University of Maryland, Baltimore County
|University of Maryland,
|Motto||An Honors University in Maryland|
|President||Freeman Hrabowski III|
|Location||Baltimore, Maryland, United States
|Campus||Suburban, 500 acres (2 km²)|
|Colors||Black, Gold, Red, White
|Athletics||The UMBC Retrievers,
19 varsity teams,
NCAA Division I
|Affiliations||America East Conference
Southeastern Universities Research Association
University System of Maryland
The University of Maryland, Baltimore County (often referred to as UMBC) is an American public research university, located in Baltimore County, Maryland, United States, mostly in the community of Catonsville, approximately 10 minutes from downtown Baltimore City and 30 minutes from Washington, D.C. With a fall 2014 enrollment of about 14,000 students, over 50 undergraduate majors, over 60 graduate programs, and the first university research park in Maryland, UMBC has been named the #1 Up-and-Coming University for six years in a row, since 2009, by US News & World Report. In addition, US News & World Report has placed UMBC in the top ten for best undergraduate teaching six years in a row, being placed at #5, the second highest-ranked public university.
Established as a part of the University System of Maryland in 1966, the university specializes in the natural sciences and engineering, while also offering programs in the liberal arts, and social sciences. Athletically, the UMBC Retrievers have 19 NCAA Division I teams that participate in the America East Conference.
- 1 History
- 2 Academics and Research
- 3 Campus
- 4 President
- 5 Financial aid and scholarships
- 6 Rankings
- 7 Partnerships
- 8 Sustainability
- 9 True Grit
- 10 Student Life
- 10.1 LLC (Language Literacy & Culture)
- 10.2 LLC (Living Learning Community)
- 10.3 Student Events Board (seb)
- 10.4 Greek Life
- 11 Residential life
- 12 Chess
- 13 Athletics
- 14 Notable people
- 15 References
- 16 External links
The planning of the University of Maryland, Baltimore County was first discussed in the 1950s due to the post-World War II baby boom, the expansion of higher education under the GI Bill, and the large amount of growth both in population and industry in the Baltimore-Washington Metropolitan Area. At this time, the University of Maryland, College Park was the main higher education source in the region, so talks began of adding a branch campus in the Baltimore area. In 1955, Governor Theodore McKeldin issued "The Needs of Higher Education in Maryland," which recommended the need for university expansion. Three years later, the "Advisory Committee on Higher Education in the State of Maryland" report proposed that the Baltimore branch of the University of Maryland be established as a two-year program, subordinate to the College Park campus. In 1960, the Warfield Commission, appointed by Governor Tawes, issued, "A Plan for Expanding the University of Maryland," which propelled the idea of creating three additional university centers throughout Maryland.
In 1963, the Maryland Legislature approved the development of several new universities throughout Maryland. By the end of that year, 435 acres were purchased from Spring Grove State Hospital, a psychiatric facility in Catonsville, Maryland. The new campus would be efficiently located in Southwestern Baltimore, and would be able to be accessed from Wilkens Avenue, the Baltimore Beltway and Interstate 95. Architectural design and planning of the new campus was completed at the University of Maryland, College Park. In 1965, Albin Owings Kuhn, an accomplished administrator and professor at College Park was named Vice President of Baltimore Campuses, including both UMBC and the founding campus, University of Maryland, Baltimore. The new campus also included Dr. Homer Schamp of the College Park as the first Dean of Faculty, David Lewis as the first full-time faculty member and head of Social Sciences, and John Haskell, Jr as the first Librarian.
The first classes began on September 19, 1966 with 750 students, 3 buildings, and the older wing of the Biological Sciences building, 45 faculty members, 35 support staff and 500 parking spaces. As university enrollment increased drastically over the coming years, the university would also coincide with the turbulent changes in society in the 1960s. While undergoing the Civil rights movement, and the Vietnam War, UMBC would prove to be a new and different atmosphere with open and peaceful minds during campus protests. In 1971, Albin Owings Kuhn resigned his position as UMBC's first chancellor, succeeded by Calvin B. T. Lee. Five years later in 1976, John Dorsey, Administrative Vice President at the University of Maryland, College Park is appointed as UMBC’s third Chancellor.
