UMD’s next president outlines plan for transition team of students and staff

Darryll Pines, the next president of the University of Maryland, speaks at a press conference at The Hotel in College Park on Feb. 14, 2020. Pines will assume his new position in July. (Eric Harkleroad/The Diamondback)

The University of Maryland’s incoming president hopes to create a transition team of students, staff and faculty to facilitate feedback as he moves into his new role, he said at a press conference Friday.

Darryll Pines, the engineering school’s dean, will take over in July as current President Wallace Loh’s successor, the University System of Maryland announced Wednesday. The presidential search committee received 99 applications or nominations, and Pines was the unanimous choice among four final candidates, committee chair Gary Attman said in a video message at the press conference.

“Dr. Pines brings to this position a wealth of experience,” Board of Regents Chair Linda Gooden said at the press conference, held at The Hotel at the University of Maryland. “After 20 years of leadership at UMD, Dr. Pines understands the people, the structure and the values of the university in a profound way.”

On Thursday, Pines told The Diamondback he hoped to model a strategy of engaging students based on the engineering student council he worked with as dean. The transition team Pines envisions, he said, would garner feedback from the campus community through listening sessions and digital platforms.

[Read more: “An open door policy”: How Darryll Pines plans to rebuild trust as UMD’s next president]

“If the community has big ideas, we want to hear them,” Pines said Friday. “And then what we’ll do, we’ll collect all the information, and then we’ll have another open forum that will prioritize what we think the action items should be.”

Pines emphasized a commitment to diversifying the university by building partnerships with local high schools — similar to what he did in the engineering school, he said. In his time as the school’s dean, the number of women undergraduates in the school increased from 18 to 26.5 percent, and the number of minority students jumped from 9.5 to 16 percent.

Gooden, Attman, USM Chancellor Jay Perman and presidential search committee vice chair Gregory Ball all commended Pines on his leadership in the engineering school.

“As we initiated the search process, it became apparent to me how broadly he’s respected by the university community,” said Ball, dean of the university’s behavioral and social sciences college. “Clearly, Darryll had a broad impact on this campus.”

When asked if he thought he would one day be president when he first joined the faculty as an assistant professor, Pines laughed.

“I was just trying to get tenure,” he joked. “No way in 1995 did I think that I was going to be standing here.”

Pines reiterated his commitment to continuing Loh’s work with the city of College Park, and applauded the retiring president on the heavy, “Big Ten-big” decisions he made in his time here. He thanked, too, former university President Dan Mote, whom he referred to as a “mentor.”

Mote taught mechanical engineering at the University of California, Berkeley — where Pines received his undergraduate degree in the subject. Emotional, Pines paused to compose himself.

“You met me as an 18-year old freshman,” he said. “And little did we know our paths would cross and we would end up here.”

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