Thomas Schaller, Political Science, Op-Ed in The Baltimore Sun

In his latest column in The Baltimore Sun titled, “The GOP chamber puzzle,” Political Science Professor Thomas Schaller writes about how the Republican party holding a majority in the U.S. House of Representatives but not in the Senate is an historical anomaly.

Tom Schaller

“As I explain in ‘The Stronghold,’ my forthcoming book from Yale University Press, Republicans have been a stronger presence in the Senate in the past half century party because more of the small-population states lean Republican. Therefore, the GOP has consistently held a higher share of Senate seats than the population contained in the states the party’s senators represent,” Schaller writes.

He adds that with the Republicans’ built-in small state advantage, it is puzzling that they control the House but not the Senate and that it should be the inverse. In the column, he does offer an explanation for why this is the case.

“The short answer, of course, is gerrymandering. Thanks to a strong 2010 election cycle in which the GOP posted significant gubernatorial and state legislative wins, Republican state leaders were able to draw favorable U.S. House lines in many states. (Solidly Democratic Maryland was an exception.)”

To read the full column published on August 5, click here.

Donald Norris, Public Policy, in The Baltimore Sun, on WJZ 13

Public Policy Professor and Chair Donald Norris was recently quoted in The Baltimore Sun about the Maryland governor’s race and Dr. Joshua M. Sharfstein’s announcement that he is leaving his post as secretary of the state Department of Health and Mental Hygiene as the O’Malley administration ends.

Donald Norris UMBC

An article published August 2 titled, “Brown, Hogan sharply divided on child immigration,” highlights the stark contrast in positions on the issue between Lt. Gov. Anthony Brown and his Republican opponent Larry Hogan, who has said the state shouldn’t do anything to make it easier for children who have entered the country illegally to come to Maryland.

Norris said that Hogan ran as arguably the most moderate candidate in the Republican primary and won convincingly: “He doesn’t need to take this kind of hard-line position,” Norris said. “Where he’s hurting himself here is in the middle, where he needs the votes.”

In the article about Health Secretary Sharfstein’s announcement, Norris said he expects changes in leadership to take place as the current administration winds down: “I expect we’ll be seeing this from nearly all department heads in next few weeks and few months,” said Norris. “I don’t know that any of them will necessarily be retained.” You can read the full version of both articles below.

Brown, Hogan sharply divided on child immigration (Baltimore Sun)
Health Secretary Sharfstein to join Hopkins (Baltimore Sun)

WJZ 13 ran a story on August 8 about the governor’s race and a new YouTube ad that was launched by Republican candidate Larry Hogan attacking Democratic candidate Anthony Brown on tax increases, unemployment rates, and the state’s business climate. Norris was interviewed for the story and said, “I expect to see a good bit of attacking. I also expect the Brown campaign to attack right back.” You can watch the story here.

Erle Ellis: Nature

Erle Ellis, Geography and Environmental Systems, was recently quoted in the Nature article written by Virginia Gewin, Science and politics: Hello, Governor.

“Although there is little disagreement that abrupt shifts occur in Earth systems, including climate and the composition of ecosystems, some scientists baulk at the suggestion that there is enough evidence to predict a single tipping point for the whole planet. “I thought it was a great review of the evidence for rapid shifts in ecology, but then it switched to a series of unsupported statements — at best a hypothesis — about how a global tipping point in the biosphere could happen,” says Erle Ellis, a landscape ecologist at the University of Maryland, Baltimore County, who was involved in a response to the paper.

Yet Ellis understands why the term appeals to politicians. “It’s an extraordinarily simple way to look at human-induced global change. It effectively creates a binary Earth; a line drawn in the sand,” he says. “Doing so gives a false sense of security on the ‘safe side’ and a false sense it is too late to act on the other.” But the concept has power. In fact, game-theory simulations have shown that the kind of coordination needed to solve global environmental problems is much easier to achieve if a tipping point can be predicted with high certainty.”

Read the article

Meyerhoff Expansion Program: Nature Jobs

Virginia Gewin writes in Nature, about diversity in science and the problems facing minorities in science. Gewin writes that, Neil deGrasse Tyson has suggested that the low numbers of minorities and women in the US science workforce are due in large part to a lack of equal access to opportunities for entering that workforce.

“To solve that problem, universities are now looking to the example of the Meyerhoff Scholars Program at the University of Maryland, Baltimore County (UMBC). It has crafted a formula for mentoring students from minority groups underrepresented in the sciences and helping to guide them into science, technology, engineering and maths (STEM) careers. And that formula seems to work — African American Meyerhoff scholars are five times more likely than their counterparts at other US universities to pursue STEM PhDs (K. I. Maton et alMt Sinai J. Med. 79, 610–623; 2012).”

“Now, with US$7.75 million in funding from the Howard Hughes Medical Institute (HHMI), Pennsylvania State University (Penn State) in University Park and the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill (UNC) are trying to replicate the programme, which for two and a half decades has led the nation in the number of its minority graduates who go on to earn STEM PhDs.”

Read the article

Pres. Hrabowski Speaks at Campus Technology Conference

President Hrabowski gave the keynote address at the Campus Technology 2014 annual conference in Boston this week. The conference focuses on the use of innovative technology in higher education.

Dr. Hrabowski addressed the large volume of data available in higher education today and how institutions must work to develop stories with meaningful context around the numbers, to more effectively interpret them. He also mentioned areas on UMBC’s campus that allow technology to be integrated into the classroom, saying, “We need to be rethinking our spaces on campus to stimulate active learning through the technology students bring with them.”
Dr. Hrabowski is a frequent keynote speaker at meetings and conferences across the nation. This particular talk was covered by Ed Tech and Campus Technology.