By 1980, undergraduate enrollment reached 5,800 students. Also in this year, Homecoming and Quadmania were established as cornerstone events that would become UMBC tradition for years to come. During this decade, the University Center and Sherman Hall were opened, as well as Hillside and Terrace Apartments. In addition, University of Maryland, College Park alum Jim Henson funds the establishment of the Imaging Research Center at UMBC. In 1986, Michael Hooker becomes chancellor until 1992 when he moves to president of the University of Massachusetts system. In 1988, a proposed merger of UMBC with the University of Baltimore was considered but was voted down by the University System of Maryland Board of Regents.
In 1990, undergraduate enrollment reached over 10,000 students. In 1991, a merger plan between UMBC and the University of Maryland, Baltimore was approved in the Maryland House of Delegates, but was rejected by the Senate. Throughout the last decade of the twentieth century, the university opened the Engineering and Computer Science Building and Potomac Hall. The current university president, Freeman A. Hrabowski III was appointed in 1992.
The first decade of the twenty-first century featured many university developments as UMBC approached its fortieth anniversary in 2006. Some of these developments included the establishment of the Center for Urban Environmental Research and Education, a new partnership with the NASA Goddard Space Flight Center to develop the Goddard Earth Science and Technology (GEST) Center, as well as numerous expansions to the campus such as the University Commons, the Physics Building, Information Technology & Engineering Building and the Public Policy Building. During this time, UMBC was recognized by the American Society for Biochemistry and Molecular Biology (ASBMB) for being the leading producers of chemistry and biochemistry degrees, and was classified by The Carnegie Foundation as being among the top tier research universities, Doctoral/Research Universities for achieving 50 or more doctoral degrees per year across at least 15 disciplines.
Academics and Research
UMBC offers undergraduate and graduate degree programs in a variety of areas of study. There are 44 majors, 41 minors, 20 certificate and 13 pre-professional program offerings in its undergraduate program. UMBC's Graduate School offers 37 master's degree programs, 24 doctoral degree programs and 21 graduate certificate programs., The university is divided into three colleges, two schools, as well as its graduate school. Alumni students are allowed to readmit to undergraduate programs and only need to satisfy core classes in order to obtain a second bachelor's degree. However not all programs and departments are applicable in readmitting as their course work can require lengthy prerequisites.
- The College of Natural and Mathematical Sciences includes the Departments of Biological Sciences, Chemistry and Biochemistry, Geography and Environmental Systems, Mathematics and Statistics, and Physics. It also home to the new Department of Marine Biotechnology.
- The College of Engineering and Information Technology offers different areas of study in five departments: the Departments of Chemical and Biochemical Engineering, Civil and Environmental Engineering, Computer Science and Electrical Engineering, Information Systems, and Mechanical Engineering.
- The College of Arts, Humanities and Social Sciences houses the most departments in the university and awards more than half of all undergraduate and graduate degrees. Among many others, it includes the departments of Ancient Studies, History, Music, Political Science, Sociology, Media and Communication studies, and Visual Arts. Many of the departments are now housed in the new Performing Arts and Humanities Building. Groundbreaking and a grand opening ceremony for the Performing Arts building was held on September 19, 2012. Another grand opening ceremony will be held to officially open both phases of the building on October 17, 2014.
- The Erickson School of Aging offers undergraduate and graduate level programs that focuses on various aspects of aging studies, including policy and management issues.
- The University of Maryland Graduate School, Baltimore (UMGSB) represents the combined graduate and research programs at UMBC and the University of Maryland, Baltimore (UMB).
- The School of Public Policy includes the public policy programs for the masters and doctorate degrees.
- The University of Maryland School of Social Work links with the University of Maryland, Baltimore (UMB) School of Social work in offering undergraduate and graduate level programs.
