Presidential and Board of Regents Awards (2012)

Tim Finin | Terry Bouton | Paul S. Ciotta | Cheryl P. Johnson | Bimal Sinha | Penny Rheingans | James Lord | Phyllis Robinson | Michele Wolff

Presidential Research Award


Tim Finin
Professor, Psychology
Presidential Research Award, 2012-2015

Tim Finin, an internationally recognized authority on artificial intelligence, joined UMBC in 1991. He has been a leader in artificial intelligence and intelligent agent research since the 1970s, and he was a pioneer of the subject in the computer science and electrical engineering program at UMBC.

His recent work, which focuses on the interactions between humans and intelligent agents online, has been published in more than 100 journals and conference proceedings within the last five years. Finin has been instrumental in creating several major conferences and workshops in the fields of Semantic Web, ubiquitous computing and web services. In 2009, he received the IEEE Technical Achievement Award for “pioneering contributions to Distributed Intelligent Systems.”

He is widely regarded and respected as a valuable asset to UMBC, both as the former chair of the Department of Computer Science and as an instructor for a wide variety of classes, from foundational core courses to advanced special topics. He is known for his enthusiasm for computer science research and excellence as a mentor.

Finin earned his S.B. in electrical engineering from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and Ph.D in computer science from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.

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Presidential Teaching Award


Terry Bouton
Associate Professor, History
Presidential Teaching Award, 2012-2015

Terry Bouton joined the UMBC faculty in 2001. Today, as associate professor of history, he is a nationally recognized scholar in American revolutionary and early republic history, and teaches a number of different courses. He is in great demand not only as a professor in undergraduate courses, but also as a graduate student instructor and mentor.

Students and colleagues praise Bouton for his abilities as a classroom instructor and talent as a mentor. He is known for getting students excited and motivated about studying history and for bringing the depth of his research to the classroom. In the past three years, he chaired or was a member of 13 M.A. thesis committees, a significant investment of time and energy for which he provided advice and sophisticated analysis.

He is also known for helping students acquire and sharpen writing and analytical skills. He encourages them to use their work in history to develop good research, as well as writing and oral communication skills. His colleagues often turn to him for advice on best practices and the use of technology in the classroom.

Bouton earned his B.S. in industrial and labor relations from Cornell University, M.A. in history from Duke University and Ph.D in history from Duke University.

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Presidential Distinguished Award


Paul S. Ciotta
Technical Coordinator and Facilities Manager, Physics
Presidential Distinguished Award, Professional Staff, 2012-2013

For the past 38 years, Paul S. Ciotta has served the UMBC community and is currently the technical coordinator and facilities manager for the Department of Physics.

Ciotta is known for his professionalism and eagerness to rise to a challenge. During the construction of the physics building, he coordinated with architects, engineers and university representatives, sometimes working 60-hour weeks. He gathered technical data—including information on HVAC, electric, plumbing, communications and space requirements—from the faculty and presented it to the building design team, and then ensured that they were properly implemented.

At the time, there was no astrophysics faculty, and he was responsible for purchasing the $500,000 telescope. He spent countless hours reading, studying and speaking to experts before approaching manufacturers, and then worked out the exact specifications and planned the installation on the new Physics Building roof.

His ability to adapt, learn new technology and solve problems across a variety of disciplines make him an invaluable asset to the department.

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Cheryl P. Johnson
Grants Specialist, Office of Contract and Grant Accounting
Presidential Distinguished Staff Award, Non-Exempt Staff, 2012-2013

While serving the UMBC community for 11 years, Cheryl Johnson has demonstrated outstanding operational and technical expertise, excellent customer service qualities and dedication. In her role as grants specialist, the Office of Contract and Grant Accounting (OCGA) relies on her as a resource for resolving issues, troubleshooting and enforcing policies.

While OCGA underwent a major reorganization in 2010, Johnson adapted quickly, took on new duties, demonstrated a willingness to work late to meet deadlines as demanded by the changes, all despite the lack of a merit increase.

In addition to the exceptional service she provides to external customers, she is known internally at UMBC for her positive attitude, encouraging disposition, professionalism and high standards, and she is considered the “quiet leader” of OCGA.

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Board of Regents’ Award for Excellence in Research


Bimal Sinha
Professor, Mathematics and Statistics
USM Board of Regents’ Award for Excellence in Research, 2012-2013

Since joining UMBC as a full professor in 1985, Bimal Sinha has served the Department of Mathematics and Statistics with world-class scholarship, outstanding teaching and mentoring. An internationally recognized scholar, Sinha has established himself as a leading authority in the field of environmental statistics. His work informed groundwater contamination enforcement and compliance decisions, and the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has funded his work since 1987.

Sinha’s leadership was instrumental in developing UMBC’s statistics program, which has become internationally renowned for research excellence. He developed and organized the popular “Probability and Statistics Day”, an annual one-day workshop at UMBC, funded in part by the National Security Administration. The event attracts statisticians from universities, private industries and the federal government.

