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UMD President’s Statement on the U.S. Department of Education’s “Interim Guidance” on Campus Sexual Misconduct and Assault

September 25, 2017

Katie Lawson, 301-405-4622

Attributed to University of Maryland President, Wallace D. Loh:

The U.S. Department of Education's Office of Civil Rights (OCR) released on Friday, September 22, 2017, new "interim guidance" on campus sexual misconduct and assault, and also rescinded the guidance it provided in 2011 and 2014.

This "interim guidance," which is in effect as OCR begins the formal process of rule-making, does not change the University of Maryland's resolute commitment to a learning, living, and working environment on campus that is free from sexual misconduct and violence. 

We continue to implement strategies to prevent sexual assaults by providing mandatory education and training, conducting regular climate surveys, and reporting on campus incidents and progress related to sexual misconduct and assaults. 

The rescission of the prior guidance requires us to assess the "interim guidance" and review our internal policies and procedures, which we will do according to our shared governance processes. 

This means discussions and consultations with the University Senate, the Division of Student Affairs, the UMD Office of Civil Rights and Sexual Misconduct, the University of Maryland Police Department, campus leadership groups, the University System of Maryland, and the State Attorney General of Maryland.

The University of Maryland will also seek to provide comments in OCR's rule-making process, either individually and/or jointly with influential higher education associations of which UMD is a member institution.  

We will move forward in a manner that reflects our institution's core educational mission and values, complies with existing law and regulations, and provides the safety and fairness that all members of our University community deserve.


UMD Selects “March: Book Three” by John Lewis for First Year Book

September 20, 2017

Natifia Mullings, 301-405-4076

COLLEGE PARK, Md. - The University of Maryland has selected the award-winning March: Book Three by U.S. Congressman John Lewis, Andrew Aydin and Nate Powell as the 2017-18 First Year Book. Each year, the university selects one book to create a shared reading and intellectual experience for first-year students, faculty and staff. 

UMD selects a featured book that provides an opportunity for the university community to look at a topic, issue or experience from different perspectives, from the sciences to the humanities and across diverse historical backgrounds, cultures and ideologies. The First Year Book is integrated into curriculum across disciplines, and will be used as the centerpiece of events and discussions throughout the academic year. 

“At a time when our entire campus community is working to affirm our core values of unity and respect, March: Book Three shows us all how looking to the past for guidance can help make changes for good today and in the future,” said Mary Ann Rankin, UMD’s senior vice president and provost. “I look forward to the thought-provoking discussions that March will prompt in our community.”

A No. 1 New York Times Bestseller, winner of the National Book Award for Young People's Literature and Coretta Scott King Book Award, among many others accolades, March: Book Three is the third installment of Lewis’ graphic novel trilogy recounting his life in the Civil Rights Movement. The series is co-written with Aydin and illustrated by Powell.

March: Book Three gives readers a first person account of many of the struggles and triumphs of the civil rights movement in a graphic text. March provides a different perspective on our nation’s history than is often found in textbooks, which is one of our goals of the First Year Book program,” said William A. Cohen, associate provost and dean for undergraduate studies. “March emphasizes ideas from the past that we still know to be true today: that change of any kind takes ongoing work, and there is always more work to be done.”

Congressman Lewis and Aydin will visit the University of Maryland to discuss the book on October 12. 

Past First Year Books include Just Mercy by Bryan Stevenson, Head Off & Split by Nikky Finney and Instant: The Story of Polaroid by Christopher Bonanos. For more information about the First Year Book, visit http://fyb.umd.edu

Photo of March Book Photo of March Book

UMD Appoints Joint President/Senate Inclusion & Respect Task Force Members

September 14, 2017

Katie Lawson, 301-405-4622

COLLEGE PARK, Md. - University of Maryland President Wallace D. Loh and the University Senate Chair Daniel Falvey have appointed 18 members of the university community to the newly formed Joint President/Senate Inclusion & Respect Task Force. The task force is comprised of faculty, staff, undergraduate and graduate students and alumni; and will be co-chaired by Warren Kelley, assistant vice president, Division of Student Affairs; Lucy Dalglish, dean, Philip Merrill College of Journalism; and Ja'Nya Banks, Student Government Association diversity and inclusion director.

