Dear University of Maryland Honors Students,
Welcome to the Honors College Fall 2020! The first day of classes is always my favorite day of the school year. There is a sense of adventure beginning, fresh encounters with new and old friends, and for me, the single greatest joy of being a part of the University of Maryland community for the past twenty years: the sense that anything is possible when you walk into a class for the first time and see the promise and potential in everyone’s eyes—and the mystery of what will happen!
I ask you to treasure this day. Whether you are a new or returning student, living on-campus or off, I want you to know how delighted we are that you are a part of our Honors community, and just how much we have in store for you this year. The ideas, the experiences, the people you come into contact with here will change the rest of your life. You will have doors opened by extraordinary courses and close contact with some of the most distinguished scholars and teachers in the university; access to remarkable experiences and unique Maryland/DC/Virginia area opportunities; and you’ll be a part of the most innovative Honors program and the most dynamic, inspiring, and friendly community of Honors students in the country.
I know this is a difficult moment, as we face multiple challenges of public health, systemic racism and structural inequality, democracy and governance, the environment and our planet. But every moment of crisis is also a moment of opportunity—when you can feel that things really matter, that what you do and think matters, and that the path to the future is in your hands. It is for this reason that I am not only hopeful about this year, but I know that together, through the care we take of one another, and the courage and imagination with which we seize on the possibilities in Honors, we can make this year a memorable and meaningful experience of greater impact than any college year in my lifetime.
This year is the beginning of a New Deal for Honors at the University of Maryland. Part of this involves many incredible new academic programs, personnel, and opportunities beginning this year, making for a new chapter not only in Maryland Honors but Honors education nationally. Watch for more details on this soon coming from me and others throughout the Honors College!
But the most important part of our New Deal for Honors lies in our mission and culture of inclusive excellence: which binds the pursuit of academic excellence to values of difference and diversity, and uses the power of knowledge to promote justice, equity, and engagement with the world.
Honors only matters if Black Lives matter in its vision—and actions.
Honors is honorable precisely to the degree that it welcomes the differences that define us all and helps us make a better world pursuant to them.
Martin Luther King once said: “Intelligence plus character—that is the true goal of education.” What better way to define Honors—the pursuit of vast, challenging vistas of knowledge, and the cultivation of a sense of self, outside the shadows of one’s self, through which the power of this knowledge becomes accountable to others!
This is the New Deal for Honors at the University of Maryland; it is part of the adventure we set off on together this year, and which every one of you will explore with all the incredible array of different insights, interests, convictions, and backgrounds you bring to our community. I look forward to meeting each and every one of you, and again, welcome to the Honors experience for this year.
Dr. Peter Lancelot Mallios
Executive Director, Honors College
Associate Professor, English Department
University of Maryland, College Park