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College Park Scholars: #ScholarsAt25 25th anniversary in review

What We Have Accomplished, Together

When College Park Scholars was founded 25 years ago, it was nearly unheard of to have a living–learning community on the campus of a public research university. Today, living–learning programs are an integral part of undergraduate education in the United States. Scholars had a lot to do with that.

The COVID-19 pandemic cut short our plans to commemorate our achievements over these past 25 years. It highlighted, however, the important role that each of you—our students, alumni, faculty and staff, partners, and supporters—plays in making Scholars, Scholars. Thanks to people like you, Scholars’ spirit and sense of community remain as strong as ever—despite the pandemic.

As our year of #ScholarsAt25 draws to a close, I invite you to review all that we have accomplished together, over the past 25 years and each and every day.

—Marilee Lindemann, Executive Director

“To the best of our knowledge, there was nothing like it anywhere in the country [at that time]. The amazing thing is now, you can hardly go to a university anymore where they don’t have a program modeled on what we have.”

—William E. “Brit” Kirwan, chancellor emeritus of the University System of Maryland and then–University of Maryland (UMD) president when College Park Scholars was founded

What Makes Scholars, Scholars?

During the fall semester, an interactive story in UMD’s online newsletter, Maryland Today, spotlighted the noteworthy, and occasionally whimsical, highlights from Scholars’ history. These are the tidbits that show the personality behind the program—such as why there’s a Fish Room in Cumberland Hall (factoid No. 13) and what unusual Internet search term used to pull up a Scholars faculty member’s name (factoid No. 3).

Read the story, then get the lowdown on key developments from Scholars’ 25 years.

“Scholars instilled in me a passion for learning outside of the classroom and for service as a form of learning. I am now a teacher, and I use these concepts in my classroom every year. I try to instill the same love of learning and service in my students by incorporating extracurricular activities throughout the year.”

—Anna Glenn, Life Sciences Scholar alum, UMD ’12

Year of Celebration

An Instagram selfie board was among the celebratory touches Scholars implemented for the 2019–2020 academic year.

Scholars ushered in our 25th anniversary year with the traditional fall experiences for first-year students: Playfair, Service Day, Convocation and Block Party. This year, those traditions boasted special #ScholarsAt25 touches—from the t-shirts on Service Day to the Instagram selfie board at the Block Party (above). Here are some of the other ways in which Scholars celebrated our 25th during 2019–2020:

The Scholars anniversary dinner on Oct. 18, 2019, gathered (l–r) Nancy Shapiro, associate vice chancellor for education and outreach, University System of Maryland, and founding executive director; Marilee Lindemann, current executive director; William E. "Brit" Kirwan, chancellor emeritus of the University System of Maryland, and then–UMD president; and Greig Stewart, Scholars’ third executive director. (Not pictured: Scholars’ second executive director, Kathy McAdams.)

Celebratory dinner. Scholars held a full-blown gala for our 20th anniversary. For our 25th, we opted for an intimate celebratory dinner with our founders and biggest supporters. The occasion incorporated quintessential Scholars elements, such as a design-thinking exercise and a mini–light show, part of our annual Convocation.

It also allowed nearly all of Scholars’ executive directors, past and present, to gather for a commemorative photo (above) with William E. “Brit” Kirwan, chancellor emeritus of the University System of Maryland and then–University of Maryland president. It was under Kirwan's helm that Scholars was founded, in partnership with the late Ira Berlin, who was then dean for Undergraduate Studies.

Scholars students enjoy Scholars Choocolloquium ice cream on Oct. 25, 2019, scooped for them by Scholars' Central staff.

Scholars ice cream. It’s not a party without ice cream! Scholars found a sweet way to celebrate our 25th, collaborating with the UMD Dairy to create our very own ice cream flavor. Our students and alums joined in on the fun, voting to decide the winning flavor. (Yes, ballot stuffing was allowed.)

The winner? Scholars Chocolloquium, named for our famous colloquium discussion classes. The double chocolate ice cream with Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups, Oreos and a marshmallow swirl was a hit at our tasting events.

Among the free merch given away during 2019–2020: #ScholarsAt25 buttons in traditional UMD colors, as well as 1990s grunge and neon variations.

#ScholarsAt25 merch. The specially created #ScholarsAt25 merchandise offered a low-key way to celebrate our anniversary. These giveaways to students came in the form of laptop stickers, buttons and pop sockets. We had hoped to hand out merch to our alumni as well, during Maryland Day—until the pandemic abruptly canceled those plans.

Scholars' Central staff find an appropriate sign under which to pose after a morning of service in January 2020 at Community Forklift, in Hyattsville, Md.

Pop-up service. Service is a quintessential part of the Scholars experience, so we partnered with the Baltimore Terps Alumni Network on an alumni-oriented pop-up service day in December. In January, the Scholars Central staff participated in its own pop-up service day as a team-building exercise and to welcome its new assistant director for admissions, recruitment and persistence, Moya Malcolm.

I always feel like Scholars has my back.

