Communication and Public Affairs posts displayed by tag

A Fresh Look for 2018 – Your Email Signature

The Office of Communications and Public Affairs recommends that UMB email backgrounds contain no decorative imagery (including backgrounds or pictures). If you choose to include a logo with your signature, please be sure you are using the correct school, official center, or University of Maryland, Baltimore logo.

You can download your logo from the Communications and Public Affairs Toolbox at this link.

Dana Rampolla University LifeJanuary 11, 20180 comments
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UMB Craft Fair Offers Homemade Wares Amid Holiday Flair

Jean-Paul Courneya, MS, bioinformationist at the Health Sciences and Human Services Library, was in a buoyant mood Dec. 1 at the 10th annual UMB Handmade and Homemade Holiday Craft Fair, offering shots in small plastic cups to shoppers milling about the Elm Ballrooms at the SMC Campus Center.

But the cups didn’t contain eggnog or cider. They were filled with flavored kale chips.

“It’s my gimmick for encouraging people to dive in,” Courneya said as he prodded passers-by to take a shot of kale. “It’s this leap of faith sometimes, especially for people who are repulsed by kale. I don’t know what is with kale. Maybe because it sat on the side of the plate, unloved, for centuries. Now it gets a little bit of exposure.”

Courneya and his daughter, Skyler, were representing the family business, Outlier Snacks, which debuted at the UMB craft fair in 2015. “We were at a table on the outside, and we just had such an energy that day,” recalled Courneya, who now hopes to soon sell his products at Roots Market, a natural and organic food store in Clarksville, Md., and Olney, Md.

Courneya and other vendors with UMB ties filled the campus center’s second floor, overflowing into the lobby. The fair has grown significantly since its 2009 kickoff, moving from Westminster Hall to the campus center and from 20 vendors to more than 60 this year.

There has even been a vendor waiting list in recent years, said Nancy Gordon, UMB’s executive director of protocol and special events, who says the craft fair is one of her favorite events.

“Everybody’s here to have a good time,” Gordon said. “They’re shopping, there’s holiday music playing, everybody’s in a good mood. We work hard on this event, but it’s just a fun day.”

With those holiday tunes filling the air, shoppers could choose from a large variety of items that ranged from scented candles and soaps to hand-painted wine bottles; Old Bay-flavored peanuts to cupcakes large and small; wreaths and tree ornaments to greeting cards and canvas paintings, just to name a few.

Amid the diversity of items, there was a thread that tied the vendors together: the love of crafting or cooking.

“This is my dream job one day,” said Katherine Ordonio, BSN, RN, clinical research specialist for orthopaedics at the R Adams Cowley Shock Trauma Center, who was selling sports- and holiday-themed drink coasters. “I just love it. I love crafting. It’s my passion. It’s my stress reliever.”

Cheryl Williams-Smith, manager in the Sponsored Projects Accounting and Compliance Office, was selling baked goods with her husband, Donald. She calls it “my little side gig.”

“I only do this once a year, so this UMB fair is my kickoff to baking season,” she said. “I love to bake. I love to cook.”

Anita Mickens, development coordinator for the University of Maryland Medical System Foundation, was selling handmade jewelry and magnets along with her sister. Mickens says that she’s been crafting for more than 10 years and that this was her fourth time selling at the UMB fair.

Asked what makes the UMB fair special, she said, “Out of all the fairs we do, it’s the presentation — the presentation is a little different. It’s uniform throughout, so it gives it a different feel. And you have the holiday music playing, so it feels more Christmasy or holiday-ish.”

Sarah Pick, MS, director of marketing and public relations for the School of Medicine’s Institute for Genome Sciences, was selling items made of fused glass at the fair for the eighth year. She says she’s been working with glass for 10 years, has two kilns at her home, and sells her wares at fairs and a shop in Ellicott City, Md.

“It’s a lot of fun,” she said of the UMB fair. “Students, faculty, staff, they come to shop, and that’s great. People that you work with come to sell items, and you realize they’re people that are in different departments, different schools. There’s just a lot of creative talent around the room.”

To see more photos from the craft fair, click here.

