UMB's 20th Gala Looks Back and Ahead

October 18, 2015    |  

President Jay A. Perman, MD, went “back to the future” to headline the University of Maryland, Baltimore’s 20th annual Founders Week Gala on Oct. 17. Instead of a DeLorean, the featured mode of transportation in the iconic 1985 film, Perman utilized a “UMB Smart Car” to go back to Oct. 24, 1996, the date of UMB’s first Gala, in a video that opened the 2015 celebration. (See the Gala photo gallery.)

After a dizzying cosmic trip back to 1996, Perman came across black-and-white pictures from the first Gala and such milestones as the birth of Dolly, the first cloned sheep, and Under Armour, Kevin Plank’s sports apparel company, as well as Eddie Murray’s 500th home run and the Ravens’ first game (and victory!).

“It’s almost time for the 2015 Gala. I better get back fast,” Perman says in the video, before dashing to the podium in his lab coat to begin the 2015 festivities to the delight of more than 500 students, faculty, staff, and supporters at the Hyatt Regency.

Founders Week, the celebration honoring UMB’s history and people, actually began as Founders Day in 1996. Then-UMB President David J. Ramsay, DM, DPhil, and his wife, Anne, wanted a day expressly dedicated to commemorating not only the University’s rich heritage that dates to 1807 but also its sustained excellence. The first Founders Day consisted of a student breakfast in the morning, a research lecture in the afternoon, and a Gala in the evening.

C. Daniel Mullins, PhD; Fadia Shaya, PhD, MPH, Natalie Eddington, PhD, FCP, FAAPS, dean of the School of Pharmacy, Elias Shaya; and Ellen Yankellow, PharmD '96, BSP '73 enjoy the gala.

C. Daniel Mullins, PhD; Fadia Shaya, PhD, MPH, Natalie Eddington, PhD, FCP, FAAPS, dean of the School of Pharmacy, Elias Shaya; and Ellen Yankellow, PharmD '96, BSP '73 enjoy the gala.

It quickly grew to Founders Week, which this year includes a student cookout, Researcher of the Year lecture, staff luncheon, Entrepreneur of the Year presentation, a food truck rally, the Medical Alumni Association’s Clinicopathological Conference, and the Gala.

At the Gala, in addition to the opening video featuring Perman and James L. Hughes, MBA, chief enterprise and economic development officer and vice president, awards were given out, as they were at the first Gala in 1996. In fact, two of that night’s award winners — Myron Levine, MD, DTPH, associate dean for global health, vaccinology, and infectious diseases in the School of Medicine, and Lu Ann Marshall, academic coordinator in the Carey School of Law — are still part of the UMB Family.

Christopher Meenan, research associate in the School of Medicine’s Department of Diagnostic Radiology and Nuclear Medicine, was recognized as 2015 Entrepreneur of the Year for co-founding Analytical Informatics (AI), a Baltimore-based health informatics company dedicated to improving clinical analytics. Meenan developed a solution for a problem facing his department, then persevered to apply it to a national audience through AI.

Norman Tinanoff, DDS, MS, professor in the Department of Pediatric Dentistry at the School of Dentistry, is Public Servant of the Year for his legislative efforts In raising access to oral health care services for Maryland’s poor children from the worst in the country (18 percent) in 1999, when he joined the school faculty, to today when over 68 percent of Maryland Medicaid children receive an annual dental visit — one of the highest access rates in the country.

Margaret McCarthy, PhD, professor and chair of the School of Medicine’s Department of Pharmacology, was lauded as Researcher of the Year for her remarkable discoveries of the novel ways in which the brain is formed in males and females, leading the National Institutes of Health to announce that sex must be accounted for, controlled for, and incorporated into all preclinical research funded by that agency.

UMB’s 2015 Teacher of the Year is Edward Pecukonis, PhD, MSW, associate professor and director of maternal and child health (MCH) training at the School of Social Work. A champion of interprofessional education, gathering students from various UMB schools and teaching them to work as a team, Pecukonis has led a flourishing MCH training program for 18 years and now serves as coordinator of the School of Social Work’s Center for Excellence in Motivational Interviewing.

After the award presentations, dinner, and salutes to UMB’s philanthropic partners, the 20th anniversary Gala ended with a special treat, a performance by the Capitol Steps, a political satire comedy troupe who say “We put the Mock in democracy.”

To see more about Founders Week, visit