Remembering Former UMB President Dr. David J. Ramsay

June 25, 2020

Dear UMB Community,

I am writing to share the very sad news that David J. Ramsay, DM, DPhil, former president of the University of Maryland, Baltimore (UMB), passed away last week from cancer. Dr. Ramsay served as president from 1994 to 2010, during which time he brought UMB to national prominence as a research institution.

During his presidency, Dr. Ramsay was the driving force behind the vast expansion of UMB. His vision included the creation of our BioPark, bringing new therapeutics and diagnostics to the market by bringing together academic and industry biomedical researchers. Under his leadership, he also completely changed the physical landscape of our campus by overseeing the construction and opening of the following buildings:

  • BioPark Buildings I and II
  • Southern Management Corporation Campus Center
  • Health Sciences and Human Services Library
  • School of Nursing Expansion
  • School of Law’s Nathan Patz Law Center
  • Health Sciences Research Facility II
  • School of Dentistry
  • The new addition to Pharmacy Hall
  • 620 West Lexington Administration Building
  • Saratoga Building

In addition, Dr. Ramsay and his wife Anne initiated Founders Week, a series of events to recognize faculty, staff, and students as well as the excellence and achievement of faculty and staff in education, research, public service, and entrepreneurship. Founders Week remains an annual UMB celebration these 26 years later. To honor the indelible mark that Dr. Ramsay made on the University, we are renaming the Founders Week Entrepreneur of the Year Award the David J. Ramsay Entrepreneur of the Year Award.

Born in England, Dr. Ramsay received his doctoral and senior medical degrees from Oxford University, where he joined the faculty. He spent 13 years as senior vice chancellor of the University of California, San Francisco (UCSF) and moved to Baltimore to become UMB president in 1994. He retired from UMB in 2010 and returned to UCSF as professor emeritus in the Department of Neurology and associate director of the Institute for Neurodegenerative Diseases, holding that position until his death.

There is no question that his leadership during his presidency was instrumental in bringing UMB to where it is today. For those who wish to honor Dr. Ramsay’s legacy, I hope you’ll consider donating to the Presidential Scholarship Endowment, which was launched in 2004 to honor his 10th anniversary at UMB. Visit www.umaryland.edu/give/Ramsay if you would like to contribute. And to see our video tribute to Dr. Ramsay, click here.

Our thoughts are with his dear wife Anne, his family, and his many friends both near and far. I, for one, will miss him greatly.


Bruce E. Jarrell, MD, FACS

Interim President

Back to 2019-2020