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Improve the Human Condition. Serve the Public Good.
3 p.m., Thursday, May 4, 2016 | School of Nursing Auditorium
I thank the students of Franklin Square Elementary/Middle School for opening our celebration today. You might already know that Franklin Square is one of our partner schools in the CURE Scholars Program, our mentoring program for middle school students, intended to inspire and prepare them for careers in the health sciences.
But you might not know that a week and a half ago, Franklin Square competed against 30 schools in the statewide Science Olympiad. None of the CURE Scholars had ever been to the competition before, and they were going up against a lot of students who had. They were the picture of grace under fire.
Out of 30 schools, they took home a fifth-place medal in the elastic glider contest and a second-place medal in the bridge-building contest!
Now, Corey Bowden—Corey, would you wave?—Corey is a CURE Ambassador, one of our leaders in the program. And I was honored to have lunch with him in my office last year. Corey, it’s wonderful to see you again.
Finally, I know there are several CURE mentors in the audience today. I just want to say—from my heart—how much your work means to me, to them, and to this beautiful, extraordinary community we share. Thank you.
I thank all of you for being here today—our UMB family, our close partners, and dear friends.
I want to especially recognize Chancellor Robert Caret, leader of our University System, and University of Maryland Medical System CEO Robert Chrencik.
When I last delivered my State of the University address, it was 2½ weeks after the death of Freddie Gray. It was 10 days after his funeral and the unrest that followed. It was one day after we came together as a University to talk about race and poverty in Baltimore—about our responsibility to each other and to our community.
It’s been a busy year since that day—to me, a deeply rewarding year—and, I believe, a watershed year for uniting around the cause that has come to define UMB: Improve the human condition and serve the public good.
We’ve had many opportunities this past year to examine how—and how well—we carry out this mission. I’d like to talk about a few of them.
Strategic Plan: 2011‒2016
First, strategic planning: Our 2011‒2016 strategic plan is now sun-setting. I won’t recount all the successes of the plan. If you want to read up on them, I invite you to download the wrap-up report, which will soon be available at the link on-screen.
But I think it’s important to talk about what this plan has meant to UMB and how far we’ve come since we began assembling it. This wasn’t the University’s first strategic plan, but it was the first time the process was opened up to the entire UMB community. Because just as important as the strategies and tactics we outlined in the plan was a goal that was implicit throughout it: Create a culture of engagement across the University.
Show people—in every school and every unit—how they relate to one another, how they contribute to UMB’s success; how the “sum of us” is, indeed, greater than our many parts. This is where “Seven Schools. One University” came from, this notion that we’re united by more than a physical campus; that our missions are compatible and our work complementary; and that, together—and only together—will we achieve the purpose we’ve set for ourselves: improving the human condition; serving the public good.
It was the strategic plan that’s driven our focus on diversity and inclusion, which I’ll talk about in just a minute. It was the strategic plan that established interprofessionalism as a UMB priority and spurred efforts to train students, conduct research, and provide care in interdisciplinary teams. It was through the strategic plan that we created a unified look for UMB, announcing us to our community and anchoring us within it. It was the strategic plan that underpinned efforts to expand our research enterprise, and harness big data that can legitimately transform how we deliver care to patients and clients.
In two weeks, May 18, we’ll hold a town hall on the themes that are proposed for the next strategic plan, which we launch on July 1, and I hope you’ll join us.
Middle States Self-Study & Strategic Plan 2017‒2021
We actually have a head start on those themes. As you know, last month we got a terrific report from our Middle States Evaluation Team—our decennial referendum on how well we’re meeting our obligations in education, research, clinical care, and public service. The report wasn’t glowing only because we met all the accreditation standards, which we did. It was glowing because the evaluators saw our commitment to doing even better.
As the Middle States working groups—dozens of students, faculty, and staff—were examining our institutional practices, some key recommendations kept popping up, group to group.
