The President's Message

President's Message, Bruce Jarrell

Each month, The President’s Message updates the UMB community on University initiatives; spotlights faculty, staff, and student achievements; and promotes upcoming UMB events.

Proud to Lead

January 2020

Yes, it will take me a while to get used to the new picture on The President’s Message, too. Dr. Jay Perman’s picture appeared in that spot for almost a decade, and undoubtedly the University of Maryland, Baltimore (UMB) is far stronger because of his leadership during that time.

We need to ensure that Dr. Perman’s key initiatives become “PERMAN-ent.” Many of his initiatives come to mind: community engagement, the CURE Scholars Program, interprofessional education, our Core Values, international programs, diversity and inclusion programs. In making them permanent, they must also become dynamic, evolving into something even better. That will lead to enduring success. That is one way we will improve the human condition.

As I begin my tenure as interim president, I want to introduce myself. I am a proud Maryland native — of Caroline County on Maryland’s Eastern Shore. I graduated from North Caroline High School in Denton and headed to the University of Delaware to study chemical engineering. It was the days of the Vietnam War, and a career in medicine at Jefferson Medical College — learning to save lives — seemed more fitting for me. 

After training and two decades of professional experiences as a surgeon, I returned to Maryland in 1997, first in our School of Medicine and then in the President’s Office. I have had the benefit of working with great colleagues and mentors. These people have helped me grasp many opportunities — within the Graduate School; with other schools at UMB; with the University of Maryland, College Park in our strategic partnership, MPowering the State; and with the University of Maryland, Baltimore County and other Maryland universities. I believe that UMB can make a big difference in our state and am committed to that mission. However, the mission begins at home. So I am strongly committed, as well, to the success of our students and faculty — to their careers, their innovations, and their impact in the world.

While I believe in hard work while at UMB, I also believe in having outside interests. These interests clear my head and make me a better thinker. Pre-eminent among these interests is my wonderful family. My wife Leslie and my family make me a better person, and I hope I return the favor. My children and grandchildren are very important to me, and a famous quote by late U.S. Rep. Elijah Cummings, JD ’76, sums up my feelings in this regard: “Our children are the living messages we send to a future we will never see.”

Apart from my family, I do have another consuming interest, and that’s blacksmithing. Although it has taken me a long time to appreciate it, being a metal artist has been tremendously enriching. I am a proud contributor to 1807, UMB’s art and literary journal, and had the pleasure to create the mace holder for the School of Medicine (2006), the mace holder for Dr. Perman’s inauguration (2010), the mace and holder for the School of Nursing’s 125th anniversary (2014), the Davidge Elm tree window art created with Ukrainian blacksmith Anatoliy Rudik (2012) that hangs in the SMC Campus Center, and the Elm Tree (2019) showcased at the recent Community Engagement Center groundbreaking ceremony. My art is one way I’ve found to give back to UMB, and I do hope that all of us share this desire — this desire to give back to the University.

It is now my tremendous honor to lead UMB — my home state’s oldest public academic institution — as interim president. I will stay focused on UMB’s mission, and on the people who call UMB their family. I am eager to explore ways to enhance student learning, to create faculty and staff growth opportunities, and to reward productivity. Each of our seven schools has incredible strength in education and research, and we must build upon the schools’ demonstrated success in those areas.

We also have a mission across the state. As a Maryland native, I know that there are many needs here — in Baltimore City, certainly, but also, for instance, on the Eastern Shore and in Western Maryland. Through new and existing partnerships with fellow universities and other institutions, we will expand UMB’s reach throughout Maryland. In addition, we will continue to foster our incredibly strong relationships with the University of Maryland Medical System and its affiliates, which benefit citizens across the state.

Thank you for your immeasurable contributions each and every day toward fulfilling UMB’s mission — no matter who serves as president. I look forward to your support moving forward to ensure that we continue to fulfill that mission together.


Bruce E. Jarrell, MD, FACS
Interim President