Letter from the President
Dear Friends and Colleagues,

It's hard to believe it has been a full year since we gathered the full Foundation Board in-person. Although the past year has not been easy, there seems to be a light at the end of the tunnel as COVID vaccines start to be distributed throughout the country. Here in Maryland, many of our institutions have been instrumental in COVID-related research and innovations. On February 3, Chancellor Jay Perman and our USM presidents joined together to kick off a multimedia campaign that promotes the effectiveness and safety of vaccinations and highlights the ways USM students, faculty, and staff have contributed to fighting the pandemic. The aim of the campaign is to persuade all Marylanders, and not just members of the USM community, to receive the vaccine. Click here to read the important joint statement by the Chancellor and System presidents on COVID-19 vaccinations.
Click the play button above to hear Chancellor Jay Perman and the USM presidents share why they'll get vaccinated against COVID-19
In the video above, you may see a new face. On January 4, Dr. Gregory Fowler became president of the University of Maryland Global Campus. He comes to the USM from Southern New Hampshire University (SNHU) where he served as chief academic officer and vice president for academic affairs before becoming president of the school's Global Campus in 2018. In this position, Dr. Fowler was responsible for supporting the university's learning experiences, which included programs for refugees in Africa and the Middle East as well as programs for students in Mexico and Colombia. While at SNHU, Dr. Fowler oversaw more than 200 undergraduate and graduate programs. Dr. Fowler is an accomplished scholar who holds an undergraduate degree from Morehouse College, a master's degree from George Mason University, and a doctorate from the State University of New York at Buffalo. He also is a two-time Fulbright Senior Scholar. Welcome to the USM, President Fowler!

On February 10, the USM Foundation Board met for its winter meeting. Almost 80 participants joined us and it was very nice to see so many familiar faces, even if it was not in-person. Please see a recap of the meeting below.

I hope you stay safe and healthy in the months ahead. Please contact me at raley@usmd.edu with any questions or comments. 


Leonard R. Raley
Foundation Board Meeting Recap
On February 10, the Foundation Board met on Zoom for its winter meeting.

Chancellor Jay Perman kicked off the meeting by giving an update on the USM's response to the pandemic. Across the System, campuses are implementing de-densification practices and distance learning to curb the spread of the virus, as well as more frequent COVID testing for students, staff, and faculty. The USM worked with the Maryland Department of Health to ensure that System faculty and staff who are regularly working on campus and in contact with others are now eligible to receive the vaccine. While the System faces a two-year budget shortfall due to the pandemic, the USM is well positioned for the future. Chancellor Perman noted that for the first time, the University of Maryland, College Park and the University of Maryland, Baltimore have been recognized as one single research enterprise and they have achieved their highest ranking ever in the National Science Foundation's Higher Education Research and Development (HERD) survey, (see article below). Dr. Perman noted that the USM continues to expand its diversity and inclusion efforts through surveying System presidents to ensure equitable treatment of students, faculty, and staff.

Next, University of Maryland Eastern Shore President Heidi Anderson and Bowie State University President Aminta Breaux spoke about the impact of MacKenzie Scott's historic unrestricted gifts to the two institutions (additional details below). The unrestricted gifts of $25 million to Bowie State University and $20 million to the University of Maryland Eastern Shore are among the largest unrestricted gifts ever awarded to an institution within the USM. President Anderson shared that UMES plans to use the gift to invest, expand, and innovate and said that the gift has changed her vision of the university's future. The gift will allow UMES to fund scholarships, create pipelines between junior colleges and the university, expand the footprint of the faculty, and leverage the gift to create more opportunities for giving. President Breaux shared that at BSU, the gift will accelerate the school's strategic plan, Racing To Excellence, increase their endowment to ensure long-term institutional viability, increase scholarship dollars, and attract and retain expert faculty.

