Behind the Brand: Ushering in a New Era

photo by Sarah Davis

Since 1925, the University of Baltimore has supported students who are dedicated to making a difference and driven to succeed. Our students have gone on to become pillars of the legal community, innovative entrepreneurs, public policy leaders and influencers in the areas of creative writing, design and technology.

For many years the lowercase UB logo was a familiar and inspiring presence in midtown and around the city. But while the heart of our institution hasn’t changed, the marketplace for secondary education has become more challenging. University leadership, along with a large team of representatives from our UB community, decided it was time for an updated look to better differentiate us and reflect our history and core values.

UB is still delivering Knowledge That Works to the nontraditional student: the first-generation
college-goer, the career changer, the adult learner. And now we can more confidently communicate our invaluable contributions to the city, state and region.

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The Problem of Plastics


  • 1.5 MILLION POUNDS of trash
  • 638,262 plastic bottles
  • 737,025 polystyrene containers
  • 522,603 grocery bags
  • 728,411 chip bags

*Collected by Baltimore’s Inner Harbor Water Wheel since 2014


Everyday plastic products, such as single-use bags and containers, provide a modern convenience yet present a persistent challenge to environmentalists. Professor Terese Thonus recently published an op-ed in the Baltimore Sun in which she discussed the problems that occur from discarded plastic items. Thonus, director of the University Writing Program in the Klein Family School of Communications Design, detailed rising public awareness of the issue as well as how damaging plastic pollution is for waterways and wildlife.

In her piece Thonus noted that since 2014, the Baltimore Inner Harbor Water Wheel (affectionately known as “Mr. Trash Wheel”) has collected “1.5 million pounds of trash, including 638,262 plastic bottles, 737,025 polystyrene containers, 522,603 grocery bags and 728,411 chip bags washed down the Jones Falls Watershed.”

It’s a huge amount of trash and a huge problem, says Stanley Kemp, associate professor in UB’s Yale Gordon College of Arts and Sciences and director of the Environmental Sustainability and Human Ecology program. Kemp has witnessed firsthand the negative effects of plastics pollution here in Baltimore, especially in the Jones Falls River. “You might think, Jones Falls without clean water is just bad for fish,” Kemp reasons. “But quite frankly, do we not all need to drink clean water?”

For the last nine years, Kemp has organized a Jones Fall cleanup as part of UB’s community service day. He enjoys it but says, “It’s kind of frustrating because plastic just springs anew. Plastic bottles, potato chip bags and granola bar wrappers—you see them over and over again.” And those single-use plastic bags are particularly damaging: “They end up all over the place and they wreak havoc. They degrade, and ultimately they get out to the harbor, bay and ocean.”

In order to help prepare future generations of environmentally conscious public policy makers, Kemp has designed UB’s program to center on the environment, society and the economy; he describes these as three legs of the “Sustainability Tripod.” UB’s approach is unique, he explains, because it factors in the human population when considering issues of sustainability, and it endeavors to integrate sound science into effective policy.

“Ordinary citizens must get involved to solve this enormous problem.” -TERESE THONUS

While there is much work to be done, Kemp expresses cautious optimism about certain initiatives. For instance, Baltimore’s City Council recently passed legislation that bans polystyrene (commonly referred to by its trademarked name, styrofoam). “That stuff has got to go,” he says. “Even wax paper is better—not great, but at least it will biodegrade.”

Thonus agrees that policy change is key. In her article she cites efforts by the city of San Francisco, which since banning the use of plastic bags in 2007 has saved approximately “14 million trees, 12 million barrels of oil and 100,000 marine mammals.”

And, she says, the collective effort of individuals can also have lasting positive impact. In her op-ed she provided practical solutions for how everyone can reduce their carbon footprint; she includes small yet significant choices like choosing glass over plastic, bringing reusable bags to stores and committing to recycle. “Environmentalists can only do so much,” Thonus notes. “Ordinary citizens must get involved to solve this enormous problem.”

Tim Paggi, M.F.A. ’15, is a writer based in Baltimore.

Dino Psychology

You might not expect a scholarly study by two psychology professors to involve a theory about why dinosaurs became extinct. Yet UB’s Michael Frederick, along with Gordon G. Gallup, Jr., of the University at Albany, State University of New York, recently published “The demise of dinosaurs and learned taste aversion: The biotic revenge hypothesis.”

