A quarter of a century after arriving at College Park in pursuit of an ambitious agenda as an assistant professor in aerospace engineering, Dr. Darryll J. Pines finds himself the University of Maryland’s 34th president who is now in pursuit of ambitious goals that include recruiting and retaining more faculty members of color.

“What the university does matters,” said Pines in an address as he accepted the helm of Maryland’s flagship institution that has more than 30,000 students. He is the second Black to rise to the top of the university.

Born in Oakland, Calif., in 1964, Pines received a B.S. degree in mechanical engineering from the University of California, Berkeley and advanced degrees, including a Ph.D. from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

Pines talked about how his parents pushed him, his twin brother and their sister to succeed in their very competitive home and they became successful. Now his children are successful. His son plays for D.C. United and his daughter is completing a doctorate in physical therapy. She introduced him with a big hug.

In 2006, Pines became chair of U.Md.’s Department of Aerospace Engineering, where under his leadership, the department was ranked eighth overall among United States universities.

Three years later, he was named dean of the A. James Clark School of Engineering and the Nariman Farvardin Professor of Engineering.

While Pines’ research focused on structural dynamics, smart sensors and biologically inspired structures, he made it clear during his address that he is concerned about humanity and current events.

The complexion of the system is a key issue for Pines whose agenda includes meeting major demands that surfaced in meetings with African American faculty and staff for hiring and retaining more faculty and recruiting more students from Prince George’s county.

According to the April 7 edition of the Diamondback, the campus newspaper, Pines organized a task force of student leaders to come up with a list of issues that the students wanted to address.

The demands — referred to as “critical issues” on the university’s website — included improving campus policing, enhancing mental health services for Black students and reinforcing the university’s relationship with Prince George’s County.

During his address Thursday, Pines said he planned to pour $40 million into the diversity efforts and then he offered a formula. “Diversity + Excellence = Success and Innovation.”

“I am proud to announce an investment of $40 million into a new initiative to recruit and retain tenured and tenure-track faculty from underrepresented backgrounds to our campus, ” Pines said. “The Faculty Advancement at Maryland for Inclusive Learning and Excellence (FAMILE) Initiative will attract over 100 tenure and tenure-track faculty to our institution, and ensure that our students will interact and learn from scholars that not only look like them, but reflect our values and ensure our success for decades into the future.”

Hamil R. Harris

Hamil Harris is an award-winning journalist who worked at the Washington Post from 1992 to 2016. During his tenure he wrote hundreds of stories about the people, government and faith communities in the...

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