Maryland Moments, June, 2004
(Rankings, Programs, Awards)
The university continued to be among the most diverse research universities in the nation, according to 2004 undergraduate rankings released by Black Issues in Higher Education. UM recorded 25 Top 25 rankings.
UM's Baltimore Incentive Awards scholarship winners were feted at a June dinner. The aid was based on the recipeints "remarkable ability to thrive despite being faced with overwhelming adversity." Jacqueline Wheeler, director of the program, explained the reasons behind awarding the scholarships: Improving UM's ties with Baltimore city schools and "because we know that there are good students.... in Baltimore schools, but they don't have the means or the resources to compete."
President C.D. Mote Jr. offered his view of public higher education in the Washington Post--where it has been and where it is going. He described the shift from a "public good" model following World War II to the "personal benefit" model originated in the 1980s to tomorrow, and he predicted accessibility could trump the "quality of education." The reasons for decline were enumerated and include the financial—a change in society's thinking on taxes; state legislatures awarding less funding; the enormous debt load of students. His remarks were reprinted in newspapers around the country.
S. James Gates, Toll Professor and director of Center for String and Particle Theory, was selected as one of 20 Giants in the Classroom in the 20th anniversary issue of Black Issues in Higher Education. "Gates is the first African American to hold an endowed chair in physics at a major U.S. research university. His research, in the areas of the mathematical and theoretical physics of super symmetric particles, fields and strings, covers topics such as the physics of quarks, leptons, gravity, super and heterotic strings and unified field theories of the type first envisioned by Albert Einstein."
A federal judge ruled that UM's policy restricting public speaking and leafleting by non-sponsored outsiders to two locations on campus is constitutional. U.S. District Judge Roger W. Titus rejected a First Amendment challenge brought by the ACLU's Student Chapter, LaRouche Movement member Michael Reeves and Matthew Fogg, a member of the People's Coalition for Police Accountability, a grassroots organization set up to monitor police behavior in Prince George's County. "What Reeves seeks is the freedom to roam the university campus at will, and hand out leaflets to university students, something which the constitution does not allow him to do," Titus wrote.
The Maryland Justice Analysis Center of the department of criminolgy and criminal justice is examining crime data for Prince George's county law enforcement agencies to help them focus their efforts on reducing gun-related crimes. The Washington Post reported on a press conference held at UM by the Prince George's State's Attorney, Glenn Ivey,
Society & Culture
In 2004, Maryland drivers worry more about drunk drivers, speeders and gridlock and less about road rage, according to a UM study led by Professor Kenneth Beck, professor of public and community health. Conducted for a second year, the study found more than 90 per cent of Maryland motorists list drunk driving, speeding and aggressive driving as their major concerns. That's an increase over the same survey results in 2003. The biggest surprise was the jump in the percentage of drivers who think punishment for drunk drivers should be stronger.
Stephen Fetter, physicist and professor in the School of Public Policy, advised Japan against recycling its nuclear fuels and instead recommended finding interim storage space for spent fuel. Proponents of recycling may have unfairly discounted less expensive methods than using recycled nuclear fuel, according to the Associated Press. Fetter's participation was publicized around the world.
The Program on International Policy Attitudes released a poll, conducted by the international polling firm GlobeScan, that revealed Africans feel relatively positive about globalization and the United States, although the enthusiasm for both is markedly weaker among southern Africans and Tanzanians than among people in other parts of the continent. The study was sponsored by the World Bank and the Royal African Society.
Stansfield Turner, professor in the School of Public Policy, was among an eminent group of 27 retired diplomats and military commanders who charged the Bush administration with an inability to handle the responsibilities of global leadership. Turner was an Admiral in the U.S. Navy and director of the CIA.
The Washington Post: "Every summer since 1988, the National Orchestral Institute has gathered young musicians on the cusp of professional careers. They train intensively for three weeks at the University of Maryland School of Music in what's been called 'orchestral boot camp.' Each week the students, with help from professionals, prepare a concert with a different resident conductor." One concert was led by Leonard Slatkin, conductor of the Nationals Symphony Orchestra.
UM's Robert H. Smith School of Business awarded 67 degrees to its first executive MBA class in China, at a commencement ceremony in Beijing. The Smith School started the program in 2003 with China's University of International Business and Economics.
Science & Technology
Hani Mahmassani, professor and director of the Maryland Transportation Institute at the Clark College of Engineering, took a different approach to reducing rush-hour congestion. Rather than studying individual bottlenecks, Mahmassani developed a computer model that predicts congestion levels and traffic delays up to 30 minutes in advance. This can then be linked to signs advising drivers to choose the least-congested routes. Such systems, he says, are already in use in Europe, where commuters are accustomed to signs telling them how long it takes to reach popular destinations by various routes. The first U.S.implementation of Mahmassani's system will be in Houston, where it will be used to route traffic away from highways that are flooded by the region's frequent heavy thunderstorms.
Jim Carton, professor of meteorology and associate chair, was one of the researchers who used NASA satellite photos to discover hurricanes leave a wake of life after them. Whenever a hurricane crosses the Atlantic Ocean, chances are phytoplankton will bloom behind it. According to the research, the phytoplankton blooms may also affect the Earth's climate and carbon cycle.
The Global Land Cover Facility at UM provided free access to Landsat satellite images for the years 1975, 1990 and 2000. The huge GeoCover collection contained 24,000 Landsat images and covers a majority of the Earth's land surface at a resolution of 30 meters. The images were the first global, validated satellite dataset at this level of resolution. Potential applications for this data set include global, regional and local studies of deforestation, urban growth, habitat conservation, carbon sequestration and agricultural land conversion.
The Maryland Technology Development Corp. awarded Benjamin Shapiro, assistant professor of aerospace engineering, a $50,000 grant for work on micro particles.
Allison Druin, of the Human-Computer Interaction Laboratory, joined featured speakers like Hewlett-Packard's Alan Kay and Marvin Minsky and Seymour Papert of MIT at the Interaction Design and Children conference on campus, June 1-3. Druin is the guiding force behind the acclaimed International Children's Digital Library.
The university observatory opened its doors June 9 so that the region's sky watchers could view a rare planetary alignment, which occurs when the planet Venus passes between the Earth and the Sun. The last time this event occurred was in 1882.
More Maryland Moments in June
A task force composed of UM students called on fellow students to take voluntary steps to curb rowdy fan behavior, an attempt to stave off university-imposed restrictions on how students can act at games. The recommendations, released by a 16-member task force, included exchanging profane T-shirts for ones with cleaner slogans, distributing a newspaper at games with suggested cheers and greater involvement from coaches. The report comes after the university sought advice from the Maryland Attorney General on how it could clean up fan behavior at university games without running afoul of free speech. The state ruled it could create a "carefully drafted policy" on the issue. But the student suggestions are meant to change fan practices without new rules.
UM said it did not know if a June 22 security alert was related to the university hosting a conference dealing with how to overcome the nation's lack of Arabic speakers. The three-day National Language Conference was co-hosted by a division of the Department of Defense and the Center for the Advanced Study of Language, a collaboration between UM and the National Security Agency. Paul Wolfowitz, the deputy defense secretary, was scheduled to speak, but canceled, a National Security Agency spokeswoman said. UM also increased security on campus on June 13 for a "non-specific credible threat" received from Homeland Security.
Student body president Aaron Kraus conducted a 50-hour hunger strike in Annapollis to bring public attention to unabated increases in tuition at Maryland public universities. Kraus did get the publicity he wanted, and he also received an invitation from Gov. Robert Ehrlich Jr. to use the governor's mansion in case of inclement weather.
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