University of Maryland System announces historic new president of UMBC

The court at the new UMBC event center prior to Tuesday's celebration. (WTOP/Noah Frank)
Valerie Sheares Ashby will be the new president of UMBC. (Courtesy USM)

The University of Maryland, Baltimore County will soon have a new president.

The University System of Maryland Board of Regents has appointed Valerie Sheares Ashby as the next president of UMBC. She is currently Dean of Duke University’s Trinity College of Arts and Sciences.

She will start her new role at UMBC on Aug. 1. She will be the school’s first female president.

Ashby will succeed Freeman Hrabowski, who has led UMBC to national and international acclaim since his appointment as president 30 years ago.

“To follow President Freeman Hrabowski is a distinct privilege,” Ashby said. “He has been a role model for so many in higher education over the last 30 years, including myself. His extraordinary leadership and dedication to UMBC ensures that I am arriving at a university that is already performing at a very high level. There is no ceiling on what we can achieve from here.”

Ashby has been dean of Trinity College of Arts & Sciences since 2015, and was reappointed for a second, five-year term in 2019. She received her bachelor’s and doctorate degrees in chemistry from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, and completed her postdoctoral research at the Universitat Mainz in Germany.

Ashby came to Duke from UNC, where she chaired the chemistry department from 2012 to 2015 and was a faculty member since 2003. She has served on UNC’s Arts & Sciences Foundation Board of Directors and Research Advisory Council, and chaired the College of Arts & Sciences Faculty Diversity Task Force.

She also directed the UNC National Science Foundation Alliance for Graduate Education and the Professoriate, aimed at increasing the number of underrepresented students completing doctoral degrees and continuing into the professoriate in science, technology, engineering and math and social, behavioral and economics fields.

“Dr. Ashby is clearly the impressive scholar and dynamic leader we need to build on the strong foundation of inclusive excellence at UMBC,” said Board Chair Linda R. Gooden. “UMBC is a jewel — nationally and internationally recognized for its innovative teaching and pathbreaking research. All of this success is due to the dedication and hard work of President Hrabowski and his outstanding team,” Gooden said.

Valerie Bonk

Valerie Bonk started working at WTOP in 2016 and has lived in Howard County, Maryland, her entire life. She's thrilled to be a reporter for WTOP telling stories on air. She works as both a television and radio reporter in the Maryland and D.C. areas. 

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