MythBusters, USG Edition. Guest Post: Jennifer Riehl, Senior Recruitment Coordinator


Jen headshot 1

Jennifer Riehl

After spending more than 6 years talking about the Universities at Shady Grove (USG) with anyone who will listen, you’d think I would have heard it all. But alas, there are still some questions I get asked that make me scratch my head and wonder how such misinformation has unfortunately spread. There are some myths, however, that I hear more than others, and I’m here to set the record straight once and for all:

TOP 8 MISCONCEPTIONS ABOUT USG (and the actual truths!)

  1. It’s called the University of Shady Grove.

This one makes my eyes hurt to even type! We are the Universities AT Shady Grove. Our campus in Rockville offers select degree programs from 9 Maryland universities (their programs are AT our campus). By definition, a university grants degrees; at USG, your degree comes directly from the university offering your major. So even though it’s only a few letters different, saying “University of” really does change the entire meaning.

  1. Your degree and transcript will look different.

As I just mentioned, your degree (and transcript and diploma) comes directly from the university offering your major. That’s where you apply, and that’s who implements your program. The only difference is that you are choosing to take your classes on our (convenient, personalized, and cost-effective) campus, but you are still a student of your “home” university. (There are also no asterisks, italics, different colors, or mention of USG or your previous college on your transcript – yes, I’ve been asked all of these things!)

  1. The professors aren’t as good.

This is an easy one to clear up, since the professors are hired by the university offering your major. While main campus courses may see classes with 100+ students, the average class size at USG is only 30-35, so students at USG get the same professors, but they also get more access to them! A win-win!

  1. It’s for students who couldn’t get into the main campus.

Not true at all! Students apply directly to the university offering their major and simply choose USG as their preferred campus on the application (the small classes, convenient location, and more scholarship options are all reasons students select our campus). Since we already established that your degree is granted from your home university, don’t think for a second they plan to lower their standards for anyone earning that diploma! Applicants must indeed meet minimum qualifications (which vary by both university and program) to even be considered for admission. But what often happens is that since so many people are unaware of USG, they don’t select it on the application, and thus, there are more open spots for qualified applicants choosing the USG campus, which can indeed be a plus for you!

  1. You don’t get the “college experience.”

While there is no housing at USG, don’t let that fool you into thinking our students aren’t on our campus at all hours, simply going home to sleep! There are more than 50 student organizations (and it’s super easy to start your own), a ton of great campus events, a gym with a rock-climbing wall and free yoga classes, a café, and a library open to students until 2am! Plus, you are still a student of your home university, and you are encouraged to take advantage of clubs, sporting events, and networking events there, too. And with 50% of student applicants receiving a USG scholarship (not including scholarships you can still get from your home campus), you have more money left over for socializing with friends on the weekends, wherever that may be!

Ambassadors 2019

  1. You still need to go to your main campus to get student services.

Students never need to go to their main campus except to walk across the stage at graduation to receive their diploma. All of the services students need to succeed are offered and/or implemented here at USG. The best part is that with all undergraduate students starting at junior year, the services are geared to the needs of transfer students as well as graduate students, with conducive hours, to boot!

  1. Employers will look down at students who did their program at USG.

We’ve already established that your degree will not say USG on it, only the name of the university offering your major. And when you complete the education section of your resume, you also only need to list the name of that university. So an employer is only going to know that you went to the USG campus if you tell them! But you may want to tell them, now that you are in a position to clear up any misconceptions they may have: If it turns out you’re applying for a job or internship in Montgomery County, but you list University of Baltimore as your current university, for example, they’re going to worry that you are not available for enough hours with such a long commute. Conversely, if you tell them you are actually taking your classes in Rockville and thus can contribute more hours, that may just win you the gig!

  1. There is no way to learn more about USG.

Okay, this isn’t really a misconception, but a lot of times students wait way too long to look into their next steps in their educational journeys. I HIGHLY recommend starting as early as possible to gather information about admissions, deadlines, prerequisite courses, and so on, as well as visiting all campuses you are considering so you can compare. One great way to do that is to attend the upcoming USG Undergraduate Expo on Saturday, April 6th, from 9am-12pm. The Expo will feature reps from all undergraduate majors, sessions on financial aid, campus tours with current students, and much more! A full schedule of events and link to register can be found at With all your newfound knowledge, I may just have you join me on my side of the table that morning!

usg expo flyers

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USG featured in Maryland Matters

Opinion: After 20 Years, Unique Maryland Campus Stands Tall as Visionary Higher Ed Model

On March 20, 2019, Maryland Matters published an article about the Universities at Shady Grove’s (USG) unique model for higher-ed delivery in Maryland. The article highlights USG’s major milestone of 20 years in existence and how such a visionary campus came to be. Take a read below.

