Dr. Valerie Sheares Ashby formally inaugurated as UMBC’s first female president
By Tashi McQueen, AFRO Political Writer, email@example.com In a joyous celebration, Dr. Valerie Sheares Ashby, the first woman to lead the University of Maryland Baltimore County (UMBC), was formally inaugurated. […] The post Dr. Valerie Sheares Ashby formally inaugurated as UMBC’s first female president appeared first on AFRO American Newspapers .
By Tashi McQueen,
AFRO Political Writer,
In a joyous celebration, Dr. Valerie Sheares Ashby, the first woman to lead the University of Maryland Baltimore County (UMBC), was formally inaugurated.
“I am truly grateful to be a part of this beloved community,” said Sheares Ashby, during her inauguration on April 27. “Thank you for the honor and joy of serving as your president.”
According to UMBC’s website, Sheares Ashby is the sixth president of the University and only the second Black person to lead the institution.
Gov. Wes Moore and several community leaders gathered to support Sheares Ashby at her inauguration.
“You were built for this position,” said Moore to Sheares Ashby during the ceremony.
“Dr. Ashby understands that we have a specific duty to ensure and encourage our young people to pursue their dreams regardless of race, religion, family income or zip code,” he continued.
Henry T. Frierson, a retired educator, spoke about Sheares Ashby being like family and how he’s proud of her success.
“There are those in leadership positions and those who are leaders,” said Frierson, during the ceremony. “She is a leader. UMBC has selected well.”
Sheares Ashby started her presidency on Aug. 1, 2022, according to her UMBC biography. Dinah Winnick, communications director of the University, explained that college presidents usually work six to 12 months in the position before holding a formal ceremony.
“It helps them get acquainted with the environment,” she said.
Sheares Ashby sees diversity and inclusion as a foundation of her work through the years and deemed UMBC a great compliment to her ambitions.
At the ceremony, Sheares Ashby acknowledged how former president of UMBC, Freeman A. Hrabowski, Ph.D., has been in her corner as a longtime supporter.
“I met him
] for the first time ten years ago,” she said. “I was sitting in his office and 30 minutes into the conversation he looked at me and said ‘you’re going to be a president one day.’ When I sat at that same table with him ten years later, I saw the look on his face, the face of a proud father. That was special.”
“It is pure joy and a privilege for me to serve UMBC and to work each day to carry on his extraordinary legacy,” she continued.
Students spoke during the ceremony about their experiences with Sheares Ashby thus far and her mission to bring inclusion and diversity to the University.
“When she talks about all students, she means grad students as well,” said Ethan Post, president of the UMBC Graduate Student Association. “Not only does this make us feel supported, it makes us feel heard because it shows that she’s in touch with exactly what we’ve been looking for in terms of support and community engagement.”
UMBC’s Student Government President, Shubhi Saxena, echoed this sentiment.
“To lead is to listen and in her time here already, Dr. Sheares Ashby has made her students feel heard,” said Saxena.“As long as she is here listening, UMBC students will leave her office and UMBC grown, empowered and successful in our endeavors.”
Sheares Ashby revealed to her family and attendees that she has created the James and Shirley Sheares Scholarship Endowment at UMBC on behalf of her parents.
“This will be a need-based scholarship for undergraduate and graduate students across the disciplines,” said Sheares Ashby.
During her address, Sheares Ashby spoke about how important diversity and inclusion are to her.
“Only 20 percent of undergraduate computer science degrees in the U.S. go to women,” said Sheares Ashby. “When poverty and wealth disparities are more evident every day, fewer than 12 percent of PhDs in economics are awarded to underrepresented minorities. Whose ideas are not being heard, and what talent is untapped and unutilized?”
Looking forward to her future with UMBC, Sheares Ashby said, “Our challenge is to ensure that our graduate students, faculty, and staff across each one of our disciplines represent the communities that we serve locally and globally.”
She plans to ensure the institution deepens collaborations with residents of Baltimore, alums and government officials to further civic engagement and help create flourishing communities across Baltimore and Maryland.
Tashi McQueen is a Report for America Corps Member.
The post Dr. Valerie Sheares Ashby formally inaugurated as UMBC’s first female president appeared first on AFRO American Newspapers .