More than nine months after his presidency officially began, University of Maryland President Darryll Pines was officially inaugurated Thursday.
In a 40-minute speech at his inauguration ceremony, Pines focused on his vision for the university. He shared the university’s next plans — five new actions on topics such as diversity and inclusion, the environment and the arts.
“These five bold actions will help validate who we are, what we stand for and where we are headed,” Pines said.
The university will become a carbon-neutral campus by Earth Day in 2025 — accelerating its previous goal of achieving carbon neutrality by 2050, Pines announced Thursday.
Students have advocated for the university to accelerate its goals. In February, they rallied for a state bill that would have mandated all Maryland public universities to achieve carbon neutrality by 2035. The bill did not make it past its initial hearing in either chamber of the state legislature.
In addition, the university’s entire fleet of vehicles will be electric by 2035, Pines said.
“It is my hope that these measures will help inspire every one of us to commit to the reduction of global greenhouse gas emissions, for our planet and for our people,” Pines said.
Pines also announced that the university would be investing $40 million “to recruit and retain tenured and tenure-track faculty from underrepresented backgrounds.” The initiative will attract over 100 faculty to the institution.
This investment comes on the heels of a series of demands from Black student leaders to push for change at the university. The first of the 25 demands from undergraduate students called for increasing “the number of Black faculty, staff, teaching assistants, administrators, and advisors at the university.”
“We want our student body to be taught by the highest quality faculty who reflect our values and advance our journey of inclusive excellence,” he said.
Pines also announced that the university will name the Football Performance Center in the Cole Field House after Maryland athletes who broke racial barriers. The university will honor Darryl Hill — the first Black football player at the university and in the Atlantic Coast Conference — and Billy Jones, the first Black basketball player at the university and in the ACC.
“Jones-Hill House will not only cement the legacy of these two trailblazers but will serve as an inspiration to our entire university community,” Pines said.
In December, the university announced that it would name two new dorms — Whittle-Johnson and Pyon-Chen halls — after other students who broke racial barriers.
The university will also be making a $200 million investment to enhance its research and expand activities in the university’s Discovery District. The investment will target topics such as K-12 education, public health and artificial intelligence.
There will also be a focus on quantum science. IonQ, a quantum computing company based in the Discovery District, recently went public with a nearly $2 billion valuation. The company’s president and CEO, Peter Chapman, will be the speaker at this year’s spring commencement ceremonies.
“We have the opportunity to build on our strengths, and become, yes become, the capital of quantum,” Pines said.
Pines also announced a new “Arts for All Initiative” that seeks to ensure the arts are “woven into every fabric of our life” at the university. The university will launch an expanded arts festival with the city of College Park. It will also hire new faculty to extend curricula, research and programs that “brings together art, technology and social justice.”
“At a time of great divide, I believe ‘Arts for All’ can help us forge deeper connections with one another to usher in a new era of mutual respect and understanding,” he said.
Before Pines’ speech, several state leaders congratulated Pines, including Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan, Speaker of the Maryland House of Delegates Adrienne Jones and House of Representatives Majority Leader Steny Hoyer. Four former university leaders, including Pines’ predecessor Wallace Loh, also delivered remarks.
Pines assumed the presidency amid what he calls “two pandemics” — the coronavirus pandemic and systemic racism. During his speech, he also highlighted the problems posed by climate change and poverty.
“These are daunting times, and we face seemingly insurmountable challenges. But we are also presented with an opportunity,” he said. “This is our time to reinvent the university.”
The inauguration for a new university president is often held in October, Pines told The Diamondback Monday. But this year, the university wanted to hold the event at a time when at least part of it could be in person.
In early September, the university decided to tentatively push Inauguration Week to April — in part because the week would culminate on Maryland Day. Pines also wanted his official installation to take place on Earth Day, which was on Thursday.
“Working together is the only way to move Maryland forward,” he said at the end of his speech. “When we work together, we’re stronger. When we challenge ourselves to be our best, we make a difference. And when we take on risks we fulfill our promise of greatness.”