“I knew when we decided to write this paper that there’s no shortage of research on dinosaur extinction, and there are plenty of expert paleontologists out there,” says Frederick, assistant professor in the Division of Applied Behavioral Sciences in the Yale Gordon College of Arts and Sciences. “And yet, here’s me and Gordon.”

Populations of large herbivorous dinosaurs were shrinking even before a massive asteroid impact cemented their extinction. The pair’s hypothesis describes a scenario in which the development of alkaloid toxins in flowers left dinosaurs, who required massive amounts of food each day, no choice but to poison themselves.

To develop their theory they looked at research on aversive behavior—the natural, defensive reaction that, for instance, causes humans to react negatively to the taste of tequila after a night of too many margaritas. Based on studies of animals that are evolutionarily related to dinosaurs, such as crocodiles and birds, they believe that dinosaurs were very likely unable to develop aversive behaviors in relation to their food.

Frederick’s work falls under a field of psychological study called history theory, which investigates the life circumstances of an individual to determine causes of different psychological traits.

“It explains these quirks in behavior that seem maladaptive,” says Frederick, “but then when you really lay them out and think about it there’s this underlying logic that does make sense.” In a current study he’s looking at capillary samples to make a measure of lifetime stress, which can be used to gauge harshness of living conditions from neighborhood to neighborhood.

According to Frederick, there’s more work that can be done to solidify the biotic revenge hypothesis. “There’s the potential to find remnants of toxic plants in fossilized dinosaur guts—that would be really powerful. We know that flowers were emerging, and we think the alkaloid toxins were developed around that time or spreading.

“There’s the potential to find remnants of toxic plants in fossilized dinosaur guts—that would be really powerful.”

“It’s a hypothesis that flows into testable predictions that we can actually look at,” he continues. “If future studies help us explain our observations a little better, that’s a step forward. And if not, well, we explored it and ruled it out. Either way, I’ll be happy.”

Kyle Fierstien is a senior at UB, majoring in English with a specialty in professional writing.

The Risky Business of Sharing DNA

Professor Natalie Ram is conducting further research into issues related to DNA use with a $279,074 grant from the Greenwall Foundation as a Greenwall Faculty Scholar in Bioethics. The Scholars program supports interdisciplinary and bioethics research with the goal of helping to resolve pressing ethical issues, inform biomedical knowledge and enhance public policy.

In April police arrested Joseph James DeAngelo, a man they believe to be the notorious Golden State Killer—a serial murderer and rapist who terrorized the community of Sacramento, California, in the late 1970s. Perhaps one of the most fascinating—and controversial—aspects of the case involves the way law enforcement officers identified the suspect: they used DNA from a public genealogical website to find a distant relative of DeAngelo’s and ultimately link him to evidence from the crimes.

Natalie Ram (photo by JJ CHRYSTAL)

Police have long relied on criminal DNA databases in their investigations. But using DNA which has been voluntarily provided for the purpose of contacting family members raises new questions, says Natalie Ram, assistant professor of law at the University of Baltimore School of Law. “I suspect until the Golden State Killer arrest very few people had given a lot of thought to the difference between use of that data by law enforcement to solve crimes and use of their DNA to track down their relatives,” she says.

Ram has been investigating where to draw the line between privacy and crime solving for more than a decade, and recently earned a grant from the Greenwall Foundation to further examine how police make use of non-law enforcement DNA repositories. After the Golden State Killer arrest, she and two co-authors published “Genealogy databases and the future of criminal investigation” in Science magazine.

Currently Maryland and Washing-ton, D.C. are the only jurisdictions in the United States where law enforcement is prohibited from using DNA of family members to identify suspects, Ram explains. That legislation, however, is limited to only government-run databases and would not exclude police from using a genealogical-type site. “Just as law enforcement didn’t appear to make use of genealogical DNA data until the Golden State Killer arrest and now we have a proliferation of use of that kind of data, I think law enforcement’s appetite for new sources of DNA data is not going to go away,” she says.

