By Lleyton Beinhaker
For The Diamondback
The Science, Discovery and the Universe Scholars Program at the University of Maryland is closing at the end of this academic year after 25 years of operation.
One of 12 scholars programs that are available to students on campus through College Park Scholars, an undergraduate living-learning program, Science, Discovery and the Universe was created in the mid-1990s by Lucy McFadden, a then-faculty member in the astronomy department. Since then, the program has allowed students to become involved in the observatory on campus, take field trips and more.
“What [Science, Discovery and the Universe] allowed me to do was to kind of go back to that less intense [environment and] focus more on creativity, exploration and asking questions aspects of science that I really enjoyed when I was younger,” said Thomas Canary, a graduate student at this university studying marketing analytics who is also an alum of the Scholars program.
The program saw declining resources and personnel after former program director Alan Peel announced in May 2022 that he was stepping down after 15 years of leadership.
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“Alan Peel was a wonderful Scholars program director… He was incredibly dedicated to his students,” said Marilee Lindemann, Scholars’ executive director. “When it came time for him to move on to other things, we were sort of at a loss because astronomy didn’t really have someone lined up to [fill his place]. That meant we had to sort of reassess and ultimately make the difficult decision to sunset the program.”
After Peel announced he was stepping down, the program did not admit a freshman class for the 2022-23 academic year.
Opportunities that were available to students through Science, Discovery and the Universe will still exist outside the program, according to Elizabeth Warner, the principal faculty specialist in this university’s astronomy department. The department is open to students from other programs coming to the campus observatory to do their capstone projects, Warner said.
Faculty haven’t publicly announced what program will replace Science, Discovery and the Universe after its closure.
But according to Andrew Harris, the astronomy department’s chair, the replacement program will be a “very valuable program for everybody.”
Lindemann said Scholars is on track to launch the new program by fall 2024.
“The campus will have something I think is very exciting that… will serve today’s students in a very powerful way,” Lindemann said.