Dennis Coates, Economics, in The Baltimore Sun and The Buffalo News

As the Buffalo Bills search for a new owner, state and county officials in New York could be faced with a complicated scenario if the new owner arrives with a demand to build a new stadium. An article published July 28 in The Buffalo News examines the question: do taxpayers get their money’s worth by public dollars helping to build sports stadiums? 

Considering the situation in Buffalo, Economics Professor Dennis Coates was interviewed for the story and said teams are increasingly getting money from taxpayers to directly help with operating costs of stadiums.

One of the arguments for a new stadium in Buffalo is that if it keeps the Bills there, it’s good for the community’s sense of pride. In the article, Coates recalled growing up in Western New York when basketball’s Buffalo Braves left in 1978. “I don’t think anybody cared much. But the Bills? People would care.”

Coates lived in the Baltimore area when the Colts football team left for Indianapolis. “I saw firsthand how that made people here feel. … That sort of thing was like losing a loved one.” But, he cautioned, taxpayers should not think a new Bills’ stadium would be an economic boost for the region. In fact, studies have shown that the stadium deals cost more each year to taxpayers – when all the subsidies are factored in – than they return on any sort of dollar basis.

Coates was also interviewed by The Baltimore Sun for a July 28 article looking at the decision to change the name of the University of Maryland’s Comcast Center to the Xfinity Center. Discussing the benefit of naming rights agreements in college sports and looking at what the deal may mean for the Xfinity brand, Coates said, “that doesn’t mean they don’t get some sort of goodwill out of it,” he added, “they must be doing it because they think it generates profit.” Changing the Comcast Center’s name “is kind of an unusual case” because it doesn’t involve a new corporate player, Coates said. “Usually it’s a complete change in the company.”

To read the complete version of both articles, click below:
Teams have upper hand in stadium negotiations (The Buffalo News)
University of Maryland arena is rechristened Xfinity Center (The Baltimore Sun)

Update: Coates was also interviewed for an article about the possibility of a new stadium for the Buffalo Bills in The Deal Pipeline on August 7. That article can be found here

Lynne Schaefer, VP for Finance and Administration, in College Planning and Management

Lynne Schaefer, vice president for finance and administration, spoke to College Planning and Management about best practices for contracting housekeeping, dining, grounds maintenance and other services in higher education. College Planning and Management is a monthly journal focusing on campus safety, facilities, technology and more.

Schaefer discussed the lessons she has learned from her time at UMBC working with campus vendors and ensuring student satisfaction. She recommended establishing contracts that are descriptive and performance-based rather than prescriptive, saying, “If you are going to use outside experts then rely on their expertise.”

Click here to read the article titled “Let It Go.”

Pres. Hrabowski on NPR and WYPR

President Hrabowski was a guest on both NPR’s Tell Me More and WYPR’s Midday With Dan Rodricks this Wednesday, discussing mentorship and the graduation gap in higher education.

A frequent guest of Tell Me More, Dr. Hrabowski joined host Michel Martin on the show’s final Wisdom Watch segment to discuss the role of mentorship in his personal life and at UMBC. Recalling the importance of mentorship during his childhood and early career, Dr. Hrabowski discussed why mentoring is part of the culture at UMBC and how it creates a supportive environment for students and faculty. “People don’t make it by themselves,” he said. “Somebody gives them support, and that’s the point. How do we make sure that every person has that team of people who can give support?”

Dr. Hrabowski also appeared on Midday With Dan Rodricks to speak about how universities can help first-generation and low-income students graduate. Citing both traditional and innovative student support mechanisms found at UMBC, Dr. Hrabowski said that the success of students who move past life’s obstacles to reach their goals continually inspires him.

Click here to listen to Dr. Hrabowski on Tell Me More and here to listen to Midday with Dan Rodricks.

Yonathan Zohar, NPR’s Morning Edition, Father of Bluefin Tuna

Yonathan Zohar, professor of marine biotechnology, was recently featured on NPR’s Morning Edition for his success in keeping, as Dan Charles of NPR says, “the tiger of the ocean,” bluefin tuna larvae alive for 10 days.

“It’s amazing. We cannot stop looking at them! We are here around the clock and we are looking at them, because it is so beautiful,” says Yonathan Zohar.

Charles says, “The fish can grow to 1,000 pounds. They can swim up to 45 miles per hour and cross entire oceans.”

To learn more about this remarkable research:

Listen to the story

Maurice Berger, CADVC, Latest “Race Story” in the New York Times

In the latest essay for his Race Stories column in The New York Times, Maurice Berger, research professor at the Center for Art, Design and Visual Culture, examines Dawoud Bey’s intimate and powerful 2007 portrait of Barack Obama prior to becoming president. The essay is being co-published by the Hillman Photography Initiative at the Carnegie Museum of Art. “The photograph depicts its famously private and introspective subject only months before he was to step into the abyss of presidential politics. And it defines him free of the stereotypes and myths that have come to characterize his presidency,” observers Berger.

Read “Meditation on President Obama’s Portrait” and view the photograph at the New York Times Lens blog.

Berger’s Race Stories column has featured several essays centered upon race and photography, including Malcolm X as image maker, Ken Gonzales-Day, images of emancipation, the photographs of Deborah Will, and the civil rights work of James Karales.