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University of Maryland Honors Campus Trailblazers with Naming of New Residence Halls

December 21, 2020

Natifia Mullings, 301-405-4076

COLLEGE PARK, Md.--The University of Maryland announced today that two of its new residence halls will be named after four trailblazers who played an important role in diversifying its campus: Hiram Whittle, Elaine Johnson Coates, Pyon Su, and Chunjen Constant Chen. This is the first time since 1914 that residence halls will be named for individuals. 

“All four of these pioneers contributed to the rich diversity and culture that defines our campus today,” said University of Maryland President Pines. “Each exemplifies Terrapin grit, desire and determination to succeed against all odds. Their stories serve as valuable examples for the University of Maryland students of today and in the future, as we continue to celebrate and advance diversity in our university community.”

The Whittle-Johnson Hall will honor Whittle, the first African American male to be admitted to the university in 1951, and Johnson Coates, the first African American female to graduate with an undergraduate degree in 1959. Whittle was an engineering major and enrolled as an undergraduate student at a time when the university was still segregated. Johnson Coates attended the university on a full scholarship and graduated with a B.A. in education. Both Whittle and Johnson Coates received an honorary degree from the university at the spring 2020 commencement.

“This is a University of Maryland honor that signifies perseverance, hope, and change,” said Whittle. “I thank the University for honoring my journey. My hope is that my story will continue to inspire the campus community to move forward and follow their dreams.”  

“I am always humbled and so grateful to be honored by my alma mater,” said Johnson Coates. “I had no idea when I walked on to the campus of University of Maryland in 1955, that 65 years later, you would still be speaking of me. I’m thankful to the university for honoring me, for letting me know that my journey mattered, and now letting my journey become my legacy.”

The Pyon-Chen Hall will honor Pyon, the first Korean student to receive a degree from any American college or university, and Chen, the first Chinese student to enroll at the Maryland Agricultural College (now the University of Maryland). Pyon spent several years as a diplomat in Korea and was the first Korean diplomat envoy to visit the United States in1883, before emigrating to the United States for political reasons. He eventually enrolled in the Maryland Agricultural College in 1887, where he earned a B.S. degree in 1891. Chen entered the university in 1915 and completed three years of study before transferring to Cornell, where he earned a B.A. He returned to College Park, earning an M.S. in Agriculture in 1920. He later taught Chinese on campus from 1956 to 1967. Both Pyon and Chen have since passed away, and President Pines has been in communication with their families to inform them of the recognition and share the significance of this milestone.  

Residence halls at the University of Maryland are named after Maryland county seats, with the exception of Calvert Hall which is named for UMD Founder Charles Benedict Calvert. The decision to name the residence halls after Whittle, Johnson Coates, Chen and Pyon is one of several initiatives and recommendations Pines outlined on his first day as president aimed at helping to build a more diverse and welcoming campus community. This effort included submitting a request to name the two residence halls after Whittle, Johnson Coates, Chen and Pyon to the University System of Maryland. In November 2020, the University System of Maryland Board of Regents approved the name request.  

The Whittle-Johnson and Pyon-Chen residence halls are being constructed as part of the University’s On-Campus Housing Strategic Plan. The two new residence halls will house about 900 first- and second-year students in single and double rooms and the dining facility will seat about 1,000 once complete. The new facilities are being constructed on the field adjacent to Ellicott Hall and across Farm Drive. Construction on the new Whittle-Johnson and Pyon-Chen residence halls began in 2019 and are slated to open during the 2021-2022 academic year.




Maryland Developmental Disabilities Council Funds Inclusive Postsecondary Education Program at the University of Maryland

December 21, 2020

Audrey Hill, Associate Director of Communications, UMD College of Education, 301-405-3468

Christy Russell, Director of Operations, Maryland Developmental Disabilities Council, 410-767-3671

COLLEGE PARK, Md. – The Maryland Developmental Disabilities Council awarded $100,000 to the University of Maryland Center for Transition and Career Innovation (CTCI) to create “Terps-EXCEED”, an inclusive higher education program for students with intellectual and developmental disabilities. The program will launch in the fall of 2021 with a small pilot of students.

