Direct precursor of today's University of Maryland, the Maryland Agricultural College is founded to educate the sons of Maryland’s gentlemen farmers.
Charles B. Calvert, founder of the Maryland Agricultural College, was a pro-slave Unionist. The Maryland Agricultural College—as it was first known—opened in the 1850s with slaves constructing the college’s buildings and working on the farms.
However, Benjamin Hallowell, the University's first president, was an abolitionist who accepted his appointment on the condition that the school not use slave labor on its farms.
During its first decades, the University is largely an agricultural and military school. Students enjoy fraternities, athletics, and social life, and especially popular is Kappa Alpha’s annual "Cotton Picker’s Minstrel Show."
The Maryland Agricultural College quickly attracts students from around the world. Early international students include Pastor A. Cooke of Panama (1871-72), A.P. Menocal of Cuba (1875-76), Min Chow Ho of Korea (1887-88), and Pyon Su of Korea (1887-88) (seen here).
The 1917 Reveille Yearbook records Elizabeth Hook and Charlotte Vaux as the first women to matriculate officially at the University of Maryland in 1916. Miss Hook received a B.S. in entomology in 1920 and Miss Vaux a two-year degree in agriculture in 1918.
Evidence recently uncovered in the files of President Harry Clifton Byrd, identifies an earlier bachelor’s degree recipient, Grace B. Holmes in 1919. Unlike Miss Hook, Miss Holmes did not spend her entire career in residence at the university, and therefore, Miss Hook is usually recognized as the first female to graduate with a four-year degree.
The first female faculty member at the University was Agnes Saunders, is professor of Home Economics and acting Dean of the School of Home economics for the academic year.
1935 - 1954
University of Maryland President Harry Clifton “Curly” Byrd fought perhaps harder than anyone in the state for the funding of black colleges.
Yet at the same time, those efforts were largely seen as Byrd’s way of ensuring that the College Park campus remained segregated—“make the branch campuses adequate and maybe the Negroes could be content.”
He was a segregationist and an integrationist at the same time, a politician trying to please everyone.
By the time Byrd left to run for governor, the university is forced to integrate by repeated legal challenges, but despite the 1954 Brown v. Board of Education ruling, it remains largely devoid of Blacks through the early 1970s. Left in place is a system a 1993 university report would call, “at best neglectful, at worst hostile” toward Blacks.
The first African-American, Hiram Whittle, is admitted to the University of Maryland. The first African-American graduate student, Parren James Mitchell, receives his M.A. in sociology in 1952.
University of Maryland President Wilson H. Elkins took the university’s helm upon the departure of Harry "Curly" Byrd. That put the responsibility to integrate—and simultaneously prop up the university’s academic standing—into his hands.
An experienced educator and Rhodes Scholar, Elkins called black people "Negrahs" in his Southern drawl and was deeply troubled by student "radicalism."(The Diamondback, Feb 22, 2005)
The first African American woman student, Elaine
Johnson, begins her studies at the university.
Jimenez Hall is constructed and named for Juan Ramon Jimenez, faculty member and Spanish poet, winner of the Nobel Prize for Literature.
Campus Unrest: Black Student Union Civil Rights Protest Rally on the steps of the Administration Building. In the 1960s, the black student group on campus is called, the Congress for Racial Equality, and it is seen as too militant and too radical by administrators and has its charter revoked. In May 1968, the group returns in a new avatar, as the Black Student Union.
In 1971, 232 students enrolled in the first 3 Women's Studies courses offered at UM. Now more than 4000 students enroll in the more than 50 undergraduate and 30 graduate courses. Women’s Studies courses challenge students to question traditional knowledge about women and men and to examine differences among women.
The Nyumburu Cultural Center is dedicated to advancing and augmenting the academic and the multicultural missions of the university by presenting a forum for the scholarly exchange and artistic engagement of African Diaspora culture and history. Nyumburu is a Swahili word for “freedom house” coined from “nyumba” (house) and “uhuru” (freedom). The Nyumburu Cultural Center years continues to build on its foundations as the center for Black social, cultural, and intellectual interaction at UMD.
The President’s Commission on Women’s Issues (PCWI) is established. Its primary mission is to be an advocate for the interest of the entire community of women at UMD. This community includes undergraduate and graduate student, faculty, administrators, and both exempt and non-exempt staff. In its advocacy role, the Commission places particular emphasis on the diverse perspectives of women within the community.
The President’s Commission on Ethnic Minority Issues(PCEMI) is established. PCEMI endeavors to ensure that barriers to equal access are identified and addressed, and that ethnic minorities are represented in all aspects of life and study throughout the campus. It serves as an advocate for the ethnic minority community and helps create an environment that is supportive and provides a fair opportunity for the enrollment and graduation of ethnic minority students, and for the employment and upward mobility of ethnic minority faculty and staff.
The first course Philosophy 343, “Homosexuality and Morality” on Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual, and Transgender Issues is offered by Frederick Suppe. “The course provides students with resources to make responsible decisions as to their sexual morality.”
The Disability Support Services is established. Its mission is to coordinate services that ensure individuals with disabilities have equal access to UMD programs. It provides students and staff with disabilities the opportunity to gain the skills necessary to effectively advocate for themselves within the college community.
