Six years in a row, UMBC named “Great College to Work For”

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

The Chronicle of Higher Education has named UMBC an outstanding academic workplace for the sixth consecutive year. UMBC is one of only 86 universities to receive the “Great Colleges to Work For” distinction and the only Maryland four-year institution to be recognized.

Each year, the Chronicle surveys faculty, staff, and administrators and asks them to rate their workplaces on a variety of factors. The assessment also includes analysis of demographic data and workplace policies. The Chronicle’s 2015 results are based on responses from more than 40,000 people at nearly 300 public and private institutions nationwide.

For the fourth consecutive year, UMBC was featured on the Chronicle’shonor roll,” which recognizes universities that excel in almost every recognition category. This year, UMBC was highly rated in:

  • Collaborative Governance
  • Confidence in Senior Leadership
  • Respect and Appreciation
  • Supervisor/Department Chair Relationship
  • Tenure Clarity & Process

This award recognizes what we all know: Excellence thrives in an environment of inclusiveness and respect. These campus values and our commitment to robust shared governance make UMBC an exceptional campus community. We thank each of you for all that you do to make UMBC a great place to work and learn.

Leadership Transition in Student Support Services

TO: The Campus Community

FROM: Provost Philip Rous

I am pleased to announce our new leadership team in UMBC’s Student Support Services, following the retirement of Associate Provost and Director Cynthia Hill.

Effective immediately, Tawny McManus will serve as interim director of Student Disability Services and will lead all programs and activities that support our students with disabilities. Additionally, Corris Davis will serve as interim director of TRIO programs and will lead all activities in Student Support Services associated with our grant-supported programs, including McNair Scholars and Upward Bound. Both Ms. McManus and Ms. Davis have extensive experience, previously serving as associate director of Student Disability Services and director of Upward Bound, respectively.

I would like to express my gratitude to Ms. Davis and Ms. McManus for agreeing to take on these important leadership roles. I know that the Student Support Services staff, and our campus community, will support them during this important transitional period.

Chris Steele Appointed Interim Vice Provost for Division of Professional Studies

TO: The Campus Community

FROM: Provost Philip Rous

Following the retirement of John Martello, I am pleased to announce the appointment of Chris Steele as interim vice provost for the Division of Professional Studies and interim executive director of The Shriver Center, effective Sept. 1, 2015.

Dr. Steele has been a member of the UMBC community for nearly 20 years, most recently serving as senior associate vice provost for the Division of Professional Studies. A senior member of the division’s leadership team since 2000, Dr. Steele has played a key role in the development of important institutional programs and partnerships, including UMBC’s professional graduate programs, UMBC at The Universities at Shady Grove, K-12 teacher education professional development, and the English Language Institute.

Dr. Steele began his career at UMBC as a research associate in the Department of Geography and Environmental Systems, where he worked on NASA- and NSF-funded initiatives, including the Baltimore Ecosystem Study (BES). A member of BES, Dr. Steele spent several years in the role of urban resources initiative coordinator for the Parks & People Foundation, where he coordinated a graduate student summer research internship program and served as a community organizer on issues related to the urban environment.

Dr. Steele earned a Ph.D. in Geography from the University of Maryland, College Park and received his Masters and Bachelors degrees in Geography from Binghamton University and The University of Pittsburgh, respectively. He is an affiliate associate professor in the Department of Geography and Environmental Systems and a veteran of the Maryland Army National Guard.

We anticipate conducting a search for Dr. Martello’s replacement during the coming year.

Please join me in congratulating Dr. Steele on his new appointment and supporting him during this important transitional period.

2015 Health Benefits Open Enrollment Update

TO: The Campus Community

FROM: Rochelle Sanders, Director, HR Benefits and Compensation

We are pleased to announce that this year’s Open Enrollment (October 15-November 16, 2015) will be paperless.