UMBC is among the fastest-growing research universities in the country and is classified as a Research University with High Research Activity by the Carnegie Foundation. The University consistently ranks among the top 200 U.S. institutions in research and development expenditures. UMBC's research strengths include environmental sciences, high-performance computation, life sciences, public policy and social sciences.
The University is ranked among the Top 20 US universities in NASA funding. UMBC's NASA-funded centers at NASA Goddard include the Joint Center for Earth Systems Technology (JCET), the Goddard Planetary Heliophysics Institute (GPHI), and the Center for Research and Exploration in Space Science and Technology (CRESST).
Faculty at UMBC have secured 27 National Science Foundation CAREER Awards since 1995. Over the past decade, two UMBC researchers have received the Presidential Early Career Award in Science and Engineering (PECASE)- one from NSF in 2005 and one from NSA in 2014. UMBC also has one of only two Howard Hughes Medical Institute investigators at a public university in Maryland, as well as a DARPA Young Faculty Award winner and NASA's 2012 Distinguished Public Service Medal recipient. UMBC faculty have also received Fulbright and Guggenheim fellowships.
bwtech@UMBC, UMBC's research park, houses three incubators in cybersecurity, life sciences, and clean technology. Additionally, UMBC has 20 campus-wide centers and institutes, including the Center for Urban Environmental Research and Education (CUERE), The Hilltop Institute, the Institute of Marine and Environmental Technology (IMET), the Maryland Institute for Policy Analysis and Research (MIPAR), the Center for Advanced Sensor Technology (CAST), the Center for Art, Design & Visual Culture (CADVC), the Imaging Research Center (IRC) and the UMBC Center for Cybersecurity. 
In 1840, the state of Maryland purchased the land that the university is located on today. At that time, it was known as the Stabler Estate, owned by the prominent Stabler family of Baltimore County. James P. Stabler, the chief engineer and superintendent of the Baltimore and Ohio Railroad was connected to the estate. The Baltimore Trade School, an orphan's home located on present day Giffen Hill, was established in that same year. The school continue to operate and farm the surrounding acreage up until World War II. The state later added the property to Spring Grove State Hospital, who farmed the land until the university's establishment. A few of the original structures were still in use by UMBC for some time, including the Hillcrest Building and a farmhouse. Located off of Walker Avenue, the Hillcrest Building was originally built in 1921 to house patients of Spring Grove State Hospital. The building was historically significant for it was the "first building constructed specifically for the care and treatment of mentally ill prisoners to be built at a state psychiatric hospital anywhere in the United States". In 1965, the structure was used as UMBC's administration building, and later used as the office of residential life and a student union. A common campus urban legend claims that the man that Hannibal Lecter was based on lived in a basement cell of the building. Hillcrest was demolished in 2007 due to toxicity concerns, leaving the farm silo on UMBC Boulevard to be oldest surviving structure on the university's campus.
UMBC's main entrance is approached from Metropolitan Boulevard where there is a UMBC Campus exit that leads to UMBC Boulevard. Soon after the campus exit, UMBC Boulevard intersects Research Park Drive which leads into UMBC's Research & Technology Park. UMBC's campus is also served by Wilkens Avenue, which provides access to the Baltimore Beltway and Rolling Road. Entrances off of Wilkens Avenue include Hilltop Road and Walker Avenue. Hilltop Road leads towards Catonsville's Business District on Frederick Road and Spring Grove Hospital Center. On the other side of the campus, Poplar Avenue gives direct access to Arbutus's Business District on East Drive. The campus core is served by Hilltop Circle, which creates a complete circle encompassing the campus.
