By Courtney Ferguson
Baltimore Watchdog Staff Writer
In her annual address today, Towson University President Kim Schatzel acknowledged the hardships brought from the coronavirus pandemic while highlighting the school’s progress and accolades over the past year.
During her address, Schatzel reaffirmed her commitment to fostering a community that values diversity and inclusion. As a university, she said, many steps have been taken to move those efforts forward.
To start, Schatzel said Towson became the first institution in the University System of Maryland to observe Juneteenth as a university holiday. She said the holiday – which commemorates the end of slavery in the United States – allowed students, faculty and staff to reflect on the progress made and the work that is continuing to be done.
In addition, the university has worked on a strategic plan for diversity and inclusion, Schatzel said. Planned to be released in early 2021, the plan is designed to put Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion at the core of the institution.
Schatzel also praised the faculty for its commitment to the academic excellence. Four faculty members received USM Regent Awards for their work, she said.
The president also noted that Towson University received its largest gift from alumni in the 154-year history of the institution. Dr. Fran Soistman, of the class of ’79, donated over $5 million to the university, Schatzel said. The gift will be put toward the strategic plan for diversity and inclusion as well as the construction of the new building for the College of Health Professions, she said.
Cultivating the culture of philanthropy at Towson has been a never-ending process, Schatzel said. As a result, she said, the gift from Soistman and many others helped the university surpass its 2020 goal of raising over $12 million.
Over $180,000 was raised from TU’s Annual Big Give. The money received was put towards the Student Emergency and Food Insecurity Fund to help make a difference in the lives of students during these challenging times, she said.
“Towson University is recognized as a preeminent university and national leader in serving the public good,” Schatzel said. “TU anchors the region and the state through our expertise and research as well as our investment in programs, partnerships, public spaces, and buildings that extend our reach.”
From the partnerships fostered through the BTU, to the collaboration with the region’s business community, Towson continues to contribute to the area, Schatzel said.
Together with the region’s business community, Schatzel said, Towson hopes to connect businesses together with the StarTUp at The Armory.
Placed at the heart of downtown Towson, StarTUp will connect entrepreneurs and executives to one another as well as TU’s programs and people in the upcoming year.
“Transforming lives doesn’t stop at the boundaries of our campus,” Schatzel said. “Community engagement is truly a part of our DNA.”
The president outlined the major developments on Towson’s campus. As of right now, she said, $1.7 billion in public and private investment is being put to use to create new opportunities and experiences for Towson students and the greater community.
The University Union, originally built in the 1970s, is under renovation and is set to open in 2021. Glen Dining Hall was reopened and is now used as study space. Finally, Schatzel said the new science complex is due to open in February.
From new laboratories to collaborative student spaces and an outdoor classroom, she said, this new space is projected to create new opportunities for the TU community.
“This year has brought about many challenges,” Schatzel said. “But it has proven the resolve, resilience and compassion of our university community, ensuring that TU continues to fulfill and extend its leadership as a leading national university dedicated to supporting the public good.”
The full address and a transcription can be found here.