— Lou Cortina

Lou Cortina People, University LifeDecember 5, 20170 comments
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Channeling My Inner Beyoncé: Learning to Sing Like a Pro

Sitting at my desk, rarely taking the opportunity to leave for lunch, I was intrigued when I saw the Elm post, “Broadway 101 Event at Hippodrome: Learn to Sing with Becky Mossing.”

One of my five children, now a college freshman, has been studying classical voice since early middle school. For years, I have sat on the sidelines listening to her instructor teach her and observing her performances. But for me, a “shower singer” who can barely remember the words, I thought this would be a great opportunity to step outside of my comfort zone and into my daughter’s shoes. I clicked the link to sign up.

On the day of the event, we were escorted through the side door of the Hippodrome, where we could sneak a quick peek at the inner operations of the theater, an exciting opportunity to be sure. We quickly took an elevator up to a small rehearsal room that featured an upright piano and mirrored walls and was encircled by a two-tiered ballet bar.

Mossing introduced herself and began sharing her operatic knowledge with our group of attendees from across the University of Maryland System. It was the second event in the series, arranged through the UMB Council for the Arts & Culture, and she indicated that it was going to be a hands-on — or should we say “voice-on” — vocal lesson.

Mossing started our experience by explaining that she likes to teach through visualization, creating many visual scenarios that help her protégés identify with the principals and technique she fosters. So we immediately got into singer-stance, a neutral position that was like a tree  — knees slightly bent, but not locked, and loose limbs. This anchored us and gave us the perception of power and strength while creating a pathway for better energy flow with our breath.

Next, we envisioned a large, fat straw pulling air into our mouths, channeling it through our airways and filling our abdomens. Even though we all understood that breathing involves air entering our lungs, Mossing wanted us to learn that what we really need to do to be in control of our singing is to direct or “channel” that energy into our stomach area. This technique actually results in more oxygen filling our lung space, which enhances our ability to peacefully push out the melodic “me, may, ma, mow, mu” sounds she next instructed us to emit. We visualized our “sound” (aka our “voice”) filling all of the sinuses in our faces and heads. She demonstrated how to casually release the sound from our throat and let it spill over our lips, causing a vibration as it was liberated.

As the lesson continued, we were asked to identify a strong female singer: Collectively, we selected Beyoncé. Mossing explained that one of the most important aspects of singing is that we need to develop great technique, but technique alone will not make us great singers. It’s the combination of learned skill with passion that gives connectivity to what we are singing. So we all channeled our inner Beyoncé and continued to use our “head voices” as the lesson carried on.

We were each handed a copy of “What I Did for Love,” one of the musical scores from A Chorus Line. Most of the attendees were familiar with reading music and the musical selection, so the fun began! We read through the music and began to sing. Mossing kept reminding us to use our head voices. We repeated stanzas and focused on controlling our sound as opposed to “belting” out the tune. After 15 minutes of rehearsal, we actually sounded quite good.

We ended the lesson with a fun exercise — each attendee selected a sound to make vocally. We went around the circle, one after another, adding on to the existing sounds. The first person started by repeating “beeeeeep-bop,” the next person added “whiirrr,” someone chimed in with a low “laaaaaa,” and next, a high-pitched “ding.” The additions continued until collectively we produced a melodic tune.

We were all quite impressed with our accomplishments during the hourlong lesson. It was great to take a midday break from our work to not only become educated in the fine art of opera, but also have fun while meeting new colleagues. Certainly, no one is ready to perform at the coveted Super Bowl halftime show in February, but a few participants left planning to sign up for additional vocal lessons. Holly Hammond, laboratory research specialist at the School of Medicine, summed it up as follows: “This class was wonderful! … [It was] a real day maker! Thank you so much for the Hippodrome series! [It is a] very wonderful benefit of employment at the University.”

For more on the Council for the Arts & Culture, and to get information on other upcoming Broadway 101 events at the Hippodrome, visit the council’s web page.

— Dana Rampolla


Dana Rampolla Collaboration, People, University LifeNovember 27, 20171 comment
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Westminster Hall Catacombs Tour Sparks the Intellect and Imagination

The land of the living and the dead came together during UMB’s guided tour of the Westminster Burying Ground and Catacombs on Oct. 17.

