Why Information Science? Guest Post: Tetyana Bezbabna from UMCP at USG

What is information science? Why it is important? What are the typical career paths for information science majors?

As the Assistant Director for the University of Maryland, College Park’s undergraduate Information Science program offered at the Shady Grove campus, I get these questions often.

Tetyana Bezbabna, Assistant Director – University of Maryland, College Park, Information Science Program at Shady Grove

The study of information science focuses on the following:

  1. Data and information collection, analysis, manipulation, storage, retrieval, visualization, and dissemination;
  2. The application and usage of information and data by people, organizations, and society; and
  3. Interactions between technologies, information, and people including identifying the most efficient ways for those three areas to work together.

Information science is often considered a branch of computer science, which is actually not correct. Unlike computer science, information science is interdisciplinary and incorporates not only aspects of computer science, but also cognitive and social sciences, including economics, psychology, communication, artificial intelligence, etc. In addition to coding, information science professionals are experts in organizational practices and strategies, as well as technology solutions supporting people behavior, information, and knowledge sharing. They are well equipped to deal with all the challenges and opportunities presented by this digital era coming from various disciplines including business, education, healthcare, and others.

According to the iSchool Inclusion Institute, information science helps people “discover better information, design and use better technology, and make better decisions to solve problems.” Let’s break that down:

  • Discover better information. Daily, we receive about 105,000 words/23 words per second through social media platforms, TV, radio, and print media. The World Economic Forum predicts that by 2025 “463 exabytes of data will be created each day globally – the equivalent of 212,765,957 DVDs per day.” What information do we need to pay attention to? What do we need to ignore? Information science professionals are well equipped in helping people and organizations browse through all the information and data, and locate the most reliable, unbiased, and correct information sources to further utilize in communications and decision-making processes.
  • Design and use better technology. Information science professionals are experts in analyzing current technology solutions and assessing their support of the company’s goals, mission, and vision. Also, information scientists bridge the communication gap that exists between a company’s IT and business teams by facilitating the conversation, translating business challenges to technology teams (or technical terms to business people), and work to get everyone aligned from the very first requirements gathering meeting, all the way to product delivery.
  • Make better decisions. Data enables companies to create new business opportunities, generate more revenue, predict future trends, and optimize current operational strategies. Information scientists facilitate and promote data-driven decision-making. Instead of basing decisions on intuition and observations alone, information science professionals encourage and help companies leverage various data analysis techniques and methods to support organizational decisions.

So, what are some of the typical career paths of information science majors? The following is a list of the most common job titles among information science graduates:

  • Data Analyst or Data Scientist
  • Database Administrator
  • User Experience/Interface Designer
  • Content Management Specialist
  • Systems Architect
  • Data Architect
  • Project Manager/Business Analyst
  • Information Security Specialist

Interested in learning more about UMCP’s Information Science undergraduate program offered at the Shady Grove?Contact us at usginfosci@umd.edu  for more information about the program, or to set up a pre-advising appointment.Our cohort-based program provides curricular and extra-curricular activities to support our students and ensure their success. You will learn skills and credentials to launch a successful career as an Information Science professional in all types of organizations, including government institutions, non-profits, educational and cultural institutions, the private sector, and the intelligence community.

References:

Bilton, Nick. (December 9, 2009). Part of the Daily American Diet, 34 Gigabytes of Data. The New York Times.

Andrea, Harris. The Human Brain is Loaded Daily with 34 GB of Information. Tech 21 Century.

The iSchool Inclusion Institute. What are the Information Sciences?

Desjardins, Jeff. (April 17, 2019). How Much Data is Generated Each Day? World Economic Forum.

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Statement by USG Executive Director on Anti-Asian Hate Speech and Crimes

I know I speak for everyone within the Universities at Shady Grove community when I say the increase we have been seeing nationally in hate speech and violence directed toward Asian Americans is both concerning and deplorable. Anti-Asian hate and violence is not new, unfortunately, but there is no question that the recent trend, over the past year, is especially troubling.

As part of our USG mission statement, we also identify our core values, which include Diversity and Inclusion. It notes: USG values diversity in all of its forms, fostering a climate grounded in respect, civility and inclusion. Along with its nine academic partners, USG strives to create an educational and social environment that affirms the dignity, value and uniqueness of each person. USG embraces its responsibility to provide a safe and respectful learning and work environment where diversity is celebrated, affirmed and vigorously pursued.”