Academic Row is known to be the central pedestrian concourse and maintenance vehicle highway in the campus that borders along a series of buildings. Beginning south at Administration Drive, the pathway is covered by mature trees on either side. Academic Row is bordered by the Administration Building, the Retriever Activities Center, Janet and Walter Sondheim Hall, Sherman Hall (Previously named Academic IV), University Center, Math and Psychology Building, Biological Sciences Building, and the Meyerhoff Chemistry Building. At the northern end, the walkway is intersected by Schwartz Breezeway leading to the Commons, the university's student union. Academic Row terminates at the Albin O. Kuhn Library & Gallery, where multiple paths radiate across Erickson Field towards the Commons, the Physics and Public Policy Buildings, West Hills, Hillside, and Terrace Apartments, as well as additional dormitories.
On the southern side of the Commons, a large grassy area known as the Quad is where many student events and activities take place throughout the school year. Another area of student congregation is at UC Plaza in front of the University Center. The University Center houses multiple dining options, the UC Ballroom, as well as additional university event and teaching space.
UMBC's campus is located on 500 acres. It is approximately 10 minutes from Baltimore's Inner Harbor and 30 minutes from Washington, D.C. It is also 45 minutes away from Frederick, Maryland. Baltimore-Washington International Airport is five minutes away, as well as AMTRAK and Baltimore Light Rail stations (BWI Airport and BWI Business District). In addition, the MARC Penn Line serves the UMBC population at Halethorpe Station, which is located approximately two miles away on Southwestern Boulevard in Arbutus, Maryland. The Halethorpe/Satellite bus transit line transports students to and from the train station. UMBC, three miles outside the Baltimore city limits, successfully lobbied the government to use 'Baltimore' as its address. While its suburban campus has minimal interaction with its surroundings, students variously consider it to be located in the towns of Catonsville (by CDP) or Arbutus (whose street grid it borders). The campus is undercut by a series of tunnels.
Research and Technology Park
UMBC Research and Technology Park is a 71 acre development on the campus hosting technology, bioscience and research organizations, many of which are engaged in partnership with the University. The research park, split into two campuses, is the oldest university research park in Maryland. The North Campus focuses primarily on cybersecurity, and includes the Cyber Incubator and a new addition of the CyberHive. The South Campus is a life-science and business incubator, and has graduated over 50 companies through its program. Research Park tenants include the US Geological Survey, US Forestry Service, CardioMed Device Consultants, Audacious Inquiry, Med-IQ, Physician Practice, Inc., Retirement Living TV, Ascentium Corporation, Solvern Innovations, RMF Engineering, Inc., Convergent Technology, Clear Resolution Consulting, Fearless Solutions, Potomac Photonics, and Next Breath.
UMBC has several bus shuttle lines that are available to UMBC's students, faculty, and staff. All but the Wave 'n Ride are free by showing of one's campus identification card. The Wave-n-Ride was historically available to anyone who needs intracampus transport around Hilltop Circle and UMBC Boulevard, but the service is pending decommission.
In August 2014, service has expanded to two new lines connect the campus to Downtown Baltimore. These two lines (Downtown A-B Lines) also connect the campus to the Baltimore Metro Subway byway of Lexington Market Station. The Downtown B Line connects to the Metro as well as MARC Train at Camden Station, and the Baltimore Light Rail byway of Convention Center Station.
The Maryland Transit Administration offers additional service to the University of Maryland Baltimore County community. Bus lines 35, 77, and 95 offer service to the campus.
UMBC maintains a 24-hour police staff of sworn officers, supplemented by non-sworn security officers and student marshals. Unlike the campus police of the University of Maryland, College Park and the University of Maryland, Baltimore, the campus police are not accredited by the Commission on Accreditation for Law Enforcement Agencies. Accreditation is expected by the University System of Maryland mandated 2013 deadline. The UMBC police logs all crime reports and statistics as required by law on the UMBC Police Webpage.
In May 1992, Freeman A. Hrabowski III began his term as president of the University of Maryland, Baltimore County. His administration continues to build a campus that’s first-rate in research and instruction, and that prepares students of all backgrounds for career success. For his influential and charismatic personality, Hrabowski was named by TIME Magazine as one of the "100 Most Influential People in the World" and for his work with UMBC was honored as America's Top 10 College Presidents in 2009. Under his adept leadership, UMBC has been ranked the #1 Up and Coming University in the USA for six consecutive years (2009, 2010, 2011, 2012, 2013, and 2014) by U.S. News and World Report magazine.
