History

College Park Scholars was born out of a revolutionary concept: Enhance the education of University of Maryland (UMD) students by creating a learning community where cohorts of students live together in the same residence halls and take a series of classes together. Such an environment—created here through a partnership between academic affairs and student affairs—mirrors the experience found at small residential colleges and encourages continued opportunities for engagement among students.

Following is a roundup of key moments in Scholars history.


1 of 19
1994, College Park Scholars Program Launch
1994
College Park Scholars, under the direction of Dr. Nancy Shapiro, welcomes its first class of Scholars to four programs: Arts; International Studies; Life Sciences; and Science, Technology and Society.

Scholars was the brainchild of William E. “Brit” Kirwan, then–president of UMD; Ira Berlin, then–dean for Undergraduate Studies; Patricia Mielke, then–director of resident life; and Linda Clement, then–director of undergraduate admissions. The program created a partnership between academic affairs and student affairs.

Pictured at the 1994 Cumberland Hall ribbon cutting are (l–r) Shapiro; an unidentified individual; Dan Fallon, then-provost; Kirwan; a Scholars student; and Robert Hampton, then–dean of Undergraduate Studies.
1995, College Park Scholars Advocates
1995
Scholars adds three new programs: Advocates for Children*; Environmental Studies (now Environment, Technology and Economy); and Public Leadership. Pictured are Scholars students from Advocates for Children and other programs meeting with Maryland Rep. Steny Hoyer in the mid-2000s.
1996, Service Day
1996
First annual Service Day takes place.

American Cultures* (later Cultures of the Americas) is added to the roster of Scholars programs.

*The Advocates for Children and Cultures of the Americas Scholars programs concluded in 2007, after having awarded 616 and 866 academic citations, respectively.
1996, Discovery Library Congress
1996
With a grant from the Fund to Improve Postsecondary Education, Scholars' “Discovery” program launches a course on research that would eventually connect students with the Library of Congress, the National Archives, and University Special Collections.
1997, Academic Showcase
1997
Scholars launches its annual Academic Showcase (pictured).

Science, Discovery and the Universe joins the existing eight programs.

Dr. Katherine McAdams, associate professor in the Philip Merrill College of Journalism, is appointed Scholars executive director, as Nancy Shapiro (in photo) moves on to become associate vice-chancellor for academic affairs for the University System of Maryland.
1998, Joint Task Force Student Learning
1998
Scholars is recognized as an exemplary living-learning community by the American Association for Higher Education’s Joint Task Force on Student Learning

Scholars launches Business, Society and the Economy, its tenth program.
1999, Earth Life Time
1999
Scholars adds two programs: Earth, Life and Time (now Science and Global Change) and Media, Self and Society.
2000, Arts Fair Arts Fest
2000
Arts Scholars launches its Arts Fair, now ArtsFest and a regular part of annual Maryland Day festivities.
2001, Maryland Association Higher Education
2001
The Maryland Association for Higher Education honors College Park Scholars as an innovative and effective program and “a natural lab for innovation and experimentation.”
2002, Living Learning Programs That Work
2002
U.S. News and World Report ranks UMD's living–learning initiatives, of which College Park Scholars is the largest, third in the nation in its first assessment of “Programs that Work.”

Greig Stewart joins Scholars as the new executive director, stepping down from his associate dean position in the Philip Merrill College of Journalism.
2005, Service Day Proclamation
2005
A Maryland Governor’s Proclamation and a House of Delegates Citation recognize Scholars’ 10th Annual Service Day.
2009, Lakeland STARs Governors Office
2009
Lakeland STARS, an afterschool tutoring program started in 1996 for local elementary school students, receives a Certificate of Appreciation from the Governor’s Office on Service and Volunteerism.
2010, Global Public Health launch
2010
Scholars adds Global Public Health to its array of programs. Pictured are students from the first cohort at their 2012 citation ceremony.
2014, Justice Legal Thought
2014
Scholars launches the Justice and Legal Thought program.

Dr. Marilee Lindemann, associate professor of English and founding director of Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender Studies, becomes Scholars’ fourth executive director.
2014, College Park Scholars 20th Gala
2014
More than 250 alumni and friends gather together in celebration and recognition of College Park Scholars' 20th anniversary.
2015, Annual Theme
2015
Scholars introduces its annual theme to engage students in a shared intellectual experience.
2018, Scholars In Action
2018
Scholars student group Scholars Promoting and Revitalizing Care (SPARC) launches “30 Days Too Late” campaign, helping to generate momentum for the UMD’s Counseling Center to add five new positions to meet students' mental health needs.

Scholars student group Scholars in Action (pictured with then–UMD President Wallace Loh) is recognized by UMD's Office of Community Engagement with the Making a Difference Award.
2019, College Park Scholars 25th anniversary
2019
Scholars celebrates its 25th anniversary with a year of special events and activities. Pictured are Wiliam E. "Brit" Kirwan (third from left), then–UMD president under whose leadership Scholars was founded, and three of Scholars' four executive directors (l–r), Nancy Shapiro, Marilee Lindemann and Greig Stewart.
2020, Congressional Citation Jamie Raskin
2020
Scholars receives Congressional citation recognizing a quarter-century of academic innovation, interdisciplinary thought and social engagement. Maryland Rep. Jamie Raskin (center) presented the citation during a Scholars event on civic engagement. Also pictured are Wallace Loh, then–UMD president, and Susannah Washburn, director of the Public Leadership Scholars program.