As part of the university's action plan to combat hate and create a safer campus, President Loh and the Senate Executive Committee (SEC) have charged the task force to consider how to best nurture a climate that is respectful and inclusive of all members of our campus community, stands against hate and reaffirms the values that define us as a university.

“The work of this task force could not be more important. We need to be certain we are doing everything we can to build inclusion and mutual respect on our campus,” said University of Maryland President Wallace D. Loh. “The key word in the task force name is ‘joint.’ This is something we must do together as a community.”

“We have brought together a group of talented students, faculty, staff and alumni who are passionate and committed to advancing UMD’s efforts on diversity, inclusion and respect,” said Daniel Falvey, chair, University Senate. “Our partnership with the President’s Office on this initiative provides an opportunity for the various constituencies on our campus to be engaged in the process and ensures that the task force will have the support and authority to recommend measures that will chart a path towards a campus culture intolerant of hate.”

The task force will collect input from and engage the entire campus community on the current campus climate; difficult issues at the intersections of free speech, hate speech, and freedom of association; and experiences of members of the campus community. 

The task force has been charged with reviewing and assessing current UMD policies and procedures; responses to past reports of hate and bias incidents; current resources, programs and outreach efforts; cultural competency initiatives and trainings; relevant research; best practices at peer institutions; and higher education professional association guidance. 

President Loh and the SEC have also asked the task force to consider how to evaluate the needs of underrepresented groups and assess the efficacy of efforts to address those needs; how best to differentiate between free speech and hate speech in university policies and procedures; and how appropriate communication and public awareness efforts should be used to promote a more inclusive campus climate. 

In addition, the task force will develop strategies for fostering a campus environment that is intolerant of hate, bias, and racism; and a statement on the university’s core values and consider how those values are instilled in students, faculty and staff. 

The task force’s full charge can be viewed here

Members of the task force include:

  • Warren Kelley (co-chair), Assistant Vice President, Division of Student Affairs
  • Lucy Dalglish (co-chair), Dean, Philip Merrill College of Journalism
  • Ja'Nya Banks (co-chair), Undergraduate Student, College of Education, SGA Diversity & Inclusion Director
  • Ishaan Parikh, Undergraduate Student, College of Computer, Mathematics & Natural Sciences
  • Lillia Damalouji, Undergraduate Student, College of Behavioral & Social Sciences, University Senator & Senate Executive Committee Member
  • Ana Sanchez-Rivera, Graduate Student, College of Behavioral & Social Sciences
  • Melanie Pflucker, Graduate Student, College of Education, Graduate Student Government Diversity Officer 
  • Oscar Barbarin, Professor and Chair, African American Studies, College of Behavioral & Social Sciences, University Senator & Senate Executive Committee Member
  • Rashawn Ray, Associate Professor, Sociology, College of Behavioral & Social Sciences
  • Vincent Novara, Curator, Special Collections in Performing Arts, Michelle Smith Performing Arts Library, Past University Senate Chair, Equity, Diversity & Inclusion Committee Chair, Sexual Harassment Task Force Member
  • Zein El-Amin, Lecturer, School of Languages, Literatures, and Cultures, College of Arts & Humanities 
  • Roz Moore, Assistant Director, Development & External Relations, Division of Student Affairs, University Senator
  • Luke Jensen, Director, LGBT Equity Center
  • Timea Webster, Executive Administrative Assistant, Office of Diversity and Inclusion, University Senator & Senate Executive Committee Member
  • Rosanne Hoaas, Public Information Officer, University of Maryland Police Department
  • Nicole Pollard, Alumnus, Trustee, University of Maryland College Park Foundation
  • Roger Worthington, Chief Diversity Officer and Interim Associate Provost
  • Diane Krejsa, Deputy General Counsel, Office of General Counsel

The task force will submit its report and recommendations to the Senate and the President no later than March 30, 2018. 

