By Mark F. Gray
AFRO Staff Writer
mgray@afro.com

Despite a national search, the University of Maryland looked to its engineering building to find its next president. It was recently announced that Darryll J. Pines was chosen to become the 34th president of the University of Maryland, College Park after serving as dean of the university’s A. James Clark School of Engineering. 

Pines, 55, will be the second Black leader of the state’s flagship university.  John Slaughter, who was the first, served as chancellor from 1982 to 1988, before the official title was changed to president.  Pines is replacing Wallace Loh, whose tenure will end following the spring semester, and will officially assume the position on July 1.

Darryll J. Pines was chosen to become the 34th president of the University of Maryland, College Park (Courtesy Photo)

“I’m excited by this new challenge and can’t wait to listen, learn and lead this incredible university,” Pines said in a statement released by the university.  “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’ve known him as an outstanding teacher, a dedicated mentor, a brilliant researcher and an extraordinary leader,” said university chancellor Jay A. Perman in his statement.  “UMD will be led by a member of its own family, by someone who knows so well its people and programs, its considerable strengths and enormous potential.

Pines began his career in College Park 25 years ago as an assistant professor before serving as the chair of the Department of Aerospace Engineering from 2006 to 2009. He is noted for his leadership of the engineering school that has experienced unprecedented growth under his watch. During his tenure, the Clark school has been credited for prioritizing teaching improvements in undergraduate courses and boosting student retention rates. Pines also brought credibility to the department through its success in national and worldwide student competitions. 

UMD’s Solar Decathlon team placed first worldwide in the 2011 competition. The Clark School’s Engineers Without Borders chapter is considered one of the best in the country, and his Engineering Sustainability Workshop initiative has become a signature on campus event.

Pines has also placed an emphasis on sustainability engineering and service learning. He is known as a proponent for STEM education among high school students and for the impact of Maryland’s expansive research programs.

During a three-year leave of absence, he worked as a program manager at the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency. He initiated five programs related to the development of aerospace technologies and was awarded the Department of Defense’s Distinguished Service Medal. In 2019, Dr. Pines was elected to the National Academy of Engineering for  “inspirational leadership and contributions to engineering education.”

 Perhaps more important than his academic work, Pines is an accomplished fundraiser as well.  He raised $240 million, 30 percent over the school’s $185 million goal. In UMD’s current campaign, the Clark School has raised nearly $504 million, which exceeded the goal of $500 million.