The University of Maryland, Baltimore (UMB) had a lot to celebrate on October 23 at its 2021 Founders Week Gala, which honored individual and team accomplishments in academics, public service, entrepreneurship, research and philanthropy while recognizing the resilience and response of the University to the COVID-19 pandemic.

The 26th Annual Gala was a hybrid event themed “Dreams in the Making” to support scholarships from the six vocational schools and the interdisciplinary doctoral school at UMB. President Bruce E. Jarrell, MD, FACS, and Denise Koch of WJZ-TV co-hosted the hour-long event at the Hippodrome, recognizing Founders Week Award winners who were in attendance at the historic Eutaw Street Theater as virtual attendees watched the festivities in direct from the comfort of their own homes.

Researcher of the Year Ronna P. Hertzano receives her award.

“Maybe you joined us tonight because you like virtual galas and don’t dress up, or you’re actually at home enjoying the event and dressing your best – however you participate, I know it’s because you understand the importance of UMB, “Jarrell said in his opening remarks.” While the past year has required changes in How? ‘Or’ What The UMB works to fulfill its mission, it has not changed the Why – it only makes it stronger.

“In our seven schools, there are many people working on our mission. I can’t begin to thank you for the work you do every day to solve our greatest challenges; take care of our most disadvantaged; teach, train and mentor our amazing students; and support all our efforts to improve the human condition with generosity of heart and spirit.

The gala featured three moving performances by Maryland native Toneisha Harris, a season 18 finalist of NBC’s “The Voice”, who currently plays Motormouth Maybelle in the touring production of “Hairspray”. Harris sang “You’ve Got a Friend,” “I Know Where I’ve Been” and an original, “My Superhero,” which was written for his youngest son during his successful battle with leukemia.

Before his last song, Harris took the time to thank those at UMB who are battling the pandemic. “You put us through such a painful time when we were so unsure of what was going to happen,” she said. “It was the medical professionals who really put us at ease, gave us peace and helped us understand what we needed to understand. For this I will be eternally grateful. Whether you are on the front line or behind the scenes, I appreciate the work you do.

Three UMB alumni also showed their appreciation for touting the power of scholarships and how such support was crucial to their academic success: Dylan Elliott, JD ’21, Francis King Carey School of Law; Nicole Hays, MD ’21, Faculty of Medicine (UMSOM); and Lori James-Townes, MSW ’91, School of Social Work (UMSSW). James-Townes, Chairman of the Board of the UMSSW Alumni Association and Executive Director of the National Association for Public Defense, shared how a scholarship changed his life.

“As a first generation college graduate, it was definitely a blessing to receive these funds. Without this scholarship, I would not be where I am today, ”she said. “As a result of my experience, my family and I started a scholarship in memory of my aunt, Terrie Alexander, who also studied at the School of Social Work.

On another philanthropic front, Jarrell announced that UMB’s Catalyst Campaign, a multi-year effort to raise $ 750 million, has passed the $ 666 million mark, or 88% of the goal.

“The Catalyst Campaign continues to attract interest and support from alumni and loyal benefactors to enhance faculty excellence, scholarship support, research, clinical initiatives, entrepreneurship. and community engagement, ”Jarrell said. “We can all be extremely proud tonight that the campaign has reached this stellar milestone.”


Founders Week Award winners were honored in video tributes, with faculty members recognized for excellence in entrepreneurship, research, public service and education. A new award recognized two students of the year for their academic achievement, leadership skills and commitment to promoting equity, diversity and inclusion.

Vincent Njar, PhD, Professor, Department of Pharmacology, UMSOM, was honored as David J. Ramsay Entrepreneur of the Year. Njar is a leading medicinal chemist and oncopharmacologist who has made important discoveries in the development of new therapies for breast, prostate and pancreatic cancers. He is also among the first distinguished university professors of the UMB, the highest nomination awarded to a member of the faculty of the University.