Financial aid and scholarships
The Meyerhoff Scholarship Program at UMBC is a program focused on the cultivation of underrepresented minority scholarship and awareness in the math, science, and engineering disciplines. Other scholarship programs include the CWIT Scholars Program, the Humanities Scholars Program, the Dresher Humanities Fellowships, Honors College Fellowships, the Linehan Artist Scholars Program, the Sondheim Public Affairs Scholars Program and the Sherman Teacher Education Scholars Program. The Linehan Artist Scholars Program is a four-year scholarship program for incoming freshmen with a major in the arts, including dance, music, performing arts, visual arts, and theater. The artists learn to work together and collaborate on projects, under the direction of Doug Hamby.
|U.S. News & World Report||149|
|Times||60 (Top 100 Under 50)|
|UMBC U.S. News & World Report rankings|
|High School Counselor||136|
The University is ranked 149th in the latest 2014 U.S. News and World Report rankings of "National Universities" across the United States, and it is ranked 85th nationally among public universities. UMBC ranks fourth among U.S. research universities in the production of IT degrees and certificates, according to U.S. Department of Education data. The data shows UMBC ranking #21 in MS, and #31 in PhD IT degree production.
In 2012, U.S. News and World Report rated UMBC as the 12th most under-performing university, citing a gap between academic reputation and performance in the academic indicators. The Carnegie Foundation classifies UMBC as a research university with high research activity.
UMBC is one of 50 public institutions in the United States recognized by The Princeton Review as a “Best Value College” offering a combination of educational excellence and affordability. For the past 17 years, UMBC has been named one of America’s top 5 “Up-and-Coming” national universities by U.S. News and World Report. In 2014, for the 6th year in a row, UMBC has been named #1 Up-and-Coming national university.
The University of Maryland, Baltimore County has formed a variety of partnerships with other universities and organizations in the Baltimore-Washington metropolitan area as well as international partnerships abroad. The university has formed a variety of centers and institutes that take advantage of the proximity to national agencies and prominent businesses located throughout the area. A major point of collaboration stems out of UMBC's partnership with NASA. The Center for Space Science and Technology, Goddard Earth Sciences and Technology Center, and the Joint Center for Earth Systems Technology all are affiliated with the Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Maryland, and share collaboration efforts with the University of Maryland, College Park.
In 2014, the university signed agreements with the United States Army Research Laboratory and the United States Army Research, Development and Engineering Command. The partnerships highlight the disciplines of information systems, computer science, cybersecurity, networks, sensors, communications, mathematics and statistics, human dimensions, human systems integration, synthetic biology, power, quantum information processing, natural language processing and robotics.
One of the most prominent university relationships has been with the University of Maryland, Baltimore (UMB) where the Research & Innovation Partnership Seed Grant program seeks to establish, enhance, and promote inter-institutional research collaborations between the two USM institutions and to stimulate joint grant proposals to federal agencies and foundations. This shared program allows students and faculty to receive grants for research, increased collaboration, as well as the ability to use the facilities of both universities.
In 1997, President Freeman Hrabowski created the Conservation and Environmental Research Areas of UMBC also known as CERA on the south end of the campus. The conservation area encompasses 50 acres surrounding Pig Pen Pond and Bwtech@UMBC Research and Technology Park. At the same time as preserving the land, CERA allowed UMBC students to use the land for educational and recreational purposes. CERA contains two parts. The larger tract, covering approximately 45 acres of the south end of the main campus, contains a wide variety of ecological conditions: mature upland forest, early- and mid- successional forest, and riparian and wetland environments. The second, are is much smaller, with an area of about 3 acres. This surrounds Pigpen Pond, which was once actually a pigpen until it filled with water. There are also several areas within CERA where evidence of previous human occupancy and use can be found. In addition to teaching opportunities for faculty, CERA offers a wide range of opportunities for students and faculty to undertake short and long term research projects in a variety of disciplines. Management of CERA is guided by the need to maintain these landscapes as natural areas to be preserved and protected for approved uses in education, research and wildlife observation.
