Maryland Moments, August, 2004
(Rankings, New Programs, Awards)
The news magazine published its report on undergraduate programs and listed the top public universities. In the latter, UM slipped one notch to No. 18. (Overall, within the U.S. News undergraduate and graduate rankings, UM is among the Top 15 in 45 categories and among the Top 25 in 70. The Top 25 number ties a UM high.)
The 2005 undergraduate rankings
As part of its annual rankings, the news magazine ranked "Programs to Look For": Internships/Co-Ops, Senior Capstone, First Year Experiences, Undergraduate Research/Creative Projects, Learning Communities, Study Abroad, Service Learning and Writing in the Disciplines. UM was ranked in four lists (First Year Experiences, Undergraduate Research, Learning Communities and Service Learning). Only two other schools in U.S. News's listing of the top 50 public universities had as many listings: Indiana University and the University of Wisconsin. The schools were not ranked numerically.
The Chronicle of Higher Education published its most recent list of leading federal research universities and highlights the UM move from No. 41 to No. 31 in its introduction to the rankings. (In the rankings of the first 50 schools, UM's jump of 33.4% in research dollars is exceeded by only Carnegie Mellon's [No. 50] 41.6% increase.) Figures for the years after 2002 have not been published.
The Smith School of Business gave its full-time MBA students BlackBerry wireless handhelds and the story is passed on in hundreds of news outlets, both print and electronic. Cellular phone giant Nextel provided the gizmos, which allow students to access e-mail, tap the Internet, check calendars and use a walkie-talkie function.
The software colossus hosted its Microsoft Research Faculty Summit, and the Seattle Post-Intelligencer attended to get a sneak peek at the future. The newspaper highlighted UM software displays including "Projects based on 'Piccolo', a University of Maryland system for developing computer programs with 'zoomable' graphics that let users shift smoothly in and out to maneuver around big collections of images or dense layers of information. Examples include a photo-management program for desktop computers and a calendar program for personal digital assistants. Although the primary focus of the projects is research, some of the technology from them ultimately could find their way into commercial products. That's one of the ways that Microsoft's collaboration with universities can work out for the company. One example is the (UM) zoomable calendar program, dubbed DateLens. Microsoft has paid to license the program from Maryland, said Benjamin Bederson, an associate professor who directs the university's Human-Computer Interaction Lab."
UM's Maryland Industrial Partnerships Program awarded $7.3 million to encourage collaboration between university researchers and corporations. Among the ideas given funds are a treatment to prevent brain damage in cardiac arrest patients, a treatment for anthrax contamination and a low-calorie, low-carbohydrate, high-protein bread made from wheat grown by Eastern Shore farmers. The Clark School of Engineering program received $6.2 million from 17 Maryland companies, and UM provided the remaining $1.1 million in funding.
The New Markets Growth Fund, a $20 million venture capital fund at UM's Robert H. Smith School of Business, began a program to provide $1 million in technical assistance to companies formed at--or formed based on technology from--the University of Maryland, College Park, University of Maryland, Baltimore and University of Maryland, Baltimore County.
Society & Culture
A Merrill College of Journalism study, jointly conducted with Unity, Journalists of Color, pointed to the disparity between the makeup of the Washington press corps and the general population of the nation. The poll was released as 7,000 minority journalists held a convention in the District. Christopher Callahan, associate dean of journalism and senior editor at the American Journalism Review, was the lead author and researcher of the report, which earned national media attention.
Robert Baum, assistant professor of entrepreneurship at the Robert H. Smith School of Business, won an award for a research paper identifying the key ingredients for achieving success as an entrepreneur. The National Federation of Independent Business in June presented Baum with the Babson Entrepreneurship Research Conference Best Paper Award in Glasgow, Scotland.
The Washington Post published an in-depth examination of its flawed coverage of weapons of mass destruction leading up the war in Iraq, penned by its media critic Howard Kurtz. The Associated Press moved stories around the world and throughout the U.S. that noted a UM study was ahead of the game. "In a study published in March by the Center for International and Security Studies at the University of Maryland, researchers wrote: 'If the White House acted like a WMD story was important, ... so too did the media. If the White House ignored a story (or an angle on a story), the media were likely to as well.' " The report was written by Susan Moeller, assistant professor of journalism.
A Program on International Policy Attitudes poll ascertains the depth of the American public's lack of knowledge of facts surrounding the war in Iraq. The poll, conducted by Knowledge Networks, continued the revelatory nature of past PIPA polls on the subject: 54 % of respondents believed Saddam Hussein had Weapons of Mass Destruction or a program to develop them; over half believed there was a direct connection between al Qaeda and Saddam.
The department of anthropology and the Banneker-Douglass Museum sponsor a summer program for low-income youths in Annapolis, hoping that in digging for historical treasure the children will be inspired to further investigate history. Mark Leone, professor of anthropology, directed the effort with Maisha Washington, education administrator at Banneker-Douglass. Leone: "It's in no way an academic exercise. It's an exercise in life and translating African-American culture. They are the next generation who will replace me."
Science & Technology
By applying new mathematical techniques to river ecology, a UM biology professor has found that removing dams to reconnect rivers in a watershed like Oregon's Willamette River could result in significant wildlife habitat restoration benefits at a comparatively small economic cost. William Fagan, associate professor of biology, presented his findings at the Society for Conservation Biology's Annual meeting at Columbia University. Fagan's study looked at the connectivity of an entire watershed, a critical element in the survival of many species of freshwater fish. "Rivers have a unique ecology, because of the branching geometry they exhibit," says Fagan. "My analyses call attention to the importance of connectivity in river systems."
Data from NASA's Cassini Spacecraft indicate that ""Jupiter's atmosphere still contains remnants of a comet impact from a decade ago, but scientists said... they are puzzled by how two substances have spread into different locations. The new study also discovered two previously undetected chemicals in Jupiter's air." The study was led by Virgil Kunde, faculty research assistant in astronomy.
The federal government alloted $2.5 million for a state-of-the-art rotorcraft technology institute next to a Boeing helicopter plant in Southeastern Pennsylvania. Making up the institute are several defense contractors and the University of Maryland, Penn State University and the Georgia Institute of Technology.
More Maryland News in August
A New York Times editorial: "After a series of missteps, Google finally pulled off its much-hyped initial public offering yesterday. The good news about this unusual I.P.O. (initial public offering of stock), which sought to deprive Wall Street banks of full control over the sale, is that it made it easier for individual investors to buy the stock. Of course, that may also be the bad news. At its closing price of just above $100 yesterday, Google is valued at a bubbly $27 billion." Google's co-dounder is Sergey Brin, a UM graduate who is the son of Michael Brin, professor of mathematics.
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