President’s Letter 2021

Kurt Schmoke It’s good to be together again. After three semesters of virtual learning, some of our students and staff have returned to The University of Baltimore campus with protocols such as indoor masking in place to keep us all safe and healthy. (As always, we’re continuing to have a robust online presence to provide the flexible learning options our students want and need. 

Even as we transition to more in-person activities, many of us are reflecting on the changes we’re seeing in our society. Issues around social justice, health policy and education reform, among others, have opened us to new perspectives and new ideas. In some ways that’s allowed us to appreciate and value each other more. In others we can seem to be far apart.

This fall we convened a panel discussion of UBalt-affiliated thought leaders to address how we can better communicate in a time when many topics can be triggering. I was the moderator for their conversation, in which the panelists shared what they are experiencing in their classrooms, in community organizations and in the workplace. In this issue we share excerpts from their inspiring and insight-filled discussion. We’re also featuring a video of the entire event online at ubalt.edu/ubmag.

In addition, we are showcasing the work of three wonderful— and very different—photographers with connections to our institution. And in another feature, we talk about how our alumni are navigating career changes and job searches, and the resources that have helped them.

Our world will continue to evolve, and we will continue to adapt and look out for each other. Being a part of our UBalt community is always a reminder that together, we can change the world for the better.

Sincerely,
Kurt L. Schmoke

A Wider lens

Snapshot 2021

In this issue we highlight the artistic visions of three photographers. The snowy street scene on the cover is by the iconic A. Aubrey Bodine, who chronicled our city and its inhabitants for The Baltimore Sun and whose daughter Jennifer Bodine, J.D. ’75, is the keeper of his legacy. The photos of Sue Tatterson, B.S. ’06, M.F.A. ’08, range from tiny details of East Coast abandoned spaces to soaring vistas of the American Southwest. And Kimberlee Jenkins, B.A. ’20, focuses on vibrant and authentic portraits of her subjects.

Experiencing such different styles and subject matter can help us see the world more broadly. We may begin to observe more closely, think more creatively, even be open to greater possibilities. That’s a path to new ideas and new solutions—and that’s the magic of art.

A Marvel-ously Expanding Universe

WaspWhen Chris Ceary, M.S. ’17, wanted to help their young niece to enjoy reading, their mind turned first to a personal passion: comic books. The idea would open a new direction in Ceary’s career and also give them an opportunity to help improve diversity and inclusion within the multi-billion dollar comics industry.

While reviewing comic options for young people, Ceary, who was then teaching psychology at Johns Hopkins University, discovered some with surprisingly good mental health representation and shared examples on Twitter. Their posts and credentials caught the eye of Marvel author Jeremy Whitley.

“They always tell you how important networking is, and as a student you’re always like okay, sure,” Ceary jokes. “But it is! Sometimes you even do it without realizing!”

Whitley was working on the upcoming issue of Unstoppable Wasp. A major Marvel property, the Wasp comic tackles subjects like bipolar disorder. Whitley asked if Ceary would be willing to join the Marvel team as a consultant.

Ceary was intrigued; they had noticed past portrayals of mental illness in comics that were insensitive and inaccurate. Evil-doers and villains, for example, struggle with afflictions such as schizophrenia or manic depression. Ceary points out that this is a stigma. “Individuals with mental illness are far more likely to be victims of crime than to commit them,” they say. “They’re the ones who need protecting.”

Whitley sent Ceary some scripts. “When reading them, I took out the manual we use to diagnose these disorders and made sure to point out what real symptoms were missing,” they explain. And since teenagers were reading the comic, Ceary wanted to make sure it was helpful. They say, “I wanted it to be accurate and character-driven, and not cause harm or be a dangerous misrepresentation. What came out was an absolutely gorgeous final product.”

Chris Ceary
Chris Ceary

After the series received praise, Ceary was invited to do more collaborations. These included additional work with Whitley as well as new projects under the Marvel umbrella, such as a Young Adult novel that features therapy sessions. “A lot of times in comics and movies, therapy is very dramatic,” says Ceary. “Think Good Will Hunting, with lots of hugging and tears. But in actuality, it’s usually a lot subtler.”

“ A lot of times in comics and movies, therapy is very dramatic. Think Good Will Hunting,with lots of hugging and tears. But in actuality, it’s usually a lot subtler.”