Students from The Universities at Shady Grove with Sen. Nancy King (D-Montgomery) at the State House on March 8 at Student Advocacy Day.

As incredible as it sounds, we’re already fast approaching the milestone year of 2020. Many in our region will be using the occasion to take a look back on the various decisions that state and local officials have made in past years and decades to plan for future success. We would submit that one very visionary decision in Maryland to create a unique model for higher education will hold up firmly as a forward-thinking, common-sense approach, even with the benefit of 20-20 hindsight.

Twenty years ago, a cadre of community leaders came together to brainstorm a solution to what was then seen as Montgomery County’s greatest weakness, despite its economic strengths and assets. That weakness was the lack of a public university within the county’s borders.

The Universities at Shady Grove campus.

While there was much talk about what it would take to create such an institution, that visionary cadre – comprised of education leaders, elected officials and business executives – turned instead to a more innovative and groundbreaking solution, one which resulted in what we now know as The Universities at Shady Grove, or USG.

USG is not one university, but a unique partnership of nine Maryland public universities that work together to bring their most in-demand undergraduate, graduate and professional degree programs, that align with the needs of regional employers, to a single, full-service campus that is conveniently located in Rockville.

As a regional higher education center of the University System of Maryland, USG offers the third- and fourth-year coursework of the various undergraduate degree programs that are available. Students who come to the campus to complete a bachelor’s degree have often already completed an associate’s degree or 60 credits from another college or university, including nearby community colleges, such as Montgomery College and others.

The campus currently serves more than 3,000 students annually and will soon have the capacity to expand to nearly 8,000 a year, as construction is almost complete on a new 220,000-square-foot, state-of-the-art Biomedical Sciences and Engineering Education Facility. The new building opening this fall – the fourth education facility on the USG campus – is specifically geared toward meeting the needs of Montgomery County’s future workforce, by preparing students for careers in the science, technology, engineering, mathematics and medical sciences fields. Our partners from the University of Maryland College Park; the University of Maryland, Baltimore; and UMBC will all be bringing new STEMM programs there by 2020.

USG is an especially ideal option for professionally focused students, including many first-generation college students who want to earn degrees from one of the participating state universities, but may not have the resources or the accessibility to do so at the universities’ home campuses around the state. Degree and certificate programs offered at USG are available on a full-time or part-time basis, with classes offered days, evenings and on weekends, allowing students the flexibility that comes with being able to live, work and study close to home.

In recent years, together with Montgomery County Public Schools and Montgomery College, USG launched the Achieving Collegiate Excellence and Success program, serving thousands of students that are typically underrepresented in higher education — including minority, low-income and first-generation college students. The program provides students with a seamless and supportive pathway to a bachelor’s degree, working with the students throughout their educational journey, from high school through their college years.

Michael Knapp (left) and Stew Edelstein

Over the past nearly two decades, more than 11,000 students in total have earned their degrees from USG’s partner universities, while taking classes and enjoying a robust student life experience, conveniently and affordably at the campus in Montgomery County. Data compiled by the University System of Maryland points to USG’s success, as indicated by the fact that the four-year graduation rate for undergraduate students attending USG is 71 percent, compared to 56 percent throughout USM, on a statewide basis.

The bottom line is that the USG model has proven that it works – not only for students, but also for the partner universities that are able to expand in their ability to deliver high-impact degree programs, for the businesses and employers whose continued success depends on being able to attract a well-prepared and diverse workforce, and for the overall economy of the county and state. Best of all, it’s a cost-effective model for students, who can save approximately $8,000 by completing the 2+2 community college to university pathway, which also saves the state $14,000.

What’s especially heartening is that in proving how successful this model for higher education delivery can be, USG has also become a model for other regional higher education centers across the state of Maryland and around the nation.

Back in 2000 when the Universities at Shady Grove first opened its doors with degree program offerings for full-time students, a small, but mighty cohort of about 200 students took a leap of faith and became part of what was then a great experiment in the world of higher education. Today, like the visionaries who founded USG, those first students – and graduates – can proudly say that they were visionaries, too.

