairs. “People on campus want to know what other people are doing,” says Schumacher. “Part of this process is to develop bridges of communication, and to build on these connections to ensure future success. In addition, we want to highlight UMBC’s location in the Baltimore-Washington corridor that provides a rich environment attracting faculty and students, as well as emerging partnerships with government agencies and universities. These connections, and new ones, will help us provide unparalleled experiences for our students to gain practical experience and find fulfilling jobs.”

Following Provost Philip Rous’ lead, Gangopadhyay and Schumacher reiterate the importance of an open and engaged process to articulate UMBC’s collective voice in strategic planning. They are pleased at the overwhelming response to the call for strategy group members, and will use focus groups, town meetings, surveys and other activities to engage with the entire campus over the next year. “This is a very important process,” Gangopadhyay says, “We have an exceptional group of people from across campus working on this focus area, and we will be reaching out to see what everyone thinks.”

Schumacher adds, “We need the whole UMBC community to be involved. We need everyone at the table, everyone’s voice represented, for this to be successful.”

Comments and questions on the Research, Scholarship and Creative Achievement focus area can be sent to and

Save the Date: Welcome to UMBC! (9/18)

The annual ‘Welcome to UMBC!’ event to welcome our new colleagues to the UMBC community has been scheduled.

If possible, please avoid scheduling other campus events on September 18th  2:00-3:30 p.m.

This interactive event is a great opportunity to connect and get to know some of the remarkable people here at UMBC.  Attendees will have a chance to talk with our President and Provost and will learn about opportunities to make a difference in our community.  There will also be a presentation about UMBC’s Public Art Project that was a joint venture between the University and the Maryland State Arts Council.

The event is co-sponsored by The Commons and Human Resources.

LRC/SSS Receives International Tutor Training Program Certification (ITTPC)

Cynthia M. Hill and Cassie L. Bichy jointly announce that the undergraduate tutor training program developed and delivered by the Learning Resources Center (LRC) and Student Support Services (SSS) received re-certification through 2018 from the College Reading and Learning Association (CRLA). LRC/SSS provided extensive documentation of their training program including syllabi for English 395, Education 313, Education 314, evaluations, and metrics for the certification process.

Through the LRC/SSS tutor training program, tutors earn certified, advanced, and master tutor recognition. Additional experience (25 hours) and training (10 hours) are required at each level. In addition, the Master level certification at UMBC requires a research project and an active learning demonstration.

LRC/SSS tutors receive recognition in May or December. Graduating seniors with Advanced or Master level training and experience are listed in the annual Student Honors and Awards Booklet.

The certification process sets an internationally accepted standard of skills and training for tutors. The mission of the LRC/SSS tutor training program is to provide the opportunity for undergraduate tutors to facilitate independent, lifelong learning. The ITTPC program provides recognition and positive reforcement for tutors’ successful work from an international organization.

Relationship Violence Prevention Advocates

Faculty and staff who are interested in preventing violence in relationships are encouraged to apply to become a relationship violence prevention advocate. Advocates are students, faculty and staff who are interested in learning more about the topic of relationship violence prevention and translating what they’ve learned to others within their sphere of influence. Advocates meet 9 times throughout the Fall 2014 semester.

Click here to apply.

Professional Staff Senate (PSS) 2014 Elections – Now Live

Professional staff members on campus are encourage to vote in the Professional Staff Senate (PSS) 2014 elections process which will run from Monday, April 21st to Friday, May 2nd.

This year, the PSS will be filling five open senate seats through the elections process. Every vote counts! New this year, voting will be facilitated through the PSS myUMBC page. All professional staff members on campus are automatically enrolled in the PSS myUMBC page and should have access to vote in the elections by clicking on the “Discussions” tab during the elections time frame (Monday, April 21 to Friday, May 2). Don’t forget to review the ballot and then cast your vote!

Questions or concerns about the PSS 2014 elections process? Contact PSS Vice President, Joshua Lubben at

Volunteers Needed for Spring Commencement Ceremonies (5/21 & 5/22)

It’s the time of the year when we ask for your help with May Commencements!  This year, the Undergraduate ceremony at the Baltimore Arena will be held on Thursday, May 22.

To volunteer, click here, select “Undergraduate Ceremony” and register.  You will see a brief description of the jobs available and the number of staff needed. If you prefer a particular job, sign up now before they are filled. You will receive a confirmation e-mail after you submit your selection.

Volunteer training will take place on Tuesday, May 20 at 2 pm in the Commons 331. Transportation will be provided to the Arena on the day of commencement with the bus leaving Administration Drive at 9:30 a.m. and returning 30 minutes after the ceremony.

Volunteers are also needed to help with the Graduate School Ceremony scheduled for Wednesday, May 21 at 10:00 am in the RAC.  You may use the same link as above and just select “Graduate Ceremony”.

If you have questions regarding the Undergraduate ceremony, contact Erin Johnson at or ext. 5-5897.  For questions regarding the Graduate School ceremony, contact Lisa Portis Morgan at or ext. 5-8142.

To celebrate your efforts, we will once again host a Commencement Volunteer Thank You in January for those of you who assist with the May and/or December ceremony.  Look for further information in the late Fall.

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 and

Choice Jobs Flying Fruit Fantasy Fruitshakes – OPEN FOR THE SEASON

FFF IS OPEN FOR THE SEASON – Choice Program’s Flying Fruit Fantasy Fruitshakes opened for the 2014 season on April 1st!

Springtime brings forth a time of growth, awakening, and for UMBC’s Choice Program, springtime also brings FRUITSHAKES! For over 20 years, UMBC’s Choice Program has been serving up Fruitshakes at Oriole Park at Camden Yards. In 2011, the social enterprise expanded to the Inner Harbor and has seen substantial growth in community impact! Each year, 50 young people from Baltimore City and County receive on-the-job-training while developing the skills needed to blossom into wonderful employees.

Following a Supported Employment Model, AmeriCorps Community Service Learning Fellows cultivate a space for the young people to learn about teamwork, customer service, communications and dependability!

Visit Flying Fruit Fantasy Fruitshakes today for a Fruitshake, Smoothie, or Frozen Yogurt and receive a dollar off any FFF item by mentioning this Insights Weekly Post! We are located on the main concourse at Oriole Park, section 28, and in front of the Science Center in the Harbor.

Sherri Braxton-Lieber Named Director of Instructional Technology

Dr. Sherri Braxton-Lieber, Special Assistant to the Provost and Director of Course Redesign at Bowie State University (BSU), has accepted UMBC’s Director of Instructional Technology position in the Division of Information Technology. She will start full-time on Tuesday, May 27, and serve as the primary point of contact for DoIT’s instructional technology support efforts.