St. Mary’s College of Maryland’s president took the opportunity to tout her institution’s recent accolades to the St. Mary’s County commissioners yesterday.
Tuajuanda Jordan presented the state of the college at the commissioners’ meeting, where she provided information about local impact and engagement, capital projects, curricular innovation and state and national prominence.
The college is Southern Maryland’s only four-year institution. While the facility is a liberal arts college, 30% of graduates are STEM students, she said.
“We provide a liberal education offering broad exposure to natural and social sciences, the arts and humanities, as well as deep learning in a single discipline that requires interdisciplinary understanding,” Jordan told commissioners.
St. Mary’s College is a small institution with a significant impact, she said, adding it is a public honors college, which provides access, affordability, diversity and excellence to students.
The school is nationally ranked and recognized, called the fifth best public liberal arts college in the nation by U.S. News and World Report magazine.
Last fall, the total number of undergraduates was 1,491, with 196 from St. Mary’s County, only 13%. The total number of new first-year students was 320, with 30 being from the county.
“The number of county students is steadily increasing,” Jordan said.
The college is known as an entertainment, cultural, intellectual and social hub in St. Mary’s as it offers a large number of community resources, such as concerts, lectures and athletic events.
Construction of Jamie L. Roberts Stadium was completed last fall, which includes two lighted fields — a turf field sits on one side of the athletic facility, and a grass field on the other. The two-story athletic facility includes training and locker rooms on the first floor, with two small VIP rooms, two booths for recording games and a small reception area on the second floor. The facility can be used by the community for a fee.
A new academic building is on the books, with construction scheduled to begin this spring. The building will include a cafe and a 700-seat auditorium that will be able to support the growth in science, technology, engineering and mathematics disciplines at the college
One goal of the college this year is curricular innovation.
“At St. Mary’s College, we are doing job preparation differently,” Jordan said.
The school is restructuring for the 21st century, through liberal arts career preparation and partnerships with local businesses and the community, she said.
“Learning through Experiential and Applied Discovery” is the college’s initiative that aims to guarantee research experience or internships for every student through partnerships with Historic St. Mary’s City, Southern Maryland Electric Cooperative, The Patuxent Partnership and other organizations.
Jordan said the college is also looking at transportation planning regarding safety improvements to Mattapany Road, funded by the county, and phase two of pedestrian walkways along Route 5, which will be state and federally funded.
Chip Jackson, the college’s government relations liaison, was in attendance Tuesday at the Chesapeake Building to emphasize the dangers posed on Mattapany Road, which sits adjacent to the college.
This section of road “doesn’t meet safety standards,” is too narrow and there are no shoulders, Jackson told commissioners.
Commissioner Eric Colvin (R) said that Mattapany is one of the “oldest stretches of road in the entire state” and that construction is “definitely needed” but has its “engineering challenges.”
Jackson said that there is no room for cars on the road, and often they drive off the road and need to be pulled out of mud. He asked commissioners to put funding back in the budget for the project, but that he won’t know exactly how much it will cost until he gathers more information.