Better representation of mental health is just one piece within the broader effort of making comics more equitable, Ceary says. Companies like Marvel are making concerted efforts to include well-written characters of diverse races, genders and sexual orientation. Ceary says this is of great importance for audiences: “We need to see ourselves. In diversity, in mental health, in any part that makes us who we are, it feels good to see yourself in characters.”Currently, Ceary is studying at Indiana University of Pennsylvania, doing research focusing on queer identity and asexuality. But they still spend plenty of time in the comics world, in their work, as a fan and also as a podcaster. Their podcast Gotham Outsiders, co-hosted with current UBalt student TJ Finecey, has also featured the University’s Batman scholar-in-residence, professor Steven Leyva, M.F.A. ’12.

Representation matters not only for those in underrepresented groups, notes Ceary, but for individuals who do not identify that way as well. “Research suggests that reading or watching movies about people different from us measurably increases our empathy,” they say. “When we watch Black Panther or we watch Captain Marvel, it’s fun, but we also identify with the characters. Then that affects how we see others.”

In addition to freelancing for the magazine, Tim Paggi, M.F.A. ’15, is database manager and grants administrator at the Enoch Pratt Free Library.

The Take Down

The great Roman orator Cicero was known to make inflammatory remarks on the floor of the ancient senate. Egyptians defaced buildings to remove the visages of former pharaohs. America’s founding fathers notoriously vilified each other in the press. Character assassination—defined as the deliberate taking down of an adversary’s reputation in the eyes of the public—is as old as humankind. Now, a UBalt researcher is studying this tactic as it expands in our social media age.

Jennifer KeohaneJennifer Keohane is a rhetoric scholar, assistant professor in the Klein Family School of Communi-cations Design at UBalt, and director of oral communication courses. Along with three co-founders, Keohane launched the Character Assassination and Reputation Politics Research Lab (CARP) housed at George Mason University. The interdisciplinary lab looks at character assassination in the context of history, teaches students to understand and think critically about it as a strategic communications tool and offers response insights for those under attack.

Keohane says that while character assassination has existed in every era and culture, social media has changed the landscape.

“It used to be that you needed access to a printing press to launch a character attack,” she explains. “When you think of the social media landscape we live in, there’s been a democratization—anyone can be a victim, anyone can launch an attack and you can punch up or down.”

The rapid pace of information means that even the smallest gaffe can snowball much faster than in the past, resulting in what Keohane’s colleagues call a “fiasco vortex.” While character assassination is rife in politics, it shows up in professional athletics, the entertainment industry, even corporate America. Microsoft founder Bill Gates was targeted due to his divorce, for example. But character assassination is especially difficult on high profile women.

“ When you think of the social media landscape we live in—anyone can
be a victim.”

“Fundamentally, we want to believe in the unchanging essence of a person called ‘character,’ though we have different expectations of what is good character for women versus men,” says Keohane.

This difference shows up in the archetypes and labels used in character assassination. Holding women to a standard that idealizes care and compassion makes it harder for them to respond to character assassination and less likely to rebound from a scandal, whereas men can often resurrect their careers even after an infidelity, for example.

a man with a knife in his back

“There’s a perception of a ‘good’ woman as caring, a harmonizer, whereas leadership requirements as they are framed in American society are stereotypically male,” says Keohane. “So when women exhibit the necessary character attributes of leadership, like decisiveness, they’re seen as unlikeable.

“Feminist scholars call this the double bind,” she continues. “If you are a leader, you are labeled bitchy. If you are caring, you are seen as incompetent in leadership.”

At CARP, Keohane and her colleagues have gathered over 500 examples of character assassination across history and cultures for use in study, and are launching an online database to expand that collection. They’ve also designed a textbook on the topic. Keohane says it is hard to imagine a world without character assassination, and that recognizing and understanding the motivation for it can be instructive.

“It is important to become a literate consumer of media so when an attack happens you think critically about it,” she says. “It’s helpful to think, ‘Why did this person launch this attack? What do they hope to achieve? How does this impact my decision-making about this person or situation?.’”

Christianna McCausland, a longtime contributor to the magazine, writes from Baltimore.

Designed to Evolve

Reece Quiñones
Reece Quiñones

Designers shape our world and our view of it. Whether they are presenting a product, a brand or company, or a cause or social message, they are telling a story. And that story has the power to persuade us, connect us and inform us so that we engage, learn and even take action in ways that can change our society.

UBalt alumni are moving the design universe forward. Reece Quiñones, M.F.A. ’12, sees design as a positive force in a challenging time. Quiñones, senior vice president and creative director of The Hatcher Group, says that during 2020 she noticed many creatives “wanting to do something for the community. We’re facing large issues that involve our core values. It’s a time to take a good look at ourselves and how we’re displaying those values, or keeping them quiet.”