Investment Committee Chair Larry Boggs presented a positive investment update. Foundation President Leonard Raley reported on positive calendar year-end fundraising results and the impact of student emergency fund contributions on students who relied on the financial assistance to continue their education throughout the pandemic. Lastly, the Foundation staff continues to discuss diversity, equity, and inclusion and plans to convene a staff-wide series with a diversity educator in the spring.
Chair Bonnie Stein ended the meeting by reporting that the Foundation had achieved its policy goal of maintaining the equivalent of two years’ of the Foundation’s operating budget in reserve, and had even exceeded that goal. After a number of discussions at the Budget and Finance and Executive Committees, the Executive Committee has instructed staff to present some options for deploying the excess reserve to benefit System priorities.
Spotlight on Staff - Sharcus Steen

Sharcus Steen serves as the Director of Investments for the University System of Maryland Foundation and has been with the Foundation for just over three years. He holds undergraduate and graduate degrees from Stanford University, and an MBA from Northwestern University.
Q: Please describe your role. Overall, what are your responsibilities? What is a typical day like for you at work?  

A: In my role I oversee and monitor all investments for the USMF endowment and operating portfolios. I rarely have a “typical” day as we never know what opportunity or challenge may come our way. However, I need to stay on top of key macro portfolio topics and our portfolio investments through primary research, meeting with our strategic partners, meeting with our portfolio managers, and making appropriate portfolio moves based on our conviction and outlook.
Q: What have you enjoyed most about working within the Foundation and USM so far? 
A: The collegial atmosphere and the opportunity to take on challenges head-on are major benefits to working here. The Foundation's leadership has created an atmosphere that allows for growth and has cultivated a familial feel.
Q: Tell me something interesting about yourself! What do you enjoy doing outside of work?

A: Spending time with my family is always on the priority list. However, I am trying to convince them to pursue some more interesting hobbies such as whittling, parkour, and fly fishing.
Gifts Across the System
In December, two USM schools received transformative gifts from philanthropist MacKenzie Scott. The unrestricted gifts of $25 million to Bowie State University and $20 million to the University of Maryland Eastern Shore are among the largest unrestricted gifts ever awarded to an institution within the USM. The gifts were part of $4.16 billion Scott donated to 384 organizations, which included 35 colleges and universities. These institutions are mainly community colleges, HBCUs, and institutions that enroll large numbers of Native American students. Scott's gift will allow the two USM institutions to increase financial aid for students, invest in academic programs and innovations, and expand the institutions' endowments.

The University of Maryland, Baltimore's School of Nursing received a $13.83 million commitment from Bill and Joanne Conway. This is the largest donation in the School of Nursing's history and the fourth gift from the Conways to the School of Nursing. The gift will create 345 Conway scholarships for students and will support renovations of the nursing building at the Universities at Shady Grove. In gratitude for the Conways’ ongoing generosity, which totals $30 million in gifts and commitments over the last six years, the School of Nursing deanship will carry the Conway name, becoming The Bill and Joanne Conway Dean of the University of Maryland School of Nursing.

The University of Maryland, College Park received a $6.2 million gift from Phill and Liz Gross, a Boston-based couple. The gift, along with a matching grant from the school and the Clark Challenge for the Maryland Promise Program, will award five freshmen from Montgomery County a four-year scholarship to the school, as well as entry to the Incentive Awards Program each year. The gift is the largest to the university since Darryll Pines became president in July 2020.

Nursing student McKenna Burke gifted $30,000 to Salisbury University's Richard A. Henson Medical Simulation Center in her family's honor in January. In addition, Burke's brother, Keaton Burke, announced a $20,000 gift to the Salisbury University swimming program. The Burke family are loyal supporters of Salisbury University, contributing a number of generous gifts as well as their time and talent.

Towson University received a $3 million grant from The Kahlert Foundation, which is the institution's largest gift from a foundation with ties to a TU alumnus. Roberta Kahlert '69 and her husband, Greg, both serve on The Kahlert Foundation board. $1.3 million is designated for UTeach, $1 million for building construction, and $700,000 for English Language Learner initiatives.
Greg and Roberta Kahlert
Towson University received another notable gift in January from alumnus Gerhard VonHauenschild, Ph.D., '74. His $1 million bequest will provide support to biology majors who need financial assistance in order to complete their degrees at the university. VonHauenschild came to Baltimore from Germany in 1970 and attended TU as a biology major while also working as a hospital orderly.