Here’s to celebrating all of the students who will continue to reap the benefits of the USG model for success in 2020, 2030 and well beyond.

–Stewart Edelstein and Michael Knapp

Dr. Stewart Edelstein is executive director of The Universities at Shady Grove and associate vice chancellor for academic affairs, University System of Maryland. Michael Knapp is chairman of The Universities at Shady Grove Board of Advisors and CEO of SkillSmart, a Germantown-based technology firm.

Click here for the full article.



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USG Day of Service by Kari Mason

Starting off the spring semester in the spirit of service, the Universities at Shady Grove (USG) hosted Day(s) of Service. Allowing employees to participate in volunteerism by giving back to their local community. Creating a culture of volunteerism at USG not only helps our local community, but it strengthens our community here on campus. From January through February, USG employees had the opportunity to engage in a number of exceptional non-profit organizations in our area. Photos from the various service projects can be seen in the slideshow below.

Campus Kitchens, located on USG’s campus, is a community service organization created by the University of Maryland Easter Shore (UMES). Their organization prepares meals for numerous families in need. Our volunteers were able to help prepare meals for the community. A special thank you to John Brandt (Public Safety and Security), Andrea Milo (CSEFR), Alexa Brown (CSEFR), Katie Nguyen (CSEFR), Gloria Kalotra (CSEFR), and Campus Kitchens for your service.

Manna Food Center, located in Gaithersburg, fights to end hunger in Montgomery County through food distribution, education, and advocacy. Volunteers presorted foods at Manna’s distribution center. A special thank you to Nick Kozak (Facilities), Brian Woods (Facilities), Mike Badostain (Facilities), Brandon Mose (Facilities), Jessica Nardi (Administration), Erin Ward (Administration), Brigitte Bard (CAS), Chuck Carter (Facilities), Larry Isenburg (Facilities), Mary Gallagher (CAS), Lawrence Goldberg (Facilities), Annie Ahmed (CAS), Jane Briggs (Facilities), Tom Clifford (Advancement and Community Engagement), Julia Rader (CISC), Ilona Faulks (SAS), Kaitlin Mills (CAS), and Parisa Meisami (CAS) for your service.

Community Ministries of Rockville seeks to improve the quality of life for the most vulnerable of Montgomery County residents by providing housing, healthcare, homecare, education, and emergency assistance. Volunteers re-painted rooms in the Rockland House providing permanent supportive housing for women. A special thank you to Kari Mason (Administration), Erin Fernandez (Administration), and Taishan Gary (CES) for your service.

The USG Mobile Market, located on USG’s campus, promotes health and wellness through a partnership with the Capital Area Food Bank, by providing fresh vegetables, fruits, and other food items to the campus and local community, at no cost. A special thank you to Jana Goodwin (UMB Nursing), Karen Clark (UMB Nursing), Sharon Cannon (Copy Center), Sonia Sarangthem (OIT), Bilky Okoh (Business Office), Patti Wong (Business Office), Chhaya Lagowala (CES), Adam Binkley (CAS), Steven Thompson (CES), Paul Jackson (Facilities), Vsev Horodyskyj (OIT), Julia Rader (CIS), Ilona Faulks (SAS), and Justin Edgar (CRTA) for your service.

Thank you to all of those who served the community with us. Please look out for more opportunities in the Spring and Summer.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Kari Mason is a student in the University of Baltimore’s Integrated Design graduate program and a Graduate Student Assistant for Administration and Talent Management.
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Grammar Day by Victoria Whitten

Grammar DayAre you the type of person who delights in finding typos in your textbook? Does it make you cringe when ur frndz txt u lk this? Do you want your writing to become clearer, more concise, and stronger? Then come join the Center for Academic Success as we celebrate USG’s 8th annual Grammar Day on Monday March 4th from 12pm-2pm in the rec. center lounge located on the second floor of Building III.

National Grammar Day (historically held on March 4th) was created by author Martha Brockenbrough in 2008. Brockenbrough, the author of Things That Make Us [Sic] and founder of the Society for the Promotion of Good Grammar (SPOGG), explained that she founded the day to help her students with their grammar in a lighthearted, fun way. So why March 4th? Brockenbrough states, “Language is something to be celebrated, and March 4 is the perfect day to do it. It’s not only a date, it’s an imperative: March forth on March 4 to speak well, write well, and help others do the same!”

