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Maryland Commerce Supports Research Professorships at Four Higher Education Institutions

Maryland Institute College of Art; Towson University; the University of Maryland, College Park, and Washington College raise matching funds to promote research and technology

BALTIMORE, MD (January 15, 2019) – The Maryland Department of Commerce; Maryland Institute College of Art (MICA); Towson University; the University of Maryland, College Park; and Washington College have endowed a total of $6.7 million in new research professorships. The endowments were made through the Maryland E-Nnovation Initiative Fund (MEIF), a state program created to spur basic and applied research in scientific and technical fields at the colleges and universities. The schools raised a combined $4 million in private funding for each chair and Maryland Commerce approved matching grants of $2.7 million to support the endowments.

“Maryland’s colleges and universities are responsible for the groundbreaking research and discoveries that help make Maryland a top-ranked state for innovation. Maryland Commerce is proud to continue supporting the important work being done at these institutions,” said Maryland Commerce Acting Secretary Kelly Schulz. “Now in its fourth year, this program has devoted more than $34 million to support advancements in a broad range of disciplines including geographic information systems, cyber education and research, and data analytics.”

The Maryland Institute College of Art (MICA) has received $500,000 in matching funds from the program to establish a $1 million endowment fund to expand the Design & Health Initiative at the MICA Center for Social Design (CSD). The endowment will enable the MICA CSD to sustain the key leadership position of a staff co-director, and to scale its unique practice of embedding designers into healthcare and public health institutions across the state that have a commitment to health equity. These embedded designers pilot and sustain new ways of integrating the human-centered design process into their partner institutions ongoing work so that they will better understand the life experience and context of the people they serve and thereby create more innovative and effective solutions for particularly vulnerable populations.

“For over a decade, MICA has been a pioneer and leader in social design education and practice locally, nationally, and internationally,” said MICA President Samuel Hoi. “As the first endowment to support the Center for Social Design at MICA, this generous grant from the Maryland E-Nnovation Initiative Fund will allow the college to forge new research collaborations with public and private partners to make an even more significant impact in the field of public health.  It is exciting that more post-graduate social design associates from MICA will be supported to work throughout Baltimore and Maryland to directly improve the lives of members of our community. We are grateful for this support from the Maryland Department of Commerce to partner with MICA to expand a national model program.”

Towson University received $500,000 for its first E-Nnovation grant, which it will combine with a significant private contribution, to establish the Towson University E-Nnovation Endowed Professorship. This professorship will provide critical resources to an exceptional faculty member in TU’s Department of Computer and Information Sciences who will lead the creation of a world-class Cyber Education and Research Center.  The center is poised to ambitiously pursue novel solutions for today’s and tomorrow’s cyber challenges, encourage innovative lines of research and discovery, develop solutions to the cyber workforce crisis, and engage in opportunities for technology commercialization. 

“As an NSA National Center of Academic Excellence in Cyber Operations and one of the first four institutions in the world to receive ABET accreditation in cybersecurity, Towson University is emerging as a global leader in cybersecurity. This grant affirms TU’s leadership in this field, will accelerate the important work of our faculty, and fortify Maryland’s position at the leading edge of cybersecurity,” said President Kim Schatzel.

The University of Maryland, College Park received $714,000 to partially match its Clark Leadership Chair in data analytics, funded by a generous investment from the A. James & Alice B. Clark Foundation. The new chair will enhance the university’s expertise in the fields that underlie data analytics—computer science and mathematics—and areas at the forefront of data analytics-intensive applications, such as astronomy, climate science, quantum systems, aeronautical engineering, bioinformatics, cybersecurity, social media studies, and language science.

“We are grateful for the investments of the A. James & Alice B. Clark Foundation and the state of Maryland in the critically important area of data analytics,” said University of Maryland Senior Vice President and Provost Mary Ann Rankin. “Thanks to their support, the holder of the Clark Leadership Chair will have the resources and support to conduct research with economic impact, while also educating and training the next generation of data scientists.”

Washington College received $1 million, matched by $1 million from The Hodson Trust, to endow a directorship in the Geographic Information Systems program. This will help expand the college’s GIS program more widely throughout the liberal arts curriculum as well as broaden collaborations with faculty research and teaching. It will also generate new economic development opportunities, enabling the program to move beyond its dependence on funded projects, creating greater flexibility to work with non-profits and encouraging investment in business development and pilot projects.

“I’m thrilled and proud that for the third year running, Washington College has earned the support of the Maryland Department of Commerce for this terrific grant. Our outstanding GIS program is among our strongest for offering students real-world experience within the liberal arts framework, and this will only enhance that to create more opportunities,” said College President Kurt Landgraf. “I especially want to thank The Hodson Trust for providing the necessary match to make this possible. Once again, the Trust’s support and confidence has made a critical difference in the education that we provide to students.” 

The Maryland E-Nnovation Initiative was created by the General Assembly during the 2014 legislative session and has provided $34 million in funding to leverage $41.7 million in private donations. The funding can be used to pay salaries of newly endowed department chairs, staff, and support personnel in designated scientific and technical fields of study; fund related research fellowships for graduate and undergraduate students; and purchase lab equipment and other basic infrastructure and equipment.