While it may have been a sunny day in the land of the living, only tendrils of sunlight peeked through barred windows beneath the wooden floorboards of this former 19th-century Presbyterian church that shares a city block with the University of Maryland Carey School of Law. Though the crossroads of Fayette and Greene were only a few steps away, faint sounds of traffic barely made their way through the catacombs’ dust-covered brick walls. The modern world seemed distant in this final resting place, making it the ideal backdrop for conjuring the Halloween spirit.

The event, organized by the UMB Council for the Arts & Culture in cooperation with the law school, attracted approximately 40 members of the University community. They gathered in church pews during their lunch hour as Lu Ann Marshall, the historic hall’s tour director for 37 years, regaled the audience with tales of macabre history, tragic deaths, body snatchers, and paranormal sightings.

Westminster’s dark history

Aside from serving as the final resting place of famed gothic author Edgar Allan Poe, Westminster Graveyard boasts a frightening history of its own. The catacombs, which Marshall pointed out is technically a covered graveyard, were originally created to ease a grisly problem that plagued 18th-century Baltimore.

“The cemetery was originally established in 1786 because the other Presbyterian graveyard was sliding toward Jones Falls,” said Marshall, who is an academic coordinator for the law school. “This would cause to the bodies to wash into the Inner Harbor. This was obviously disturbing to some people, especially when they knew the person.“

Westminster Presbyterian Church itself was constructed in 1852, more than 60 years after the graveyard was established. The reasoning? “People were commonly buried with their valuables, so they built the church to protect the graves. Kids would sometimes vandalize or kick in the headstones. You know, just kids being kids,“ Marshall quipped, bringing smiles to the audience.

Poe’s tortured soul

It would be difficult to discuss graves at Westminster Hall without mentioning Poe, but even the most seasoned literary fans were likely to learn something during this tour.

For example, Poe’s grave went unmarked between 1849 and 1875 after a train derailed in a railway accident and obliterated his headstone. “Poe’s was the only headstone destroyed in that accident,” said Marshall, punctuating a long list of misfortunes that the writer endured in life and death. Stories about Poe’s time in Baltimore were a special point of interest for many in the audience, who were eager to ask Marshall questions about his life.

UMSOM’s body-snatching past

Though the Carey School of Law leads the trust that preserves the church, the University’s connection to Westminster Hall and its catacombs goes far deeper.

“John Davidge believed that the best way for medical students to learn about anatomy was to dissect real human corpses,” Marshall said. Because of prevalent superstitious beliefs, the public was resistant to the idea of dissection, believing that a body must be interred undisturbed to allow the soul to pass into the next world.

In turn, the medical school needed to find more creative means of obtaining fresh corpses. The school’s resident janitor, Frank, would regularly moonlight as a body snatcher. “The original medical school was in walking distance to four graveyards, so I’m sure that was a factor in deciding its location,” Marshall said with a chuckle.

Some bodies were a little too fresh. Much to the horror of the tour’s audience, Marshall revealed that mispronouncing someone dead and burying them alive was not a rare occurrence.

“There are stories of people walking through graveyards and hearing screams coming from the ground,” Marshall said, inducing gasps from her rapt audience.

Paranormal activity

Listening to such stories, it is easy to understand why graveyards have captured the human imagination as sites of paranormal activity.

Some members of the audience peeked over their shoulders nervously as Marshall told them about the catacombs’ supposed hauntings: a hostile soldier, a ponytailed man, and giggling children (just to name a few).

Multiple ghost hunters and psychics have visited the catacombs, some seeing the same ghostly figures repeatedly. Some touring guests also have seen a spirit or two. As for Marshall? “I’ve never seen a spirit myself. If I did, I certainly wouldn’t be working here anymore. But there are rooms I won’t go into alone,” she said.

Marshall closed the tour by allowing attendees to explore the catacombs and give the graves a closer look. Some graves were covered in giant stone slabs, which Marshall said were used to “keep the bodies from floating out of the ground during heavy rain,” while others were buried under monumental piles of old soil with rusted doors on their sides. Many of the graves also were marked with informative plaques.