“ You can’t design what you don’t know about, so it’s vital to listen and be open-minded. That helps us create inspired and inclusive solutions.”

In her more than 25 years of experience in product development, publishing, web/user-experience, advertising, and marketing, Quiñones has learned the value of remaining curious. “You can’t design what you don’t know about, so it’s vital to listen and be open-minded,” she says. “That helps us create inspired and inclusive solutions.”

Quiñones has also taught design at George Mason University since 2008. “Mentoring is the best way to change the world,” she says. “I tell my students that they have powerful voices they can use to speak up for those who have not been heard. If they are intentional about the ways they want to bring about change—in democracy, education, mental health, public health—they can capture hearts and minds.”

Ned Gonzalez
Ned Gonzalez

Business owner Ned Gonzalez, B.S. ’13, M.A. ’19, has become an advocate for different voices and individuality in the design world. During his job searches, “I kept hearing that my portfolio was great, but I didn’t feel comfortable in the work environment,” he recalls. “I found that some jobs want to formulate you into something you’re not. I wanted to create a culture and community based on accepting who you are.”

Last year Gonzalez founded the multimedia studio Nerdcore Studio LLC, based in Hampden. The Nerdcore team focuses on graphic and web design, game development, photography, animation and videography services.

“Businesses don’t always know how to tell their story and share what will make us gravitate to them,” says Gonzalez. “We want to help them bring awareness to their core communities in a way that’s authentic.”

It’s important to believe in yourself and your ambitions, he continues. “There were times when I felt like I wasn’t good enough and doubted my capabilities,” he recalls. “During my time at UBalt, I met passionate people with interesting stories and experiences. They have become my biggest supporters and more importantly, my friends. They have given me the strength and confidence to follow my ambitions.”

Paula Novash is managing editor of the magazine.

Partnered for Success

The University of Baltimore provides many opportunities for people with a wide range of talents and experiences to come together and create something new. One excellent example is the synergistic collaboration between students in the Master of Arts in Integrated Design program, part of the Yale Gordon College of Arts and Sciences, and students in the Center for Entrepreneurship and Innovation (CEI), part of the Merrick School of Business.

During their capstone course in Publications Design, a team of three or four master’s students partners with a CEI student entrepreneur who has an existing business, or a business idea to develop. The design students are tasked with providing both a style guide with communications and marketing plans, and a process guide that encompasses a longer-term vision of how the entrepreneur’s business can elevate its brand and be competitive.

Crate Craft & Co Cover“I’m always looking for ways to bring practical experience to what I do in the classroom,” says Megan Rhee, M.F.A. ’08, director of the M.A. and M.F.A. in Integrated Design programs. “I was hoping to connect our students with an emerging business, and then I saw an item in UBalt’s Daily Digest featuring the CEI.” 

Rhee proposed the collaboration to CEI director Henry Mortimer, who was immediately enthusiastic. “Working with the Masters students gives our entrepreneurs access to innovative problem solving and illustrates the power of collaborating across disciplines,” says Mortimer. “A strength of the CEI is that we provide connections to the business world, and this is a version of that—we’re working with Baltimore’s next generation of marketing and design professionals.”

Rhee and Mortimer, along with professors J.C. Weiss and Stephanie Gibson, facilitate the collaboration process. “From the beginning we want all of the students to be invested, and to develop a relationship of trust,” Rhee says. “Entrepreneurs are accustomed to making all of the decisions, and they need to know that we will respect their business.”

This year the design team of Jasmine Loyal, M.A. ’21, Richard Neal and Nett Smith, M.A. ’21, worked with Entrepreneurship Fellow Rebecca Thompson. UBalt’s Entrepreneurship Fellows program, thanks to the Philip E. and Carole R. Ratcliffe Foundation, helps student entrepreneurs with funding for their education and other expenses while also supporting their business venture.

Thompson’s business, a doit- yourself craft subscription service, originally had a different name until the team proposed Crate Craft & Co.—a suggestion Thompson adopted. To prepare additional design and branding elements for the business, the team also researched target audiences and social marketing design and techniques, among other areas.

Notes Smith, “Our team also had a crash course in business development in order to create the process guide, which involved researching the competition and setting specific profit goals.” They add that the semester-long project was an interesting test of the students’ project management skills, as each juggled working on their final portfolios and collaborating remotely. “We dove into the project and managed the tasks and our time super well, despite never meeting in person,” Smith says.