In 2007, President Freeman Hrabowski signed on to the American College and University President's Climate Commitment (ACUPCC) and formed the Climate Change Task Force. 20% of the university's emissions comes from renewable energy. Additional sustainable efforts include a green roof on Patapsco Hall, and the construction of new LEED certified buildings such as West Hills Community Center and the Performing Arts and Humanities Building. Preservation has also been a growing focus for UMBC, through the creation of CERA, Conservation Environmental Research Area. "No-mow zones" and stormwater retention ponds have also been added to the campus.
In May 2014, UMBC dedicated 11 acres on the northeastern side of the campus for preservation through the Maryland Department of Natural Resources. Also in 2014, the university has opened its first community garden for its students. The garden will give students the chance to grow their own food on campus.
The Chesapeake Bay Retriever is the state dog of Maryland and has been the mascot of UMBC since weeks after its founding in 1966. The costumed mascot was alternately known as "Fever the Retriever" in the late 1990s. The University also once had a live mascot, upon whom the True Grit statue is based, named Campus Sam. At the beginning of the 2008 fall semester, a Chesapeake Bay retriever puppy was chosen as a new mascot. He attends many athletic events and an online poll was held on the Retriever Activities Center website to choose his name, which was ultimately decided as "Gritty". The school's dining hall is named True Grits.
True Grit appears in two forms: Both as a statue in front of the Retriever Activities Center of a Chesapeake Bay retriever and as a costumed mascot, an anthropomorphized Chesapeake Bay retriever. The latter can typically be seen in attire of whatever sport he is currently attending; this is most often basketball or lacrosse. As part of an art installation, there are also several smaller True Grit statues placed around campus, all given themed decoration by various student artists.
A new tradition has begun on campus of rubbing the nose of the True Grit statue for good luck after orientation into the university.
The Resident Student Association and Student Events Board provide social programming during all academic semesters at UMBC. Over 200 student-run organizations exist on campus.
LLC (Language Literacy & Culture)
This unique interdisciplinary doctoral program draws upon faculty from disciplines in the humanities and social sciences from eight departments and programs at UMBC: Africana Studies; American Studies; Education; English; History; Gender and Women's Studies; Modern Languages, Linguistics and Intercultural Communication; and Sociology and Anthropology.
LLC (Living Learning Community)
A living learning community (LLC) is essentially themed housing. A hallway of one of UMBC's residence halls is set aside for students who share a certain academic ground. LLCs are intended to provide residents with social, academic, and career opportunities related to their theme. Many sponsor a one credit course in which students are required to enroll.
UMBC has eight LLCs, listed below.
The Center for Women in Technology
The Center for Women in Technology LLC houses women and men who major in engineering or information technology, with the special intention of providing a community for females in this traditionally male dominated academic area. It offers academic, social, and career opportunities.
The Discovery Scholars LLC helps students of an undecided career path explore possible majors and careers. Participants must enroll in its sponsored one credit course. Discovery Scholars are provided with social excursions, career exploration services, academic advising.
The Honors College LLC houses members of UMBC's honors college, providing an environment for socialization outside the classroom. Graduates of the Honors program must earn at least an "A" or "B" in special honors-level courses in various categories of academic disciplines. 
The Humanities Floor LLC is composed of students interested in—though not necessarily majoring in—the humanities. It facilitates intelligent discussion and field trips related to the humanities. Residents must attend four sponsored events and assist in planning floor activities.
Intercultural Living Exchange
The Intercultural Living Exchange LLC aims to promote cultural diversity. Residents are mentored by international students and participate in social events centered around cultural items, such as holidays, movies, or cuisine. Students earn academic credit for participating in this LLC. Students can participate in language immersion and live with others who are studying French, Spanish, Korean, or Chinese. 