And then, through a series of strategic plan town halls, we asked you what your priorities are, what goals you think are most important to fulfilling our mission, and where you think we have the most room for improvement.
And so an original list of 27 recommendations was whittled down to half a dozen. These six priorities told our Middle States evaluators where we’re planning to go, and they form the starting point for our next strategic plan.
- Make a UMB education affordable to all Maryland students.
- Help students into an array of career pathways—both professional and entrepreneurial.
- Leverage technology to improve student learning and faculty development.
- Build a culture that innovates how we secure research funding; that promotes intraschool and cross-school collaborations in research and teaching; and that supports integrity in scholarship and clinical care.
- Do a better job of tracking our progress in key areas—student learning and career outcomes, tuition affordability, community engagement, shared governance, diversity and inclusion, fundraising.
- Institutionalize our community engagement strategy so that every University department and unit can demonstrate how they’re serving the public good here in Maryland.
These won’t be our only strategic plan priorities, but they are important ones.
Let me talk about the first one I put up on-screen: Make a UMB education affordable to all Maryland students.
UMB’s academic programs are competitive with the best programs in the country—and they’re competitively priced. But I can guarantee that “competitively priced” is cold comfort to students.
It’s little relief to a new dentist looking at a crushing debt of $200,000, to a new pharmacist struggling under loans of $140,000, to a new physician signing away $2,000 a month in loan repayments.
By their nature, our professional programs are expensive. And loans can’t be our long-term solution. Because loans aren’t bad only for students; they’re bad for the people they’ll serve. Students make career choices based on their debt load. We know this; studies prove it.
Graduates who want to serve in underserved communities might not be able to make that choice. Their debt might win out.
And there’s another problem, too. We know that people want to be cared for by professionals who look like them—racially, ethnically, culturally, socioeconomically—professionals who share their own backgrounds and experiences.
Our schools are open to all. But can we really say that our student body reflects the full demography of Maryland? Of the nation? Can we really say that our programs are accessible to all students—regardless of wealth? I don’t think we can.
And so over the next five years of this strategic plan, we’ll develop affordability guidelines. What share of tuition should students be borrowing? How much money should graduates reasonably shell out each month in loan repayments? What percentage of net income should those payments represent?
We’ll make our case to the state that professional students are largely shut out of tuition support and that they need more help. We’ll be forthright that the state must do its part.
But part of this is on us, too. We must augment state support with aggressive fundraising.
A couple of years ago, the UMB Foundation launched a matching program for new and existing endowed scholarships—a 50-cent foundation match for every donor dollar raised. That program netted $9.7 million in new scholarship money. It created or enlarged 158 endowments across all UMB schools.
And when Bill Wood, the new chair of our UMB Foundation board, began meeting with deans to discuss funding needs, he asked them for their top priorities. To a dean, the answer was “More scholarship support.”
So I’m thrilled to announce that we’re renewing the matching program until the end of the calendar year—freeing up another $1.8 million in available matching funds. Mr. Wood is here with us today, and I thank him and the Foundation for prioritizing student support and reinvigorating our donor community.
When I talk to people about what scholarship dollars mean to professional and graduate students, I find it’s easiest just to share one of their stories.
Last fall, at our Founders Week Gala, I told the story of Mustafa Alrubaiee, who’s enrolled in the Clinical Nurse Leader program. Mustafa says he’s carried with him from his Iraqi homeland the desire to help people, and that being accepted into the School of Nursing was a dream come true. But the dream didn’t come without cost. He was getting by paycheck to paycheck. And those paychecks were coming from FIVE different part-time jobs. He held two different research positions, he was a college instructor, a bus driver, and a bar bouncer.
The Charlene M. Passmore Scholarship was, in Mustafa’s words, an answer to his prayers. The scholarship alleviated his financial burden—helped him buy books and pay rent. Most importantly, it gave him a chance to focus on his nursing studies, instead of the five jobs that were financing it. It gave him the gift of time, of calm, and maybe even a little sleep.