UMD Opens Outdoor Flight Laboratory to Advance Autonomy, Robotics

September 13, 2017

Anjanette Riley, 301-405-2057 

COLLEGE PARK, Md. –  Today the University of Maryland (UMD) A. James Clark School of Engineering opens the only university outdoor flight laboratory for testing unmanned aircraft systems (UAS) in the D.C.-Maryland-Virginia region. Located minutes from the main College Park campus in the UMD Discovery District, the netted Fearless Flight Facility (F3) will serve as a catalyst for innovation in the areas of flight control, sensing, autonomy, collaboration, and counter-UAS. 

Photo of unmanned aircraft“The University of Maryland continues to make incredible strides in autonomy and robotics. Facilities like this one provide the real-world testing conditions that enable innovative breakthroughs,” said Clark School Dean and Farvardin Professor of Aerospace Engineering Darryll Pines. “F3 allows us to pursue an aggressive UAS research agenda that would not be possible without the protection of a netted enclosure.”

Student and faculty researchers who were confined to testing vehicles in a lab or not testing at all, will now have room to iterate on the fly. The 100-foot wide, 300-foot long, and 50-foot high facility also serves as a critical nexus between the Clark School of Engineering’s College Park labs and UMD’s UAS Test Site in Maryland’s St. Mary’s County.  

“With F3, we can conduct cohesive, comprehensive research and education programs in concept and development, testing and evaluation, and life-cycle testing,” said Norman M. Wereley, Department of Aerospace Engineering professor and chair.   

The airspace over the greater D.C. area is the most restricted in the country, with all UAS flights within a 15-mile radius of Ronald Reagan Washington National Airport prohibited without authorization from the federal government. Because F3 is considered indoors, these and other restrictions on outdoor flights do not apply. 

At the same time, the open black polyester netting allows researchers to experiment in real world wind and weather conditions. 

Advances to equipment and algorithms made possible by the facility have a host of applications. New vehicle configurations can improve the efficacy of UAS in search-and-rescue operations, for example, while progress in the field of cooperation could lead to surveys of large swaths of farmland quickly and at low cost. 

To access additional F3 flight photos, visit go.umd.edu/F3images

UMD-Led Research Predicts Dangerous Blood Pressure Drops in ICU Patients

September 12, 2017

Georgia Wood, 301-405-6440

Lee Tune, 301-405-4679

COLLEGE PARK, Md. -- A research team, composed of engineers from the University of Maryland (UMD) and physicians at Massachusetts General Hospital/Harvard Medical School, has found that patients in intensive care often experience dangerous drops in blood pressure that are not quickly corrected by clinical staff; and the team has developed a predictive model that can warn of such “hypotensive’ incidents before these occur. 

It long has been known that patients in the intensive care unit (ICU) experience incidents of low blood pressure that can be harmful. During these occurrences blood supply to a patient’s brain and other organs is reduced. ICUs have protocols for regulating patient blood pressure which include alarms that alert ICU staff of the need to administer drugs known as vasopressors that raise the patient’s blood pressure.  

“[Our study] raises the possibility that many of the [low blood pressure] episodes were preventable via more vigilant clinical interventions, including vasopressor dose increases immediately upon the onset of the episodes, or dose increases before the onset (to prevent the episode of hypotension altogether),” wrote corresponding author Jin-Oh Hahn, Ph.D., an assistant professor of mechanical engineering at UMD, and his colleagues from UMD and from Massachusetts General Hospital/Harvard Medical School.

Recently published in the journal Scientific Reports, of the Nature Publishing Group, their findings are the latest of a number of studies indicating that even with monitoring systems and treatment protocols in place, ICU patients experience more and longer episodes of low blood pressure (hypotension) than expected or desirable. 

“We were expecting that our study would show the problem is that clinical staff are not adequately following the treatment guidelines [for responding to patients’ hypotensive episodes]. However, we found that it is really a problem of staff not being able to give enough attention to the patients,” Hahn said.  

Their innovation was to focus on hypotension during ongoing vasopressor infusion. When analyzed, most of those hypotensive episodes appeared to be preventable. The episodes were also predictable, using a team-developed statistical model. When the model was run using historical patient blood pressure data, it gave advanced warning (12 minutes average) for 99.6 percent of occurring hypotensive events [blood pressures below 60 mean arterial pressure (MAP)]. In real time (prospective) testing, their model predicted 100 percent of 26 episodes with a median advance warning of 22 minutes before the episodes occurred.