“I think law enforcement’s appetite for new sources of DNA data is not going to go away.” -NATALIE RAM

Police who are investigating a crime are focusing on catching the perpetrator by any legal method, points out Charles Tumosa, director of UB’s Forensics Studies program in the College of Public Affairs’ School of Criminal Justice. Tumosa recently appeared on an episode of a British podcast affiliated with The Guardian to discuss DNA privacy and the law.

During the Golden State investigation, California police searched a public website called GEDmatch, an online forum where people share their genetic information (obtained from using services like to connect with each other. Because people share their data voluntarily on GEDmatch and similar sites, Tumosa says that issues of privacy protection become complicated. People are taking “a risk by putting that data into that system,” he says. “If you’re willing to do that, how much of a leap is it to say, well, the police might become interested in you or in your family?”

Charles Tumosa (photo by JJ CHRYSTAL)

Tumosa says most people participating in a genetic database are hoping to unearth interesting things about their heritage, or find out that they are linked to famous historical figures such as George Washington or Frederick Douglass. They rarely consider that generations of relatives might include “some good people, and some not so good people.”

Whether police investigators acted ethically in using a family member’s DNA to target the suspect is another concern. Tumosa says it’s important to distinguish between issues of ethics and issues of the law. “When lawyers go to court, they never argue ethics or morals, they argue the law,” he says. “Police officers learn the rule of law, and if the law gives you the right to do something, you can do it.”

Use of these new technologies poses many quandaries, according to Ram. As part of her three-year grant, she also plans to focus on the possibility that law enforcement could tap additional databases such as research and clinical repositories of genetic information. If statutory protections are not in place to prevent use of these more comprehensive databases, she says, “it’s only a matter of time before law enforcement starts to use those resources as well. At that point, we have a universal DNA database, which no state has authorized.”

Kristi Moore is a writer based in Baltimore and the digital content specialist in UB’s Office of Marketing and Creative Services.


Finding the Words


  • Author of Raw Wounds
  • VSU Alum
  • University of Baltimore M.F.A. Student
  • Instagram/Twitter/Snapchat: @KondwaniFidel

By his own admission, Kondwani Fidel skated through grade school. When he was very young, an aunt would give him $20 every time he got an A, so the East Baltimore native figured out how to do the work. Later he found ways to stay afloat—finessing his teachers to let him hand in work late, even cheating.

“I never saw the importance of education,” Fidel says. But he was willing to listen: “When adults or anyone spoke about it, they’d say, ‘Get good grades because that’s the right thing to do. You want a good job, you’ve got to get a high school diploma.’”

Kondwani Fidel performs live in his “Pieces of a G” show at the Downtown Cultural Arts Center. (photo by Reginald Thomas II)

Now, with four years at Virginia State University and a year in UB’s M.F.A. in Creative Writing & Publishing Arts program under his belt, his perspective has changed. In 2015, a video of Fidel performing one of his poems in a Baltimore classroom where he was substitute teaching—about growing up with drug-addicted parents and murdered friends—went viral. His gut-wrenching essay, “How a young boy has been decaying in Baltimore since age 10: A Death Note,” on was read more than 100,000 times in the first month after it was published.

In 2017, Fidel released a book called Raw Wounds to acclaim from prominent writers and civil rights activists, and his newest collection Hummingbirds in the Trenches debuted last summer. His essays and poems are written either for the page, for live performance, or for both. Fidel is also the subject of a new documentary by Jackson Tisi (available on his website, in which he narrates a journey through his experiences and neighborhood.

He credits his literary awakening to fellow Baltimore writer and UB professor D. Watkins B.A. ’09, M.F.A. ’14. “When I got introduced to him in 2015, this was my first time seeing a guy that came from my neighborhood, that looked like me, talked like me, walked like me in these positions where you don’t normally see people like that,” he says. “That’s why I always talk about how much representation matters.”

His M.F.A. studies haven’t necessarily made him a better writer yet, he says, but have made him a better reader: looking at poems line by line, deconstructing meaning at the level of the phrase as well as the full scale of a finished work. He thinks about recording spoken word more, and he wants to get more creative with storytelling, maybe even work on children’s books.

“Before I’m a good artist, before I’m a good performer, I’m a good listener. I listen to everything. I listen to everybody around me.”

Reading has been his ticket to a life in art, and he wants to pass it on. “People ask me all the time, what makes you different [from the peers you grew up with]?” he says. “We are no different. I am them, they are me. I stumbled across some opportunities that’s not afforded to everybody in my community. And lucky enough, I used those opportunities to my advantage, to pull myself from out the gutter.