Diversity, Cultural Competency & Career Advancement
Opening up our University to all is important because there is deep value in cultivating a diverse community of people here at UMB—people whose different experiences inform different perspectives and fortify different strengths.
Last month, I was with Congressman Elijah Cummings at the opening of our Community Engagement Center in West Baltimore. And he said that diversity isn’t our problem; it’s our promise.
Last year, in the days after Freddie Gray’s death, we came together as a University to talk about Mr. Gray and the many black men in Baltimore who’ve died before him—to talk about race and racism, poverty and injustice. We kept that conversation going throughout the year, and it evolved so that we were talking not only about race and our city, but race and our University, race and our community.
We had students, faculty, and staff confide that they didn’t always feel understood—by their classmates and professors, supervisors and colleagues—and that, taken together, it was affecting how productively we function as a University. We had people say they felt unprepared for the work they were doing in the community, that they didn’t expect the conditions they found themselves in and didn’t understand the culture.
So the Diversity Advisory Council has taken up cultural competency training as a priority for the upcoming year, and the President’s Fellows just tackled the topic with a series of recommendations for infusing cultural competency into our climate, our curricula, and our policies.
I know we are strong not despite our diversity but because of it. And yet if we can’t effectively relate to one another, appreciate one another, embrace one another’s differences and what they contribute to the whole, then it all falls apart. We’re not going to let that happen.
There was another raw feeling exposed by our conversation on race: Some people said they felt “stuck” in their jobs and that merit alone doesn’t guarantee professional mobility. One employee wrote to say that she’s been in the same position for 11 years. And for 11 years, she’s tried to figure out how to advance her career. For 11 years, she’s been unsuccessful.
So we’re illuminating the murky science of career advancement and developing clear pathways for every position at UMB, so that employees know how to navigate the route into their next job and supervisors know what kind of work merits that reward.
We’ve started this pathway program at the lowest paid positions, where the pain of stagnation is felt most acutely. And as we get better at moving our people up through the ranks, we’ll create a job pipeline into the University, filling these newly open jobs with neighbors who are looking for work.
We’re investing in career development training and hiring personnel to help employees move up the UMB ladder. Because our people are the most important asset we have—and we neglect that fact at our own peril.
The state understands this, too. The budget passed this year by the legislature includes a merit increase for University System employees—the first merit increase in two years. That means that all UMB faculty and staff will be eligible for increases averaging 2.5 percent beginning July 1.
University of Maryland Strategic Partnership Act
So I’ve mentioned the legislative session, and maybe now I should talk about one of the bills that passed last month. You know it well: The University of Maryland Strategic Partnership Act.
The Strategic Partnership Act formalizes in law our collaboration with the University of Maryland, College Park. This collaboration was begun four years ago as MPowering the State. And, by every measure, it’s been hugely successful.
We’re doing FAR more research together with College Park. Together, we’re developing new academic programs at both universities, introducing students to faculty, ideas, and disciplines they wouldn’t have encountered otherwise. Together, we’re creating joint institutes to tackle the grand challenges of our age. Together, we’re increasing and accelerating our commercialization activity, so that our life-changing, life-saving discoveries and technologies make their way out of our labs and into the world.
Let me be clear: Codifying this kind of groundbreaking collaboration is a good idea. Ensuring this partnership continues beyond my tenure here at UMB, beyond President Loh’s tenure at College Park, is a good idea.
And the legislation that ultimately emerged from the General Assembly clarifies that this is, in fact, the intention of the law—not to merge UMB and the University of Maryland, College Park but to build upon our thriving partnership. The law retains one president for each university, giving him or her full powers and duties. It aims to raise the research profile of our two universities, which together do a billion dollars in research each year.
The law establishes the University of Maryland Center for Economic and Entrepreneurship Development at our sister institution in College Park to advance education and research in economy-driving fields: neuroscience, virtual and augmented reality, biomedical devices, data analytics, cybersecurity.