“As an organization dedicated to the full inclusion of individuals with disabilities in all facets of community life, we know there is a tremendous need for high quality, inclusive college opportunities for people with intellectual and developmental disabilities. People with intellectual disabilities seek opportunities to work, learn, play and lead full, meaningful lives. An inclusive college experience is a pathway to those continued learning opportunities as well as important social interactions, life experiences, and employment,” said Rachel London, Executive Director for the Maryland Developmental Disabilities Council.

“We are pleased to be able to support post-secondary opportunities at UMD for students with disabilities,” said Jennifer King Rice, dean of the UMD College of Education. “With this funding from the Council, we can expand inclusive higher education programming and become a model for the state in serving students with intellectual and developmental disabilities, which helps to ensure college and career access for all.”

Students with intellectual and developmental disabilities have the lowest rates of both competitive employment and college enrollment compared to all other disability groups. Yet, students with intellectual disabilities who complete an inclusive postsecondary program achieve better employment outcomes, expand peer and social networks and increase independence. 

istock image 535297293 credit: monkeybusinessimagesTerps-EXCEED will provide a person-centered approach to inclusive postsecondary education and a diverse array of academic and nonacademic courses, career development and activities. Ultimately, the program is designed for Terps-EXCEED students to leave the program with an expanded social network of friends, colleagues and mentors, a meaningful credential, and better options for lifelong careers.   

The University of Maryland is the perfect place to launch a new inclusive college program for students with intellectual and developmental disabilities,” said Amy Dwyre D'Agati, senior faculty specialist at the UMD Center for Transition and Career Innovation. “We have so many opportunities - courses, internships, social activities - that a Big Ten school can offer, and so many departments are excited to bring this initiative to campus.”

"Having a program like this at the University of Maryland is such an obvious opportunity to harness the potential and talent of this population of students. Really it's a win-win for the Maryland community," said Kellie Racette, a parent of a child with a developmental disability in Howard County, Maryland.

The Council is committed to expanding opportunities for people with developmental disabilities in all facets of community life by eliminating barriers, creating opportunities, empowering people, and promoting innovation. The UMD College of Education is committed to furthering inclusive education for students with disabilities in both K-12 and higher education.

For more information about the Maryland Developmental Disabilities Council, visit For more information on the Center for Transition and Career Innovation, visit





National Academy of Inventors Names University of Maryland Vice President for Research and a University Professor as 2020 Fellows

December 10, 2020

COLLEGE PARK, Md. – The University of Maryland’s Laurie Locascio, Vice President for Research at the University of Maryland, College Park and the University of Maryland, Baltimore, and Ramalingam “Rama” Chellappa, College Park Professor at UMD have been elected 2020 Fellows by the National Academy of Inventors, joining the ranks of some of the nation’s most prestigious and creative academic inventors. 

According to the National Academy of Inventors (NAI), the NAI Fellows Program highlights academic inventors who have demonstrated a spirit of innovation in creating or facilitating outstanding inventions that have made a tangible impact on the quality of life, economic development, and the welfare of society. Election to NAI Fellow is the highest professional distinction accorded solely to academic inventors. 

The 2020 Fellow class represents 115 research universities and governmental and non-profit research institutes worldwide. They collectively hold over 4,700 issued U.S. patents. Among the 2020 Fellows are 24 recipients of the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine, six recipients of the American Academy of Arts & Sciences (AAA&S), and two Nobel Laureates, as well as other honors and distinctions. Their collective body of research covers a range of scientific disciplines including biomedical engineering, computer engineering, materials science, and physics. The 2020 class of Fellows will be inducted at the 2021 Fellows Induction Ceremony at the Tenth Annual Meeting of the National Academy of Inventors this June in Tampa, Florida.

Vice President for Research Laurie Locascio

"I am honored and grateful to be recognized by the National Academy of Inventors for the work that I have accomplished in my 30 plus years as a biomedical researcher and inventor," said Vice President for Research Laurie Locascio. "Being named a Fellow of NAI aligns with my continued work here at the university to advance research innovations that make a positive societal impact for individuals in our state and across our country."

