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University Of Maryland-Baltimore County Welcomes First Woman President

University Of Maryland-Baltimore County Welcomes First Woman President

The students are already taking a liking to her!

Valerie Sheares Ashby is making history as the first woman to become president of the University of Maryland-Baltimore County (UMBC), WBAL TV reports. 

The University System of Maryland Board of Regents just appointed Ashby as UMBC’s new president, the veteran educator making history as the first woman to hold the title. Ashby will be taking over for President Freeman Hrabowski who recently announced his retirement. The best part about it, Ashby and Hrabowski have been friends for over a decade, first meeting in 2005 during Ashby’s visit to UMBC to see the Meyerhof scholars’ program.  

“I met Freeman there and from that moment on, we’ve been connected. He was a great mentor, such an inspiring figure for me and he looked at me on that first visit and he said, ‘You’re going to be a president,’” Ashby recalled. 

Currently a dean at Duke University’s Trinity College of Arts and Sciences, Ashby will be pivoting from her role there to step into her new historic appointment. As sixth president of the University, Ashby is excited to expand on the mission and vision already laid forward. While she has big shoes to fill, she says she’s no stranger to firsts and is up to the task, believing the succession will be smooth. 

“There’s no such thing as following Freeman Hrabowski, you know you do the role as best as you can…I’ve been the first and only many times woman, the first person of color, the first woman person of color, I am accustomed to only and first, so it’s the nature of the world in which I live in,” said Ashby. 

The students have already started weighing in, saying they’re excited to see how Ashby will enhance UMBC. 

“She is so warm and personable and that’s the same quality…Hrabowski has,” said UMBC student Anna Jordan. 

Another student, James Harris, echoed those sentiments, saying, “I love her. Part of what made Dr. Hrabowski so great is that he is so interested in the individual students, and she has the exact same quality.” 

“I think that it’ll be a great transition between her and Hrabowski. She is like a mom figure kind of,” added student Simone Wiseman. 

Ashby is set to officially take office as the new UMBC president on August 1st. 

Photo Courtesy of Notre Dame News