“It is a challenge to provide consistent and optimal care for critically ill, unstable patients for hours or days at a time,” said Andrew Reisner, M.D. of the Massachusetts General Department of Emergency Medicine and associate professor of Emergency Medicine at Harvard Medical School. “Predictive models and other computerized intelligence can enable a new generation of healthcare with greater precision and consistency than ever before possible.” 

The collaborative team is now working to develop clinical trials for testing the clinical efficacy of their predictive model.



College Park Ready to Deliver Amazon HQ2

September 11, 2017

Jessica Jennings, 301-405-4618

COLLEGE PARK, Md. – The University of Maryland is prepared to partner with the State of Maryland, Prince George’s County, the City of College Park and neighboring jurisdictions to position College Park as a top location in Amazon’s national search for a second headquarters.  

College Park meets all of the requirements in the Request for Proposals issued last week, including direct access to mass transit and international airports, potential to attract and retain technical talent and a connection to world-class higher education. The RFP also requires the ability to deliver a campus environment with millions of square feet available for development.

“When you read through the entire Amazon H2Q RFP it screams the University of Maryland and College Park,” said Chief Strategy Officer Ken Ulman. “We hit the marks in every category – land availability, business friendly environment, labor force, logistics, cultural community fit and so much more. We are shovel ready and can handle the entire requirement in our thriving Discovery District. Our highly educated, diverse community welcomes the opportunity to collaborate with one of the world’s great companies.”

Located inside the Capital beltway with direct access to Metro and home to future Purple Line stations, the University of Maryland is one of the nation’s premier public research institutions. Its Greater College Park initiative is a $2 billion public-private investment to rapidly revitalize the Baltimore Avenue corridor, strengthen the academic core and create a dynamic Discovery District.

Within the next five years, the Discovery District, located across from the main entrance to campus and anchored by The Hotel at UMD, will include 2.7 million gross square feet of space in new or renovated facilities for research, startup and existing companies, housing, public space, an innovative arts and culinary venture and coworking.

Greater College Park partners, including the City of College Park and Town of Riverdale Park, expressed their support to pursue the Amazon RFP. "Our collaborative efforts to create one of the most desirable places to live, work and learn makes Greater College Park the perfect location for Amazon's second headquarters. With thousands of potential employees in our cities and beyond, a talented pipeline of students coming out of the university and a growing innovation ecosystem, we, as the mayors of College Park and Riverdale Park, know our community will keep Amazon competitive and future-focused in our global economy.”

College Park has already caught the eye of Amazon as home to Amazon@CollegePark, and as one of the first five locations of Amazon’s Instant Pickup service.

Statement from President Wallace D. Loh on Title IX

September 8, 2017

Katie Lawson, 301-405-4622

Attributed to University of Maryland President, Wallace D. Loh: 
The University of Maryland is steadfastly committed to a learning, living and working environment on campus that is free from sexual violence and misconduct.

We will continue to comply with the existing laws and regulations administered by the U.S. Department of Education's Office of Civil Rights. We will submit comments during the notice and comment period for any rule-making, as invited yesterday by the U.S. Secretary of Education, advocating for changes that would result in more -- not less -- safety and fairness on campuses in Maryland and across the country.    

We are implementing the initiatives recommended last spring by the Joint President/University Senate Task Force on Sexual Assault Prevention. 

A reminder that confidential services for sexual assault survivors​ are available at CARE in the University Health Center and in the Counseling Center. A further reminder that all University employees (except for those working in confidential roles, such as counselors) ​should report any incidents of sexual assault or misconduct to the Office of Civil Rights and Sexual Misconduct or to ​the University of Maryland Police Department.  

UMD Named Top Producer of Minority Graduates

September 6, 2017

Jennifer Burroughs, 301-405-4621

COLLEGE PARK, Md. -- The University of Maryland has been named a Top 100 Minority Degree Producer by Diverse: Issues in Higher Education. Based on totals from the previous year, UMD ranked No. 34 overall for conferring the most undergraduate degrees to minority students and No. 66 overall for graduate and professional degrees.