The Jewish Studies Program encourages research and provides instruction about the rich history and culture of the Jewish people from earliest times to the present day. Dedicated to the highest standards of scholarship, the program offers a wide array of courses in Hebrew Language and Literature, Jewish History, Bible, Rabbinics, Jewish Philosophy, and Yiddish Language and Literature. These courses, offered by a faculty renowned for its scholarly and teaching excellence, form one of the largest undergraduate Jewish Studies programs in North America. Every semester between 500 and 600 students enroll in Jewish Studies courses.
"We do not grow absolutely, chronologically. We grow sometimes in one dimension, and not in another; unevenly. We grow partially. We are relative. We are mature in one realm, childish in another. The past, present, and future mingle and pull us backward, forward, or fix us in the present. We are made up of layers, cells, constellations."
University of Maryland Chancellor John B. Slaughter is the first African-American Chancellor of a major state university. He challenges the campus to become a “model multiracial, multicultural, and multigenerational academic community.” He makes it his personal mission to go to local black high schools and churches to recruit students, to inform them about the expanding types of student aid that were available. The proportion of undergraduate African-Americans rose from 7.6% in 1980 to 10.8% in 1990, one of the highest proportions of any state university in the country.
The President’s Commission on Disability Issues is established. Its main mission is to advise the President on issues to improve the quality of life for students and employees with disabilities. The Commission meets twice each semester and the main functions of the Commission are to enhance campus opportunities and support services for students and employees with disabilities; to strengthen and augment these services where appropriate; and to identify and recommend removal of any remaining impediments to accessibility to campus buildings and facilities.
The Latin American Studies Center (LASC) provides and promotes courses dealing with issues relevant to Latin America and the Caribbean in both English and Spanish. Research is conducted in areas such as culture and democracy, governance and civil society, labor and gender, literature and ethnicity, and migration. The languages of instruction are Spanish, Portuguese and Quechua.
The Women in Engineering (WIE) program is dedicated to the recruitment and retention of women engineering students at the pre-college, undergraduate, and graduate levels.
The Diversity Database is created and modeled after the Women’s Studies Database and was a decisive factor in receiving the Ford Foundation grant in 1996.
University CORE Diversity requirement added. The Pease Report as adopted by the College Park Senate and the Board of Regents includes a requirement that each student complete a human cultural diversity course sometime during their undergraduate program.
Podberesky v Kirwan. (Banneker Scholarship Case). The US Court of Appeals rules that scholarships distributed on the basis of race are unconstitutional, and that the scholarship program “more resembles outright racial balancing than a tailored remedy.” This case launches a series of state decisions on the legality of race-based policies in higher education.
The President’s Commission Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender Issues is established. The Commission is responsible for advising the President and others in the campus administration, on policies and programs of concern to lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender students, faculty, and staff.
The first Asian American Studies course offered. Asian American studies allow the scholar and student to better understand the contributions of Asian Americans throughout American and world history.
Muslim Prayer Room is established.
The Office of Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender Equity is established. Its mission is to provide a wide range of information, education, and support services regarding sexual orientation and gender identity or expression, and work to establish and maintain a safe, inclusive, and welcoming environment for sexual and gender minorities, their families and friends, and the campus community.
The Consortium on Race, Gender, and Ethnicity (CRGE) is an association of academic units and individual faculty whose mission is to promote, advance, and conduct research, scholarship, and faculty development that examines the intersections of race, gender, and ethnicity with other dimensions of difference.
Hate crimes protocol established.
“Good works are links that form a chain of love.”
The Baltimore Incentive Awards Program was established in 2000. The program recognizes and rewards young people who want to better their opportunities through a college education. It is specifically targeted toward students who demonstrate uncommon persistence, academic ability, and maturity despite adverse life situations.
The David C. Driskell Center at the University of Maryland celebrates the legacy of David C. Driskell -- Distinguished University Professor Emeritus of Art, Artist, Art Historian, Collector, and Curator -- both by preserving the rich heritage of African American visual art and culture, and by fostering the development of future artists and scholars of color. The Center provides an intellectual home for scholars, museum professionals, art administrators, and artists broadening the field of African diasporic studies. By bringing together the visual arts and the field of diasporic studies in fluid and dynamic ways, the Center offers creative and curricular programming to the University and the greater Maryland and Washington, D.C. communities while serving as a national leader in the field of African American art and culture.
The Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender Studies Certificate Program is approved by the Maryland Higher Education Commission and endorsed by the University's Board of Regents in Spring 2002. The task of LGBT Studies is to highlight sexuality and sexual identities as aspects of the diversity of the University community, and to promote research and scholarship in this discipline.
“Prejudice is a burden that confuses the past, threatens the future and renders the present inaccessible.”
The Center for Persian Studies (CPS) opens in its new facilities in November with the eminent Iranian literary and cultural scholar, Professor Ahmad Karimi-Hakkak, as its founding Director. Spring, 2005, will see two more: a Center for Research on SLA and Cognition (CERESLAC), and a Center for Research on Less Commonly Taught Languages (CRLTCL).