And before I’m a good artist, before I’m a good performer, I’m a good listener,” he continues. “I listen to everything. I listen to everybody around me. And I’m good at taking advice, and I believe that’s one of the main reasons that got me where I am today.”

Jared Brey is a writer based in Philadelphia.

View Jackson Tisi’s short documentary, Hummingbirds in the Trenches, about Kondwani Fidel.

by Kondwani Fidel

Timidness awards you two
Black eyes
Ever wonder why I’m the
“angry Black guy”

Confidence awards you,
Your flesh might burn
Your blood might churn
But…you’ll be what everyone
else wants, which is
to be themselves

Slouches can’t survive monsoons
You have to be hotter than fire
or stronger than water, where
i come from

Die a coward or get crowned
Your crown might have thorns but boy
the joy of being a King.


Grab a copy of Citizen: An American Lyric by Claudia Rankine and join the University of Baltimore for the NEA Big Read!

Author of Citizen: An American Lyric

Reading and book signing
Thurs., March 7, 2019

Byron L. Warnken Moot Court Room
John and Frances Angelos Law Center

For more information, visit


Rankine’s 2014 book of poetry is the subject of Baltimore’s Big Read, thanks to a $15,000 grant from the National Endowment for the Arts (NEA). The Big Read program encourages conversation, discovery and understanding among participants through, as its website explains, “the joy of sharing a good book.”

UB, through the Robert L. Bogomolny Library, is one of 79 nonprofit organizations across the country to receive an NEA Big Read grant to host a community reading program. Thanks to an additional Fund for Excellence grant from the University of Baltimore Foundation, Rankine will visit campus on Thursday, March 7, 2019, for a reading and book signing.

“The University of Baltimore’s Big Read series is a great way to bring together teachers and students, adults and children alike, to share in a book that reminds us of the power we hold in our democracy,” says UB President Kurt L. Schmoke. “Every person counts, and every person is part of something larger. As an institution for higher education in the city, UB has always believed in that message.”

NEW Big Read is a program of the National Endowment for the Arts in partnership with Arts Midwest

“The National Endowment for the Arts is proud to support opportunities for communities across the nation, both small and large, to take part in the NEA Big Read,” says NEA Acting Chairman Mary Anne Carter. “This program encourages people to not only discuss a book together, but be introduced to new perspectives, discuss the issues at the forefront of our own lives, and connect with one another at events.”

In addition to Rankine’s visit, other Big Read activities will take place on UB’s campus and in venues across the city through June 2019.

UB Library: Then and Now


  • 107,957 walk in visitors
  • 12,792 questions answered
  • 16,740 materials circulated
  • 300,736 database searches
  • 107,876 website visitors
  • 90,877 Special Collections Flickr views

A library is the academic heart of a university, a place that fosters a sense of community and collaboration. At UB, Langsdale Library served us well. Originally constructed in 1965 and named for one of our founders, R. Loran Langsdale, it housed books, archives and other reference materials. Over the years it has been a valuable resource for students, professors and members of the larger community.

Eventually we needed an updated facility, one more appropriate to showcase new technology and serve as a setting for social learning. The renovated Robert L. Bogomolny Library, named in honor of the man who served as president of UB from 2002-2014, features open floor plans that better adapt to the needs of our users. Its expansive space and natural light provide a welcoming atmosphere, and additional exterior and interior improvements enhance the facility’s relationship to our campus and the surrounding neighborhood.

(photo by Ron Solomon)












The new building also houses the library’s academic success programs, including tutoring, writing consultations, math support and academic coaching. Then and now, our library is the physical and digital nexus for learning, information access and knowledge creation at UB.


Art of Living: SAM ROSE, LL.B. ’62

Sam Rose with Flash, seated next to a rare ceramic vessel by Pablo Picasso. (photo by Christopher Myers)



  • Dickinson College alumnus
  • LL.B., University of Baltimore
  • Founding partner, Greenebaum & Rose Associates
  • Philanthropist, activist, art collector

Sam Rose, LL.B. ’62, real estate developer, attorney, philanthropist and activist, enjoys a good story. A rare Picasso ceramic is more fun to live with, he says, when you know that the artist found and adopted the little owl portrayed on the vessel. “Every piece has a story behind it – that’s my favorite part of having art,” he says.