We are firmly committed to ensuring that we live by these values each day, as educators and colleagues – especially when anyone within our community is in fear of being on the receiving end of hate crimes or hate speech.

Education plays such an important role in eradicating racism in any form. Our Center for Student Engagement and Financial Resources (CSEF) will be sharing a variety of helpful resources for students and others within the USG community through their diversity listserv. I would encourage members of the USG community to subscribe to the listserv here.

Anne Khademian, Ph.D.
Executive Director, USG, & Associate Vice Chancellor, University System of Maryland

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Making the Most of Virtual Connections. Guest Post: Michael Schlitzer, UMBC Data Science Graduate Student

Do you remember your first day of school ever?  Do you remember the excitement that you felt?  The smiles?  The nerves?  Can you remember what it was like to have your parent walk you to your first-grade class and then *gasp* leave you to stay there all day? 

1st day of school! (Michael’s daughter)

Now, do you remember your first day of class at USG?  Maybe you were a little less excited, but I’ll bet you remember the nervousness anticipation while you tried to find the classroom and then waited for the professor to walk into the room? 

Well, imagine that your professor walked to the head of room, but never turned around.  She just stands there, with her back to you, and begins to lecture.

Michael Schlitzer, UMBC Data Science Graduate Student

Right away you would think that was a little odd, wouldn’t you?  She thinks it’s a little odd too because she says “You don’t need to see me.  Besides, my hair is a mess!”

It’s hard to imagine that scenario “in real life” and yet, that approach seems to be what we expect as a baseline during COVID, and not just from our professors, but also from each other.  We’ll FaceTime with our friends and go on TikTok until the cows come home but be on camera in class?!

I sat in on my first video conference all the way back in 1987 and have worked in various aspects of the Audio Visual and video conferencing industries since 1993.  Building teams when team members are geographically distributed – like we all are now, during COVID – is a skill that I have been developing over my entire career, and it is one that I think will help you get the most out of your USG experience during COVID.  And who knows, it will probably help you professionally as well because even when thing get “back to normal” remote work is going to be an enormous part of the job market equation, so it’s a good idea to practice now.

The disconnect between the adoption rates of personal and professional technology is fairly astounding.  College-age students almost don’t remember a time when they couldn’t see the people they were talking to on their phones, but when they get to class (or work) all of a sudden they become camera shy.

We connect to the physical presence of people, not to names on a screen.  As a student, you want your professors to know who you are!  And professors, you are the stars of the show – you are why we, the students, are here; we would really like to see you.  One of the best parts of the college experience is getting to know your classmates and you just can’t really know someone that you’ve never seen.

Maybe you don’t need your camera on all the time, but if you are speaking, or working in a small group or a team, or participating in a USG student event it really is a best practice to turn on your camera – that’s exactly how it would be on campus, so why is it so scary from a distance?

I want to share two remote access experiences that were made possible by the magic of video conferencing at USG.

USG has lots of student events that are a lot of fun, including virtual ones that you can find out about here. Over the winter I attended a caricature drawing event and got to meet all sorts of nice people while we all had our worst physical features exaggerated for fun.  My favorite part of that event was finding out why students chose USG for their education – it was very informative and helped us to connect.

The other experiences in this strange COVID time at USG came over the summer when I worked on a team with my classmate Isabelle.  We met several times a week in that short semester to work on our project and we always had our cameras on as we worked together and got to know each other.  I saw her kids and pets, she saw (and heard) mine, and we did well on our project, while learning about each other.  So, when I joined a class this Spring and saw Isabelle’s name, we had a genuine reunion; we were happy to see each other again.

Video is important to human communications.  Without it, FaceTime would be just… Time and TikTok would be just… I don’t know, Tok?  Whatever it would be, it would be much less entertaining. 

Here’s a true statement: people are more important than things.  Don’t let COVID rob you of the best part of the USG experience: connecting with people from all over the world, right here in Montgomery County, Maryland.

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Celebrating National Grammar Day. Guest Post: Adam Binkley from MCAS

Imagine 60-foot balloons meandering across the Rockville skyline, shaped like punctuation marks. Instead of seasonal treats, your favorite bakery has cupcakes decorated with semicolons and exclamation marks. Each house in your neighborhood is adorned with essays. The Riddler, with all his question marks, is bringing up the rear of the county parade.

