Perman Inauguration Cites the Power of Collaboration
Invoking his working-class roots and status as a first-generation American, Jay A. Perman, MD, used his inaugural speech as president of the Baltimore campus of the University of Maryland (UM) to talk about the power of partnerships.
"I have unbridled optimism for what, together, we can achieve," he concluded his speech before a packed house at Baltimore's Hippodrome Theatre on Nov. 9.
Perman's tenure as president officially began on July 1, and represents his second tour on campus. He chaired the Department of Pediatrics in the School of Medicine from 1999 to 2004, before leaving to become dean and vice president for clinical affairs at the University of Kentucky (UK) College of Medicine. Perman, a pediatrician, also worked at the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine from 1984 to 1996 in several leadership roles, and in his inaugural address said "Baltimore and Maryland have shaped who we are as a family."
Reflecting on his reliance on scholarships to attend Northwestern University both as an undergraduate and as a medical student, Perman said, "No one understands more than me the opportunity afforded our youth by the promise of an education."
He returned to that theme in discussing the emergence of the University of Maryland BioPark in West Baltimore's Poppleton neighborhood. The BioPark, launched under Perman's predecessor, David J. Ramsay, DM, DPhil, provides office and lab space for companies to turn science into medical treatments. But it is also providing educational and employment opportunities for Baltimore residents.
Perman also noted the symbolism that the BioPark is located across Martin Luther King Boulevard from the rest of the campus, and that the street named for the civil rights leader no longer divides the campus from its neighbors to the west. "We have literally crossed over the road to the other side," he said, and children from Southwest Baltimore Charter Elementary School provided a powerful closure to the ceremony with a performance of two songs.
In his four-plus months on campus Perman has stressed the importance of working collaboratively across disciplines, and of civility in the workplace. In his inaugural address, titled "Leadership by Collaboration," he again called for more collaboration, not only across the different schools on the Baltimore campus but at other University System of Maryland institutions.
With local, state, and federal elected officials joining Maryland's higher education leaders at the event, Perman made a call for funding for additional research space. But he said the new amenities would be used by team-based researchers and would promote collaborative teaching. He called on faculty and staff to "listen with energy to the other person."
The inauguration was the first event of Founders Week, an annual campus celebration that includes a black-tie gala in which awards for faculty and staff are given, as well as a research lecture, a student cookout, an entrepreneur presentation, and a staff luncheon.