Breaking the M.O.L.D. Program


August 15th & 16th, 2022 Skylight Room University of Maryland Baltimore County

Guest Speakers

UMBC President Dr. Valerie Sheares Ashby

Valerie Sheares Ashby was appointed to the presidency of UMBC on August 1, 2022. She is the first woman to serve in this role. Sheares Ashby previously served as dean of Duke University’s Trinity College of Arts & Sciences. In this role since 2015, she led a 700-person faculty spanning nearly 40 departments and programs in rethinking what it means to deliver a world-class liberal arts education while navigating a pandemic and consistently promoting diversity and inclusion as a means of achieving excellence in both teaching and research. Sheares Ashby came to Duke from UNC, where she served on the faculty since 2003 and chaired the chemistry department from 2012 to 2015. In her role as department chair, she was instrumental in UNC’s collaboration with UMBC to launch the Chancellor’s Science Scholars Program, among the earliest Meyerhoff Scholars replication pilots at an R1 institution. She began her academic career at Iowa State University as an assistant professor in 1996, and was promoted to associate professor in 2002. While at Iowa State, Sheares Ashby was a mentor for the Iowa State University Program for Women in Science & Engineering, a summer research program for undergraduate and high school students. As a researcher, Sheares Ashby has focused on synthetic polymer chemistry with an emphasis on designing and synthesizing materials for biomedical applications such as X-ray contrast agents and drug delivery materials. She is the recipient of the National Science Foundation Career Development Award, DuPont Young Faculty Award, and 3M Young Faculty Award, as well as numerous teaching awards. She received her B.A. and Ph.D degrees in chemistry from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill (UNC) and completed postdoctoral research at Universitat Mainz in Germany as a National Science Foundation Postdoctoral Fellow and NATO Postdoctoral Fellow.


Morgan State University Provost &
Senior Vice President
Dr. Hongtao Yu

Dr. Hongtao Yu, Provost and Senior Vice President for Academic Affairs at Morgan State University, and Professor of Chemistry, obtained his Bachelor’s degree in chemistry from the University of Science and Technology of China and Master’s degree from the Chinese Academy of Sciences.  Then he went to Germany and obtained Doctoral degree in bioorganic chemistry from the Technical University of Munich.  After graduation, he came to the U.S. and did postdoctoral fellowships at Louisiana State University and the University of Texas at Austin. In 1996, he was hired as an assistant professor of chemistry at Jackson State University and promoted to associate and full professor.  He served as Chair of the Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry at Jackson State University for thirteen years and then served as dean of the School of Computer, Mathematical and Natural Sciences at Morgan State for five years. Five years’ service as Dean of the School, he was able to increase the its enrollment by 30% and external funding four-fold.  While serving as Chair of the Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry at Jackson State University, he guided the Department to Top three national programs awarding BS, MS, and PhD chemistry degrees to African Americans and top 75 Chemistry Departments nationally for federal funding. Dr. Yu received numerous awards including the “Stanley C. Israel Award” by the American Chemical Society in 2011 for promoting diversity in the chemical sciences, “Outstanding Contribution to Science” by the Mississippi Academy of Sciences in 2014, “HBCU Pioneer Award” by the National Organization for the Advancement of Black Chemists and Chemical Engineers in 2015, “Diversity of Excellence Award” by the Mississippi State Board of Trustees of the Institutions of Higher Learning in 2016, and “Humanitarian Award” by the National Technical Association in 2021.  He also served as the President of the Mississippi Academy of Sciences in 2015-2016. Dr. Yu is listed as a top 2% scientist in the world with over 150 peer-reviewed publications.  His research includes toxicological studies of various chemicals, design of novel nanomaterials, environmental photochemistry, anticancer drug design and mechanism of action study, and DNA structure and function.  He has been an invited speaker by over 50 universities in the U.S. and abroad.  His research and education programs have been funded by the National Institutes of Health, National Science Foundation, Department of Defense agencies, and Nuclear Regulatory Commission.  Dr. Yu and his wife Agnes have three sons and serve in the local Christian churches wherever they live.

University of Maryland College Park Provost
Dr. Jennifer King Rice

Jennifer King Rice was appointed as Senior Vice President for Academic Affairs and Provost at the University of Maryland in July 2021. She was previously dean of the College of Education, where she focused her efforts to align educational resources with initiatives to advance excellence, equity and social justice in preschool through graduate school. Rice has served on the faculty and in college leadership roles at UMD for more than 25 years, and has been recognized as a UMD Distinguished Scholar-Teacher. Before coming to Maryland, she was a researcher at Mathematica Policy Research in Washington, D.C. Rice’s scholarship draws on the disciplines of economics and philosophy to study policy questions concerning excellence and equity in K-12 education systems. An expert on school finance and teacher policy, she regularly advises state and federal agencies. A prolific scholar, she has served on the editorial boards of American Educational Research Journal, Educational Evaluation and Policy Analysis and Education Finance and Policy. She is a fellow of the American Education Research Association, and has been a National Academy of Education/Spencer Foundation postdoctoral fellow and a visiting fellow at the Urban Institute.  She is a past president of the Association for Education Finance and Policy. She completed her B.S. in Mathematics and English at Marquette University and earned her M.S. and Ph.D. in Educational Administration and Social Foundations from Cornell University.



Opening remarks by guest speakers, panels presented by Breaking the M.O.L.D. principal investigators and leaders-in-residence, workshop by Humetricshssinteractive sessions, closing reception. Arts and Humanities disciplines train their practitioners to understand the human experience as lived or performed, and in turn, cultivate important leadership skills such as imagination, compassion, and understanding. Breaking the M.O.L.D. initiative aims to develop a diverse set of leaders inclusive of these fields, and shaped by arts and humanities scholarly values and distinct skills.  The main goal of the project is to break ground by creating a new training program for academic leaders on more expansive and inclusive leadership searches. Additionally we hope to build a potential model for how other state systems might generate partnerships between PWIs, HBCUs and HSIs to advance diverse academic leadership, inclusive of the arts and humanities. You can see more images from Breaking the M.O.L.D. program opening event here: Media and Immage Gallery