University of Maryland School of Medicine 2021 Virtual Gala Celebrates Triumphs Over Adversity
Marking a previous year unlike any other, the entire University of Maryland School of Medicine community—faculty, staff, students, alumni, friends, and benefactors—gathered as one online on Saturday, May 1, for a virtual hour-long celebration of the 2021 School of Medicine Gala, which coincides annually with the Medical Alumni Association Reunion Weekend.
Given the extreme challenges posed by the COVID-19 pandemic, this year’s Gala theme— “Strength, Resilience, and Partnership”—resonated strongly throughout the evening.
“The strength and resilience demonstrated by the University of Maryland School of Medicine over the past year are a direct result of the partnerships we share within our own UMSOM community, along with the UM Medical Center, UM Medical System, and indeed, with the entire University of Maryland, Baltimore campus and University System,” said E. Albert Reece, MD, PhD, MBA, Executive Vice President for Medical Affairs, UM Baltimore, the John Z. and Akiko K. Bowers Distinguished Professor, and Dean, University of Maryland School of Medicine. “Our strength comes from this support, and strength builds resilience. The result of our resilience is what you see tonight—an undivided academic medical community stronger than ever, and more prepared than ever, for whatever comes next.”
Gala 2021 Video
Introducing the evening’s program were Gala co-chairs and UMSOM Board of Visitors members Patricia J. Mitchell, President of the Board of the Center Club, and Calvin G. Butler Jr., Senior Executive Vice President of Exelon, and Chief Executive Officer of Exelon Utilities. “What a year it has been for the University of Maryland School of Medicine!” Ms. Mitchell noted. “Our faculty made national headlines with their research and clinical trials and provided care for thousands of critically ill patients.”
Mr. Butler agreed. “As members of the School of Medicine Board of Visitors, we have had the opportunity to meet many of the faculty, staff, and students who exemplify the principles we celebrate this evening,” he said. “We are grateful and deeply appreciate everyone’s commitment and support of the School of Medicine, especially during this unprecedented time.”
Mr. Butler then acknowledged the 2021 Gala’s lead sponsors—Presenting Sponsor: The Whiting-Turner Contracting Company; Platinum Sponsor: The University of Maryland Medical System; and Silver Sponsors: BGE, Ms. Cynthia Egan, ExpressCare, Kelly Benefit Strategies, and Mercy Health Services.
The evening’s other speakers included Chair of the School of Medicine’s Board of Visitors, Ms. Cynthia Egan. “I salute the School’s resiliency and commitment to excellence in education, implementing innovative and meaningful remote learning, and skillfully engaging our medical students to excel in their chosen health care path, despite the obstacles of the current pandemic,” she said. “With heartfelt appreciation, we say thank you to the supporters, contributors, sponsors, allies, and friends who have tuned in tonight. Your generosity and support make all this possible.”
Bruce E. Jarrell, MD, FACS, President of the University of Maryland, Baltimore (UMB), also spoke to the power of partnership. “We have strong teams working together at this university, which has allowed us to be resilient and flexible,” he said. “I thank all of you at this Gala for helping us remain true to our mission to improve the human condition and serve the public good.”
Mohan Suntha, MD, MBA, President and CEO of the University of Maryland Medical System, shared his “profound debt of gratitude” to the UMSOM community. “Together, our partnership has demonstrated how we are indeed committed to the highest ideals of discovery-based medicine, and how collectively, our communities have leaned into the challenges associated with COVID-19,” he said.
In welcoming back UMSOM alumni in attendance, including the Classes of 1970 and 1971 celebrating their 50th graduation anniversaries, Larry Pitrof, Executive Director of the University of Maryland School of Medicine Alumni Association, also lauded the graduating Class of 2021. “This class has been defined by the pandemic,” he said. “We wish you the best successes.”
A virtual musical performance ended the evening’s program on a high note, featuring Thomas J. Hornyak, MD, PhD, the Dr. Joseph Warren Burnett Professor and Chair in Dermatology, performing Ludwig van Beethoven’s Sonata #8 in C-minor, Opus 13, 2nd movement on piano at the Meyerhoff Symphony Hall. His piece was accompanied by an original poem entitled “Into Open Air,” read by its author Lily Jarman-Reisch, MSW, MA, Director of Development for the Department of Epidemiology and Public Health. The performance was coupled with a compelling montage of photographs from UMSOM staff and faculty.
Funds raised by the 2021 Gala will support the UMSOM diversity initiatives of the Program in Health Equities and Population Health to foster an atmosphere of equity and inclusion through seed funding for health equity research, advocacy, student support, and a variety of educational and professional development programs.
Event proceeds will also be directed to the UMSOM Innovation Fund, which invests in promising Maryland-based start-up companies to commercialize medical inventions and intellectual property created by UMSOM faculty, staff, students, and graduates.
For more information on how faculty, staff, and friends of the UMSOM can make a gift to support diversity and innovation initiatives, please contact Mary Pooton, Assistant Dean for Development at 410-706-3901 or at MPooton@som.umaryland.edu
About the University of Maryland School of Medicine
Now in its third century, the University of Maryland School of Medicine was chartered in 1807 as the first public medical school in the United States. It continues today as one of the fastest growing, top-tier biomedical research enterprises in the world -- with 46 academic departments, centers, institutes, and programs, and a faculty of more than 3,000 physicians, scientists, and allied health professionals, including members of the National Academy of Medicine and the National Academy of Sciences, and a distinguished two-time winner of the Albert E. Lasker Award in Medical Research. With an operating budget of more than $1.2 billion, the School of Medicine works closely in partnership with the University of Maryland Medical Center and Medical System to provide research-intensive, academic and clinically based care for nearly 2 million patients each year. The School of Medicine has nearly $600 million in extramural funding, with most of its academic departments highly ranked among all medical schools in the nation in research funding. As one of the seven professional schools that make up the University of Maryland, Baltimore campus, the School of Medicine has a total population of nearly 9,000 faculty and staff, including 2,500 students, trainees, residents, and fellows. The combined School of Medicine and Medical System (“University of Maryland Medicine”) has an annual budget of over $6 billion and an economic impact of nearly $20 billion on the state and local community. The School of Medicine, which ranks as the 8th highest among public medical schools in research productivity (according to the Association of American Medical Colleges profile) is an innovator in translational medicine, with 606 active patents and 52 start-up companies. In the latest U.S. News & World Report ranking of the Best Medical Schools, published in 2021, the UM School of Medicine is ranked #9 among the 92 public medical schools in the U.S., and in the top 15 percent (#27) of all 192 public and private U.S. medical schools. The School of Medicine works locally, nationally, and globally, with research and treatment facilities in 36 countries around the world. Visit medschool.umaryland.edu