Meanwhile, the Maryland Advanced Ventures Center will be located right here at UMB to help us commercialize both universities’ intellectual property. And the center will get state funding to encourage university startups to locate right here in our city of Baltimore.
I won’t pretend that there isn’t a lot to figure out in terms of how we operationalize this legislation. But we have some time to do it. The law goes into effect Oct. 1, and we’re meeting now with our College Park colleagues to discuss our expectations for this alliance and how we’ll meet those expectations together. I’m excited about the future, and I want to thank my boss, Chancellor Bob Caret, for his powerful leadership and support.
This legislation has engaged our university communities—ours and College Park’s—like few other issues in recent memory. Students, faculty, staff, alumni, and friends poured into meetings and town halls, consulted with University leaders, participated eagerly in the legislative process, and offered their help in formalizing the partnership.
The Work of UMB
Throughout the session, I saw how deep your commitment to this University runs, how much you care about living our mission and serving our community. And of course you do. Because when you examine our mission and our service in their finest detail, this is what you see coming out of UMB.
You see work like that of Cindy Renn in the School of Nursing, who’s studying how to block neural pathways to alleviate the disabling pain that often accompanies chemotherapy treatment.
Aaron Rapoport in the School of Medicine is doing breakthrough work developing immunotherapy in the treatment of multiple myeloma, a largely incurable cancer that kills nearly 13,000 people in the U.S. each year.
Leslie Meltzer Henry in the Carey School of Law is exploring the legal and ethical considerations of conducting research on pregnant women infected with the Zika virus—how do we assure the protection of their rights and their health.
Bethany DiPaula in the School of Pharmacy led the national taskforce that developed guidelines for pharmacists dispensing Naloxone to patients overdosing on opioids. As new laws allowed the medication’s use in outpatient settings, U.S. pharmacists have been able to take on an even bigger role in preventing overdose deaths.
Sarah Dababnah and Wendy Shaia in the School of Social Work are studying stress, coping, and resilience among African-American families raising children with autism in Baltimore. Their first-of-its-kind work is uncovering significant barriers affecting these families’ ability to access autism services.
Tooth decay is epidemic in poor communities. Huakun Xu in the School of Dentistry is developing new technologies not only to prevent cavities but to restore tooth structure already lost. These technologies could be deployed in dental clinics across the city and the country to contain the serious health risks of untreated dental disease.
There is no greater power on earth than knowledge. There is no greater application of it than service. It is a privilege and a wonder to see every day what our compassionate scholarship can do. And it’s a blessing that, every day, we do this kind of great work right here in Baltimore.
Because we understand the need that resides in our city. How could we not? We see it— powerfully and poignantly—all around us.
The unrest in Baltimore last spring erupted largely on either end of the city, where the neighborhoods are anchored by two powerful universities, Johns Hopkins to the east and UMB to the west.
In that televised strife, people saw the acute poverty and isolation that Baltimore’s citizens endure in the shadows of these two institutions. They saw the inequities and injustices—routine and extraordinary alike—that consign so many to cynicism, or worse: hopelessness.
Of course, we didn’t need the cameras to shine a light on the neighborhoods blighted by neglect and disinvestment. These are the neighborhoods in which we work; these are the neighbors whom we serve. But we did rededicate ourselves to using everything we have—our assets, influence, and expertise—to lift up the community around us. And even for an institution like UMB, with a history of engagement in Baltimore, this is long, slow, and sometimes bumpy work.
When we opened our Community Engagement Center in West Baltimore last fall, we hung out a shingle. We put up big signs in the window: Free Resources for Members of Our Community. And only a few people came.
So we went door-to-door and asked neighbors why they weren’t stopping in. And they said, “We didn’t know that was for us.” We didn’t know that was for us. Every day, we have to let our neighbors know that we are for them. By the way, since those earliest days last fall, we’ve logged 2,000 visits to the center, so the message is getting through.
