For the first time since 2006, the University System of Maryland has chosen a student regent from this college.
Senior government and politics major Steven Hershkowitz will take on the position in July. Each year, the USM goes through a long and complicated process to select one representative who will provide a student perspective to the Board of Regents. Once he replaces current Regent Collin Wojciechowski, Hershkowitz will represent all 13 institutions of the system.
"I look forward to getting a better, more rounded perspective on the system from every angle," Hershkowitz said.
Hershkowitz served as the Student Government Association's chief of staff this year and said his experience position last September.
"Applications [for nomination] were going around and I figured since I want to go into education policy and I enjoyed being a student leader and that I had a good grasp of state issues at hand, I felt like I could do a good job in the position," he said.
"I am sure that he will be a vigorous advocate of University System of Maryland students," former SGA President Kaiyi Xie said in a statement.
University President Wallace Loh said he was proud to see Hershkowitz, who he called "poised and articulate," advance to a new role after immersing himself in campus issues.
"He represents the entire system, but there hasn't been a University of Maryland student regent in many, many, many years," Loh said. "The fact that he's a student here, he knows the issues in College Park, that's a benefit."
Each of the 11 schools in the USM has the opportunity to nominate a student for the position. The process for nominating students varies by institution, but once chosen in the fall semester, nominees go through three rounds of interviews before Gov. Martin O'Malley finally selects one for the position in February or March.
In January, USM Chancellor Brit Kirwan interviewed Hershkowitz, who was a finalist along with University of Maryland Baltimore County student Hamza Siddiqui and Towson University student Emmanuel Welsh, and referred him to the O'Malley's office to make the final decision.
In addition to Wojciechowski, a UMBC student also served as Regent in 2008.
However, this campus rarely hosts a student in the position, which has full voting power. Loh said some attribute that to this university being the flagship institution.
"One can ask whether other student regents fairly represented [this university]," he said. "We are 50 percent of the whole system."
USM spokesperson Mike Lurie said a range of qualities factor in to the selection process.
"It's nice when it works out that way, like it has in the last five years, but whether or not they're from the flagship school is not considered," Lurie said.
Hershkowitz said he does not think his alma mater should matter because the system is designed to be fair and foster diversity.
"The process works the way it should work - there's a rotation," he said. "The only way the system is going to work is if everyone has a chance. I'm not just representing College Park; I'm also representing the other institutions."
Hershkowitz added after sitting in on some of the council meetings, he recognized that many of the schools shared common issues and the "challenges of coming from the flagship institution are less than they may seem."
"It's really tempting to come into the position with an agenda," he said.
However, Hershkowitz added, "It's hard to tell which issues I really want to make an effort on until I get a better perspective."
Hershkowitz said he already plans to continue Wojciechowski's work on student fees and explore several issues, including nontraditional learning programs and system-wide open-source textbook initiatives.
"I'm looking forward to getting to know the issues of the other schools, getting a feel for their perspectives and getting to know their student leaders."