Sinha’s research has appeared in numerous publications, including the International Journal of Statistical Sciences and Journal of Biopharmaceutical Statistics. He is an elected member of the International Statistical Institute, and the U.S. Census Bureau has named him a Research Mathematical Statistician.

Sinha earned his B.S., M.S. and Ph.D in statistics from Calcutta University.

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Board of Regents’ Award for Excellence in Mentoring


Penny Rheingans
Professor, Computer Science and Electrical Engineering
USM Board of Regents’ Award for Excellence in Mentoring, 2012-2013

Dr. Penny Rheingans joined UMBC in 1998 and is renowned for the leadership she provides to students and the campus community. She has mentored over 120 students as professor of computer science and electrical engineering and more than 100 more students as director of the Center for Women and Information Technology (CWIT), where she promotes a culture of excellence. She assists students in becoming mentors for others through the CWIT Affiliates Program, which launched under her leadership in 2009.

She is an advocate for developing mentoring opportunities for women in engineering and information technology majors. Her protégés have benefited from her advice, the active role she takes in problem solving, her feedback and her sense of humor.

An active researcher, Rheingans has been published in over 70 publications, many of them with student co-authors. The impact of her leadership is felt throughout the College of Engineering and Information Technology and UMBC as a whole, but also in Maryland and across the nation as CWIT scholars become successful graduates and professionals.

Rheingans earned her A.B. in computer science from Harvard University, M.S. in computer science from the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill and Ph.D in computer science from the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill.

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Board of Regents’ Award for Exceptional Contributions to the Mission of UMBC


James Lord
Design Director, Creative Services, Office of Institutional Advancement
USM Board of Regents’ Award for Exceptional Contributions to the Mission of UMBC, 2011-2012

From earning his B.A. in graphic design from UMBC in 1999 to his current position as head of Creative Services, Jim Lord has a unique understanding of the university, and it is reflected in his work, which is used to shape how others see the university. He oversees over 700 creative projects each year for more than 40 departments on campus, including logos, websites, the artistic vision for UMBC Magazine and “We’re Number One” campus signs.

Lord is often asked to bring his visual sense to broader university projects. Some of his projects include the Retrievers logo, The Commons logo, the undergraduate viewbook, Homecoming branding, and the think. create. engage. logo for the new Arts and Humanities campaign. He contributed both the name and design for the university’s Exceptional by Example campaign. Under his art direction and leadership, UMBC Magazine won four national design awards after only six issues.

Having started in Creative Services as a student and worked his way up to director, he understands the importance of real-world experience for graphic designers and supports students through mentoring, internships and work opportunities.

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UMBC President’s Commission for Women Achievement Award


Phyllis Robinson
Professor, Biological Sciences
UMBC President’s Commission for Woman Achievement Award, 2012-2013

Phyllis Robinson has been a campus advocate on behalf of women and devoted to gender equity issues since first joining UMBC in 1992. Shortly after receiving tenure in 1999, she co-chaired a committee to investigate the gender differences in resources for female faculty in STEM fields. Her goal was to make UMBC as famous for its support of women in science as it is for the success of the Meyerhoff Scholars. In 2000, she was instrumental in the creation of Women in Science and Engineering (WISE), a group dedicated to addressing the challenges faced by women in STEM fields, and to give them support in male-dominated disciplines and departments.

For the next decade, WISE established resources and a community of support, organizing workshops on a variety of topics, including tenure, time management and health. She helped establish a formal family medical leave policy at UMBC, encouraged women to seek leadership roles on campus, and extended WISE to graduate students. Over the past decade, the number of female tenure-track faculty has more than doubled.

Robinson’s work and enthusiasm has helped advance the careers of women in the sciences at UMBC, all while maintaining a well funded research program, mentoring and training eight Ph.D students, four M.S. students and 29 undergraduate students in her lab.

Robinson earned her Ph.D from the University of Wisconsin and was a postdoctoral fellow at Brandeis University.

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Jakubik Family Endowment Staff Award


Michele Wolff
Director, Shriver Center
Jakubik Family Endowment Staff Awardd, 2012-2013

Michele Wolff joined UMBC in 1988 as a full-time sociology graduate student. Upon receiving her degree, she began her career as coordinator of internships and service-learning at what was then called the Office of Professional Practice, which was ultimately renamed The Shriver Center, where she now serves as director.

Under her leadership, internships and co-ops have grown 97%, and over 1,200 students are placed in service, non-profit organizations and area businesses each year. A number of other campus programs have thrived and grown under her direction, including the Choice Program, the Peaceworker Program, the Shriver Living Learning Community (SLLC), K-16 partnerships, campus partnerships and service-learning opportunities for UMBC students throughout the greater Baltimore area.

She has been a strong advocate for applied experiences during students’ undergraduate years, and has worked tirelessly to ensure that a wide selection of positions, both service and paid, on-campus and off, internship and co-op, are easy for students to access under one unified program.

Wolff continues to be a champion for applied learning experiences, and through her contributions and direction, students are ensured enriching and deep learning experiences in addition to their classroom studies.

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