The crypt was a special brand of eerie, with a claustrophobia-inducing low ceiling, multiple headstones huddled together, and a deep well that was meant to provide drainage to the catacombs. “The well doesn’t work very well. Once I was giving a tour after a big storm and there was a small coffin floating in the crypt,” Marshall said.

Overall, the guided tour of Westminster Hall’s Burying Ground and Catacombs offers something for everyone. It is part history lesson, part architectural study, part campfire tale, and more.

Miss the opportunity to explore this unique place right on campus? The Annual Halloween Tour is scheduled for Oct. 31 from 6 p.m. to 9 p.m. You also can view the silent classic The Phantom of the Opera (1925) as part of the law school’s “Lunch Under the Pipes” series Oct. 26 at noon.
— Jacquelyn White

Learn more about the upcoming events at Westminster Hall here.

Jacquelyn White University LifeOctober 20, 20171 comment
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Plan For Emergency Garage Closures

Know what to do in the event of an emergency garage closure before you come to campus.

During an emergency — such as winter weather, a hurricane, civil unrest, or a power outage — all 24-hour campus garages will remain open. However, non-24-hour garages will close, so parkers will need to park in garages as defined below.

24-hour garages

Open all days and times, even during emergencies, unless otherwise noted.

  • Baltimore Grand
  • Lexington
  • Plaza
  • Pratt

Non-24-hour garages

Not open during emergencies.

  • Pearl
  • Penn
  • Saratoga

Emergency garage relocation plan

  • Pearl parkers go to Baltimore Grand
  • Penn parkers go to Pratt
  • Saratoga parkers go to Baltimore Grand

Important details

  • UMB Alerts will notify registered users that Emergency Garage Plans are in effect. Sign up for alerts on the  UMB Alerts web page (FPI, please use code FPI; UMMC, please use code UMMC).
  • If possible, signage will be located at garage entryways detailing where you should park when your garage is closed.
  • Use your regular access card when entering and exiting a 24-hour garage in an emergency situation ONLY.
  • Always consult the UMB Alerts web page regarding any campus emergency situation to get current updates.
  • Learn more by visiting the Parking and Transportation Services web page.
Dana Rampolla Bulletin Board, Community Service, People, University LifeOctober 20, 20170 comments
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The President’s Message

Check out the September issue of The President’s Message. It includes Dr. Perman’s column on workplace wellness and Launch Your Life, a look ahead to UMB Night at Oriole Park and Dr. Perman’s quarterly Q&A, a recap of the YouthWorks and CURE Scholars summer programs, a story on a patient’s kayak journey to honor the late Dr. Brodie, a safety tip concerning personal property, and a roundup of student, faculty, and staff achievements.


Chris Zang Bulletin Board, Clinical Care, Collaboration, Community Service, Contests, Education, People, Research, Technology, University Life, USGASeptember 11, 20170 comments
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Pecha promoted to full captain

The University of Maryland, Baltimore (UMB) Police Force has promoted Erik Pecha to the full rank of Police Captain for Public Safety. A University employee since 2015, Pecha had served at UMB as a lieutenant, a security shift commander, and an acting captain before his promotion July 10.

Capt. Martinez Davenport, MS, the UMB Police Force’s interim chief, said Pecha scored the highest among all candidates interviewed for the captain’s post. “I am very proud of him,” Davenport said. “He will be a great help to me and to the University.”

Pecha joined the University after serving for 21 years in the Baltimore Police Department, where he handled narcotics investigations and other criminal probes, earning promotions to sergeant, lieutenant, and captain before his retirement. He also received a Bronze Star for valor, three unit citations, and a commendation for putting his life in danger to assist others.

A 1993 graduate of Moravian College in Bethlehem, Pa., Pecha and his wife, Stephanie, have five children, ages 19 to 4. In his spare time, he enjoys hunting, fishing, and gardening.

— Lou Cortina

Lou Cortina People, UMB News, University LifeAugust 31, 20170 comments
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Brady Art Exhibit Has Gala Opening

The University of Maryland, Baltimore (UMB) was honored to have Francine Brady’s art exhibit open on Aug. 14 at the Weise Gallery in the Health Sciences and Human Services Library.

