The University of Maryland’s women’s studies department will now be named after Harriet Tubman, university President Darryll Pines announced Friday morning.
In a campuswide email, Pines provided updates on what the university is doing to address race and diversity on the campus, at a time when the country is facing a reckoning on the systemic racism that exists in everyday life.
This is the first time that a university academic department will be named after someone honorifically, Pines wrote. The women’s studies department is the only one in the country that offers a Black women’s studies minor.
“Historically, Black women have played a brave and critical role in social justice,” Pines wrote. “Harriet Tubman’s life and her dedication to freedom and equality speaks directly to the department’s mission, now and in the years ahead.”
The university also recently created “The 1856 Project,” which will join the Universities Studying Slavery consortium, which consists of more than 65 colleges worldwide.
“This initiative will help provide a narrative of the University of Maryland’s history that grapples with its past, acknowledges the challenges and achievements of the present, and lays the groundwork for a future rooted in justice and equality,” Pines wrote.
The Division of Student Affairs has hired a new Program Coordinator for Immigrant and Undocumented Student Life, who will officially start at the end of the month, Pines wrote. The person, who is not named, has experience working with undocumented students in higher education, Pines added.
The university had previously said that — as a result of a hiring freeze triggered by the coronavirus pandemic — the position would remain vacant this semester. But in his first day as president, Pines said that a search would be underway “immediately” for the position.
Pines also announced the creation of The University of Maryland Task Force on Community Policing, an initiative he brought up when he began as president in July. The task force will be co-chaired by deans Gregory Ball and Bonnie Thornton Dill, of the colleges of behavioral and social sciences and arts and humanities, respectively. The task force will also include faculty members, local government officials and student leaders.
The group will be tasked with providing recommendations to the university on how to improve public safety on the campus.
Pines concluded his message by stating that the administration will continue to ensure that the university campus is inclusive.
“Our work is not done,” he wrote.