Affirming Commitment to Inclusion and Safety for All Members of the UMBC Community

A message from President Freeman Hrabowski and Provost Philip Rous:

Dear members of the UMBC community,

This past Friday we received a timely and thoughtful letter signed by hundreds of faculty, staff, students, and alumni concerned about the well-being and future of students enrolled at UMBC under the Federal Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) initiative – which provides a pathway to work or college for undocumented individuals who came to the United States as children and meet certain conditions.

We thank the authors and signers for their commitment to the values of our community and their profound interest in ensuring that UMBC campuses will continue to be inclusive and safe, especially for those who could be at risk if there are future changes in immigration policy and law enforcement. The letter specifically requested action to “make UMBC a sanctuary campus” and to develop measures to support and retain DACA students in the event that the initiative is cancelled or expires. We have begun working with University System of Maryland colleagues and will be working with campus shared governance organizations to better understand options available to us that are consistent with our obligations under State and Federal law.

In the meantime, we want to inform you of guidance the USM has shared regarding practices on its campuses, including UMBC.

USM and its constituent institutions affirm our commitment to provide all of our students a safe and supportive educational environment. While we continue to comply with all applicable federal and state laws and regulations and with lawfully issued subpoenas or court orders, we need not, and shall not, engage in the following activities:

  • Permit immigration enforcement authorities to enter a campus for an enforcement action without a warrant unless there is an exigent circumstance (national security or terrorism matter, risk of death or physical harm, etc.) necessitating immediate action;
  • Voluntarily partner with immigration enforcement authorities to assist with enforcement activities;
  • Detain an immigrant at the request of immigration enforcement authorities;
  • Request and/or share immigration information obtained in connection with a campus arrest; or
  • Provide immigration enforcement authorities with student records without a lawfully issued subpoena or court order.

This guidance is consistent with UMBC’s practices. In addition, our administration has been public about its support for undocumented students’ access to public education. President Hrabowski has signed an open letter from college and university presidents nationwide, urging the incoming administration to preserve and expand DACA. The UMBC administration also publicly and vigorously supported the Maryland Dream Act, which enables undocumented high school graduates who complete at least 60 credits at a community college to receive in-state tuition at Maryland universities.

The immediate need of most students with concerns about immigration status is access to reliable information and support. Campus leaders have been meeting with numerous student groups to hear and respond to concerns. We are planning to share vetted information about resources and to expand capacity to address the needs arising in our community.

We will continue to monitor and attend to needs on our campuses, working in partnership with University Senate leaders and following guidance from the USM.

Important News Concerning FLSA

A message from Valerie A. Thomas, Associate Vice President, Human Resources:

Dear Members of the UMBC Community,

I am writing to let staff and faculty know that campus leaders are aware of the recent federal judicial injunction blocking implementation of new employment regulations authorized by the Fair Labor Standards Act. Following a federal court decision issued yesterday, the USM office has received legal advice from counsel in the Maryland Attorney General’s Office that institutions should put on hold until further notice any changes planned in order to meet the requirements of the Fair Labor Standards Act’s new overtime rules.

We will continue to work with University System of Maryland colleagues to understand the impact this may have, and we will communicate more fully as soon as additional information is available. We know this news directly concerns many staff members, and we appreciate your patience.

UMBC50: A Tradition of Caring

A message from 2016 Maryland Charity Campaign Co-Chairs Scott Casper and Karl Steiner:

Dear Members of the UMBC Community,

As we plan for the upcoming Thanksgiving holiday and look forward to more time with family and friends throughout the holiday season, we recognize that many people less fortunate than ourselves need our help.

Our community’s passion for caring, and the fact we are one of the most generous campuses in the state, speak volumes about who we are and our values. We are moved by this demonstration of caring and commitment by the UMBC community. Your contributions, no matter the size, make a real difference to the many charities you support.

The Maryland Charity Campaign supports nearly 1,000 charities, many of which are local nonprofits in our surrounding community that work hard each and every day to provide resources, services, and assistance to those in need. Many of these nonprofits have modest support and are often not equipped with the means or staffing as many of the larger organizations we’ve come to know. Through the Maryland Charity Campaign, even the smallest local organizations in our community have the opportunity to connect with supporters and raise funds necessary to continue their important work.

Offering these services on such a large scale takes an immense amount of time, organization, and resources by America’s Charities, the group charged with managing and executing the Maryland Charity Campaign. To help support the organization’s efforts in running the campaign, a nominal fee—typically no more than 11%—is deducted from all donations made through this program.

We understand it is important to you that your donations go directly to the charity of your choosing. But, we also ask that you recognize the work of America’s Charities in providing this valuable service to the many nonprofits in the area that would not otherwise have the same capacity or reach on their own.

If you have not yet had a chance to do so, we encourage you to help support the many nonprofit organizations that serve our surrounding community, and consider a gift of any amount. If you need assistance with your online donation, please see our online guide.

Thank you for all your support in this year’s Maryland Charity Campaign. It is a privilege to be part of such a supportive, caring community.