His and his wife Julie Walters’ extensive collection includes works by modern masters Pollack, Miró, O’Keeffe, Calder, Hopper and Rose’s favorite American artist, Richard Diebenkorn. But the art is just one small part of Rose’s story, which weaves together themes of persistence, achievement and giving back, all of it leavened by a robust enjoyment of life.

“I’ve been pretty lucky generally—so many opportunities and interesting experiences,” he says.

Rose grew up in the Mount Washington area of Baltimore and worked his way through Dickinson College (a celebrated lacrosse player, he set up the winning goal for Dickinson only national championship in 1958). Waiting tables and participating in the ROTC filled in the gaps in his college costs, and after graduation he attended UB law classes at night while briefly teaching middle school.

“I liked to read and liked history, so being a lawyer seemed like a good fit,” Rose says. But he quickly realized that real estate interested him more. He passed the Maryland bar but continued to work for his mentor James Rouse, the Baltimore-based developer and urban planner. After a decade with Rouse he took a leap, accepting a job at a company that quickly folded.

“That experience derailed my climb up the corporate ladder, but helped me decide that I didn’t want to work for anyone else,” Rose says.

While contemplating his next move, Rose rented a Volkswagen camper and spent a few months touring Europe with his young son and daughter. Upon returning to the States, he tried several ventures before finding the winner: his successful partnership with Stewart Greenebaum, B.S. ’59. In the four decades since, Greenebaum & Rose Associates has developed hundreds of real estate projects, including residential communities and government and office buildings.

His success has allowed Rose to provide financial assistance to hundreds of economically disadvantaged students, including many at UB. “Giving kids opportunities to go to school is one of the best ways to make a difference,” he says. He delights in sharing stories such as the achievements of the Jolleys, twin-brother jazz musicians from Baltimore who are now international performers.

Rose and Walters are passionate supporters of causes involving the environment and animals. They have endowed a prize for environmental activism at Dickinson and recently returned from a trip to see endangered mountain gorillas in Rwanda. And they currently share their home with three adored rescue pups.

“Julie’s favorite program may be the most selfless,” says Rose. He’s referring to Warrior Canine Connection (WCC), a nationwide initiative that provides service dogs for veterans struggling with challenging conditions such as depression and Post-traumatic stress disorder. The local program is a special partnership, because some of the dogs’ trainers are themselves veterans who have received community service sentences for minor offenses through the Maryland District Court’s Veterans Treatment Court. (WCC also has a partnership with The Bob Parsons Veterans Center at UB.)

“Seeing the veterans do the training for their fellow soldiers is something. There isn’t a dry eye in the house when those pups graduate,” says Rose.

Rose is also former board chairman of the Smithsonian American Art museum, one of the many locations where his and Walters’ art has been exhibited. And how does he choose what he wants to add to his collection? The reason is consistent with Rose’s philosophy: “I don’t consider art an investment,” he says. “I only buy what I like.”

Paula Novash is managing editor of the magazine.

View more pieces from Sam Rose and Julie Waters’ collection.

Bam Pow Zap: It’s the Caped Crusader!


  • 1939: first appears in Detective Comics
  • 1940: “Dynamic Duo” debut of sidekick Robin
  • 1952: first collaboration with Superman
  • 1966: TV series with Adam West
  • 1989: Tim Burton’s film Batman
  • 2008: Christopher Nolan’s Dark Knight

Professor Steven Leyva, M.F.A. ’12, turned heads in academic circles when UB announced his new Media Studies class, “The Evolution of Batman.” Why devote an entire course to a character from comic books and popcorn movies?

“Batman is just cool!” exclaims Leyva, assistant professor in the Klein Family School of Communications Design. “But seriously. Who would say it’s not worthy of study if it’s been around for 80 years? People have done so many takes that you’d be hard-pressed not to call Batman literary, and its longevity suggests that something about it fascinates our culture.”

Adam West as Batman circa 1966

He adds, “The Bat Symbol is one of the most recognized symbols globally. It’s ubiquitous. It might be more recognized than McDonald’s arches.”

