In choosing Pines, 55, the regents are elevating an insider at the helm of one of the university’s most prominent academic operations. Every year, federal data shows, U-Md. awards more than 1,100 bachelor’s degrees in engineering and hundreds more master’s and doctoral degrees in that field.
The Clark School enrolls about 6,200 undergraduate and graduate students, accounting for roughly 1 in 7 students at College Park. In all, the university has about 41,200 students, including more than 30,700 undergraduates.
“The Board is delighted to welcome as president of our flagship institution a leader of the caliber of Dr. Pines,” Board of Regents Chair Linda R. Gooden said in a statement. “The University of Maryland, College Park is a world-class institution, and Dr. Pines brings to the position a wealth of experience.”
Pines, a professor of aerospace engineering, has been on the College Park faculty since 1995 and has held the position of engineering dean for Loh’s entire tenure. He took a leave of absence from College Park from 2003 to 2006 to work as a program manager for tactical technology and defense sciences at the federal Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency.
Loh, who has led U-Md. since 2010, has weathered controversies in recent years, including a scandal that rocked the football program in 2018 when player Jordan McNair suffered heat stroke during a team workout and later died. Loh announced in late 2018, during a showdown with the regents, that he would retire at the end of that school year. He also fired the football coach, DJ Durkin, against the wishes of the board leadership.
As that crisis subsided, Loh and the board agreed to postpone his departure until summer 2020.
Last year, Loh also faced questions about the university’s actions during an adenovirus outbreak on campus that killed 18-year-old freshman Olivia Shea Paregol in November 2018. An outside review concluded last fall that the university followed protocols in its response to the crisis, but the review made recommendations to improve how the campus handles future emergencies.
Pines knows he is stepping into a job that will draw intense scrutiny statewide and beyond. He will have oversight of academics, Big Ten athletics and all of the other operations of a major university with an annual budget of $2.1 billion. U-Md. ranks 64th on the U.S. News & World Report list of top national universities, public and private, and it is among the top 25 public universities.
“It is an honor to take on the leadership role at the University of Maryland, College Park — clearly one of our nation’s finest Research I universities — and one that I know and love so well,” Pines said in a statement. “Research I” generally refers to doctoral schools with the highest levels of research.
“As professor and dean of engineering, I am well acquainted with and have long admired the outstanding faculty, the executive leadership, and the passionate and civically engaged alumni and students who make Maryland such a special place. I’m excited by this new challenge and can’t wait to listen, learn, and lead this incredible university.”
Loh, in a tweet Wednesday evening, wrote: “Dean Darryll Pines has been a great leader of the @ClarkSchool of Engineering for the past decade. He’ll be a great president of #UMD as he leads the flagship university forward. Congratulations to Darryll, a Terp through and through. Go Terps!”
Pines will become the second African American to lead the university. John B. Slaughter, chancellor from 1982 to 1988, was the first.
Pines holds a bachelor’s degree in mechanical engineering from the University of California at Berkeley and master’s and doctoral degrees in that subject from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. He was elected in 2019 to the National Academy of Engineering. His research focuses on structural dynamics and the guidance and navigation of aerospace vehicles.
As engineering dean, Pines helped U-Md. raise hundreds of millions of dollars in recent years. He was a key player in helping to land a record $219.5 million gift from the A. James & Alice B. Clark Foundation in 2017.
Ireland Lesley, president of the U-Md. Student Government Association, a senior from Bethesda, Md., said the announcement of Pines was a surprise. “I haven’t personally worked with Dean Pines,” she said. “I have heard wonderful things about him so that makes me more optimistic.”
Lesley said Pines must seek to ensure some stability for students and a sense that their needs will be met even with new faces in leadership.
“From the past couple of years there has been a lot of hurt at the university,” Lesley said, citing multiple student deaths and a homicide on the campus. “A lot of these things have created distrust” between students and the administration, she said, and will present a challenge for the next president.
Michael Hicks, a professor of computer science, cheered the appointment of Pines. “Super-excited about this news!” Hicks wrote in a tweet. “I got to know Darryll starting in 2011. . . . He is an impressive guy on many levels. #UMD is in very good hands.”