by David Hoffman and Craig Berger
UMBC turns 50 next Monday, and will mark the occasion starting this weekend with a celebration beyond anything our campus has ever seen. (We'll be there, and you should be too!).
In anticipation of the big event, let's talk about the birthday gifts we'd like to give UMBC to celebrate the end of its first half-century and the dawn of its next (#BDayGifts4UMBC).
Here's what we'd choose
- Historical markers telling the amazing stories behind familiar features of campus life. How did the free hour come into being, and who had the idea for a campus pond? What role did students play in transforming The Commons' Student Organizations Space from a storage room into a social hub? What stately brick building once stood in the shadow of the mighty oak behind the Stadium Lot? (OK, there already is a marker for that one, but we bet you haven't noticed it).
- A presidential debate at the new Events Center during the 2020 election cycle. (If this event lives up to its potential, how could they refuse?).
- Free drinks at Starbucks any time a faculty member and student show up together; or an undergraduate with a graduate student; or staff members from departments in different divisions. Let's make it even easier to build connections that cross the usual lines.
- Endowed chairs and professorships to support research on civic agency and imaginative approaches to social change. We care about those things a lot, and they're a UMBC specialty. Let's make it easier to learn from what we're all doing and share it with the world.
- A Creativity Center for student organizations, fully staffed and stocked with supplies and equipment for all kinds of projects, with ample storage space for everything from kinetic sculptures to rockets and more.
- A student-run coffee house designed and conceptualized with interdisciplinarity in mind. Environmental Science majors and Sustainability Interns could contribute to the design of environmentally sustainable business practices. Engineering majors could assist with the design of the physical space. Students minoring in Entrepreneurship could facilitate the development of a community-minded business plan. The space would serve as an informal hub for student organization brainstorming and collaboration, an intimate performance venue (perhaps booked by the Student Events Board), and a monument to the idea that UMBC students from various backgrounds can join together and design a gift that keeps on giving.
- An emergency fund that could be tapped whenever a student experiences unexpected hardships that threaten their ability to continue their education at UMBC. Students would work with alumni to drive fundraising for the scholarship.
How about you? What's on your sky's-the-limit birthday gift list for UMBC?
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