UMD ranked No. 9 for conferring bachelor degrees in agriculture & agriculture operations, No. 12 for bachelor degrees in social science, No. 13 for bachelor degrees in mathematics and statistics, No. 18 for bachelor degrees in engineering, and No. 19 for bachelor degrees in computer and information science.

Furthermore, among specific minority groups, UMD ranked No. 2 for graduating African American students with Bachelor degrees in social science, No. 4 for graduating African American students with Bachelor degrees in agriculture and foreign languages, and No. 4 for graduating Asian American students with Masters degrees in Interdisciplinary studies. UMD also holds the No. 1 ranking for total minority students with doctoral degrees in mathematics and statistics. 

Areas UMD ranked in the top 5 include:

•Total Minority students with Doctoral degrees in Mathematics and Statistics (1)

•African American students with Bachelor degrees in Social Sciences (2)

•Asian American students with Doctoral degrees in Mathematics and Statistics (2)

•Total Minority students with Masters degrees in Interdisciplinary studies (3)

•African American students with Bachelor degrees in Foreign Languages, Literatures, and Linguistics (4)

•African American students with Bachelor degrees in Agriculture and Agriculture Operations (4)

•African American students with Masters degrees in Engineering (4)

•Asian American students with Masters degrees in Interdisciplinary studies (4)


For more information and complete Diverse rankings, visit http://diverseeducation.com/top100/


New UMD Hyperloop Pod Races Against Rivals this Weekend

August 25, 2017

Abby V. Robinson, 301-405-5845

COLLEGE PARK, Md. -- A team of University of Maryland students will compete this weekend against 24 international teams in the SpaceX Hyperloop Pod Competition in Hawthorne, California. This weekend's competition is the second held by SpaceX to advance the "hyperloop" concept for a long-distance, high-speed transportation system that would send pods full of people or cargo through a near-vacuum tube at speeds up to 700 mph.

This weekend's contest focuses on a single criterion: maximum speed. It will be the second for the team, named UMD Loop, which competed in January 2017, winning the performance in operations award and placing fifth for overall pod design. Taking what the students learned from the January competition, UMD Loop's new pod—named Nemesis—will have revamped design features including:

  • A frame that is 60 pounds lighter with integrated pneumatics and electronics, leaving a cleaner exterior.
  • Brakes that allow operators to vary the drag and center the forces the pod experiences when racing down the track.
  • A magnetic levitation system that allows the pod to maneuver on wheels at low speeds and decreases magnetic drag so that the pod reaches levitation speeds sooner.

Elon Musk, SpaceX and Tesla CEO and the originator of the hyperloop concept, announced recently that his latest startup, the Boring Company, received verbal government approval to build a hyperloop that would enable travelers to make the trip from New York City to Washington, D.C., in 29 minutes.

To accelerate the development of functional prototypes and encourage innovation, the SpaceX competition challenges teams to design and build the fastest pod. The pod prototypes are scaled-down versions designed to operate on SpaceX's one-mile test track.

Hyperloop pod concept illustration

Hyperloop pod concept illustration 






For full story: https://go.umd.edu/p3f


Hyperloop Competition Timeline

February 1, 2017

UMD Team Tops for Performance & Operations at SpaceX Hyperloop Competition

COLLEGE PARK, Md. – A University of Maryland team, UMDLoop won the performance and operations award and placed 5th in pod design and construction at the SpaceX Hyperloop Pod Competition held in Hawthorne, California, January 27-29.
This competition was the second in a series of a SpaceX competitions aimed at encouraging student innovation and advancing the Hyperloop concept for a new form of transportation in which passenger-carrying pods travel between cities at very high speeds through above-ground, low-pressure tubes.

During the current three-day event, 27 teams from around the globe pitted pod against pod to see which teams would have a chance to test their creation in SpaceX's vacuum-sealed one-mile test track adjacent to its headquarters. As part of the competition, teams underwent rigorous safety inspections and testing that evaluated all aspects of the pod's design from structural and functional to mechanical and navigation. In addition, each team had the opportunity for an open-air run, where they operated their pod on the test track without vacuum pressure.