Okay, so maybe the world isn’t quite ready for my vision of National Grammar Day. Did you even know National Grammar existed, celebrated on March 4th each year?

First-time celebrators, allow me to be the first to welcome you to the grammar gang, the semi-colon squad, the exclamation nation—you get the idea.

At the Macklin Center for Academic Success, grammar is a frequent topic of conversation when I work with students on their papers. Some are self-proclaimed grammar gurus, always on the lookout for rogue errors on signs and in emails. Others find themselves vexed by a set of intricate rules that don’t always make logical sense.

Adam Binkley, Senior Coordinator at USG (Macklin Center for Academic Success)

Me? I’m somewhere in-between. As a kid, “reading” was my favorite subject but I hated “English” and “spelling.” I was passionate about storytelling, which encouraged me to be creative and not rigid when writing. For most of my life, I didn’t really understand the rules; I learned the way one learns to play by ear or shoot on a rusted hoop in a driveway.

This changed the more I studied great works of literature, especially poetry. The way a poem can create a current of emotional tension with a simple piece of punctuation showed me that structure can empower creativity. As I spent years learning and teaching writing, I became more attuned to grammar as a thing of beauty as opposed to a favorite tool of the pedantic.

I work with many students who, like me, are looking to grow as grammarians. Whether it’s picking up on the nuances of a new language or trying to strengthen your understanding of your native tongue, there are some simple things you can do to improve your grammar.

Read and write. Find a book of poems or dive into your favorite fiction. Argue with someone on reddit or discuss a passion on an old school message board. Go back and find some of those old papers you’ve written. Look through them, focusing on any aspect of grammar you want to know better. Record yourself reading the paper aloud and play that back as you read again—are ear and eye on the same page?

The more you explore any language, the more the rules and quirks fall under your command and become an extension of the way you express the beauty of life and its complications. If grammar is something you struggle with, try out one of these suggestions or make a writing appointment at MCAS. And for those who already feel like their command of grammar is strong, I have a simple plea—treat others with grace. Instead of being the person who asks “I don’t know– CAN you”, use your understanding to share a little tip and help someone along their journey with language.

After all, under the punctuation mark balloons and figurative fireworks, there is room for all of us at the parade celebrating National Grammar Day. Well, except for maybe the Riddler. Everybody knows you shouldn’t end with a question.

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College Can be a *Major* Decision. Guest Post: Jennifer Riehl from USG Recruitment

According to several nationwide studies, more than half of all undergraduate college students change their major at least once. This is understandable, as college is indeed a time for exploration and discovery. Students are trying out courses not previously available to them in high school. They are learning about fields they’d never considered, or in many cases, even heard of. Everyone is searching for that “aha” moment when it clicks that *this* is where their passion lies, that *this* is the field in which they want to start their career. But for some, it takes many “nope” moments to get there.

Maybe you know you want to be in the medical field but have recently discovered a fear of giving shots that causes you to change your mind about studying Nursing. Did you know you could study Public Health Science, Translational Life Science Technology, or Health Management instead, putting that medical know-how to use in a less-clinical setting?

Jennifer Riehl, Senior Recruitment Coordinator at USG

Perhaps you love technology, but are such a people-person that you fear getting stuck behind a screen all day? Did you know a degree in Information Science can lead you to roles as a front-facing Data Analyst, while a degree in Cybersecurity Management & Policy can quickly propel to you to team leader? What if your passion is actually using technology to build curriculum as an Elementary/Special Education major and future teacher?

Or maybe you’re extremely persuasive and always assumed a Marketing major would be your calling, but you’ve recently realized that the finance and accounting classes required as a business major are over your head? Did you know a major in Communication, Graphic Design, or Hospitality & Tourism Management can lead you to careers in marketing departments across several industries (no upper-level math required)?

I could give countless more examples of how it takes intentional exploration for many students to discover the major and related career options that truly call to them. Not knowing exactly what you want to study – or knowing but still being open to other options – is not only okay; it’s healthy! What’s not ideal is not being willing to invest in yourself enough to start on that path to discovery in the first place.

That’s where the Universities at Shady Grove (USG) can help!  Not only does our campus offer over 35 undergraduate degrees spanning several industries, but since all of the students are upper-level transfers, it’s inherent in our mission to provide prospective students with information to help them decide which bachelor’s degree program is indeed right for them – so they can finish their last two years as efficiently as possible.

