By A.R. Cabral

For nearly 25 years, Darryll Pines has been stopping at Bagel Place on his way into work. His interactions with workers there have always been pleasant — but also unremarkable. And then he became president of the University of Maryland (UMD), and everything changed.

DarryllPines 2
Darryll Pines was appointed president of the University of Maryland in July 2020.
Courtesy of the University of Maryland

“The day I was announced president, I go in there, maybe two days later. Same person, and I can tell everything has changed. They go, ‘I think that’s him!’ And I’m the same person who has been coming here for 25 years,” Pines exclaimed, adding, “When you’re an unknown figure, all you have to do is become somebody called the president, and your whole thing changes.”

These days, his order is ready before he even walks through the door.

It’s been just over a year since Pines became one of College Park’s most notable residents — he began serving as president in July 2020, but wasn’t inaugurated until April 2021, due to restrictions on in-person gatherings. He is continuing to find new ways of interacting with city residents, all the while focusing on addressing their concerns.

When he is not overseeing the largest school in Maryland, Pines is often out walking his 8-year-old Goldendoodle, Rocky. Pines enjoys the many trails in College Park, particularly those around Lake Artemesia.

With his background in aerospace engineering, he is naturally drawn to the College Park airport, too. Pines was the dean of UMD’s A. James Clark School of Engineering before assuming his role as president.

President Pines sat down with the Here & Now in August to discuss a number of issues impacting the city. The Western Gateway development, for example, has garnered interest from residents because it would clear nine acres of forest to make way for graduate student housing.

“From a university perspective first, there is a need for affordable graduate housing,” he said, citing the Western Gateway project. “For 30 to 40 years, there has only been two parcels of land that have graduate housing: Graduate Hills and Graduate Gardens.”

To learn more about residents’ concerns about the development, he met with leaders of Save Guilford Woods, a group that’s advocating to protect the forested acres slated for development.

Residents have also organized in opposition to the university’s plans to demolish portions of the Paint Branch Golf Complex to make way for new track and field facilities. The Friends of Paint Branch Golf Course meet each week to mobilize support for the existing complex, which is the only municipal golf course in northern Prince George’s County. 

Pines said that he supported the collaboration between the university and county to advance this project. “We simply want to build a track and field complex, and we want to share that track and field complex with the community,” he said. “When we are not doing activities there, we would provide all the maintenance, and they’d be able to do track and field events for high schools and maybe for the State of Maryland championships.”

Pines also touted the university’s collaboration with the city in developing the Discovery District.

The Terrapin Development Company, co-owned by UMD and the University of Maryland College Park Foundation, has been developing and implementing plans to make Baltimore Avenue more walkable. Pines couldn’t be happier about this initiative.

“We care about all the same things that the city cares about and the community cares about,” he said. “We want to be good neighbors; we are looking to enhance the area where people live, work and play around here.”

The university is enrolling more students than ever before during Pines’ tenure — 37,961 last spring, alone. Applications are also at an all-time high, with more than 50,000 submitted for enrollment so far this year, according to a university spokesperson. 

“What we are really trying to do is accommodate that interest,” said Pines.. “We have the capacity to handle it.”

Pines attributes the rise in applications to the range of new majors offered by the school, including programs offered by the School of Public Policy, the School of Public Health and the College of Information Studies.

When asked about the university’s preparations for in-person classes this fall, Pines was confident that students can safely return to campus. “We need to learn how to be safe and healthy. I think we will do a really good job for our students this fall.”

Now that Pines is President Pines, he has a bit more on his mind most mornings. But he still heads over to Bagel Place for his sausage and cheese on toast and a friendly hello.