Dear Students, Faculty, Staff and USG Community Members:
I want to wish everyone a very successful and productive spring term. These past several months have been difficult for everyone and we’re starting another semester at the Universities at Shady Grove with primarily remote services, online learning and limited on-campus classes, due to COVID-19. Yet, I am so proud of the resilience that you have shown as, together, we work through the extraordinary challenges of this ongoing pandemic.
I’ve just crossed the three-month mark in my new role as executive director of USG and I continue to be amazed and humbled by the number of university, community, government and business leaders who believe so strongly in USG and in the unique way we serve students and the greater community.
Last Friday, I ended another busy week by meeting (via Zoom, of course!) with a prominent biotech CEO who praised USG for its innovation in providing a diverse population of students with affordable and convenient access to cutting-edge degree programs, state-of-the-art facilities and life-changing experiential learning opportunities. I especially loved how he really embraced the unique, multi-university model of the USG campus, saying: “Education is so important to getting ahead, but it has to fit our times.”
I hope and trust all of you at USG feel that same way. We are steadfastly committed to ensuring that we will always be ready to meet the challenges of the “times” in which we live – even when a global pandemic forces us to pivot and deliver our services in new, innovative ways that will enable students to “get ahead.”
One last note about my conversation with that CEO and maybe the best part: His rapidly growing firm has already hired three recent graduates from the UMBC Translational Life Science Technology program at USG. One of those graduates is already leading a major project involving an accelerated process for COVID-19 testing. How gratifying is that?
Onward into the Spring Semester
Over the next few months, we at USG will be preparing for the important development of a strategic plan to guide us into the future. As some of you already know, we will be starting that process with what I am calling a “deep dive,” in which we are examining in depth all aspects of our current operations and services.
Throughout the planning process, we will be seeking input from all stakeholders including staff, faculty and our academic partners, students and other members of the USG community, such as our Board of Advisors. Please stay tuned for more information and know that we are really looking forward to getting feedback from all of our stakeholder groups. We will build on the successes of USG and develop a shared vision for USG 2.0!
Although the beginning of COVID-19 vaccine rollouts has provided hope, for now, we must continue to be vigilant in doing all we can to protect the health and safety of everyone in the USG community. As such, all USG events will continue to be held virtually, including the 2021 Graduation Celebration, which will take place the evening of Friday, May 7. Looking further ahead to the summer, we have also decided to continue to hold new student orientation events in virtual formats.
A few important “housekeeping” notes for students and employees as the spring semester gets underway:
- For information about USG’s operations amid the COVID-19 crisis, please be sure to consult the USG Onward page on the USG website. As I noted above, there will only be a limited number of on-campus classes this spring, with extensive health and safety protocols in place. All student services will be delivered remotely once again. You can find additional information and details on the website and if the situation changes in any way, we will notify everyone with updates.
- A reminder that we encourage everyone to be certain that you are signed up to receive USG Community Alerts (text and/or email) for any emergency messages, whether related to COVID-19, inclement weather or any type of incident involving the USG campus.
- Although there will not be events on campus, there are so many virtual events and activities happening at USG and one of the best ways to keep up is to regularly consult the events section of the website.
- Also, remember to read the USG Weekly e-newsletter each Monday – you can sign up for it on this link if you are not already receiving it. Another great tool for keeping up with USG activities is the USG Mobile App, which I would urge you to download on your smartphone.
And here are a few other ways to keep up with what’s happening with USG and our nine partner universities:
- Check out the “Discover USG” blog and the student blog, “Around the Grove.”
- Follow USG on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and LinkedIn.
- Visit the USG website.
I invite you also to learn more about USG – as I have been doing – through my weekly video podcast series, entitled “This is USG.” We’ve had some great conversations over the past few months with student leaders, leaders and colleagues from our university partners, elected officials, and others. You can find links to all of the episodes on our website. I’d love to hear your feedback and ideas for future discussions.
Have a great start to the spring semester, everyone. You’ve probably heard it said many times, but it’s worth saying again – together, we will get through this challenging time. Stay safe and healthy, and take good care of yourselves, your family members, friends and colleagues. Thank you.
Anne Khademian, Ph.D.
Executive Director, USG, & Associate Vice Chancellor, University System of Maryland