Coastal Ecology Center Dedicated to Paul S. Sarbanes

  • Monday, June 16, 2008

    Sarbanes, Senator Paul S.PRINCESS ANNE, MD -- Former U.S. Sen. Paul S. Sarbanes (D-MD) was honored today at a dedication ceremony at the University of Maryland Eastern Shore's marine science teaching and research facility at Assateague.  Sarbanes, Maryland's longest consecutive serving senator, was invaluable in the establishment of the facility.

    "I am extremely grateful for the recognition and honor bestowed upon me by UMES in naming this center for me.  It is my hope that the Paul S. Sarbanes Coastal Ecology Center is another important addition to UMES' already outstanding research and educational offerings," said Senator Sarbanes.  "We are coming more and more to recognize how important natural science programs are to the State."

    The Board of Regents of the University System of Maryland (USM) recently approved naming the facility the Paul S. Sarbanes Coastal Ecology Center.  "Renaming this facility in honor of Senator Sarbanes is fitting recognition for his distinguished career in public service and, in particular, for his national leadership and commitment to addressing environmental issues," said USM Chancellor William E. Kirwan.  The Center is the first building in the University System of Maryland to be named after the former senator.

    "This is an auspicious occasion in the history of the University of Maryland Eastern Shore and the history of Maryland as we recognize and honor one of Maryland's greatest citizens and public figures.  As a result of Sen. Sarbanes' tireless efforts, the Coastal Ecology Center has greatly expanded opportunities for instruction, research and extension in collaboration with key environmental players in this region," said UMES President Thelma B. Thompson.

    Paul S. Sarbanes Coastal Ecology CenterAs the only facility in Maryland dedicated to the study of coastal processes and preservation of Maryland's Atlantic coast, the Center has served as a base for Coastal Bays teaching and research activities.  It has reached students in grades K through 12 through the Eastern Shore Education and Restoration Program and Upward Bound as well as undergraduate students in a joint UMES/Salisbury University dual degree program in biology and environmental sciences, undergraduate and graduate students in Marine and Environmental Sciences at UMES and for students of the University of Maryland Center for Environmental Science.

    Various environmental agencies benefit from use of the facility.  The Maryland Department of Natural Resources monitors fisheries activity and conducts blue crab research at the Center.  Using the facility as a work site, the Environmental Protection Agency monitors water quality through its National Estuary Program and NASA conducts remote sensing activities. Groups including the National Park Service, Maryland Coastal Bays Program, Assateague Coastal Trust and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service use the Center as a meeting place.

    Planning for the facility began in 1988 with the university maintaining temporary laboratory facilities at Assateague Island in cooperation with the U.S. National Parks Service.  With the New Year's storm of 1992, these facilities became unavailable to UMES.  Sarbanes, in collaboration with then presi

    dent Dr. William P. Hytche, intensified his efforts to have a permanent Center built.

    Despite obstacles, Sarbanes was able to secure $1.5 million in funding for the Center in 1999 through the Economic Development Initiative (EDI) account.  The State of Maryland matched the federal funds with UMES redirecting $1.5 million in USDA Land Grand facilities funds to complete the Center.  The Center has been in continuous operation since its opening on April 25, 2005.

    Sarbanes made history in November 2000 by winning re-election to an unprecedented fifth term to the U.S. Senate.  He worked for the people of Maryland for more than four decades, first as a member of the Maryland House of Delegates and then serving as a congressman from the 3rd Congressional District for three terms.  From 1977 to 2007, he served in the U.S. Senate as the Ranking Member of the Senate Banking, Housing and Urban Affairs Committee and was a senior member of the Foreign Relations, Budget and Joint Economic committees.

    In honor of the renaming of the facility, the Paul S. Sarbanes Endowment Fund will be created to provide scholarships for undergraduate and graduate UMES students studying environmental and marine sciences.  For more information, contact the Office of Public Relations at 410-621-2355 or by email at sstreet@umes.edu.                                                                                    

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    Gail Stephens, assistant director, UMES Office of Public Relations, 410-651-7580, gcstephens@umes.edu.

    Suzanne Waters Street, director, UMES Office of Public Relations, 410-621-2355, sstreet@umes.edu.