UMBC has been working closely with the State of Maryland and University System of Maryland (USM) to provide the necessary data to support the State’s implementation of the Benefits module of Workday, the new secure Web-based State Personnel System (SPS). The online SPS will allow UMBC and state employees to:

  • View benefit coverage information
  • Enroll for and/or make changes to benefits coverage
  • Upload supporting documentation, such as birth certificates and marriage certificates
  • View dependent coverage information
  • Print benefit confirmation statements

As the new system is implemented, two important process changes will go into effect on August 1, 2015.

  1. Effective Date of Coverage: Coverage will now begin on the first of the month following the start date of a new hire or a “qualifying event” date (marriage, loss of coverage, divorce, etc.). Effective dates for newborns will be adjusted to the actual date of birth.
  2. Terminations: Coverage will end at the end of the month in which an employee separates from employment.

We will be sending an important email notification regarding employee demographic information required for the SPS implementation, in preparation for this system change. Please be sure to review the notification carefully and take the appropriate action outlined in the communications. Human Resources will be providing training and guidance throughout this implementation period.

Please contact Zahira Meyers,, if you have additional questions or concerns.

Counseling Center Closed for Department Retreat, July 14 and 15, 2015

The Vice President of Student Affairs has approved the closure of the University Counseling Center on Tuesday, July 14, 2015 from 8:30 a.m. to 12:00 p.m. and Wednesday, July 15, 2015 from 8:30 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. for a departmental retreat.

For an emergency, please call University Police at 410-455-5555. A UMBC counselor will be on-call and available for emergencies.

Maryland Unites: UMBC Community Service Leave

University System of Maryland (USM) Chancellor Robert L. Caret announced that the USM community will participate in Maryland Unites: Day of Service, an initiative for state employees to offer their time and talents through community service. The campaign, established by Md. Governor Larry Hogan in June 2015, offers state employees the opportunity to become involved with helping communities throughout Baltimore and Maryland.

Though USM has its own personnel system, Chancellor Caret has committed the system to taking an active role in this initiative. UMBC will grant eight hours of paid leave (coded as Community Service Leave) to all full-time, leave-eligible employees interested in participating in the program. Employees may choose to volunteer at a non-profit, non-partisan accredited 501(c)(3) organization on any scheduled workday between now and the end fiscal year, June 30, 2016, including the upcoming Maryland Unites program designated days (July 15, July 29, August 12 and August 26). Please visit the Human Resources website for specific guidelines to the UMBC Community Service Leave Program.

We encourage you to use Maryland Volunteer Centers and the Maryland Charities Database for an extensive list of non-profit organizations and charities. You may also contact the Shriver Center and The Choice Program at UMBC for additional volunteer opportunities in Baltimore and Maryland.

Questions regarding Community Service Leave should be directed to Sherrell McNamara, or 410-455-3646.

UMBC Celebrates Smart Irrigation Month


UMBC’s Facilities Management Department is celebrating Smart Irrigation Month by helping the campus save water, save money and see better results.

Smart Irrigation Month is a public awareness campaign to promote efficient water use. Focused on July, traditionally the month of peak demand for outdoor water use, the campaign highlights simple practices and innovative technologies to:

  • Make maintaining green spaces easy and convenient.
  • Minimize overwatering while keeping lawns, gardens and landscapes beautiful and healthy.
  • Save money on utility bills.
  • Help protect community water supplies for today and the future.

The University has contracted maintenance with Nature Unlimited LLC, to preserve the new irrigation system efficiencies provided by NORESCO contractor, Water Savers Irrigation, Inc.. Smart water-saving practices, are delivering real results by:

  • Installing soil moisture sensors to measure amount of moisture in the soil.
  • Installing digital devices that logs water flow data and communicates the information to the main irrigation control unit. This data will allow the irrigation manager to measure and verify the system is operating per the original design intent.
  • Installing master control valves to protect against water losses due to a piping system failure, a control valve malfunction, or a broken sprinkler or drip tube. The control system will automatically recognize an excessive flow of water, shut down the appropriate zone, and send a notification via email or text to the irrigation manager.
  • Installing wireless rain sensors at each controller location to interrupt the program during a rain event.

Smart Irrigation Month is an initiative of the Irrigation Association, a non-profit industry organization dedicated to promoting efficient irrigation. Visit to learn more.