This captivating exhibit is sponsored by UMB’s Council for the Arts & Culture. Students, faculty, and staff attended the opening along with other artists and guests, including Maryland First Lady Yumi Hogan, honorary chair of UMB’s Council for the Arts & Culture. She and UMB President Jay A. Perman, MD, hosted the art exhibit opening.

Brady, a resident of Frederick, Md., since 1999, describes her artwork as contemporary, narrative, and symbolic. She prefers that each person who views her art interpret the pieces instead of her providing an interpretation for them.

Her artwork covers a wide range of subjects and textures. Her current work mostly focuses on drawings and acrylic paintings. Unique, vibrant, and expressive are just a few of the words used to describe Brady’s art.

Every visitor to her exhibit at the Weise Gallery is sure to find a piece of interest. Be sure to stop by before the exhibit closes on Oct. 1.

Read more about UMB’s Council for the Arts & Culture. See more pictures from the event.

— By Sonya Evans

Sonya Evans Community Service, Education, People, UMB News, University LifeAugust 29, 20170 comments
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Founders Week Award Winners Named

Every fall, we dedicate one week to commemorating UMB’s rich history and to celebrating the future we’re building together. Among the highlights of Founders Week is recognizing the extraordinary work of our faculty and staff. Four awards are given every year, each signifying outstanding accomplishment in one facet of our mission. We’re delighted to announce the recipients of our 2017 Founders Week Awards.

Entrepreneur of the Year

Bartley P. Griffith, MD
School of Medicine
Thomas E. and Alice Marie Hales Distinguished Professor in Transplant Surgery
Founder, Breethe, Inc.

A world-renowned heart and lung transplant surgeon, Dr. Griffith struggled for decades to develop an artificial lung — one that wouldn’t tie patients to a breathing machine in a hospital bed.

After 20 years, he achieved his goal, creating a portable, at-home device for artificial respiration.

To market this technology, which should help hundreds of thousands of patients each year, Dr. Griffith in 2014 worked with UM Ventures, the University of Maryland, Baltimore’s commercialization arm, to found the company Breethe, Inc.

Based at the BioPark, Breethe, Inc. is deep into product development, funded to date through three rounds of equity capital with Dr. Griffith playing an active role.

Dr. Griffith, who came to the School of Medicine in 2001, has performed more than 1,250 heart transplants and nearly 700 lung transplants.

In 2010, when he was named UMB’s Researcher of the Year, Dr. Griffith was credited with having “the most heavily funded cardiac surgery program in the United States” with $25 million the previous decade.

In addition to his lung breakthroughs, Griffith was one of the early surgeons to implant a Jarvik heart, and he developed a pediatric heart pump.

Previously chief of cardiac surgery at the School of Medicine, Dr. Griffith recently raised funding to endow a joint chair between the SOM Department of Surgery and the Department of Bioengineering in College Park. The chair helps to create new medical devices.

Public Servant of the Year

Susan M. Antol, PhD, RN
School of Nursing
Assistant professor, Department of Partnerships, Professional Education and Practice
Director, Wellmobile and School-Based Programs

During the past 19 years at the School of Nursing, Dr. Antol has developed innovative approaches for meeting the needs of underserved individuals throughout the state. Applying her community health nursing expertise, her organizational skills, and her perseverance, she has brought health care services to at-risk children, the homeless, immigrants, migrant workers, veterans, and victims of human trafficking.

She has led nurse-managed school-based programs providing direct care to children and has served on key statewide committees such as the Maryland Assembly on School-Based Health Care and the Governor’s School-Based Health Center Policy Advisory Council.

As director of the Governor’s Wellmobile Program since 2009, Dr. Antol has overseen nurse-managed primary care services in underserved areas ranging from Maryland’s Eastern Shore to Prince George’s and Montgomery counties and Western Maryland. When Wellmobile funding was cut in half in fiscal year 2010, she pursued grants and partnerships, securing three years of funding from CareFirst BlueCross BlueShield, and in 2017 partnered with other University schools in a $1.2 million grant from the Maryland Community Health Resources Commission.

An advocate for interprofessional practice, she received $1.04 million in 2015 in Health Resources and Services Administration funding to expand the Wellmobile’s interprofessional practice. In collaboration with the schools of Medicine, Pharmacy, and Social Work, Dr. Antol and her team have implemented an interprofessional practice that serves as a clinical education site and is examining new methods of providing care through the Wellmobile.