So march forth this March 4th with help from CAS! Enjoy some free food while you take part in our Grammar Games where you can brush up on your grammar skills, while winning cool prizes and a chance to enter our raffle. If games aren’t your style, attend one (or all) of our Workshop Wonders being held in Building III, room 2230. Beginning at 12:30pm, each workshop is only 20 minutes long and designed to help you improve your academic writing. Attend “It’s Just a Phrase” to learn how to make your modifiers mightier; “Sentences and Sensibilities” will help you avoid fragments, run-on sentences, and comma splices for crisp, attention-capturing sentences; “Gotta Catch’em All” will empower you to employ self-editing strategies in your own writing.

Have a class you can’t miss? Don’t worry! Join us for Grammar After Dark from 5pm-6pm in the Building III café where you can visit our grammar game tables and sharpen your skills. In the meantime, visit the below sites to start getting hyped up for the USG celebration of National Grammar Day:

Some of our favorite resources:

  • Purdue OWL for citation styles and writing mechanics
  • APA Academic Writer for APA citation assistance
  • Grammarly for that extra layer of grammatical safety when you’re emailing your boss or writing a paper

Just for fun:

Grammar Day 2019 Poster (1)

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Library Workshops! Guest Post: Franklin Ofsthun, Library Services Specialist


Franklin Ofsthun

Are you looking to sharpen your marketable skills? Or learn about tools & technology that will help you succeed in your classes and beyond? Join us at the library for one of our six workshops this February!

Our librarians offer workshops that are designed to teach you the latest and greatest in Doing Data and Communication & Technology. Each of these workshops are an hour long and held in the library col-lab (to the right of the front entrance). You can register for all these in advance, or walk in on the day of!

On Tuesday, February 19th, from 5:00-6:00pm, learn about Visualizing Data with Tableau, a data discovery and business intelligence tool. Tableau can be used to create graphics that will make your data clear and appealing.

Many computers


Stop by Wednesday, February 20th, from 5:30-6:30pm, to learn about the paper-writing resource, Academic Writer (formerly known as APA Style Central). Academic Writer can help you learn to develop a research topic, organize your sources, write a group paper, and manage your citations.



Interested in learning about photo editing? Join us for our workshop on Adobe Photoshop on Thursday, February 21st, from 11:30am-12:30pm. Learn fundamentals on the world’s best imaging and graphic design software at this workshop.

Photoshop screenshot


Learn how to use Zotero on Tuesday, February 26th from 12:30-1:30pm. Zotero is a free tool that helps you collect sources, create citations, and share research.

Library screenshot


Just in time for your presentation, come check out our workshop on PowerPoint Presentations on Wednesday, February 27th from 4:00-5:00pm. Reduce your presentation anxiety by learning how to create an effective and appealing PowerPoint presentation.



Are you completing a systematic review this semester? Search Strategies Design for Systematic Reviews on Thursday, February 28th, from 5:30-6:30pm, can help you succeed. A librarian will help you master your search terms to get the results you need!

We offer plenty more workshops throughout the semester. If you have any idea for workshops that would help you and your classmates succeed, you can fill out a Workshop on Demand request form. Our librarians would love to help!

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Food is Opportunity

Come one, come all, to our Food is Opportunity Day that we’ll be hosting in partnership with the Montgomery County Food Council on Tuesday, February 12th!

Food is Opportunity Day will be a multi-part event, including two educational panels — a “Food Careers Panel” and a “Scaling a Food Business Panel” — as well as an expo featuring product samples from Montgomery County food and beverage businesses, and information tables hosted by USG programs and local food system partner organizations. Learn about the diverse opportunities available within the food system, including unexpected career paths, current job openings with local food businesses, improved food access through on-campus initiatives, and more! Please use this link to sign-up for the event and to volunteer.

Event Schedule: Three sessions, described below, will be held in the Rockville/Potomac Ballroom in Building II at USG.

Session 1: Food Careers Panel (12-1pm, open to all students)

  • Students will have the opportunity to jump start their food system careers by learning about professional opportunities beyond the kitchen: from local food artisans, to social entrepreneurs, to nonprofit leaders. Q&A to follow.
  • This panel will feature Sophia Maroon, Founder of Dress it Up Dressing, Jackie DeCarlo, CEO of Manna Food Center, and Ryan Walter, Co-Founder of Compost Crew.

