On behalf of our faculty and staff in the College of Agriculture and Natural Resources (AGNR), I want to officially welcome you back to campus! This has been a year unlike any other, with some significant uncertainties still ahead, but what we are certain of is that we cannot wait for your return! I am hopeful that the darkest days of the pandemic are behind us, and that you will soon be able to enjoy campus to its fullest extent. We want you to be on-campus, to experience the natural beauty of UMD, to safely socialize, and to learn and interact with our world class faculty. Many of them have received several Teaching Innovation Grants this past year in an effort to modernize curriculum and teaching delivery methods. You will be the direct beneficiaries of a cutting-edge approach to both in-person and online instruction. In many ways, it’s never been a better opportunity to be a student Terp.
For the 133 arriving freshman and 117 transfer students, I am thrilled you have chosen our college - the Cornerstone College of the University of Maryland - as your home for the next four years. We will work hard for you every day to curate the type of undergraduate experience that matters most, one that clearly defines your future and points you on a career trajectory to solve some of the world’s most immediate and relevant challenges, including global food insecurity, climate change, and diminishing and contaminated natural resources. You have chosen wisely and will have a wealth of career pursuits afforded to you with a 95% future placement rate, one of the highest at UMD.
As part of our preparations for your return to campus and resumption of in-person classes on September 14, we are committed to creating a de-densified physical presence in our buildings and offices in an effort to give you the greatest level of service possible. We want you to feel empowered to visit departments and program offices with your questions or concerns. The health and safety of our faculty, staff, and students are our primary concern, and I have asked that building staffing plans reflect the four campus principles for reopening (from https://umd.edu/4Maryland):
1. Prioritize the health and safety of every member of the University community;
2. Protect and support the educational and research missions to maintain academic excellence;
3. Make decisions grounded in our values of equity and inclusion;
4. Provide timely and transparent communication and obtain feedback from internal and external stakeholders about the proposed reopening plans.
I also want to share that we are firmly committed to establishing a more diverse, equitable, and inclusive culture within our college. Racial injustice continues to permeate our society with the recent tragedy surrounding Jacob Blake, and we must be armed with the tools to affect change from within AGNR, for all students, faculty, staff, and stakeholders. Just this past week we completed a full-day retreat with college leadership to begin development of a solutions-based approach reinforced by a college-wide plan. We will share more with you as our plan begins to take shape.
Finally, I thought I’d take a moment to share a few buzz phrases for our college shared by recent 2019 graduates that may help crystalize the excellence of the AGNR experience. Gabby Cory shared “I was drawn to AGNR for the authenticity and inspirational experience it offered.” For Michael Wijesinghe, “AGNR opened up an unfathomable amount of opportunities for me to grow as a professional.” Tabitha Gregory “The College of AGNR gave me a small university feel, while offering the benefits of a land-grant university.” I am confident that the future holds great things for each of you, and take pride in knowing that our college will be the springboard for your success now and in the future.
We are delighted you have chosen our college for your academic home. We look forward to working with you to develop an educational experience that fully prepares you for an exciting and impactful future in your field. When you graduate from UMD, not only will you be a lifelong Terp, but you will have attained a world-class education from world-class faculty at a world-class institution.