Vice President for Research Locascio oversees the University of Maryland’s vibrant research and innovation enterprise at the College Park and Baltimore campuses, which garner a combined $1.1 billion in external research funding each year. Within Locascio’s purview are the development of large interdisciplinary research programs, technology commercialization, innovation and economic development efforts, and strategic partnerships with industry, federal, academic, and nonprofit collaborators. She is a professor in Maryland’s Fischell Department of Bioengineering, and a professor (secondary) in the Department of Pharmacology at the University of Maryland School of Medicine. Locascio previously worked at the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST), most recently as Acting Principal Deputy Director and Associate Director responsible for leading the internal scientific research and laboratory programs across two campuses in Gaithersburg, MD and Boulder, Colo. As a biomedical researcher at NIST, she published more than 100 scientific papers and holds 12 patents.

College Park Professor Rama Chellappa

“I was inspired to choose engineering as my career soon after I listened to the 1969 landing of Apollo 11 on my home radio in India. I am honored, 50 years later, to be recognized as a Fellow of the National Academy of Inventors,” said Ramalingam “Rama” Chellappa, College Park Professor at UMD and Bloomberg Distinguished Professor at Johns Hopkins University.

“This is a recognition of nearly three decades of work I did at the University of Maryland in the Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering and the University of Maryland Institute for Advanced Computer Studies. I am also pleased that NAI elected Clark School alumnus and colleague S. Kevin Zhou (Ph.D. ’04, electrical engineering)—who did pioneering work on unconstrained face recognition in my laboratory as a doctoral student—as a Fellow.”

At UMD, Chellappa has held appointments in the University of Maryland Institute for Advanced Computer Studies and the departments of Electrical and Computer Engineering, and Computer Science. His work includes projects involving signal and image processing, computer vision, pattern recognition, multi-dimension stochastic processes, statistical interference, image analysis, robust and secure biometrics, and artificial intelligence in computer vision. He holds four patents. The many honors and awards in his career include: being named a University of Maryland Distinguished University Professor, the highest appointment bestowed on UMD tenured faculty, a Minta Martin Professor of Engineering in UMD’s A. James Clark School of Engineering, a UMD Distinguished Faculty Research Fellow, and a Distinguished Scholar-Teacher at UMD; receiving a UMD Outstanding Invention Award, a Faculty Outstanding Research Award, the Poole and Kent Teaching Award from the Clark School of Engineering, an Outstanding GEMSTONE Mentor Award, an NSF Presidential Young Investigator Award, and four IBM Faculty Development Awards. 

Read more about Clark School alumnus and new NAI member S. Kevin Zhou here.

Previous UMD NAI Fellows

VPR Locascio and Professor Chellappa join six other highly acclaimed University of Maryland, College Park faculty as NAI Fellows. Other UMD NAI Fellows are:  2019 Fellows Ray Liu and Min Wu, professors in the A. James Clark School of Engineering’s Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering; 2017 NAI Fellow C.D. (Dan) Mote, Jr., president emeritus of the National Academy of Engineering and a Regents’ Professor and former president of the University of Maryland; Distinguished University Professor Rita Colwell, a 2016 Fellow; and  Distinguished University Professors John S. Baras and Benjamin A. Shneiderman, both 2015 NAI Fellows

The NAI was founded in 2010 to: recognize and encourage inventors holding patents issued from the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO); enhance the visibility of academic technology and innovation; encourage the disclosure of intellectual property; educate and mentor innovative students; and translate the inventions of its members to benefit society.

$6.8M Gift to University of Maryland to Extend Opportunities to Local Students

December 9, 2020

COLLEGE PARK, Md. – University of Maryland will receive a nearly $7 million gift from a Boston couple that will significantly increase the size and long-term impact of a University of Maryland program that supports promising students from selected areas of the state.


The gift will allow the Incentive Awards Program (IAP)—which until now comprised students in Prince George’s County and Baltimore— to expand its reach. Starting in Fall 2021, five freshmen from Montgomery County will be awarded four-year scholarships, receive mentoring and join a tight-knit peer community. These scholarships will be made possible through the funding from Phillip and Elizabeth Gross and a matching grant from UMD and the Clark Challenge for the Maryland Promise Program (MPP).


This is the largest-ever donation to IAP, now celebrating its 20th anniversary, and to the Maryland Promise Program, created by a 2017 investment from the A. James & Alice B. Clark Foundation to provide scholarships to underserved populations from the state of Maryland and D.C.


“We’re leveraging matching grant money, and we’re supporting outstanding students in a program where they have a very high chance to succeed and high expectations to perform and impact the community,” Phill Gross said. “Put that together and it was easy for us to get involved.”


