The University of Maryland is a public research university, founded in 1856. Its prime location is the city of College Park, where the university enrolls more than 37 thousand students. The institution has significantly improved its reputation and accomplishments during the last two decades, and is currently ranked 12th among all public U.S. universities and 36th worldwide. They have also been named one of the top 18 ‘green universities’ in the United States.
Furthermore, the university is a member of the Association of American Universities, and a founding member of the Atlantic Coast conference athletic league. The University of Maryland is the biggest institution of higher education in the state as well as in the Washington Metropolitan Area. The fact that the university is this close to the US capital has resulted in close research partnerships with the Federal government. Research funding is received by a good number of faculty members from agencies like the National Institutes of Health, the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) and the Department of Homeland Security.
In 2008, the university published a new ten-year strategic plan, including plans for building on-campus graduate student housing and a state-of-the-art music and entertainment center. There have also been discussions over the construction of a light-rail line through campus.