The center is a mix of new and existing programs that our neighbors tell us they want.
Nursing students with a clinical placement at the center designed a fitness program because residents said there was a need. The law school’s JustAdvice Clinic is in such high demand at the center that they’re upping their hours next year.
The weekly organic market fills a huge need in West Baltimore’s food desert—high-quality meat, bread, and produce at deeply discounted prices. And if neighbors can’t pay in money, they can pay in service; they can help out at the center or in the neighborhood. No one is turned away.
Financial counseling, organized through the School of Social Work, is critical for our neighbors, so often the victims of predatory practices and a deck that’s already stacked against them. And through Training Tuesdays and Workforce Wednesdays, we’re filling a desperate need in the community. Neighbors have to be trained for good jobs and then helped into them. This is the “leg up” that our neighbors have likely never experienced before.
If you haven’t stopped by the center yet, I hope you will. On the last Friday of every month, we host a community lunch, and it’s a great way to get to know your neighbors.
We’re starting a major fundraising campaign to move the center into a bigger, permanent home in Poppleton. Legislation passed this session could help that cause. It establishes a fund that anchor institutions can use for neighborhood development in blighted areas, so long as we bring in matching dollars from private donors. We think our friends and partners will sign on to this priority.
Community engagement isn’t sustainable if it’s not mutually beneficial. What we get out of this center is just as important as what we put into it. The center is becoming a place for our students to learn what it’s like to do grassroots community work, to learn the challenges of these neighborhoods and these neighbors, and what that means in terms of their own professional—and cultural—competency.
And to make sure this work actually is mutually beneficial—to make sure that our neighbors are getting from our programs what we hope they’re getting—we’re taking steps now to measure our impact in the community.
Everyone here who’s been doing this work for years knows better than anyone else just how tough it is. But when it works, it’s incredibly rewarding.
Let me share an example: About a year ago, we started a program to help small local restaurants compete for UMB’s catering dollars. We help them secure the equipment and systems they need to accept our credit card and process our catering code. We get them onto our food broker list and hold food fairs on campus, where they meet, and feed, the staff who can give them University business.
So a year ago, UMB was spending .01 percent of our catering dollars at businesses in West Baltimore. That’s about $1,000 a year. And that $1,000 went to just one restaurant.
One year later, we’ve spent $36,000 in West Baltimore.
But that’s only part of the good news. By using our technical assistance, our food broker, and all of the resources we’ve put into this program, local caterers have secured another $50,000 in new money from businesses across the city. That’s $86,000 in catering receipts going into the pockets of local vendors.
And what that meant to Kim Ellis, owner of Breaking Bread, was that she could move her business from a church basement to a storefront on Washington Boulevard, Pigtown’s major commercial thoroughfare.
Last week, I hosted a luncheon in the President’s Office. Breaking Bread catered the lunch—and it was Kim’s sixth catering job with our office in as many months. This program works only if we all embrace it. So, please, go to the website of the Office of Community Engagement, check out the local vendors, and let’s put our money where our mouths are—literally.
UMB CURE Scholars Program
At the time of last year’s State of the University, we had secured a federal grant for our CURE Scholars Program, and we had a great partner in the Greenebaum Cancer Center. We had some ideas of the students we’d induct. What we didn’t have were any faces to attach to those ideas. Now we do. Thirty-eight of them.
This is our program to put West Baltimore students on a path to good-paying careers in the health sciences, and shrink the yawning disparities we see in this city in terms of health care access, delivery, and outcomes.
The program is intensive: science activities and mentoring twice a week after school; Saturdays here on campus for tutoring, lab tours, and field trips. The scholars are growing bacteria, building robots, making lava lamps. And they’re getting exposed to careers that were alien to them just seven months ago.
