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Maryland school now ranked among most elite research universities

UMBC is the country's top producer of Black engineers and scientists

BALTIMORE COUNTY, Md. — The University of Maryland Baltimore County has joined the most elite research institutions in the country, earning "Research One Status."  The national recognition is given to universities for their high rate of doctoral degrees and research dollars. 

UMBC is widely known for producing Black engineers and scientists, including Dr. Kizzmekia Corbett, whose team at the National Institutes of Health conducted research that was key to developing COVID vaccines. According to a university spokesperson, UMBC secured more than $200 million in research grants last year alone. 

But the school’s success story is 30 years in the making. 

“You come to UMBC to learn how to learn with intensity and with passion,” said University President Dr. Freeman Hrabowski. “I am thrilled, and this accomplishment is the result of the work of a lot of people I say in our most recent book, it’s not about me it’s about us.”

Hrabowski is set to retire on June 30, after serving as the school's president for 30 years. His vision helped transform this once small school into a sought-after university. Its Meyerhoff Scholars Program mentors and produces the most Black engineers and scientists in the country. 

“It gives me a lot of confidence that when I go out in the world, I go forth looking for opportunities for research I’m well prepared,” senior Evan Carlyle, a Meyerhoff scholar, said. 

Joy Thames, a fourth-year graduate student, said her work in the anti-viral lab is meaningful, especially during the pandemic.  

“That’s something that I wanted in getting my Ph.D.,” she said. "I was actually doing work that I felt was actually going to make a difference somewhere.”

Hrabowski believes that the investment in humanities and social sciences has helped elevate the school to this national stage. But its spotlight remains on its origin story: a middle-class institution founded in 1966 on the virtual of grit and greatness.

“We’re the only campus founded in such a time that students of all races can come here and that’s been a driving force,” he said. "Inclusive and excellence is the name of the game.”

There are only 146 “R1 Institutions” nationwide and three are in Maryland: Johns Hopkins, University of Maryland - College Park and now UMBC.

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