To that end, I am super excited to announce that we are again hosting our virtual USG Pathways & Programs Week event series this March! Pathways & Programs Week is a chance for prospective undergrads to not only learn more about the USG campus, but also to hear from program representatives and current students from three respective “industry clusters.” Whether you already had your “aha” moment and are looking to learn more about admissions requirements for a particular major, or if, like many, you are still exploring, attending one or more of these events will most certainly provide you with a clearer understanding of your future academic options and the next steps you can take to get there. I look forward to meeting you then!

USG Pathways & Programs Week
March 8, 9, & 10; 5:30-7pm on Zoom

More information and registration

Session 1: Computing, Engineering, & Information Technology “Cluster”
Monday, March 8, 5:30-7:00pm

Session 2: Bioscience, Nursing, & Health “Cluster”
Tuesday, March 9, 5:30-7:00pm

Session 3: Business, Communication, Social Sciences, Design, & Education “Cluster”
Wednesday, March 10, 5:30-7:00pm

*To see a full list of featured majors for each session, please visit shadygrove.umd.edu/usgpathways.


Can’t make the event? Check out other upcoming virtual offerings and get more information on the USG campus by visiting shadygrove.umd.edu/usg101.

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Wednesday Wipeout Sessions. Guest Post: Sam Angell from UMBC at USG

Blog post by: Sam Angell

Dr. Sunil Dasgupta, Program Director, UMBC at the Universities at Shady Grove Campus

For more than a decade, Dr. Sunil Dasgupta has been ready to have a chat. The Program Director for Political Science at UMBC-Shady Grove, Dr. Dasgupta started a program he titled Wednesday Wipeouts back in 2010, and has held an informal weekly gathering of members of the Shady Grove community ever since.

“The point of this from the beginning was that we were going to come together and provide a venue where people could feel free to discuss what was on their mind,” recalls Dasgupta after a recent Wipeout session. “That was the purpose in 2010, and that remains the purpose today. There isn’t another regular and open forum for students, staff, faculty, and even community members to gather on campus.”

The free-flowing conversations are billed as a current events open forum, where students and faculty members can drop formalities and share opinions, rationales, and observations about the political world around them. The discussions, which moved to a virtual format along with the rest of UMBC-Shady Grove back in March, drew particular interest during the fall election cycle, but the conversation can reach well beyond the headlines of a presidential election.

“What we discuss depends on who is there and who is participating,” said Dasgupta, who shares leadership roles in the group with History Program Director Dr. Andrew Nolan and Political Science professor Dr. Candace Groudine. “We’ve now gone through three administrations and three presidential election cycles bringing together opinions, calming anxieties, and looking forward to what’s coming next. But we have no set agenda.”

Open to any student, faculty, or staff member within the Universities at Shady Grove, Wednesday Wipeout sessions are held at noon on titular Wednesdays, running until 1 p.m. Dasgupta may be the organizer of the event, but he says he never has to prod the conversations in any particular direction. His only introductory speech as the participants log on is an inquisitive “What’s on your mind?” Things take off from there.

Sam Angell, Senior Marketing Coordinator, UMBC at the Universities at Shady Grove Campus

During one recent session, student participants joined the virtual roundtable with a goal of brainstorming events that the student council could run to promote engagement in the pandemic-necessitated remote learning environment. What started as a straightforward exchange of ideas led to an offhand mention of Dr. Dasgupta’s upcoming dental appointment, which segued into a lengthy aside about politicians who were also practicing medical doctors.

Later, the group turned its attention to the recent controversy surrounding GameStop stock trading. One student opened up about his experience as a casual day trader. That led not only to chatter about stock trading tactics and strategies, but also prompted one participant to mention the role of hedge fund manager and majority owner of the New York Mets, Steven Cohen. A brief foray into the dubious history of the Mets organization quickly ensued.

Some conversations are more serious and structured than others. Occasionally, Dr. Dasgupta or his fellow organizers will bring in a guest speaker to talk about career choices or to share life experiences. Generally, the rule is if someone shows up, they get to pick the topic.