Four different design teams presented their projects at a virtual gathering in May. “The three of us spent many hours developing the slideshow and practicing the script,” Smith recalls. “Presenting virtually had its own set of challenges, but it was a treat to see the other teams’ pitches.”

Ultimately the team of Loyal, Neal and Smith were named winners of the Erin Kvedar Memorial Seminar Award, established in honor of Kvedar by her family and given annually to a seminar project. The panel of judges, made up of outside experts, complimented the team on their branding, use of pattern, color and fonts, functionality and website.

The partnership was a win for the CEI’s Thompson as well. “I enjoyed every part of this collaboration,” she says. “As a startup, you never really know if your concept is clear. I was pleased to see they understood and absolutely nailed it.” Thompson, also a 2021 winner in UBalt’s Rise to the Challenge business pitch competition for Best Existing Business Venture, adds “I would encourage every UBalt entrepreneur to apply for this partnership. It’s such an amazing opportunity.”

“For our entrepreneurs, it’s practice in hiring an agency, and for the design students, it’s practice in pitching to a client.”

CEI Director Mortimer says the competition gives students in both programs real-world experience. “For our entrepreneurs, it’s practice in hiring an agency, and for the design students, it’s practice in pitching to a client,” he explains. “The judges are professionals who evaluate the presentations from both a business and design perspective. The quality of work the students produce is exemplary.”

Smith agrees. “The opportunity to closely collaborate with other designers in the program was very valuable, because I was able to learn from their specialties. This project is great practice for working on a team with an external client.”

For her, says Rhee, the collaboration is a passion project: “Every year I think, let’s never not do this thing.”

Paula Novash is managing editor of the magazine.

Donor Dollars at work

On Juneteenth

The University of Baltimore honors Juneteenth—the day that commemorates the ending of slavery in the United States. On June 19, 1865, Union soldiers informed the people of Galveston, Texas, that the Civil War was over and all enslaved people were freed. We’ve asked a few members of our community to share their thoughts about this historic day.

Kellye Beathea
Kellye Beathea

“If you’re Black and you have mixed feelings about Juneteenth (finally) becoming a federal holiday, I get it. While many of our siblings worked REALLY hard to make this day a holiday, it can still feel like we’re being pacified; especially when it feels like it’s taking FOR-EV-ER to pass (and strengthen) laws made to protect our voting, civil and overall human rights.”

“Regardless of how you feel, #Juneteenth is a WIN for us. Celebrating Juneteenth is a great first step in actively addressing the historical disparities in our communities. This is an opportunity to continue to learn, connect with one another, and reflect on how we can progress towards an even brighter, Blacker future.”

“Use Juneteenth to recognize the win AND plan for the victory.”

Kellye Beathea, J.D. ’15, lawyer and communications/media professional 

 

Jay Perman
Jay Perman

“The declaration of Juneteenth as a USM and federal holiday helps us confront the pain and indignity that slavery has left behind, reflect on the fight for freedom and justice—then and now—and joyfully celebrate Black history and culture, Black resistance and resilience. Black Americans’ liberation struggle continues, and Juneteenth remains a day of reckoning, a day we rededicate ourselves to the ideals we say are foundational to this nation: equality and opportunity for all.”

“We’re just starting our work to examine and redress our part in anti-Black racism and systemic inequities that so badly disadvantage people and communities of color. On Juneteenth and throughout the year, I hope we’ll talk with one another about how race shapes our lives. I hope we’ll commit to fully and finally ending slavery’s abiding legacy of violence, oppression and injustice. And I hope that, together, we’ll share in the joy of emancipation.”

Jay A. Perman, University System of Maryland Chancellor

Inclusion Alley

TAKING THE LEAD

Juneteenth was adopted as a federal holiday in 2021. The University System of Maryland (USM) added Juneteenth to its academic calendar this year as well. But at UBalt, the Student Government Association (SGA) introduced a resolution, officially adopted by the University to honor the holiday a year earlier, in 2020.

“To have this resolution be successful, and to be part of a university that took the lead in shaping history for USM, made us very happy,” says Randolph Wells (above), SGA Vice President of Student Affairs. “And personally, having UBalt be so receptive and understanding of the heritage of its African American students makes me proud.”

The SGA’s Inclusion Alley project is another way the university is respecting diversity, says Wells. The space, situated between the Thumel Business Center and the Liberal Arts and Policy Building, features a Pride mural painted by SGA leaders and other features representing ideas of inclusion. A recent addition is a Juneteenth flag.

Wells says seating will be installed soon as well. “This isn’t just a campus stop, but a hangout spot for community members,” Wells explains. “The community response has been so supportive—they love it, and are keeping it nice.”