Shriver Living-Learning Center
The Shriver Living-Learning Center LLC is centered around service learning. Students build leadership skills by volunteering three to five hours weekly. They are required to take the LLC's sponsored academic course. Residents also hear presentations from guest speakers and give presentations on their own service experiences. Students are able to earn academic credit for their participation.
Visual and Performing Arts
The Visual and Performing Arts LLC provides students interested in the arts chances to deepen their experience of the arts through learning new skills, holding intelligent discussions, and attending relevant events.
Women Involved in Learning and Leadership
The Women Involved in Learning and Leadership LLC is intended to promote leadership skills in social issues. Residents hear speakers, activists, and organizations involved in social change as well as plan and attend related events. Though not its sole focal points, feminism and gender issues predominate this LLC.
Student Events Board (seb)
The Student Events Board, stylized as (seb), is the major programming organization on campus. They host approximately 150 events a semester that are diverse, fun, and often free. The spring festival on campus, Quad Mania, is hosted entirely by (seb).
UMBC holds homecoming in the fall semester, usually during the month of October. Homecoming consists of numerous activities and festivities on campus. Namely, Homecoming includes the 5K Dawg Chase race, and a comedy show. Past performances include Jim Gaffigan, B.J. Novak, Nick Offerman, Bo Burnham, and others.
During the spring semester, Quad Mania serves as the university's student festival. The event usually takes place during April outdoors in The Quad, the central quadrangle of the campus next to the The Commons. The headliner for the spring of 2012 was Gym Class Heroes. The headliner for the spring of 2013 was Macklemore & Ryan Lewis and that for the spring of 2014 was Capital Cities. The 2014 Quad Mania was also to have elephant rides, but these were allegedly cancelled due to claims of animal cruelty by some students. In 2015, Kesha will be performing at the Retriever Activities Center.
UMBC has 23 officially registered sororities and fraternities with nearly 5% of UMBC's undergraduate students belonging to one of them. UMBC is home to 5 PHA organizations, which include Alpha Sigma Alpha, Alpha Sigma Kappa, Delta Phi Epsilon, Phi Mu, and Phi Sigma Sigma.
There are ten housing areas housing approximately 3,900 students, which are: Potomac Hall, Chesapeake Hall, Erickson Hall, Harbor Hall, Patapsco Hall, Susquehanna Hall, Hillside Apartments, Terrace Apartments, Walker Avenue Apartments, West Hill Apartments.
Those building types denoted "Hall" are traditional dormitories with the following typifying characteristics:
- Shared rooms (usually two students per room)
- Shared bathrooms (usually four students per bathroom/two rooms per bathroom)
- Includes basic furniture (bed, desk, chair, closet), Internet access (Ethernet and Wi-Fi) and access to cable television
- Special activities and events every week in the dormitories
- Patapsco Hall and the on-campus apartments are open all year, including holiday breaks (called "continuous occupancy").
- Most international students prefer Patapsco Hall because it is always open. (The other dormitories close during Thanksgiving, winter, and spring breaks.)
- Erickson Hall rooms include a living area between the two bedrooms, with the bathroom located in the living area. (living room shared by four students)
Those denoted "Apartments" are distinct in the following ways:
- One student per room
- All avail "continuous occupancy" 9-month housing
- All include a living room
All apartment buildings in the West Hill region will be under renovation in the Fall of 2014, excepting Severn and Chester.
Many university students often live off campus to neighboring communities. This is supported by the UMBC Transit lines serving these neighborhoods. Popular locations for students include Catonsville and Arbutus. Students also live in numerous Baltimore City neighborhoods such as Beechfield, Oaklee, Irvington, Yale Heights, and Edmondson.