When she applied to the program, Ar’mya wanted to be a hair dresser. Now she wants to be a pediatrician. Dayon wanted to be an NFL player. Now he wants to be an inventor. Joshua wants to be a brain surgeon. Corey wants to be a neonatal doctor. Now Keayon … Keayon wants to be a football player and a doctor. So it’s a stroke of fortune that his mentor—Dr. Yvette Rooks in our School of Medicine—just happens to be head physician for the Terps.
I have an exciting piece of news to announce. This fall, we’ll be partnering with Johns Hopkins, Kaiser Permanente, Baltimore City Public Schools, and Baltimore City Community College to launch a P-TECH school at Dunbar High School in East Baltimore. P-TECH schools are public schools, grades 9 through 14, that integrate high school courses, college courses, and the workplace, giving students a pathway that allows them to graduate with a high school diploma, an associate’s degree or certificate, and invaluable professional experience.
The school will focus on allied health careers, which makes it a natural next step for this student development pipeline we’re establishing with our UMB CURE Scholars Program.
University of Maryland BioPark
All of this—all of these programs and efforts—they’re a bid for transformation. And sometimes, when you’re lucky, you can actually see this transformation take shape.
You know, when we put our very first properties into West Baltimore a dozen years ago, we had a plan—a plan to bridge the boulevard that divides us like a moat, separating neighborhoods of wealth from neighborhoods of want, opportunity from isolation. That was the seed of our BioPark. And so we’re thrilled that the park will soon be growing again.
Early this year, the Baltimore City Council approved a financing deal enabling the construction of our third commercial lab and office building in the Poppleton neighborhood, 873 W. Baltimore St.
The deal lures the Cambridge Innovation Center to Baltimore as the building’s anchor tenant.
CIC is the nation’s leading business incubator, the company largely responsible for making Boston/Cambridge into one of the most successful innovation districts in the world. They’ll help us fill this 250,000-square-foot building, which will house more than 100 companies and employ 900 people.
And remember the Center for Maryland Advanced Ventures that I mentioned? The center we got as part of the Strategic Partnership Act? We think that, too, could go into 873 W. Baltimore St. And that’s important on many fronts. It would give UMB faculty and students a supportive home base to disclose and develop their discoveries, a convenient place to launch their startups.
But the center will also help us recruit startups from across the University System. Faculty and students from our partner, College Park, from UMBC, and from other sister institutions—they’ll be using the center as well. They’ll see this innovation district teeming with people—people working shoulder-to-shoulder on important ideas, contributing to this fire of creation and collaboration. So this center will not only infuse resources into our tech-transfer enterprise, it will incite whole new ways of working with our colleagues across the system.
And I want to emphasize that students will be a big part of this. We’re opening up the entrepreneurial path to students and encouraging their collaboration with faculty throughout the commercialization process.
This year, we inaugurated the President’s Entrepreneurial Fellowship, and eight fellows from five of our schools—plus the University of Maryland Smith School of Business—are working to bring two UMB faculty technologies to market, navigating business plans and funding proposals, FDA requirements, and Medicare reimbursement. It’s invaluable experience for anyone daring enough to want to make that journey from idea to innovation to impact.
So back to the building: With the Cambridge Innovation Center and maybe the Maryland Advanced Ventures Center coming to 873 W. Baltimore St.—with BioPark jobs more than doubling once the building is leased—this property is a critical addition to the park.
And there’s one more reason that’s true. The financing agreement that’s enabling construction of the building will yield something huge for the neighborhoods surrounding it. UMB and the BioPark’s developer, Wexford Science + Technology, are kick-starting a community fund with a contribution of $1.1 million once we break ground on the new building this fall. Every year thereafter for the next 20 years, BioPark tenants will contribute another $150,000 to the fund.
That’s a pledge right now of more than $4 million to support community projects. And they will absolutely be community projects, because community members will have control of the board that distributes the money.
And while the money can have an immediate impact on its own, the fund is really a building block that can attract additional investment from corporations, nonprofits, and some of our fellow anchor institutions. With this kind of seed money, the Southwest neighborhoods can catalyze fundraising and partnership-building for big projects that need significant financing and draw interest from investors who are now overlooking the area and its possibilities.
