Wallace Loh was inaugurated today as the 33rd president of the University of Maryland, and he told the College Park community that he would keep the state flagship on the swift upward pace established by his predecessors.

“No public research university in the nation has risen as high and as fast over the past 15 years as the University of Maryland,” he said in a ceremony that was streamed live. “If there is one commitment I want to make to you today, it is this: We will stay the course in our rise in excellence.”

Loh was hired last summer to replace C.D. Mote Jr., who retired after a productive 12 years as president in College Park. Mote saw the university rise in U.S. News & World Report's rankings from 30th to 18th among public research universities. Research funding more than doubled in that span and now exceeds $500 million annually.

“Kiplinger Magazine recently ranked the University of Maryland the 5th best value among all public colleges and universities in the country, based on quality and affordability,” Loh said. “The entering freshmen are talented and diverse, with a median GPA of 3.9 and a median SAT score of 1300. About 38 percent are students of color. 

“If I were applying for admission today, I would not be accepted.  Fortunately, the standards for hiring a president are not as high as for the admission of freshmen.”

Loh gave some hints to how he plans to contribute to the school’s continued ascent. He said roughly one-fourth of the state’s top high school students now enroll at College Park, making Maryland a “leading exporter” of college talent to other states.

(Before the two-decade rise overseen by Mote and predecessor William Kirwan, U-Md. was actually more of a safety school, and even fewer top students bothered to apply.)

“We will increase this number to over one-third,” Loh said. “We want to keep our home-grown talent right here, in Maryland. Where one attends college influences where one ultimately lives and works.”

  Loh said the university would expand by about 4,000 students at College Park and the satellite Shady Grove campus, and increase science, technology, engineering and math graduates by one-third.

The new president spoke optimistically about the prospect of merging the College Park campus with the University of Maryland, Baltimore, home to top medical and law schools, a touchy topic at both places. He has taken no formal position.

“To win great opportunities ahead,” he said, “we must work together to bridge academic boundaries; professional boundaries; organizational boundaries; and geographic boundaries.”

Click here to parse the full text of his speech. 

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