Researcher of the Year

Robert K. Ernst, PhD
School of Dentistry
Professor, Department of Microbial Pathogenesis

Dr. Ernst and his colleagues are engineering rationally designed mimetics based on bacterial surface molecules that will inhibit the body’s immune response to sepsis, a condition that causes a death every two minutes in the U.S.

In particular, he is at the forefront of innovative research studying the molecular basis by which bacteria modify the lipid component of their membrane, specifically lipopolysaccharide (LPS) and how these alterations affect or circumvent normal host innate immune system responses, potentially resulting in septic shock. Additionally, these modifications can promote resistance to host innate immune-killing mechanisms by antimicrobial compounds.

Therefore, altering the biosynthesis of LPS can render the bacteria more susceptible to host cell killing and/or antimicrobial intervention and serve as novel components or adjuvants required for the development of more effective vaccines.

The work of Dr. Ernst, a member of the School of Dentistry faculty since 2008, has attracted ongoing funding from the National Institutes of Health (NIH), MedImmune, as well as University of Maryland Ventures Seed Grant Funding and the state of Maryland Technology Development Corporation.

An advocate of interprofessional research, he has four colleagues from the School of Pharmacy on the NIH sepsis proposal. One of them, David Goodlett, PhD, co-founded a startup diagnostic company with Dr. Ernst called Pataigin. Its patented test “BACLIB” inexpensively identifies bacteria- and fungi-caused infections in less than an hour.

Teacher of the Year

Fadia Tohme Shaya, PhD, MPH
School of Pharmacy
Professor, Department of Pharmaceutical Health Services Research
Vice Chair for Academic Affairs

Dr. Shaya leads by example and is an inspirational educator, teacher, and mentor to predoctoral students, postdoctoral fellows, and junior faculty.

She engages her students in research very early on, and includes them in publications. Under her mentorship, her trainees have been awarded prestigious research and training grants. Her courses — Medication Safety, Drug Abuse in the Community, and Formulary Management — are highly sought after and often referenced by graduates as among their most influential. Fluent in five languages (including her native French and Arabic), Dr. Shaya has trained visiting scholars from many countries, including Armenia, France, Israel, Lebanon, and Turkey, and is a popular guest speaker, nationally and internationally.

Along with her School of Pharmacy appointments, she is on the School of Medicine faculty (Department of Epidemiology and Preventive Medicine), director of the Behavioral Health Research and Policy Program, associate director of the Center on Drugs and Public Policy, and adjunct faculty at the American University of Beirut.

Committed to interprofessional education (IPE), she organized an inter-school IPE program on training students to counter the opioid epidemic and how to administer naloxone.

Dr. Shaya also has supported the training of minority students and junior faculty, under the NIH minority supplement mechanism. She serves as a mentor to inner city high school students through the UMB Bioscience Summer Program.

As vice chair for Academic Affairs, Dr. Shaya has helped introduce population health and health services research-based courses in the PharmD curriculum and expand dual-degree options for pharmacy students.

For more on the Founders Week events, including the awards presentation at the Founders Gala on Saturday, Oct. 14, visit The Elm and Founders Week websites in the weeks to come.

Chris Zang Bulletin Board, Clinical Care, Collaboration, Community Service, Contests, Education, For B'more, People, Research, Technology, UMB News, University LifeAugust 28, 20170 comments
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Gamez Shows High Fiber In Carpeting Crisis

Pedro Gamez went two floors up in the Saratoga Building for what he thought was a staff picture with his Maryland Poison Center colleagues. But when University President Jay A. Perman, MD, entered the conference room on July 27 and asked for him by name, Gamez went into defense mode.

“Wasn’t me!” he exclaimed, getting a laugh from his co-workers.

“I don’t know why I have this effect on people,” Perman joked. “You’re not in trouble but you did do something — something that makes us want to honor you as UMB’s Employee of the Month!”

“New car?” Gamez asked, causing his cheering co-workers to laugh some more. But despite Gamez’s jokes, it was his serious attitude and work ethic that won him the July honor.