UMBC has won the Pan American Chess Tournament 9 times in 13 years (1996–2009). The school provides substantial chess scholarships to outstanding high school graduate players at the International or Grandmaster level. Former UMBC team captain GM Alexander Onischuk has gone on to become US Champion in 2006. Professor of Computer Science Alan Sherman has been instrumental in building up the UMBC chess dynasty by recruiting players from around the world.
The school's sports teams are called the Retrievers, with colors black and gold. The mascot of the University is the Chesapeake Bay Retriever, the state dog of Maryland, named True Grit. A statue of True Grit stands in front of the Retriever Activities Center (RAC). The Retrievers participate in NCAA Division I as a member of the America East Conference, fielding 17 varsity sports; eight men's and nine women's. Men's swimming and diving currently participates in the Coastal Collegiate Swimming Association (CCSA) because the America East no longer sponsors that sport for men. The Retrievers fight song is the UMBC Riser, and was written by Dr. George LaNoue, a professor of policy sciences.
The UMBC Women's Volleyball team has participated in the America East tournament every year since 2008. In 2013 the team became a runner-up after losing to University of New Hampshire.
In 2009, the men's lacrosse team secured their fifth consecutive outright or shared America East regular season championship and their third America East tournament championship in four years. UMBC has secured a berth in the NCAA tournament each of the past four seasons. In 2007, the unseeded Retrievers upset seventh-seeded Maryland, 13–9, in the NCAA tournament to advance to the Division I second round for the first, and so far only, time in school history.
The Retrievers won their first regular season American East Men's Basketball title in 2007-08, and also qualified for their first NCAA Division I Men's Basketball Tournament. They had previously competed in the Division II men's basketball tournament.
The Retrievers Men's Soccer Team won the America East Conference in 2010, receiving an automatic bid to the NCAA Division I men's soccer tournament. The Retrievers won their first round game against Princeton but lost in the second round in a shootout to a ranked William and Mary team. Star striker, Levi Houapeu, from that 2010 team was drafted as a 5th pick in the 3rd round of the 2011 MLS Superdraft by the Philadelphia Union. He is the first UMBC player to be drafted into the MLS. Levi is now a member of the Baltimore Blast of the Major Indoor Soccer League. The men also won the conference again in 2012, and advanced to the NCAA tournament once again. They won their first round game against Old Dominion, but lost in penalty kicks in the second round to defending champion, UNC Chapel Hill. In 2013 the Retrievers led the country in overall record (16-1-3) and became the first team since 1997 to repeat as America East Conference Champions. They would earn a #16 seed and a first round bye as well as host UMBC's first ever NCAA Tournament match in any sport. The Retrievers would fall in a penalty shootout for the third time in four years in the second round of the tournament to UConn. In 2014, the Retrievers won their third straight America East Conference Championship and advanced the furthest of any UMBC NCAA Division I team by beating the #12-ranked Creighton 4-3 on PKs, as the Retrievers reached the NCAA Men's Soccer Championship semifinals. UMBC is the first team in tournament history to win four consecutive road games and to post shutouts in four consecutive games (against Wake Forest, #4-ranked Maryland, #13-ranked Louisville and #12-ranked Creighton) to reach the College Cup.
The Retriever women's soccer team won their first American East Conference title and made their first NCAA tournament appearance in 2013, where they lost to #1-ranked VA Tech 2-0 in the first round. This was an amazing accomplishment considering the team had a cumulative record of 3-39-9 in their previous three years.
The Retrievers men's swimming and diving program captured its 15th straight conference championship in the 2012–13 season. This streak included every season the UMBC program had competed in the America East, starting with the school's joining the conference in 2003–04 and ending when the America East dropped the sport at the end of the 2012–13 school year. The streak of UMBC conference titles in this sport did not continue in the CCSA.
Retrievers Basketball games are broadcast by Paul Mittermeier and Gary Stein as well as Troy Greene and Dan Levin.
In 2010, a contest was launched to find a new logo for Athletics. In May 2010, the UMBC Athletic Department unveiled a new logo for the Retrievers created by Jim Lord.
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