The University of Maryland, College Park (also known as UM, UMD, or UMCP) is a public university located in the city of College Park, in Prince George's County, Maryland, just outside Washington, D.C., in the United States. Founded in 1856, the University of Maryland is the flagship institution of the state of Maryland, and is considered to be a "Public Ivy" by authors Howard and Matthew Greene of Greene's Guides (2001), defined by the authors as a public institution that "provides an Ivy League collegiate experience at a public school price". The University is most often referred to as the University of Maryland or simply Maryland, even though its formal name remains University of Maryland, College Park.
The University of Maryland's location near Washington, D.C., has created strong research partnerships, especially with government agencies. Many of the faculty members have funding from federal agencies such as the National Science Foundation, the National Institutes of Health, the National Aeronautics and Space Administration, the Department of Defense, and the National Security Agency. It is a member of the Association of American Universities.
As of fiscal year 2007, the University of Maryland, College Park's operating budget was projected to be approximately $1.352 billion. The University has also raised more than $400 million in private donations in its recent "Great Expectations" campaign.
On March 6, 1856, the forerunner of today's University of Maryland was chartered as the Maryland Agricultural College (MAC). Two years later, Charles Benedict Calvert, a descendant of the Barons Baltimore and a future U.S. Congressman, purchased 420 acres (1.7 kmē) of the Riverdale Plantation in College Park for $21,000. Calvert founded the school later that year with money earned by the sale of stock certificates. On October 6, 1859, the first 34 students entered the Maryland Agricultural College, including four of Charles Calvert's sons, George, Charles, William and Eugene. The keynote speaker on opening day was Joseph Henry, the first Secretary of the Smithsonian Institution.
In July 1862, the same month that the MAC awarded its first degrees, President Lincoln signed the Morrill Land Grant Act. The legislation provided federal funds to schools that taught agriculture, engineering, or provided military training. Taking advantage of the opportunity, the school became a land grant college in February 1864 after the Maryland legislature voted to approve the Morrill Act.