“I have committed to being there every Wednesday at noon,” Dasgupta explained. “Sometimes we have a large group and sometimes, it’s just me and a couple of faculty members. If I can’t be here, Dr. Nolan or Dr. Groudine are. And on the rare occasion when there was no faculty member present, students have self-organized. When that happens, that’s the best. There’s never a shortage of discussion.”

To join the conversation, click here on Wednesdays at noon.

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My Journey to USG. Guest Post: Michael Schlitzer, UMBC Data Science Graduate Student 

Michael Schlitzer, UMBC Data Science Graduate Student 

Every state in the union has a motto, a statement of purpose.  Some of them are excellent, while others are a bit unusual.  Virginia’s motto, emblazoned on its flag is Sic Semper Tyrranis, or “Thus Always to Tyrants”.  New Mexico’s is the rather odd Crescit eundo, or “It grows as it goes”.  Maryland’s state motto is Fatti maschii, parole femine, which, although it can be translated differently, means roughly “Manly deeds, womanly words”.  So, while there’s quite a range, a motto is really just a statement of purpose, an easy to remember reminder of why you are doing what you’re doing.  It helps to keep you focused on your goals when the going gets tough.  So, do you have a motto for your academic journey at the Universities at Shady Grove

My academic journey to USG was a long and winding one.  My original dreams were interrupted many years ago by the collapse of the Soviet Union, which then took me on a pleasant detour with a nice career and wonderful family – I even appeared on Jeopardy!  (that’s me on the left).  But, I always wanted to learn more and was a voracious reader.  Then, a few years ago I decided to see if I could learn how to write code and I started with a Coursera Course called “Web Design for Everybody” with the wonderful professor Colleen Van Lendt.  I loved that class, and it led to another class and another, and then another, until I was ¾ of the way through a Coursera specialization in Data Science from the University of Michigan.  By that point I had learned the Python programming language and told my wife: “You know what?  I really like this.  I think I might like to study this formally.”  And so, with her encouragement, I began to look at different graduate programs, but I was nervous about taking this step so late in my life.

And then, serendipitously, I heard a radio commercial for graduate degrees in Data Science from UMBC at their Shady Grove campus.  UMBC?  My alma mater?  I love UMBC!  At Shady Grove?  Wow, that’s not too far from me!  I think this just might work!  And it did work out.  I’ll finish my MPS in Data Science this Spring.

So, that leads me to my first motto from the state of California: Eureka!, I have found it!  As you take your classes at USG, have you found “it” yet?  Whether you’re here as an undergraduate or a graduate student, what is it that excites you?  What subject makes others groan, but makes you want to dig in and learn more?  Whatever that is, whatever it is that sparks your interest, that is your unique Eureka! 

Once you have that Eureka moment, then you move to my favorite motto of all, the motto from the great state of New York: Excelsior!, Onward and upward!  I like the motto so much that my oldest daughter gave me a keychain with Excelsior! engraved on it; it is one of my most prized possessions and a constant reminder not to settle, but to keep moving forward.

Never ever be afraid to succeed.  Once you have found the thing that you love, pursue it with all your heart.  Drive onward and upward and achieve things that you might never have thought possible before.  Don’t let your past performance (before your Eureka! moment) weigh you down either.  After all, it’s not how you start that counts, it’s how you finish!  So, pursue your passion and take advantage of the resources that are available to you at USG.  Even though we’re temporarily shut down due to COVID, this is still a thriving academic community.  We still have all sorts of resources available to you, you just access them from home instead of on campus.

No matter which of the nine institutions you’re enrolled in, even if we are all socially distant for a little while longer, you are a valued part of the USG family, and USG is an important part of your success story.  Have you found your academic spark yet?  Keep looking for your Eureka! and then, Excelsior!

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A message to the USG community from Dr. Anne Khademian as we begin the spring semester

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:

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

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A message from USG’s Executive Director, Dr. Anne Khademian in response to Jan. 6 events at Capitol

Dear Colleagues and Students in the USG Community:

I am sure that many of you were deeply saddened and impacted by the events that took place in our nation’s capital yesterday and I wanted to share some of my own thoughts with you via this short video. If you have a few minutes, I invite you to watch it below. As always, I hope this finds you well and I thank you all for making the Universities at Shady Grove such a wonderfully inclusive and supportive community.

Anne Khademian, Ph.D.
Executive Director, USG, & Associate Vice Chancellor, University System of Maryland

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