Diageo North America donated $250,000 to establish a permanent endowed scholarship fund at Bowie State University in February. The gift is part of a larger initiative that supports 25 HBCUs that aims to build opportunities and develop future leaders to shape a more equitable society.
USM News Briefs
An Oscar-nominated film animation studio, LAIKA, is partnering with Bowie State University to create the first stop-motion studio at an HBCU in the United States. LAIKA will fund improvements to BSU's green screen studio, which will allow students to create stop-motion animation productions. The partnership first developed as an internship opportunity for BSU students and grew as LAIKA committed to invest in the university and ready its students for success in animation. The studio is known for films such as Missing Link, Kubo, and Coraline.

Coppin State University is launching a new MS in Applied Molecular Biology and Biochemistry (AMBB) and an MS in Polymer and Materials Science (PMS). Both programs will begin in the fall 2021 semester. Students who receive their MS in AMBB can have future careers in medical, food, drug, and other research fields. Students who graduate from the PMS program can have careers in chemistry, teaching, materials research and development, manufacturing, and more.

The Advanced Technology Center at Frostburg State University's Innovation Park has its first tenant, Delmock Technologies, Inc. (DTI), a Baltimore business that provides IT and health solutions. DTI has provided internships to FSU students and is committed to train a pipeline of employees and grow the Western Maryland IT workforce.

Towson University's College of Business and Economics is launching the university's first undergraduate entrepreneurship certification. The certificate is stackable and will allow students to continue coursework to earn a minor in entrepreneurship. In addition, the university is launching a new Master of Dance Education program, the first of its kind in the state. The program will focus on instructing existing dance education professionals who want to reach more diverse populations in new settings.

The University of Maryland Eastern Shore is adding a digital media studies degree for undergraduates beginning in the fall of 2021. The program will produce graduates who may go on to hold positions in entry-level media positions across the communications industry.

The University of Maryland Center for Environmental Science has a new professional certificate program in Environmental Management for Sustainability on the edX online education platform. The platform, edX, is a massive open online course provider that hosts university-level courses to a worldwide audience. UMCES reports that so far, people from 50 countries have signed up for the course.
USM Institutions Rank Among Nation's Best
A number of USM institutions have reached national rankings - many are being recognized for their online education offerings.

  • Coppin State University was named to Forbes' list of Affordable, Best Colleges for Psychology in 2021 in the category "Best Public Colleges for Psychology."
  • University of Maryland Global Campus was named the No. 12 Best Online College with the Highest Return on Investment for bachelor's degrees by OnlineU.
  • U.S. News & World Report ranked Towson University's Master's in Applied Information Technology No. 54 in the Best Online Master's in Computer Information Technology Program category and their College of Education No. 91 in the Best Online Master's in Education Programs.
  • U.S. News & World Report ranked Salisbury University's online M.B.A. Program and online M.S. in Nursing Program No. 126 in both of their respective categories.
  • U.S. News & World Report ranked UMBC's online Master's Degree in Information Systems No. 37 in their category, Best Online Master's in Information Technology Programs. UMBC was also recognized by the publication for offering one of the top 20 of such degrees in the field for veterans.
  • U.S. News & World Report ranked the University of Maryland, College Park's online business and engineering programs among the best in the nation. The Robert H. Smith School of Business' online Master's in Business Administration program came in at No. 10 on the list of Best Online M.B.A. Programs and the A. James Clark School of Engineering's master and certificate program came in at No. 15 on the list of Best Online Engineering Programs. In addition, the Smith School ranked No. 3 in Best Online M.B.A. Programs in Marketing, No. 5 in Best Online Business Analytics M.B.A., No. 8 in Best Online Finance M.B.A. Programs, and No. 9 in Best Online General Management M.B.A. Programs.
  • U.S. News & World Report ranked the University of Baltimore No. 100 on the list of Best Online M.B.A. and No. 63 on the list of Best Online M.B.A. Programs for Veterans.
  • U.S. News & World Report ranked the University of Maryland, Baltimore's School of Nursing No. 18 on the list of Best Online Master's in Nursing Programs for veterans, the Master of Science in Nursing Health Services Leadership and Management No. 7 in Nursing Administration Programs, and the Teaching in Nursing and Health Professions Certificate No. 8 in Nursing Education Programs. Additionally, UMB is No. 68 in Best Online Master's in Nursing Programs and No. 9 in Best Online Family Nurse Practitioner Master's Programs.
University of Maryland, College Park and the University of Maryland, Baltimore Achieve Highest Ranking Ever in HERD Survey
The University of Maryland, College Park and the University of Maryland, Baltimore have achieved their highest ranking ever in the National Science Foundation's Higher Education Research and Development (HERD) survey. Previously, the two institutions were ranked separately - this marks the first time that the two universities are linked together as one research enterprise in these rankings. This year, the two schools (as one entity) were ranked No. 14 overall, and No. 8 among public institutions. According to the National Science Foundation, "the survey collects information on R&D expenditures by field of research and source of funds and also gathers information on types of research, expenses, and headcounts of R&D personnel. The survey is an annual census of institutions that expended at least $150,000 in separately accounted for R&D in the fiscal year."
USM Public Health Contest Winners are Combating COVID-19 Across the State
The University System of Maryland COVID Research and Innovation Task Force launched its Public Health Challenge contest earlier this year which called for submissions from students, faculty, staff, and alumni from USM institutions. Submissions came in the form of a live action or animated video or a non-video social messaging campaign that included at least three CDC-approved strategies for combating COVID-19 and messaging from the State of Maryland's COVID-19 Vaccination Plan. The winners effectively highlighted the safety of vaccines especially for members of underrepresented communities, conveyed the importance of following public health guidelines, addressed the issue of pandemic fatigue in a compelling way, and reached out to young Marylanders. Winners in each category received a $3,000 prize.

