For Immediate Release
July 9, 2009
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Townshend Named Dean of Behavioral and Social Sciences
Geography Chair Will Lead One of UM's Largest and Most Academically Diverse Schools
COLLEGE PARK, Md -- The University of Maryland today announced the appointment of Department of Geography Chair John Townshend as dean of its College of Behavioral and Social Sciences, effective July 27, 2009.
"The University is very pleased with the selection of John Townshend to lead the College of Behavioral and Social Sciences," said University of Maryland President C. D. Mote, Jr. "I am confident that John's dynamic leadership will help the College to achieve even higher levels of academic and research excellence."
Townshend replaces Edward Montgomery, an economist and former high-level Labor Department official, who took a leave of absence from the university to work for the Obama Administration as Director of Recovery for Auto Communities and Workers.
"I'm excited and pleased that John has taken on this vital new challenge at the University of Maryland," said Nariman Farvardin, Senior Vice President for Academic Affairs and Provost. John's selection, and the truly outstanding caliber of candidates with whom he competed, is a powerful testament to the importance and stature of the college, and to the strength of its faculty."
"The college has been extraordinarily successful in recent years," said incoming Dean Townshend. "I look forward to challenging everyone in the college to strive for even higher levels of excellence in all of our teaching, research and service roles and to providing the needed funding, guidance and administrative support."
Keys to GreatnessAccording to Townshend few universities can be truly great without deep strength in the behavioral and social sciences. He has laid out several keys for building the greatness of his college and with it that of the university.
Creating a Different Type of Geography DepartmentProfessor Townshend arrived at the University of Maryland in 1989 as chair of the Department of Geography. Under his leadership as chair (1989-1995 and 2001-2009), the department has become a recognized leader in the use of satellite technology to study changes in land cover use and how those changes both reflect and impact social, political, economic, environmental and other conditions of human life. During that time the department has achieved higher levels of excellence in its programs, as well as in the recruitment of outstanding faculty, staff, and students. And it also has earned a reputation as one of the country's leading geography department in terms of research income. Townshend earned his BSc (1967) and PhD (1971) from University College London. Before coming to the University of Maryland, he held positions at NASA Goddard Space Flight Center, the University of Reading (England), and the University of Dar es Salaam (Tanzania).
His current research focuses on the rates and causes of vegetation cover change especially deforestation, through the use of remotely sensed data from satellites, funded primarily through NASA grants. He is also the Principal Investigator of the university's Global Land Cover Facility, which houses the largest open access non-governmental online collection of Landsat satellite data in the world.
The most recent of Dr. Townshend's many honors is this year's award as Honorary Fellow of the UK Remote Sensing and Photogrammetry Society.
About the College of Behavioral and Social SciencesThe College of Behavioral and Social Sciences (BSOS) at the University of Maryland is home to nine academic departments (including the nation's # 1 Department of Criminology) and numerous research centers and clinics. Based on degrees awarded, it is the largest of the 13 colleges and schools at the university and offers four of the five most popular majors on campus. About three in10 undergraduate students receive their degree from BSOS. Upon graduation they leave to help shape the world as researchers, policy makers and practitioners in a wide range of fields including government, business, law, health and others.
In recent years BSOS faculty have won a Nobel Prize, a MacArthur Foundation Fellowship (also known as a "genius grant"), and two new National Academy of Science appointments. Because of the college's outstanding faculty, the University of Maryland is ranked 10th in the country in social sciences by the Faculty Scholarly Productivity Index and 18th in the world by the Institute of Higher Education at Shanghai Jiao Tong University. Last year BSOS faculty brought in more than $57 million in research support from organizations such as the National Institutes of Health, National Science Foundation, NASA, Environmental Protection Agency, U.S. Department of Agriculture and others.
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