Acting President E. Albert Reece, MD, PhD, MBA, who is the John Z. and Akiko K. Bowers Distinguished Professor and dean of the School of Medicine, was the first to strike that note. He welcomed graduates, "including my own daughter, who would go on into careers in the health sciences and the human services arenas." Brynne Reece, DDS, was graduating from the Dental School.
The acting president presided over ceremonies at 1st Mariner Arena after leading a colorful procession of graduates and faculty wearing academic regalia - the second year such a procession threaded through downtown.
After many of the 1,800 graduates had seated themselves and were surrounded by proud friends and families, a representative of the University of Maryland Board of Regents reminded everyone of the "deep and abiding commitment to service that characterizes UMB." John L. Young, MD, a 1975 graduate of the School of Medicine, told the graduates: "I urge you to honor that commitment."
Chancellor of the University System of Maryland William E. Kirwan, PhD, MS, assured the graduates, "You can be certain that your education here has prepared you well," and he held out as an example the keynote speaker, U.S. Rep. Elijah E. Cummings, JD, whom Kirwan said exemplifies "all that is best about public service."
A 1976 graduate of the School of Law, Cummings said, "The technical proficiency that you have achieved is being celebrated here today." He said, "Skill is not enough; compassion goes along with it," and suggested the graduates draw on "our shared humanity" as a source of power.
Recalling his own youth when he was placed in special education in a small segregated elementary school in Baltimore, he explained how he drew from his experiences during a key moment in 1996 after being elected to the House of Representatives. Clearly no one else among the power brokers had been in special education, so he spoke up and was able to preserve funding.
"All of us will go through some difficult times," Cummings said. "The question is not whether you will go through them, but what you learn from them." He said to use compassion as "a passport to help others."
Cummings also saluted former University President David J. Ramsay, DM, DPhil, drawing spontaneous applause for the administrator who led UMB for nearly 16 years before stepping down this spring.
Morton I. Rapoport, MD, the first president and chief executive officer of the University of Maryland Medical System from 1984 to 2004, received an Honorary Doctor of Public Service degree. Rapoport, a 1960 School of Medicine graduate, led the transformation of a public hospital institution with annual operating losses into a thriving not-for-profit health system.
University Student Government Association President Evan Cordes, JD, was selected as the student remarker. He asked his fellow graduates to thank those who had provided their motivation to pursue higher education. In most cases, that meant parents, who got another round of applause.
Cordes also noted the collaboration across disciplines on a professional campus where soon-to-be lawyers, caregivers, and social workers might find themselves in the same late-night study setting. "We came to Baltimore, we came together," he said.
Earlier in the day, the graduates of the professional schools at UMB made their presence felt throughout the Westside neighborhoods of Baltimore. Commencement 2010 began unfolding as early as 8 a.m. on May 21, with separate convocations. At that time, the Dental School took over the historic Hippodrome Theatre on North Eutaw Street and the School of Social Work held its ceremonies in the Hilton Hotel on West Pratt Street.
The Schools of Pharmacy and Nursing began their convocations within short order, with Pharmacy graduates and their families and professors gathering at the Sheraton on West Fayette Street while Nursing graduates and their well-wishers occupied the First Mariner Arena on West Baltimore Street.
The latter school had the larger venue, needed to accommodate 645 graduates: a record for the School of Nursing. The group included 315 who earned Bachelor of Science in Nursing degrees, most of whom will enter direct patient care, and 308 who earned Master of Science degrees.
The School of Medicine held its ceremonies at the Hilton at 11 a.m. and the School of Law convened at the Hippodrome at 11:30 a.m. Meanwhile, the graduates in their robes and mortar boards and the faculty members in academic regalia could be seen making their way across various parts of campus, sometimes with spouses, strollers, and children in tow.
All this culminated in a procession that was bigger and more colorful than last year's, which was the first academic procession in the university's now-203-year history. The graduates, deans, and faculty in caps and gowns again gathered in the plaza between the School of Law and the School of Social Work (Paca and Baltimore streets) at 2 p.m. to make the short walk en masse to 1st Mariner Arena.
Banners from each of the six professional schools and the Graduate School were displayed, and music in the plaza beforehand added to the festive atmosphere of the day.
To view an in-depth story and video about the School of Medicine graduation ceremony in the morning, click here.
For more information about the School of Pharmacy graduation activities, click here.