By Sara Salimi
President Wallace Loh delivered his State of the Campus Address Tuesday, Dec. 4, 2018 at the final University Senate meeting of the semester in the Stamp Student Union.
Loh stressed the importance of driving economic development in Maryland through the university system. He expressed the need for the university’s presence in Shady Grove, which would further the school’s vision and strategy to expand opportunities to different locations in the state.
The president also addressed concerns about rising tuition, framing it as an issue that has become widely political. He explained that increased tuition is a new reality that must be accepted.
“It’s because of the under-funding for the state and because the state has many other demands,” Loh said. The university has been working on a budget of $1.5 billion in funds toward financial aid, an effort that has raised $985 million thus far. Loh explained that the university has been addressing student needs in areas where the state has not been able to.
Loh also emphasized the importance of differential tuition, where students pay a specific tuition rate designated for their major, which covers the funds necessary to accommodate resources for that major. He promoted this idea as one that would alleviate the burden of increased tuition levels as a standard amount for every student.
The president ended his address on an athletic note, referencing sports as the school’s “front porch.” Loh explained his decision to retire as one related to integrity, adding that “I publicly stated that I take full legal and moral responsibility for the mistakes that our trainers made.” He said the university is taking new steps to strengthen its response to student grievances.
A new team of advisors, Loh said, will be working to change what has recently been called a “toxic culture” at UMD by addressing students’ concerns with a more practical approach. “I believe we can have a program that puts the well-being and health of students first and foremost,” Loh said.
While the president’s address covered a wide range of recent concerns, two students were not yet convinced that solutions are underway. Olivia Delaplaine, a senior government major at the event, said the president’s focus has been on financial and economic gain. “I’m skeptical of the claims he’s making and want to make sure that student and faculty voices are being considered just as much as economic factors,” she said.
Sindhu Muppala, a senior finance major, said she appreciated that Loh addressed the issues on the student body’s mind. “A lot of people know how much Loh did for the school, and I’m glad he had allegiance to the school and allegiance to the students,” she said.
Featured Photo Credit: Photo courtesy of Sara Salimi/Bloc Reporter.
Sara Salimi is a senior multiplatform journalism major and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.