Photo of hyperloop team"This has been a remarkable experience for our students, staff and advisors," said Darryll Pines, Dean of UMD's A. James Clark School of Engineering and Nariman Farvardin Professor of Aerospace Engineering. "UMD Loop competed well, and it has been a great partnership between two UMD colleges. We are extremely proud of the UMD Loop Team who strongly represented the University of Maryland."

It's been over a year since the UMD team successfully competed in the first SpaceX hyperloop event, an initial competition during which pod designs from more than 115 teams were winnowed down to those from 30 teams selected to move forward in the next phase of competition and take their pods from design to reality. During that year, the UMD team—which now includes more than 60 students from the university's A. James Clark School of Engineering; College of Computer, Mathematical, and Natural Sciences; and Department of Communication—devoted itself to the possibilities of Hyperloop travel and built one of the first pods of its kind.

"I'm blown away by our team's performance this week. We truly earned our spot as a top team in this competition," said Kyle Kaplan, aerospace engineering senior and team captain. "At the end of the day, I could not be more proud of our team and how well we worked together to succeed. Even though I wish we were given the opportunity to push the limits of our pod, I was extremely impressed by how we performed! Top five in the world, that's nothing to be disappointed about."

The Delft Hyperloop team, of Delft University in the Netherlands, got the highest overall score. Technical University of Munich, Germany secured the award for the fastest pod. And MIT placed third overall in the competition, which was judged by SpaceX engineers.

"The team has been a dream to work with," said chief faculty advisor Noah Ryder, a research associate and lecture in the Department of Fire Protection Engineering. "They have logged countless hours and made numerous sacrifices to be a part of making history, and their hard work has paid off."

Elon Musk, SpaceX founder and the originator of Hyperloop concept, spoke at this weekend’s competition and described the event as a way to encourage innovation in transport technology and get people excited about new forms of transport.

"It was fantastic to see so many different perspectives and people so passionate about working toward pushing the boundaries of transportation," said physics major and team project lead Erich Robinson-Tillenburg.

For computer science major and aerodynamics lead Paul Garvey, the competition was "hours upon hour of problem solving, and we loved every minute of it!"

Building on the enthusiasm and engineering achievements of the most recent competition, SpaceX will host another pod competition weekend during the summer of 2017. The UMD team plans to be there with a redesigned pod that has already been accepted for the competition.

"They are already gearing up to start all the analysis, building and testing that is needed to get race-ready again," said Ryder. "While some students will be graduating and won't be participating, we have recruited a new group of eager students to ensure that the program is able to thrive with the continued support of the university and our generous sponsors without whom we wouldn't have been able to bring our ideas to fruition."

UMD's pod Prometheus featured a passive magnetic levitation control and breaking using neodymium magnets—the strongest type of commercially available permanent magnet, a unique chainmail breaking system and a multi-link suspension system for smoothing the ride.

UMD, Catholic Charities DC Team Up to Provide Free Dental and Health Care to Local Community

August 25, 2017

Kelly Blake, 301-405-9418

COLLEGE PARK, Md. – More than 30 percent of adults have not had a dental visit in the past year, and about one in three are living with untreated dental caries. Nearly 20 percent of low-income Maryland adults say their mouth and teeth are in poor condition. Most say that the reason for not visiting the dentist more frequently is the high cost. 

To help provide stopgap care and connect local community members with resources that will support their ongoing health, the Mid-Maryland Mission of Mercy and Health Equity Festival, organized by the University of Maryland School of Public Health’s Center for Health Equity in partnership with Catholic Charities of the Archdiocese of Washington and the Maryland State Dental Association and Foundation, will provide free, emergency dental and health care to adults in need on Friday, September 8 and Sunday, September 10, 2017.

Oral health is closely linked to overall health, and people who are forced to delay regular dental care because of inability to pay are at higher risk for preventable oral diseases and other chronic conditions. At the event, a full range of dental services and diverse preventive health screenings will be provided on a first-come, first-served basis in the University of Maryland’s XFINITY Center. 

