In 1998, the center’s largest tenant, the University System of Maryland, purchased the facility and assumed management responsibility.
In 2010, there was a reorganization which resulted in the creation of the Institute of Marine and Environmental Technology (IMET). IMET is a joint University System of Maryland research institute capitalizing on the strengths of the University of Maryland Center for Environmental Science, the University of Maryland Baltimore County and the University of Maryland Baltimore. The Columbus Center facility is managed and operated by UMBC.
Today, the missions of exploration and collaboration continue. By drawing faculty and students from the University System of Maryland and scientists from around the world, IMET faculty conduct research into marine and coastal environments. Towson University's Center for STEM Excellence also furthers this mission at the Columbus Center, by serving Maryland's K-12 schools through outreach programs supporting science education.
In December 2022 the building was offically renamed to the Rita Rossi Colwell Center. Dr. Colwell was instrumental in the founding of the Columbus Center for the purpose of expanding environmental science education and research in Baltimore City and it is most appropriate that the building is now being named for her as the Rita Rossi Colwell Center. Dr. Rita Rossi Colwell is an internationally renowned microbiologist and marine scientist of Italian American descent with strong connections to the USM and IMET. Dr. Colwell is a prominent national and international scholar with a distinguished record of service and accomplishments.