Researcher of the year, Ronna P. Hertzano, MD, PhD, Professor, Department of Otorhinolaryngology-Head and Neck Surgery, UMSOM, is a highly respected otolaryngologist, surgeon, educator and researcher. With large grants from the National Institutes of Health and other sources, Hertzano’s rhe research is focused on the development of new therapies to prevent and treat genetic and acquired hearing loss.

Joshua M. Abzug, MD, Associate Professor, Departments of Orthopedics and Pediatrics, UMSOM, was named Officer of the Year. In 2015, Abzug founded Camp Open Arms, which allows children with different limbs to enjoy a carefree summer experience. The program at Monkton has evolved into a weeklong camp with activities such as hiking, crafts, and visits by musicians, artists, and zoo animals.

Ten UMSOM faculty members who make up the Renaissance Curriculum Team were honored as educator of the year. The new program designed by the team integrates information learned from other institutions with the strengths and values ​​of UMSOM. The goal of this major review is to train the Renaissance physician: lifelong learners who are clinically excellent and possess humanism, professionalism, scholarship, leadership, critical thinking and attention to justice. social and diversity.

The first students of the year are Jazmin jones from the School of Dentistry (UMSOD) and Emily M. Smith of the doctoral school. Jones is the President of the Doctor of Dental Surgery Class of 2022 and attends the school on a full U.S. Army Health Professions Scholarship. Smith, a doctoral student in the Life Sciences Graduate Program in Molecular Microbiology and Immunology, has been active in the Graduate Student Association since 2017, first as a program representative, then as vice president and President from May 2020 to June 2021.

UMB also awarded a special award to three UMSOM faculty members for their exemplary service during the pandemic: Kathleen Neuzil, MD, MPH, FIDSA, Myron M. Levine, MD, DTPH, professor of vaccinology and director of the Center for Vaccine Development and Global Health (CVD) at UMSOM; Wilbur Chen, MD, MS, professor of medicine and head of the adult clinical studies section at CVD; and David Marcozzi, MD, MHS-CL, MHS-CL, FACEP, professor of emergency medicine and clinical director and senior vice president of the University of Maryland Medical Center.

“I thank Drs. Neuzil, Chen and Marcozzi for their leadership, research capabilities and emergency responses to the COVID-19 crisis, guiding vaccine development across the country and serving as key advisers to Maryland Governor Larry Hogan, at the ‘World Health Organization and American policymakers,’ Jarrell said. “Your commitment and your role in this pandemic have saved so many lives. “

Philanthropists and catalysts

The UMB Foundation in the spotlight Louis F. Friedman, JD ’65, and Phyllis C. Friedman, JD ’77, with its Distinguished Service Award, which recognizes the achievements of volunteers who have contributed substantially to the improvement and maintenance of the University. The Friedmans have generously supported the UMB for over 20 years through their Louis and Phyllis Friedman Foundation and other foundations they manage.

“The Friedmans have demonstrated an unwavering dedication to higher education and scientific advancement,” Jarrell said. “As alumni of our law school, they gave their support to the Center for Stem Cell Biology and Regenerative Medicine in the Faculty of Medicine, to the Erin Levitas of the Law School initiative for the prevention of sexual assault and nursing through the Herman and the Walter Samuelson Foundation scholarship endowment.

“They have created and supported chairs, prizes, awards and scholarships. We are very grateful for their commitment to UMB.

The University also recognized the Catalysts for Excellence 2021, chosen to be powerful advocates of success, achievement and philanthropy for their respective UMB schools while serving as visionaries for future progress:

  • Melvin F. Kushner, DDS ’66, UMSOD
  • Stuart M. Salsbury, JD ’71; Suzanne B. Salsbury, JD ’73; Benjamin S. Salsbury, JD ’07, and Rebecca C. Salsbury, JD ’08, Francis King Carey School of Law
  • Richard L. Taylor, MD ’75, UMSOM
  • John Bing, CRNA, School of Nursing
  • Victoria Hale, BSP ’83, PhD, School of Pharmacy
  • Board of Directors of the Alumni Association, UMSSW

(Find out more about all the winners and winners on UMB’s Founders Week website.)