Towson University announces launch of The Dr. Nancy Grasmick Leadership Institute

February 22, 2021

Alumna and honored Maryland leader lends vision, philanthropic support to Institute furthering TU’s mission as anchor institution providing leadership for the public good

nancy grasmick

Towson University is launching The Dr. Nancy Grasmick Leadership Institute, an interdisciplinary engaged research and practice institute, in summer 2021. The Institute’s goal is to forge a new standard of innovative practice and pedagogy that advances the development of leadership for the region, state and nation.

The Institute is named for Dr. Nancy Grasmick, Towson University alumna, presidential scholar and a visionary leader as state superintendent of the Maryland State Department of Education from 1991–2011. Grasmick’s vision and philanthropic support, as well as her passion for developing and mentoring leaders, were instrumental in the creation of the Institute and its focus. 

"Great leadership always matters," Grasmick says. "The Institute will serve greater Baltimore, our state, the mid-Atlantic region and beyond. Whether supporting individuals at varying levels of career growth or organizations seeking to provide growth opportunities for their leaders, the Institute will challenge the status quo of leadership development and propel our region forward."

For 20 years, Grasmick led the state’s 1,424 schools as superintendent, with Maryland ranked as the top public schools system in the nation for five consecutive years during her tenure. In 2012, she was appointed TU’s presidential scholar and currently is a member of the TU Board of Visitors. Grasmick has served on many professional and civic boards, including that of the United States Army War College, and is the first female president of the Kennedy-Krieger Institute Board of Directors.

"This is being realized because of Nancy Grasmick. She was absolutely the catalyst," says TU President Kim Schatzel. "After the significant impact of Towson University’s Professional Leadership Program for Women, Dr. Grasmick saw the opportunity for TU to greatly expand that important work through a new comprehensive Institute to serve leaders across all industry sectors and throughout their professional journey. Her dedication to seeing the Institute realized and her influence as a leadership visionary have truly had a profound impact."

The Institute will offer development programs, coaching and counsel and organizational support services for individuals as well as teams of leaders. It will also sponsor research and events to advance the practice of leadership. The Institute builds on Towson University’s ongoing commitment to community and business engagement while serving as a key regional and state anchor institution uniquely positioned to support leadership recruitment, development and retention.

"Everyone is hungry for great leaders," Grasmick says. "The success of individuals, of corporations, of government—all of these entities need great leadership."

The announcement of The Dr. Nancy Grasmick Leadership Institute follows a series of million-dollar gifts announced by the university in the past six months, as philanthropic giving has grown alongside the momentum of the university.

Support from the surrounding community has been crucial to the development of the initiative and will remain imperative to its growth through launch.

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The development of the Institute required collaborative, intensive and strategic efforts. To deliver on its transformational strategy, TU senior staff and researchers engaged 125 CEOs, senior leaders and experts from more than 75 regional organizations in a comprehensive stakeholder engagement process. This practice-based approach will continue to inform the development of future program offerings.

"What’s happened during the pandemic has only upped the game," says Mary Ann Scully, CEO of Howard Bank and vice-chair of The Greater Baltimore Committee. "The ability for something like The Dr. Nancy Grasmick Leadership Institute at Towson University to bring together the expertise, but also to bring together people at different levels, that’s going to provide the kind of diversity that leads to innovation. And we’ve got to be innovative."

More information will be shared in the coming weeks and months in advance of a summer 2021 launch of the Institute. Find more information, video content and how to engage with the Institute at