Hosting a new event at a new venue, the University of Maryland, Baltimore (UMB) capped its 2023 Founders Week celebration with a tribute to excellence and a touch of entertainment at the inaugural Awards Recognition and Reception on Oct. 19 at the M&T Bank Exchange at the France-Merrick Performing Arts Center.
UMB celebrated the 216th anniversary of its 1807 founding, honored its Founders Week award winners, and offered a musical treat to the crowd of 200-plus that included University System of Maryland Chancellor Jay A. Perman, MD; UMB Foundation Board of Trustees chair Harry C. Knipp, MD, FACR; school deans and other University leaders; faculty and staff members; philanthropic partners; and others.
“It’s great to welcome you to this exciting new event, to put a spotlight on our Founders Week award winners,” said UMB President Bruce E. Jarrell, MD, FACS, who earlier in the week joined with fellow University leaders to greet and serve employees and students at the Founders Week Staff Luncheon and Student Cookout. “So many people across our seven schools contribute to our mission to improve the human condition and serve the public good. Today, we honor and celebrate six people who have done some exemplary work.”
(Watch a video of the event below or at this link.)
“Stars” was the unofficial theme of the evening, referring to the six award winners, the sparkling M&T Bank Exchange, and Broadway standout Norm Lewis, a Tony- and Grammy-nominated performer who provided the entertainment. Standing in front of a screen decorated with bursting stars, Lewis belted out four songs in his signature baritone, including, fittingly, “Stars” from the play “Les Miserables,” earning ovations from the appreciative crowd.
The award winners were:
- Shantay McKinily, MS, University of Maryland School of Social Work (UMSSW): Public Servant of the Year
- Yen-Pei Christy Chang, PhD, MS, University of Maryland School of Medicine (UMSOM): Educator of the Year
- Jeffrey Hasday, MD, UMSOM, and Paul Shapiro, PhD, University of Maryland School of Pharmacy: David J. Ramsay Entrepreneurs of Year
- Kathleen Neuzil, MD, MPH, FIDSA, UMSOM: Researcher of the Year
- Tural Mammadli, MSW, UMSSW: Student of the Year
The honorees were recognized with 4- to 5-minute videos on a big screen behind the stage detailing their accomplishments. One by one, they walked onto the stage to receive their award and kudos from Jarrell, then posed for photos with the president and their respective school’s dean. Shapiro was traveling and unable to attend, so fellow Entrepreneur of the Year Hasday brought his young granddaughter onto the stage to the crowd’s delight.
(Watch the videos and read about the award winners at this link.)
The M&T Bank Exchange, located next to the Hippodrome Theatre, had officially opened a week earlier. The state-of-the art venue offers a more intimate space for performances and other events than the 2,300-seat Hippodrome. It also will be used by the Hippodrome Foundation for its free arts outreach and education programs for local community members.
Jarrell noted that the University supported the $20 million renovation of the former Eutaw Savings Bank building and that it was just the latest collaboration in the University’s longtime partnership with the Hippodrome. In appreciation of UMB’s support, the Hippodrome renamed its Fayette Street lobby area the University of Maryland, Baltimore Fayette Street Entrance/Lobby.
Jarrell also pointed out several unique design features of the M&T Bank Exchange involving the ceiling, windows, and railings, adding that the venue’s third tier — where attendees enjoyed hors d’oeuvres and drinks after the show — was not part of the restoration’s original plans.
“But our former UMB president, Dr. Perman, was on the Hippodrome Foundation’s Board of Directors at the time, and he said, ‘We really should put up that third tier.’ And look at it — isn’t it a marvelous space?
“This is a pretty special place,” Jarrell added. “We are happy to have participated in its renovation, and we are pleased to use it this evening to celebrate our six Founders Week stars.”
Lewis also sang “The Impossible Dream” from “Man of La Mancha” and “Go the Distance” from the movie “Hercules,” with accompaniment from pianist Howard Breitbart of the Capitol Fools comedy group who also is a faculty member of the Metropolitan School of the Arts in Alexandria, Va. Before closing the event with a stirring rendition of “Music of the Night” from “Phantom of the Opera,” Lewis recounted his journey to earning the title role in the iconic play.
“I am the first African American to play the ‘Phantom’ title role on Broadway, but for me it was about more than that,” Lewis said. “It was about people who would come up to me after a show who were from India, who were from China, who were from all different parts of the world and cultures, saying, ‘Now I feel like I can do it.’ So I am glad I could be that symbol of hope for them.
“And just like tonight, all the Founders Week honorees, you are symbols of hope for anybody who wants to achieve a dream.”