That’s despite the fact that he graduated from another Big Ten school, the University of Wisconsin-Madison (UW), and the Grosses previously had no direct connection to the University of Maryland or the program. What drew them in was their relationship to a similar program at UW founded, coincidentally, by the mother-in-law of IAP’s founding director, Mercile J. Lee.


Phill Gross, co-founder and managing director of Adage Capital Management, a money management firm in Boston, was interested in supporting his alma mater 20 years ago when he met Lee, who had established UW’s Chancellor’s Scholars Program and Powers-Knapp Scholars Program to welcome talented students from underrepresented groups. The paired programs emphasized service, leadership development, peer support and mentorship, and provided financial aid and Lee’s inimitable influence.


The Grosses made several major gifts to the UW program, with the last one scheduled for November 2018. Unfortunately, Lee passed away in October 2018 and did not get to see the impact of the gift. Following Lee’s death, the couple met Lee’s son, Robb, and daughter-in-law, Jacqueline Wheeler Lee who leads the IAP and began inquiring about supporting the IAP.


The new Mercile J. Lee Maryland Promise Incentive Awards Program Endowed Scholarship will fund 20 students from Montgomery County; IAP currently counts 64 scholars, including some of the 23 MPP scholars.


“This gift will catapult IAP toward its long-term goal of welcoming students from every county in Maryland. It isn’t just expanding the number of opportunities we’re extending to students, but it’s also expanding our reach,” Jackie Lee said. “It's so meaningful for me personally as well. I'm touched knowing that the impact of Mercile's life is even more widely felt. Her enduring legacy will now live on through the scholars this gift will support."


The gift, the biggest to the university since Dr. Darryll J. Pines assumed his presidency in July, supports both of his top priorities: to promote excellence and to create an inclusive, multicultural campus community.


“I’m energized by the generosity of Phill and Liz Gross, whose approach to philanthropy is uniquely unbound by geography or personal affiliation,” Pines said. “By giving to IAP and the Maryland Promise Program, they are expanding access to a world-class University of Maryland education, and we are deeply grateful.” 


For more information about the program visit:



University of Maryland’s Student Government Association Allocates Nearly Half a Million Dollars for Student Services

December 3, 2020

COLLEGE PARK, Md -- The University of Maryland’s Student Government Association (SGA) announced the allocation of $410, 249 for critical services to support students facing an unparalleled year; with academic, financial, physical and mental challenges as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. 

Recognizing an increased need for crucial student services, coupled with a surplus of funds on account of an unexpected spring 2020 semester, the SGA quickly committed to expanding student resources to help address the hurdles facing students. The surplus allows the SGA to allocate $410,249 to various funds, programs and initiatives including: 

  • $300,000 to the Student Crisis Fund to support students in financial need, primarily as a result of the pandemic
  • $10,000 to provide free mental health first aid training over the next two semester
  • $48,000 for the supply of free feminine hygiene products in bathrooms across campus
  • $5,000 to the Emergency Meal Fund to provide students who face food insecurity with temporary free meals from UMD dining halls
  • $47,249 to the Campus Pantry to support the installment of a full and functional Culinary Training Center to provide students with a space to increase food literacy through hands-on instruction 

"The SGA has continuously been committed to combatting food insecurity, expanding mental health services, supporting students financially during the pandemic and providing free feminine hygiene products,” said Dan Alpert, Student Body President. “This student-driven initiative will provide thousands of Terps with access to these resources for years to come." 

“There is no doubt that these allocated funds will help many important student services on and off our campus for years to come,” said Patty Perillo, Vice President for Student Affairs. “Together with the university, the SGA is providing much-needed support and relief to our campus community during an unprecedented challenging season. This is an example of exceptional leadership.”


About the University of Maryland
The University of Maryland, College Park is the state's flagship university and one of the nation's preeminent public research universities. A global leader in research, entrepreneurship and innovation, the university is home to more than 40,000 students,10,000 faculty and staff, and 297 academic programs. As one of the nation’s top producers of Fulbright scholars, its faculty includes two Nobel laureates, three Pulitzer Prize winners and 58 members of the national academies. The institution has a $2.1 billion operating budget and secures more than $1 billion annually in research funding together with the University of Maryland, Baltimore. For more information about the University of Maryland, College Park, visit



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