As one of 55 poison centers across the United States, the Maryland Poison Center, part of the School of Pharmacy, receives approximately 44,000 calls per year, from the routine to the life-threatening. It is a 24-hour, seven-day-a-week operation, keeping Gamez, who has been a LAN (local area network) administrator at the center for four years, and his colleagues on their toes.

When the center, which is on the Saratoga Building’s 12th floor, needed new carpeting in May, it wasn’t an easy undertaking. It’s not like the work could be done nights or weekends. Gamez, who maintains the servers, computers, and phone systems of the center, prepared the call center’s hardware to be moved during the install, and configured temporary work stations allowing staff to continue work as they moved from one location to another within the center for a week to accommodate the carpeting work.

Asked whether the carpeting guys hated him by the end of the week, Gamez replied, “The first day they did. I just kept asking them ‘how long is it going to take?’ because I wanted to move the portable system for the next day.” Gamez also came in early, stayed late, and even helped move furniture.

It wasn’t the first time Gamez and senior IT specialist Larry Gonzales had been forced to make Poison Center communications more portable. When power went off in the Saratoga Building in July, during the unrest following Freddie Gray’s death and during several snowstorms, the center stayed operational even though the University was closed.

In his nomination form, Poison Center director Bruce Anderson, PharmD, DABAT, wrote “no caller to the service had any idea that there was anything out of the ordinary happening to the physical plant of the Maryland Poison Center,” during the carpeting upgrade. “The service continued uninterrupted in large part because of Pedro’s efforts.”

Even before the award, Gamez felt blessed to be working at UMB. “Before coming here, the job that I had went away,” he said. “So it was a blessing to come here … my daughter goes to school [at College Park] for free and I’m continuing my education.”

And now $250 wealthier, with a new plaque on his wall, Gamez is grateful — to his colleagues and to his “mentor” Gonzales.

Asked what the award meant to him, Gamez said, “I’m one of those quiet guys. I just come here and I’m happy. I’m just proud that I did a good job.”

It wasn’t his first such award. Gamez won Employee of the Month in the Marine Corps decades ago. Now the challenges are different.

On the Fourth of July, he was about to take his three kids to the movies when the Poison Center called. “They lost internet and we couldn’t connect to the servers,” Gamez recalled. “So I had to reroute the connections.”

Ninety minutes later, his family went to see Despicable Me 3.

Which certainly doesn’t describe Gamez. As Perman said to him in closing on July 27 “we need more like you.”

— Will Milch and Chris Zang

Will Milch Contests, Education, People, UMB News, University LifeAugust 8, 20170 comments
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May President's Message

May President’s Message

Check out the May issue of The President’s Message. It includes Dr. Perman’s column on changing our logo from “The Founding Campus” to “Baltimore,” a story on Malinda Hughes, who gave her $1,500 Employee of the Year prize to the UMB CURE Scholars Program, an invitation to Dr. Perman’s State of the University Address on May 10 and commencement on May 19, a National Mental Health Awareness Month reminder about UMB’s Employee Assistance Program, a safety tip on the UMB Police Force escort service, and a roundup of student, faculty, and staff achievements, including a special section on global health interprofessional projects.

Chris Zang Clinical Care, Community Service, Contests, Education, People, Research, Technology, UMB News, University Life, USGAMay 8, 20170 comments
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President's Message February

February President’s Message

Check out the February issue of The President’s Message. It includes Dr. Perman’s column on UMB joining Johns Hopkins in the Clinical and Translational Science Awards Program, a story on Spirit Day, a new philanthropy feature, a safety tip on not walking and texting, CURE Corner, and a look ahead to our next speakers in the Core Values Speaker Series and President’s Panel on Politics and Policy.

Chris Zang Clinical Care, Collaboration, Community Service, Contests, Education, People, Research, Technology, UMB News, University Life, USGAFebruary 6, 20170 comments
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What Is Going in Carter Center Space?

Why is the former Walter P. Carter Center being demolished and what will take its place? Amid the recent demolition schedule updates and pedestrian detours at UMB, this is the first story to address these questions.