This is the second time that the University of Maryland has partnered with Catholic Charities of the Archdiocese of Washington to host this large event, which features 120 comprehensive dental stations staffed by hundreds of volunteer dental professionals. University of Maryland athletes, faculty, staff and students will make up some of the more than 500 general volunteers from across the region that will help participants connect with needed services, and The Cigna Foundation and Adventist Healthcare have stepped in as major sponsors. When this event was held in 2014, more than one thousand people received the equivalent of more than $1.2 million in care.

“I am so proud that this is the fourth time that Catholic Charities has been a leader in providing dental services through M.O.M. in different localities throughout the state of Maryland,” said Msgr. John Enzler, president and CEO of Catholic Charities of the Archdiocese of Washington. “Thank you to the University of Maryland for partnering with us. More than 1,500 patients will receive more than $1M in pro bono dental care. My heart is always warmed seeing the newly-found smiles on the faces of our clients, but my hope is that we will ultimately be able to serve the many people who aren’t able to get the care they need at this amazing event. Through this effort, we will change thousands of lives and guide them to healthier futures through Catholic Charities’ partnership with the University of Maryland.”

“We want to alleviate human suffering and instill the value of empathy toward our less fortunate neighbors, an important core ethic to be embraced by our students, faculty and staff,” said Dr. Stephen B. Thomas, director of the Maryland Center for Health Equity in the UMD School of Public Health. “This is how we create a culture of health not only on our campus but throughout the region.”

“The collaborative efforts of dental professionals at Mission of Mercy projects change patients’ lives,” said Dr. Diane Romaine, president of the Maryland State Dental Association and Foundation. “Working together beyond these projects will be the key to developing ongoing access to oral health care in Maryland.”

Photo of 2014 Mission of Mercy Event at UMD

The Health Equity Festival

The Health Equity Festival, a unique feature of this specific Mission of Mercy, includes more than 25 health and wellness stations hosted by the United States Public Health Service, Adventist Health Care, Doctors Community Hospital, Walgreens Pharmacy, the Lion’s Club, Cigna Foundation and many more. 

Recognizing that oral health is not separate from overall health and that individuals seeking emergency dental care may also face other health, social and economic issues, the Health Equity Festival brings teams of physicians, nurses, public health educators, legal advocates, hospital systems and the US Public Health Service to provide a range of health, education and counseling services. While people are waiting to receive dental care, they can visit with one of the exhibitors and receive services including:

  • HIV, Hepatitis C, diabetes, blood pressure and vision tests
  • Health literacy and medication counseling
  • Assistance navigating insurance options through the Maryland Health Connection, Maryland’s health insurance marketplace
  • A legal clinic to counsel people who have significant medical debt 

Festival participants will be entertained with music by performers with UMD and local gospel choirs, and have a chance to relax in an atmosphere designed to promote stress relief and healing. 

Research and Training to Advance Health Equity 

While there are other Missions of Mercy that serve the mid-Atlantic region, another unique component of this one co-organized by the University of Maryland is the integration of research, teaching and service to the event. Data collected by researchers from the Maryland Center for Health Equity will help to better understand the health care needs of our region and will provide important information for policymakers to increase access to care. Participants will be able to join a study looking at how to best use text-messaging to promote health and prevent chronic disease.

UMD public health students will gain important experience serving and interacting with community members from diverse backgrounds and with a range of health concerns. 

Mission of Mercy events play an important role in preventing catastrophic health situations for some people.  “While the Mission of Mercy and Health Equity Festival cannot solve all the problems that drive the lack of access to dental care that people face, we have a moral obligation to do our best to reduce the immediate human suffering while we also work towards a comprehensive policy solution to provide affordable care,” said Dr. Boris Lushniak, MD, MPH, dean of the University of Maryland School of Public Health. 

All participants will receive dental care and public health education delivered by qualified and dedicated volunteers. The event is also an opportunity to raise awareness about the national health care crisis in our state and nation and hopefully stimulate meaningful policy discussion and change. 

The 2017 Mission of Mercy & Health Equity Festival’s treatment days are September 8 & 10, 7am-5pm at the UMD’s Xfinity Center. For more information, visit www.sph.umd.edu/center/che or https://www.catholiccharitiesdc.org/mom/




Darryll J. Pines, dean of UMD's A. James Clark School of Engineering
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