After the course was “unmasked,” Leyva was interviewed by notable pop culture and media blogs Gizmodo and Nerdist, and received an invitation to participate in a panel at the 2019 “Batman and Pop Culture” conference at Bowling Green University in Ohio.

“My hope is that students see how a pop-culture artifact can be used to learn about society.”-STEVEN LEYVA

He’s eager to discuss the particulars of Batman’s history with his students—to, say, compare differences between director Christopher Nolan’s gloomy 2008 hit “The Dark Knight” and Adam West’s eponymous campy 60’s television romp. However, to Leyva, the study of Batman provides a gateway to professional opportunities through focused and fun critical analysis.

“My hope is that students see how a pop-culture artifact can be used to learn about society—to turn a hobby or obsession not just into something you do on the weekends, but something that is academic study and potentially something you can get a job out of,” he says. “So many websites and outlets in the modern economy need content. In order to do that, you have to know how to analyze.”

Leyva is also a poet and editor of the literary journal Little Patuxent Review. He is currently putting the finishing touches on his next poetry manuscript; he published his first collection, Low Parish, in 2012.

But for now, he is focused on Batman—and he finds the unique qualities of this superhero particularly interesting. “Batman at his core is a twelve-year-old boy saying ‘I’m going to do something about crime.’ That’s something we can relate to. People believe deeply, in an uncynical way, that they can do something about what is wrong in the world—that they can take up the mission and the mission might save them.”

Tim Paggi, M.F.A. ’15, is a writer based in Baltimore.

Tune into watch Steven Leyva talk about his inspiration for the course.


Get Out the Vote: UB Students Come Out on Top in ALL IN Voting Challenge

Nationwide, in the 2016 Presidential election:

  • 56% of eligible voters participated
  • Voting rate was 63.3% for women; 59.3% for men
  • More than 20 million eligible adults weren’t registered to vote

Currently more than 70% of UB students report they are registered, and vote

Election season provides ample evidence that every vote counts. In two Maryland primary races this year, candidates won by fewer than ten ballots. Yet according to United States Census Bureau data, only around 56 percent of eligible voters participated in the 2016 presidential election.

UB’s student body is a happy—and inspirational—exception to these statistics, recently topping more than 360 colleges and universities across the nation in the ALL IN Campus Democracy Challenge. The goal of the Challenge, a national non-partisan initiative sponsored by nonprofit Civic Nation, is to improve students’ involvement and voting behavior. UB was the only school in the Challenge to achieve a gold status rating, with more than 70 percent of our students registered and casting ballots.

“We often associate young people with apathy around the issue of voting,” says Anthony Butler, M.A. ’02, director of the Office of Transitions and Community Engagement (OTCE) at UB. “But this data is telling us that UB students are active and engaged.”

The high percentage of voters at UB could be due to a number of factors, Butler continues. “Our students are civic minded. We have a College of Public Affairs and a law school, with many opportunities to participate in programs and issues in Baltimore and beyond. And many of our students are older and involved in their communities already. ”

“We are seeing a tangible excitement on campus, especially among our students who will be eligible to vote for the first time.” – Anthony Butler

The OTCE is providing non-partisan opportunities to increase voter participation, explains Pavan Purswani, coordinator of Transition Programs. “We want to give our students resources to understand the voting process,” he says.

The office recently launched a website where voting resources are easily accessible: included are links to state and city voter information and polling locations, contact information for legislators and suggestions for how to effectively contact them to weigh in on an issue, among other information. “It’s a one-stop shop for civic engagement,” explains Purswani. “Voting is a great first step—then we all need skills to evaluate what we hear in the media, research issues we’re passionate about and participate in the conversation.”

For the first time this year, the office received funding for two part time Andrew Goodman fellows (the program is named for a civil rights-era activist who was killed while working to help people register to vote). Goodman fellows facilitate voter education activities and outreach on campus and in the community; among the events this fall are lectures and debates, as well as trips for students to meet legislators and learn more about how the Maryland government functions.

Having such an engaged university is a point of pride, says Butler. “We are seeing a tangible excitement on campus, especially among our students who will be eligible to vote for the first time,” he observes. “UB is a place of change and growth and opportunity, and voter engagement sets the stage for students to reflect on and influence issues that are important to them.”

For the most updated information, access

Paula Novash is managing editor of the magazine.