The building at 630 W. Fayette St. will be razed to make room for a nearly 300-space parking lot that will be paid for by the University of Maryland Medical Center for use by hospital staff. The current demolition process will be completed in July with the surfacing and landscaping of the parking lot finished by the end of 2017.

“It’s a win-win,” says Dawn Rhodes, MBA, chief business and finance officer and vice president at UMB, who pointed out that the medical center’s use of the land is only temporary. “We are removing a building that had gone unused for years, at no cost to us, with the opportunity to buy back the property as long as we reimburse the medical center for the unamortized portion of the demolition costs. It benefits us both. The medical center has use of the property for what their uses are right now and we have access to get it back and later use it for what we determine to be the highest and best use for the land.”

Thanks to urging from members of the UMB team involved in the project, the new surface parking lot will have trees on its perimeter as well as strips of greenery throughout it.

“The original design was just a sea of asphalt,” says Anthony Consoli, AIA, UMB’s campus architect. “With the help of the medical center we adjusted the design to integrate some green areas not just on the perimeter of the parking lot but internally as well. Increasing the tree canopy and reducing the urban heat island effect is part of UMB’s Resilience Commitment component of the University Presidents’ Climate Commitment, signed by UMB in December 2015, that guides us on such projects.”

Rhodes applauded the change. “On an urban campus it’s always pleasant to have components of green space and flowers. It just makes for a more welcoming campus environment.”

She and Consoli also were glad to preserve Arch Street as a pedestrian walkway when the project is complete. Arch Street is an important north-south pedestrian artery within the campus. Until the end of this calendar year alternatives to Arch Street will detour pedestrians to Pine and Pearl streets. The corner of Arch and Fayette was not captured as part of the construction zone at the insistence of Bob Rowan, associate vice president for facilities and operations, who recently retired after 32 years at the University. “Bob Rowan and others really worked hard to keep that corner out of the construction zone,” Rhodes says. “People will still be able to cross the street there.”

Other streets affected during the demolition include:

  • The north side sidewalk on Fayette Street between Arch and Pine streets will be closed. The south side sidewalk currently closed for Health Sciences Facility (HSF) III construction should open before the north side closes.
  • The east side sidewalk on Pine Street between Fayette and Lexington streets will be closed. The Fayette Street crosswalk at Pine Street will be usable.
  • The Vine Street Alley will remain open for vehicle traffic only until June when construction of the new parking lot will begin.

Pedestrians are encouraged to cross Fayette Street using the crosswalks at Greene, Arch, or Pine streets. Directional signage is being installed in the coming weeks near the demolition area to help pedestrians. Two new crosswalks will be installed to shift pedestrians to the west side of Pine Street for safety.

“We appreciate the patience and cooperation of those inconvenienced by the Carter Center demolition, especially the dozens of people whose parking spots are affected,” says Rhodes. “We’ve done our best to accommodate them. On campus, there is lots of construction going on in a consolidated area of space between the duct bank project, the Carter Center, and finishing up HSF III. We urge people to be mindful of the construction areas and exercise caution.”

Those at UMB have continued to call the building at 630 W. Fayette St. the Carter Center even though officially the name was moved to the 701 W. Pratt Street Building years ago when the last of the mental health services was transferred there. The 701 building, which is owned and operated by the medical center, also contains a portrait of Carter and some historical artifacts that once resided in the building slated for demolition.

Walter P. Carter was a champion for change as a civil rights leader, serving as Baltimore head of the Congress on Racial Equality (CORE) in the 1960s, organizing freedom rides in Maryland to desegregate public accommodations. In a speech on the day in 1971 he died of a heart attack, Carter, 48, said, “I will commit the rest of my life to make this city a fit place where our kids can live.”

Rhodes, who created an office to promote diversity and inclusion in her previous role at Indiana University Purdue University Indianapolis, is pleased that Walter P. Carter still is being remembered so near the UMB campus.

“The vacant building on Fayette Street had fallen into disrepair in recent years and no longer was becoming of the Carter legacy,” says Rhodes. “I’m glad his many contributions are still being remembered at the Carter Center just a few blocks away on Pratt Street.”

Chris Zang Collaboration, Education, People, UMB News, University Life, USGAJanuary 18, 20171 comment
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