—Anonymous student evaluation from sophomore Science and Global Change Scholar, May 2020

Moving at the Speed of Democracy

Given Scholars’ emphasis on community and service, it made perfect sense that our marquee #ScholarsAt25 event was a discussion on public leadership and civic engagement with Maryland Congressman Jamie Raskin. Raskin, who represents Maryland’s 8th district (and a number of Scholars students), spoke with Public Leadership Scholars Director Susannah Washburn about his turn from professor of law to maker of laws, the state of democracy today and the importance of remaining engaged. The event, which took place Feb. 24, 2020, drew nearly 300 very engaged students and Scholars alums.

To make the evening even more memorable, UMD President Wallace Loh (at left in the photo) started the evening with thoughtful remarks recognizing Scholars’ 25th anniversary. Rep. Raskin subsequently gave Scholars a Congressional citation commemorating our 25 years of academic excellence.

Love For, and From, Our Alumni

Scholars’ success over the years has a lot to do with our alumni: After making their mark on campus as undergrads, many continue to show enthusiasm and support for this program. Consider, for example, these great #TBT photos submitted by our alums to help us celebrate our anniversary! A number of alumni also submitted stories about their lives then and now, including the founder of Scholars’ Peer Mentors program, a Disney Animal Kingdom zookeeper who was in the first class of Scholars, and a Scholars couple with differing memories of their formative Scholars experiences. Stay tuned for more profiles in the coming year. (Thanks to the following Scholars alumni for their photo contributions: Kathryn Juliano, Libby Allen, Kristin Wolfe, Lauren Pearce, Melissa Wikoff, Samantha Fowler (2), Abbie Greer, Sean Murphy, Carm Saimbre, Charlie Feldman, Lauren Shaw, Avi Mangar, Lindsey Winter, Ellen Foody, Jeff and Corey Brewer, Anna Glenn.)

New Scholarships

Thanks to the generosity of two families, College Park Scholars was able to award two brand-new scholarships this year—the first new scholarships to be created in Scholars in five years. Freshman Media, Self and Society Scholar Amanda Hernández (in left photo) received the inaugural Kenneth A. Joseph Memorial Endowed Scholarship, established in memory of former Media Scholars Associate Director Ken Joseph. Sophomore Ryan Gerbes (right), a sophomore in the Science, Technology and Society Scholars program, was awarded the first Randall G. and Susan Woodfield Hoffman Endowed Scholarship. These Joseph and Hoffman Scholarships will help support the education of deserving Scholars students for years to come.

“I left my previous career to return to school and have found myself now referring to the coursework we covered [in Scholars]. The program really taught me how to critically assess all manners of policies and theories, and view them from diverse perspectives.”

—Lauren Michelle Pearce, International Studies Scholar alum, UMD ’14

Making the Most of an Odd New Experience

Like you, we had big plans for this spring. We were going to hand out scoops of Scholars Chocolloquium ice cream to alums on Maryland Day. Work with campus partners to provide another pop-up service opportunity. Hold our annual Academic Showcase—UMD’s largest exhibition of undergraduate student learning each year—to show off sophomore Scholars’ capstone projects.

Then, in mid-March, the campus went remote due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Like their counterparts across UMD, Scholars faculty had to figure out what an online version of their discussion-centered courses might look like—while also maintaining the community for which Scholars is known. Scholars students had to adjust to a new, often-isolating learning environment with changing assignment expectations.

But our faculty, students and staff didn’t simply adjust to new circumstances. Instead, they did what they could to make the most of an odd new experience. They innovated. Rather than resorting strictly to video lectures, Science, Technology and Society Scholars faculty explored new applications such as Padlet and Mural (go to 17:13 in the link) to enhance the student learning experience. They created. Arts Scholars students adapted to the constraints of an online sphere and made stunning works of original art for a first-ever virtual Arts Fest. They led. In lieu of an in-person, Scholars-wide Academic Showcase, several Scholars programs created their own virtual Showcases. Global Public Health Scholars was the first out of the gate with a beautifully organized site that even prompted another Scholars programs to do their own virtual Showcase!

These efforts ensured that students could learn, share and broaden their horizons. In short, they demonstrated just what makes Scholars, Scholars.

View all the showcases of student learning: Environment, Technology and Economy | Global Public Health | Justice and Legal Thought | Media, Self and Society | Science, Discovery and the Universe | Science and Global Change

The Academic Showcase actually worked extremely well for how little time and resources they had to put the whole thing together. Overall, I was very impressed [with the program's transition to the pandemic].

—Anonymous student evaluation from sophomore Science, Discovery and the Universe Scholar, May 2020

My Scholars program in particular did a great job with the transition to online learning. In fact, I'd say they did better than most of my classes in effectively and consistently communicating with students.

—Anonymous student evaluation from sophomore Arts Scholar, May 2020

Scholars' Impact, By the Numbers

“Scholars transformed undergraduate education in the state. At the University of Maryland, if you look historically at enrollments and the competitiveness of students who applied, College Park Scholars was the turning point.”

—Nancy Shapiro, associate vice chancellor for education and outreach, University System of Maryland, and founding executive director of College Park Scholars

Congratulations, Class of 2020!

Our celebration of #ScholarsAt25 concludes just as the latest class of Scholars alumni have graduated from UMD. As this sampling of photos show, these students made the most of their time on campus. Congratulations to all of the Scholars alums who graduated this month! (Thanks to all who shared their photos with us!)