Distinguished Portraits of Some Former Deans Since 1807
In a time-honored tradition that has taken place throughout the 212-year history of the University of Maryland School of Medicine, the official portrait of its 30th Dean, E. Albert Reece, MD, PhD, MBA, was unveiled at a special ceremony held in Davidge Hall last week. The tradition dates back to the UMSOM's first Dean in 1807, Dr. John Beale Davidge (portrait shown above left). Since then, a portrait has been painted and unveiled for each Dean as they approach the end of their tenure. Dean Reece has announced that he will complete his 16-year tenure as Dean in June of this year (2022), and will return to the UMSOM faculty as Director of the new Center for Advanced Research Training & Innovation (CARTI), and continue his research as Co-Director of the Center for Birth Defects Research.
With the historic portraits of previous UMSOM Deans “looking on” from the corridor outside of Chemical Hall, where the ceremony took place, Dean Reece and his wife Sharon lifted a velvet covering to reveal the distinguished painting as colleagues, family members, and leaders of the University of Maryland Medical Alumni Association (MAA) watched in anticipation, and then applauded in appreciation.
The portrait shows Dean Reece’s likeness standing, appropriately, alongside a picture of the Health Sciences Research Facility III (HSRFIII), a major achievement of his tenure as Dean.
Speakers at the special ceremony included University of Maryland, Baltimore, President Bruce Jarrell, MD, UMSOM Vice Dean for Academic Affairs James Kaper, PhD, and MAA President Walker Robinson, MD, ’70. MAA Executive Director, Larry Pitrof, who served as the Master of Ceremonies. UMSOM Associate Dean for Development Mary Pooton, and her team, organized the event.
Joining Dean Reece and his wife, Law Professor, Sharon Reece, were members of their family: Attorney Sharon-Andrea Reece, and, Drs. Brynne and Kelie Reece; son-in-law, Dr. Perceval Bahado-Singh; and granddaughter, Samantha.
Remarks by Larry Pitrof, Executive Director, UMSOM Medical Alumni Association:
“We have been very fortunate to have had such long-standing deans. This is only the third portrait unveiling we have done in the past 50 years – which is quite remarkable!
These are very special occasions, particularly for those who are closest to the Dean. We especially welcome all of the members of Dean Reece’s family here with us today. The unveiling also has deep meaning for the Medical Alumni Association. We take very seriously our responsibility to ensure that the rich history of our institution is preserved. The portraits of our Deans are displayed here in Davidge Hall, the oldest existing medical teaching facility in America. We have grandiose plans for the renovation of this great hall, where Dean Reece’s portrait will be prominently displayed along with the other Deans. In the meantime, I am excited that Dean Reece’s portrait will be shown and on display at our upcoming in-person Alumni Weekend!”
Remarks by Dr. Walker Robinson, Medical Alumni Assocation President; Alumnus '70; retired Neurosurgeon; and faculty at UMSOM and elsewhere:
"These are always bittersweet moments for our school. As you are aware, the commissioning of a portrait for our deans has become custom here at the Medical Alumni Association. In doing so we celebrate the tenure of our leader, understanding that it’s the end of an era. And in one rendering, we try to capture the essence of an individual that will live in perpetuity.
Dean Reece, you arrived here at Maryland in 2006 with a defined vision for our school and the energy to get us there. When this portrait was commissioned by our board last summer, it was our hope to capture that moment. As you unveil this rendering today, we hope you agree that we succeeded in our goal.
Congratulations. We wish you continued happiness and good health as you move to the next phase of your life."
Remarks by Dr. Bruce Jarrell, UMB President:
“Congratulations to you, Al, and your entire family. These portraits are a wonderful tradition. I recall my days at Jefferson Medical College, where they have a great tradition of portraits of deans and professors on display as you walk down long corridors. I always felt that they set a standard, as role models for all of us to remember. Now Al joins the other deans with a portrait that will remind us of all the tremendous things he has done here. Someday, your grand-daughter, who is sitting here today, will come back and see her grandfather 'looking down' at her. It is truly my pleasure to be here, and again, Congratulations to you, Al and your entire family!”
Remarks by Dr. James Kaper, UMSOM Vice Dean for Academic Affairs; James and Carolyn Frenkil Distinguished Dean’s Professor and Chair, Department of Microbiology & Immunology:
“I am pleased to be part of this special tribute to Dean Reece. The portrait will create a lasting remembrance of Dean Reece’s visionary leadership, and his 'relentless pursuit of excellence.' This is particularly special for me, since I was the first department chair appointed by Dean Reece. As a senior member of his leadership team, I saw his depth and breadth of skills, and the remarkable diplomacy and interpersonal skills that he has, on display, every day.
On behalf of the entire School of Medicine, I want to thank the Medical Alumni Association for their tradition of honoring each tenure of our deans with a portrait at the time that they are about to step down from their service to the School. Dr. Reece, this is a symbol of 16 years at the SOM, and it will provide a lasting remembrance of your time at our institution. Thank you for being a visionary. Thank you for your leadership. Thank you for instilling the relentless pursuit of excellence in all of us.
The School was already on an upward trajectory when you joined us in 2006, and you helped harness the institution’s immense potential, promoting new, ambitious, and visionary goals.
The unveiling of this portrait is a moment to reflect on your important journey as Dean. This portrait celebrates your many years of outstanding service to the School, and your unwavering commitment to supporting our faculty, staff, and students. Congratulations on this momentous occasion. "
Dean Reece Remarks:
Dean Reece concluded the event with brief remarks that conveyed the historic tenor of the event.
"Thank you so much for this wonderful portrait. I am honored. Wow!!!!!!! That's all I can say. I never dreamed of having a portrait of myself. It was just not a part of my goals, and to have such displayed in the great Davidge Hall is more than I could have imagined.
Thanks so much, Larry, Dr. Robinson, and the Medical Alumni Association Board, as well as Mary Pooton and her team for arranging this wonderful event. Please accept my immense gratitude for this incredible honor and for your generous sentiments. Thank you also Dr. Jarrell and Dr. Kaper for being part of this historic moment today, and for your kind words.
It has been an honor and a pleasure serving as the Dean of this Medical School, and I am honored that my portrait will be displayed in this historic place with all the UMSOM Deans who preceeded me at this of this wonderful institution. It has been an incredible experience to be part of a School with such a rich history of accomplishments. Thank you for this honor and for such a gift. I know that in the future, when I walk into this building and see my portrait, I will reflect upon all of the wonderful and special moments I had during my 16 years here. This moment will always be one of the high points of my time.
Thank you again to the Medical Alumni Association, to its leadership and to you, Larry. I have always valued our partnership and your unwavering commitment to the School of Medicine."
Dean Reece thanked all those in attendance, and concluded by recognizing his family and, in particular, his wife, Sharon: “Without her support and wisdom, my decanal tenure and this beautiful ceremony would not have been possible,” he said.
All UMSOM Deans are displayed in the lobby of the Bressler Research Building
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 $1.3 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