We know the restoration of Hollins Market is a community priority, and this would be a terrific use of the fund. Last year, during this same address, I talked about the BioPark stimulating diverse development that creates a sense of community, like shops, restaurants, and coffeehouses.
But what if the development we spur is also the renovation of our city markets—iconic, historic; these places that used to be hubs for shopping and socializing; these places that build pride and belonging.
We have a desperate need in Baltimore for fresh, healthy, and accessible food. It is nothing less than a civil right. We can remake Hollins Market into this resource for the community, and I’m including all of us in that word: Community. What better way to knit us together than to shop with one another, eat with one another, talk with one another? And what better price of membership in this community than spending our dollars locally?
Of course it’s nearly impossible to mention Hollins Market without mentioning our closer neighbor, Lexington Market. We’re working with the city to move the Lexington Market project forward, and we supported a bill in the legislature that earmarked state funds for the market’s capital needs.
The city recently abandoned plans to renovate the east market and will instead build a new market building on a parking lot to its south, ultimately razing the existing building. My friend and co-chair on the UniverCity Partnership, Baltimore Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake, will be unveiling these plans soon and has invited me to join her.
So, since I don’t have any pretty pictures to show you today, let me talk, instead, about what this rebuilding of Lexington Market could mean to us.
UMB owns a dozen buildings heading up to the market. And as the market is remade, these two blocks can be remade in kind. And if we can transform these two blocks, we can join with partners and transform more. We can connect the market district with the arts district. We can make new, vibrant corridors that radiate out from UMB and more tightly bind us to the Westside community.
And we can do all this without displacing people, without wiping out neighborhoods, without destroying the community we intend to strengthen.
Serving Underserved Communities
Of course, our notion of community isn’t so parochial. We are Maryland’s public health, law, and human services university. And our obligation, always, is to train the professionals, and serve the people, of this state. That takes some initiative—and innovation.
Our School of Nursing has signed articulation agreements with community colleges throughout Maryland, helping prepare a critical mass of nurses to serve communities in need.
Now a new grant establishes an interprofessional care team operating out of the Governor’s Wellmobile, making it both a clinical training site and a mobile advanced care practice.
The Wellmobile treats the medically underserved in Prince George’s County and Montgomery County. Most patients don’t speak English. They don’t have insurance. And they suffer from chronic disease. So the nurse-managed team now includes a family medicine physician, a clinical pharmacist, and a bilingual outreach worker to meet patients where they are and improve their health care experiences and outcomes.
The School of Dentistry is now providing services in Carroll and Frederick counties. In Carroll County, the school is partnering with Access Carroll Integrated Health Care, which offers free care to low-income, uninsured residents. The facility serves a large number of young adults— the age group most likely to be uninsured; most likely to suffer serious gaps in their health care; most likely to end up in the emergency department. Our dental students are on rotations in the facility, where they’re supervised by school faculty who volunteer their time.
Frederick Memorial Hospital will begin hosting our student rotations later this month. The hospital provides oral health services to low-income residents, and our work with the hospital is a true partnership. With county and philanthropic support, the hospital covers facility and staffing costs.
Both of these community-based models fill a huge local need. And they expand our students’ work with diverse and underserved populations, who will need their competent—and compassionate—care the most.
We’re partnering with Anne Arundel Community College to strengthen Maryland’s primary care physician assistant workforce. Students completing the two-year, post-baccalaureate program receive a credential from the community college and a Master of Health Science from UMB.
On average, 80 percent of the program’s enrollees are Marylanders, and they remain in Maryland to practice. More than 30 percent of graduates choose to practice in primary care.
The program is now taking on 40 students from the Eastern Shore, where primary care providers are desperately needed. We’re meeting students where they are, on the Shore, so that they’re more likely to practice in their home communities once their training is complete.
