By Shruti Bhatt
The UMD Senate meeting on March 8 congratulated newly elected senators and focused heavily on new advancements the university will make in the next few years.
Senate Chair Daniel Falvey started the meeting by acknowledging the new student senators.
“We all welcome you and look forward to having your voices be heard,” Falvey said.
Senior Vice President of Academic Affairs and Provost Mary Ann Rankin talked about the successes, opportunities and challenges that have happened recently on campus.
“We should take a look at what we have accomplished and where we need to still improve,” she said.
She said that UMD has had a lot of successes and new opportunities in finding money for funding new projects and initiatives.
“By developing additional revenue we can increase enrollment so we can move the campus in new directions,” she said.
Rankin said a $220 million donation by the A. James Clark Foundation last fall will not only help the engineering college but is a campus-wide donation. This money was intended to help students receive need-based scholarships, enhance the success of transfer students, and create five $2 million endowment chairs to help fund research. The donation will also be used to take down the Potomac Building and build a brand new, $25 million building for the engineering college.
“You may ask why all the new things are going to engineering, but this actually frees us up to get into other buildings and do work there,” she said.
She backed this statement by announcing that a new public policy building will be built, freeing space in Van Munching Hall to expand business classrooms and offices.
Rankin also talked about creating new degree plans to help give students the option to pursue different career paths. Some of the new plans include immersive media, neuroscience, cybersecurity and iSchool, or information school, which will study the world of information management.
“We want to create an environment that attracts the best faculty and best students, that will help them be successful,” she said.
After Rankin concluded her update on the goals, the meeting was open for audience members to ask questions. A graduate student assistant asked about when the university would focus on things like giving graduate students better pay so they can live in better places or when the salaries would increase for many faculty members across the various colleges. He asked Rankin when the university would stop doing new things and address the old things.
Rankin responded by telling him she and her colleagues know of these issues and are working on fixing the problems. She said she didn’t mention this in the update because she was trying to keep a positive atmosphere.
When answering his questions, Rankin said, “I don’t think we can stop doing new things or else we will stagnate and never move forward. What we do need to do is learn how to prioritize.”
Newly elected College of Behavioral and Social Sciences Senator Steven Kenny had a different focus. The freshman government and politics major said one of his main goals as a senator is for the Health Center and Counseling Center to see the same improvements that the academic facilities are seeing.
“A lot of people will tell that they are being left in the dust. A lot of people who have sought help from those places either received it or received it too late so I think we should focus on the health and psychological needs of our student just as much as we are their academic needs,” Kenny said.