The winners in the category Live Action or Animated Videos are:
  • Undergraduate student Chris Edwards, Towson University
  • Undergraduate students Dyuti Basu; Disa Basu; Maxinne Ignacio; Dalya Kamil, University of Maryland, College Park
  • Graduate student Cory Wilkerson, University of Maryland Global Campus and alumnus Stephen Brouillette, University of Maryland, Baltimore County

The winners in the Digital Images category are:
  • Graduate student Meghna Bhatt, University of Maryland, Baltimore (UMB)
  • Graduate student Chelsea Fowler, University of Maryland Center for Environmental Science (UMCES)
  • Undergraduate student Vanessa Aguocha-Sam, University of Maryland, College Park (UMCP)

A screenshot of a winning entry submitted by Cory Wilkerson and and Stephen Brouillette
CSU President Anthony Jenkins Featured as a "CEO You Should Know"
Coppin State University President Anthony Jenkins was featured on an iHeartMedia radio program, CEOs You Should Know, a weekly podcast that features businesses that drive the region's economy. In the interview, President Jenkins speaks about Coppin State University's programs and accomplishments and the impact the university has on the surrounding community. President Jenkins joined CSU in May 2020, a few months after the start of the pandemic. In the podcast, Jenkins notes that the university has continued to support their students and staff throughout COVID-19 and credits the institution's strong technology infrastructure and committed faculty for the school's ability to safely provide education during the pandemic. Jenkins also speaks to his background and leadership style and what excites him about the future of Coppin State University. Click here to listen to the full interview.
USM Refinances Combined $153 Million in Outstanding Bonds
In early February, the USM closed a refinancing of $153.2 million of previously issued revenue bonds as part of a nationwide financial auction. The final transaction resulted in a net savings of $17.1 million to Maryland taxpayers. In addition, the System received an Aa1 rating from Moody's Investor Services and an AA+ rating from Standard and Poor's and Fitch Investor Services. These ratings affirm that the USM's financial outlook is stable, especially in comparison with the broader higher education sector, and indicate analysts' confidence in the quality of leadership and financial management across the System. Strong ratings such as these are a measure of the USM's financial strength and stability and allow the USM to borrow money and refinance debt at lower interest rates and help the System leverage the best partnership opportunities in future financial transactions. These strong ratings are consistent with past ratings. Since 2010, the USM has held an Aa1 rating with Moody's and since 2010, the USM has maintained an AA+ rating from Fitch. Finally, the USM has earned the same AA+ rating with Standard and Poor's since 2008.