Wells, who is the community engagement liaison for the Housing Authority of Baltimore City, says that coming to UBalt and taking on leadership roles has been a plus for him. “I’m more confident in myself, more confident as a speaker,” he says. “Who knows what the rest of my future holds?”

Supporting Veterans

A $2.4 Million Grant from The Bob & Renee Parsons Foundation Benefits Veteran and Active Military Students

Bob Parsons
Bob Parsons

Veteran students and students who are active military members are vital—and valued—contributors to The University of Baltimore community. Now a multiyear, $2.4 million grant from The Bob & Renee Parsons Foundation will provide them with even greater opportunities and support. The grant aims to increase the impact of both The Bob Parsons Veterans Center and The Bob Parsons Veterans Advocacy Clinic at UBalt.

“The transition back into civilian life and getting a college education can be challenging,” says Bob Parsons, B.S. ‘75, D.H.L. ‘08, a Baltimore native and Marine Corps Vietnam War Veteran, and founder and CEO of PXG. “Having specialized support and legal counsel when needed can go a long way in making successful transitions possible.”

UBalt’s Bob Parsons Veterans Center serves more than 300 veteran and military-affiliated students, offering them a place to study, socialize and participate in activities. Mentorship programs help them successfully prepare to reach their full potential in the workforce and their personal lives. The recent grant will support a new full-time staff member— allowing the Center to offer even more academic, career, service and social-based programs.

Through The Bob Parsons Veterans Advocacy Clinic, law students at the University engage with veterans and learn about the legal difficulties they often encounter after leaving the military. The students provide veteran clients with pro bono representation and learn to advocate for them and impact legislative policy changes that are transforming the way veterans are treated by the legal system.

In 2020, Bob Parsons also established The Bob Parsons Scholarship Fund, the single largest donation to a scholarship program in the history of the University. This recent grant brings Parsons’s total support to UBalt to more than $9 million since 2013.


ABOUT THE BOB & RENEE PARSONS FOUNDATION

The Bob & Renee Parsons Foundation offers support to nonprofit organizations successfully working to empower, educate, nurture and nourish people during what is often the darkest time of their lives. Founded in 2012 by philanthropists and business leaders Bob and Renee Parsons, the Foundation provides hope and life-changing assistance to the country’s most vulnerable populations. The Foundation’s giving is driven by the core belief that all people—regardless of race, religion, roots, economic status, sexual orientation or gender identity—deserve access to quality healthcare, education and a safe place to call home. Visit TBRPF.org to learn more.

Paula Novash is managing editor of the magazine.

Donor Dollars at work.

Helping the Community Access COVID-19 Vaccines

In late July, a group of UBalt students made a difference for city residents who wanted to be vaccinated against COVID-19. Under the guidance of Tiffaney S. Parkman, lecturer in the School of Health and Human Services, the student team of Giuliana Valencia-Banks, Kathryn Foulke, Jack Greenberg, Shatia Johnson, Lateirra Carter, Nikki Garnes, Elaine McIeish, Loren Nelson, Monell Hunt, and Yelango Jamabo organized a free vaccination clinic on campus.

“The project gives students the opportunity to put into practice what we have learned throughout our human service course work.”

“The project gives students the opportunity to put into practice what we have learned throughout our human service course work,” says Foulke. “Dr. Parkman originated the idea of a vaccination clinic and introduced us to our UMMS partner. The student group was then responsible for organizing, fundraising, developing community partnerships, promoting the event and finally executing. We are happy to provide this timely event for our campus community. It’s a fantastic opportunity that we, the students, are very grateful to experience.”

The students are all participants in the HSER 470 Senior Seminar, where they work together to complete a shared project that focuses on meeting a community need.

Join The University of Baltimore Alumni Book Club!

Books

The Office of Alumni Relations invites you to connect with fellow UBalt alumni, faculty and staff in a virtual community of book lovers. Participants contribute to book discussions and network through a private online forum. Joining is completely free; you just have to have a copy of the book to enjoy.

In its inaugural year, book club picks have included Just Mercy, A Story of Justice and Redemption, by Bryan Stevenson, The Vanishing Half, by Brit Bennett, and The Midnight Library, by Matt Haig. Members have the opportunity to vote for each new selection from several suggested options.

Created in partnership with Professional Book Clubs Guru, a book club management service, this initiative was launched thanks to a grant from Alumni Association-International.

For more information, visit www.pbc.guru/ubalt

Donor Dollars at work.