COLLEGE PARK — The University of Maryland, College Park’s future president let his personality shine at an introductory news conference Friday but offered few specifics on what he hopes to accomplish when he takes over this summer.
Darryll J. Pines, dean of the A. James Clark School of Engineering and announced Tuesday as the university’s next president, addressed some of the campus’s ongoing issues with diversity and inclusion. He also said he hoped to build on the legacies of the three presidents he has served under from the time he was an assistant president just hoping to get tenure.
“I, too, intend to follow in President Loh’s footsteps to do B.I.G. things, I mean big things, for our flagship campus with an uncompromising drive for excellence in all that we do,” he said.
Pines, 55, has been at the University of Maryland for nearly 25 years and served under his three predecessors, William “Brit” Kirwan, C.D. “Dan” Mote and Wallace Loh. He also had two children attend the university.
The university has an enrollment of 41,000 students and was ranked 64th in the most recent U.S. News & World Report ranking of national universities. The School of Engineering has an enrollment of more than 4,600 students.
Pines will oversee a faculty and staff of 14,000 people. The university totaled $570 million in research awards last year.
Pines knew Mote before Mote came to College Park, and Pines grew emotional Friday as he described Mote as a friend and mentor.
Loh’s impact at the university can be most easily seen in the buildings and development that have sprung up on campus and along the Route One corridor, including The Hotel at the University of Maryland, where Friday’s news conference was held.
Pines declined to offer specifics on what he plans to do as president but said he hopes to continue to build on what his predecessors accomplished.
“What I would do is build upon these advances in our university,” he said. “And I want to take our university to the very next level in every area of community engagement, academic excellence, high scholarly research and things that do public good for all humans.”
One of the most pressing issues Pines will have to address is diversity and inclusion, especially for people of color. Black enrollment at the university has been in decline
Some students of color have said they feel unsafe. Racist graffiti and symbols have been found on campus, and a black Bowie State University student, Richard Collins III, was murdered on campus three years ago.
Pines described how he worked to improve enrollment of women and students of color in the school of engineering.
The School of Engineering worked with local high schools with diverse populations to help them upgrade their science, technology, engineering and math curriculum and sent current students to those schools as ambassadors.
“It didn’t happen very quickly, but over a period of time,” he said. “It’s a partnership with high schools, … it’s really saying that we care and we really want you to come into College Park.”
He believes that as a land grant university, the University of Maryland should play a significant role in providing an opportunity for everyone. It did for him.
Pines was born the son of “blue-collar workers” in east Oakland, California. He and his siblings were the first generation of their family to go to college.
Pines attended the University of California, Berkley, and said he only could have done so because he received a scholarship.
“(Education) is the only thing that equalizes everything and allows everyone a fair opportunity to achieve their dreams in their careers, and it happened to me and it happens to anyone who goes to a land grant institution,” he said. “It is part of the American dream, it is part of the American fabric.”
Pines also demonstrated charisma and sense of humor that could come to be a calling card of his presidency.
“I am your valentine,” he joked to a room that was filled with university leaders, alumni and boosters who had just given him a standing ovation.
“You guys will know I’m a joker. …It just comes out of me,” he added later.