People who know me at all have heard me say “I love it when the students come back!” Sure, traffic picks up, and the hustle of the academic cycle kicks into high gear, but every year at the beginning of August I start leaning into the beginning of the school year and that flush of energy and excitement that only youth and a fresh start can bring to any enterprise.
So it is in that mindset that I welcome you all back to campus to a new semester and to the always rewarding work of the University. We’ve weathered some difficult days over the past year, but a lot of hard work has been done by many dedicated people to bring us to a fresh start as an institution. I believe we stand in a place of both reflection and strength as a community, ready to tackle what challenges lie ahead.
The Senate will consider many important issues this year, and will do so in the context of a great deal of change, including an ongoing search for the next President of the University, a search for the next Chancellor of the University System, and significant changes in the State legislature – all of which will have great impact on our institution. I hope you will engage in the presidential search listening sessions, and/or send an email to express your priorities to both search committees (see this webpage or send feedback via firstname.lastname@example.org). Information regarding the search for the next Chancellor may be found here.
We are also beginning a brand new endeavor – the establishment of our Special Committee on University Finance, chaired by Dr. Katharine Abraham (Economics), whose members are charged with advising the administration on institutional priorities and with educating the Senate and the campus community on the University’s budget and the budget process. I look forward to learning more about how the University works through their efforts, and hope you will be engaged with them and the work of all of our committees throughout the year.
Finally, we continue to work through the findings of the Middle States Commission on Higher Education (MSCHE) toward solid footing on accreditation standard VII, self-governance. We are endeavoring to build a stronger, more positive relationship with our Board of Regents, through regular meetings with Senate leadership, the Board’s establishment of a UMD Regent Liaison, as well as changes to Board practices intended to promote transparency. I am very hopeful that these changes, along with improved communication overall, have put us on track for a positive resolution with MSCHE.
And so as we launch into the new academic year, I would like to thank the members of the Senate, the Senate standing committees, the special committee, and the councils, as well as the very hard-working Senate Office staff, for their dedication to the University community and their efforts to better the institution for everyone. Here’s wishing everyone a “fearless” fresh start.