The state understands this critical need to improve access to care. With advocacy from UMB, the General Assembly passed a law this session offering physicians and nurse practitioners an income tax credit if they serve as preceptors in Maryland’s medically underserved areas. The tax credit is $1,000 per student enrolled, maxing out at $10,000 per preceptor.
This is good policy for Maryland, where large sections of the state qualify as Health Professional Shortage Areas. And it’s especially good policy in a state that needs to produce more physicians who ultimately end up in primary care.
The Work of UMB
What I hope I’ve expressed today is the profound impact of our work—across our city, across our state, around the world. And if you’ll permit me, I’d like to share a few more examples, so that I might—as we used to say in Kentucky—brag on you just a little longer.
Collaborating with scientists around the globe, David Rasko and Michael Donnenberg in the School of Medicine have determined the genetic makeup of dozens of different strains of E. coli, a major disease agent. Their work will help identify and control the bacteria’s most dangerous strains, which could ultimately inform better treatment of diarrheal disease, a leading cause of global childhood mortality.
Richard Traub and Dean Dessem in the School of Dentistry and Susan Dorsey in the School of Nursing are identifying the neurobiological basis for the development of multiple pain conditions, and the role that stress plays in their development and persistence. This is the most fundamental promise of clinical care: to unburden patients of their suffering.
Barbara Resnick in the School of Nursing is working to slow the precipitous decline in function experienced by residents of assisted living facilities. Her work will influence both practice and policy, restoring quality of life to these vulnerable patients.
Agnes Ann Feemster in the School of Pharmacy is working with an interprofessional team of students to conduct a needs assessment at Children’s Cancer Hospital in Egypt. The hospital provides medical, dental, and pharmaceutical care to children across Africa and the Middle East—at no cost to families. The goal is to improve existing clinical processes, including those for medication use and safety.
Deborah Eisenberg in the Carey School of Law is leading an effort to help students resolve conflict in constructive ways. During a pilot project at Callaway Elementary School in West Baltimore, suspensions dropped from 78 to 19 in one year, holding promise for ending our de facto school-to-prison pipeline.
Working with their local partners, Bronwyn Mayden and Stacey Stephens in the School of Social Work and Wendy Lane in the School of Medicine are fighting infant mortality in Baltimore—and winning. Crib and SIDS deaths among babies in our Promise Heights neighborhoods have dropped to zero, and full-term births have climbed to more than 90 percent.
Of course, we pass this torch of discovery and service on to our students. And they, too, have taken up this cause of ours.
Listen to what Cecile Karsenty has done in her time as a student in our School of Medicine. Fluent in French, Spanish, and Portuguese—with an undergraduate degree in Latin American studies—Cecile is active in serving minority populations here in Baltimore, particularly the Hispanic community.
She volunteers at the Esperanza Center, which provides free medical care to undocumented residents. She volunteers, too, as an interpreter for immigrants and refugees from Latin America and West Africa, accompanying them to appointments with doctors, lawyers, and social services agencies. Cecile traveled to Haiti recently as part of a group evaluating the impact of a medical training program for nurses, and translated critical information for the French-speaking team.
In two months, Cecile begins a residency in pediatrics at Columbia University. No doubt she’ll continue this dedicated life of service, bringing help and hope to people bereft of both.
Last year, I asked you to apply your scholarship and service to solving the most challenging problems we confront as a society. I asked you to make Maryland and the world more just, more enlightened, healthier and more humane.
But in the 12 months since then, that ask seems unnecessary. Because when a University family comes together like we’ve come together, when you see a solidarity of purpose so clearly and so profoundly, you understand that we’ve all been pulling in the same direction all along.
I can’t help but think back to our town hall in March, when we met to discuss the Strategic Partnership Act. I heard you say something that sticks with me still. You said what people have to understand is that UMB has heart. UMB has heart.
That heart is what sustains us. That heart is what emboldens us. That heart is what unites us in a purpose at once essential and transcendent: to improve the human condition and serve the public good.