Our Nation and Our Community

A message from President Freeman Hrabowski and Provost Philip Rous:

Dear members of the UMBC community,

As we have talked with a number of students and colleagues today, it is clear that this is a critical moment for America—a moment when we sense how divided we are as a nation—and when it is difficult to know how we will bridge those divides. The world now looks toward the United States to see how we come together and move forward after an election that so sharply divided our country.

In challenging times, we come to know more about ourselves and our values as we articulate our concerns, our goals, and our visions for the future. Most important for the UMBC community and our fellow citizens now is remembering how much we share with one another as fellow humans. Though we may have very different opinions, mutual respect and support for one another will lead us toward shared goals.

As our university vision states, UMBC is a community committed to advancing knowledge, economic prosperity, and social justice, and we do so by welcoming and inspiring inquisitive minds from all backgrounds. The work that we do here is noble: We seek the truth, we educate the next generation of leaders, and we help to solve the problems of humankind. Education is more important now than ever.

In UMBC’s spirit of “Grit and Greatness,” we urge each of you, individually and collectively, to remember that we are all leaders working toward important goals for ourselves, our communities, and our world, and we are also all here to support one another.

University leaders are planning additional opportunities for campus conversations in the near future. Students who would prefer to speak one-on-one with a supportive staff member rather than attend an event are encouraged to contact the Counseling Center at 410-455-2472.

Respectful dialogue

A message from President Freeman Hrabowski, Provost Philip Rous, and UMBC Shared Governance Leaders:

Dear UMBC Community,

UMBC is committed to welcoming, engaging, and inspiring inquisitive minds from all backgrounds, and it is our collective responsibility to support and respect each other.

Unfortunately, from across the state and throughout the nation this past week, the news media has reported acts of intolerance and hate crimes. We are encouraged that our students, faculty, and staff have been engaged in productive community events and discussions, listening to different perspectives on the future of our country. UMBC is a model for inclusion — not because all members of our diverse community agree with one another, but because we engage with difficult issues and are respectful in our disagreements.

However, we know no campus, including ours, is immune to acts of intolerance. All of us have the responsibility to protect and support each other. We encourage anyone who witnesses or is the victim of a hate/bias incident, harassment, or a hate crime to report the matter to the UMBC Police Department, Office of Student Life, Office of Human Resources, or Office of Human Relations.

UMBC is and will remain a place that values inclusion, diversity, and respect for all members of our community.

Budget Update

A message from Freeman Hrabowski and Philip Rous:

Dear UMBC Faculty and Staff,

We are writing to inform you of the need to manage a shortfall in budgeted revenues for the current fiscal year. The $3.3-million shortfall arises from a lower-than-projected enrollment, resulting in a $2-million gap in budgeted tuition revenue, and a mid-year USM budget cut enacted by the Governor and the Board of Public Works that reduces UMBC’s base budget by $1.3 million.

Our total student enrollment is 1.4% less than projected when building the current FY 2017 budget. In-state student enrollment is down by 0.4%; out-of-state student enrollment is down by 9.8%. Because the per student tuition revenue from out-of-state students is significantly higher than for Maryland residents, the impact of the enrollment decline on budgeted revenues is exacerbated.

In response to the current budget challenge we will continue to follow the guiding principles established by our campus community: to protect our academic programs and our people. There will be no layoffs as a result of this budget shortfall.

The Council of Vice Presidents and Deans has developed a series of actions to close the budget gap. Half of the tuition shortfall will be covered by a $1-million enrollment reserve fund created with FY 2016 utility savings. The remaining $2.3 million reduction will be distributed across the colleges and divisions, with each managing a 1.5% reduction using one-time funding sources such as prior-year carry forward balances, reserves, revolving funds, and salary savings from vacant positions.

Finally, the hiring freeze/exception process in place from 2006 to 2015 will be reinstated effective Monday, November 28. This process addresses staff positions only. A committee comprised of the Provost, the Vice President for Finance and Administration, and the Associate Vice President for Human Resources will review exception requests for critical positions. Details about this process will be shared shortly.

We are confident that UMBC will move through this challenge as we have others, with a steady focus on the quality of the academic experience and the well-being of our community. We deeply appreciate all that each of you contributes to this special place.

Thank You for a Successful Middle States Site Visit

A message from President Freeman Hrabowski, Provost Philip Rous, and Middle States Self-Study Steering Committee Co-chair Bob Carpenter:

Dear members of the UMBC community,

We would to thank the entire campus community for making the Middle States Accreditation Site Visit so successful. We appreciate the hard work and dedication of those who organized the visit and were involved in all three parts of the accreditation process – the development of the Self-Study, the creation of the document road map, and the federal compliance exercise. We’d also like to thank all of those who met with the Middle States Peer Review Team for their thoughtful engagement with the team members.

At the exit meeting today, we received a very positive oral report from the Peer Review Team Chair, Dr. Mary Ann Swain. The final accreditation decision will be made by the Middle States Commission, based on the recommendation of the site visitors, our document reviewers, and our federal compliance review. We expect to receive the final decision sometime in 2017.

We recognize that this Self-Study process reflects our collective vision and the thoughtful planning, shared efforts, and commitment of the entire campus community over the past decade. As the Review Team Chair said, our shared governance process is a major strength of UMBC.

We are proud to work with all of you.