Session 2: Food and Beverage Expo (Students are encouraged to attend from 1-2pm)

  • At the Expo, local food and beverage producers will be hosting tables to connect their business with retail and wholesale buyers and provide samples of their products.
  • Additional organizations/businesses representing a wide variety of food resources and programs in the County will also be exhibiting, including Community Food Rescue, Crossroads Community Food Network, Manna Food Center, and the Montgomery County Office of Agriculture.

Student Networking with Businesses and Organizations (2-2:30PM)

  • During this time, students can network with and learn from local producers, entrepreneurs and nonprofit organization representatives and inquire about volunteer/internship/job opportunities.
  • Students will receive information prior to the event on which participating businesses have internship/job openings.

Session 3: Scaling a Food Business Panel (2:30-3:30pm, open to all students)

  • In growing your food business it’s necessary to understand the moving parts of your regional ecosystem — from business development resources available to sales and distribution channels to policy and regulations knowledge.
  • This panel will feature Judy Stephenson, the MoCo Small Business Navigator, Kelly Dudeck with Grown Fortify, and Bart Yablonsky, Owner of Dawson’s Market.
  • Students attending this panel will also have the opportunity to taste a dish created by CulinArt during the expo.

Please visit the Montgomery County Food Council’s website to learn more. We hope to see you there!

Food is Opportunity Day-1

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A Shift in Performance Appraisal. Guest Post: Dr. Elliot Lasson, UMBC Program Director and Professor, M.P.S. I/O Psychology

Elliot D. Lasson Headshot

Dr. Elliot D. Lasson, UMBC Program Director and Professor, M.P.S. I/O Psychology

Performance reviews have been part of the annual Human Resource (HR) cycle for many years.  In theory, they represent an opportunity for management to discuss the performance of employees on an ongoing basis.  However, performance reviews have been notoriously an event which evoke anxiety in employees and a certain level of discomfort for managers.  Because of this, they have been something which are subject to avoidance and procrastination.  HR often ends up playing the role of “performance appraisal police” to ensure managerial compliance in performing this annual ritual.

There are three basic functions which appraisals play in the performance management process.  First, they are a basis for administrative decisions such as bonuses, promotions, and raises on one hand, and discipline and termination on the other.  Since these decisions are often difficult, it is no wonder why these uneasy conversations are prone to being put off.  From the manager’s perspective, it is uncomfortable to evaluate others.  Even if the evaluation is satisfactory or positive, from the employee’s perspective, it might not be good enough especially when a bonus might be riding on the outcome.  Plus, it is uncomfortable hearing others point out our deficiencies.  When management does not have sufficient training in conveying feedback, then it might not be delivered in the most tactful or constructive manner.

The second function of performance appraisal is for employee development.  This is an opportunity for a manager to sit down with an employee to discuss performance.  This might include if any additional resources might be provided or impediments removed.  It might also be a way of identifying training or other professional development opportunities that might support the employee.

The third purpose of performance appraisal is to serve as a data metric to assess how well the organization’s selection decisions have been faring.  For example, if those who had been selected based on a high interview score ultimately perform on the job at high levels, that demonstrates that hiring decisions have been by and large effective.

Elliot teaching

Dr. Lasson teaching class

Based on reasons most linked to the challenges associated the first function mentioned above, some notable organizations like Netflix, Adobe, and Deloitte have reinvented their performance management system.  A recent article published by the Society for Human Resource Management describes this recent paradigm shift and the reasons for it.  One of the other premises behind this is the evolution of work.  To think of performance as adhering to a static annual period after which an evaluation is recorded represents a certain disconnect.  If an appraisal takes place every year in December, situations which happen in January may not be able to wait until the end of that year.  In addition, communication in life and in organizations is shorter and constant.  So, it makes sense that the performance management process is indicative of that reality.  For these reasons, many organizations have shifted to more periodic check-ins.  In a sense, this places more of a short-term responsibility on managers.  But, in the long run, it might make the end-of-year conversations to be less fraught with surprises.

As an HR professional and professor of UMBC’s Masters of I/O Psychology at USG, I was asked to discuss the evolution of the performance appraisal on Maryland Public Television. In my interview I discuss how HR needs to shift from a “transactional” emphasis toward one of “talent management.” HR should be seen less as a gatekeeper for functions like payroll and benefits and more of a facilitator for career development and workforce planning. Watch the video to learn more.

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