UMAB poised to select one of its own to lead

November 22, 1990|By Patricia Meisol

An article in Thursday's editions of The Sun incorrectly reported the length of time that the medical school deanship at the University of Maryland at Baltimore has been vacant. John Dennis, dean since 1974, retired in June, two years after he announced his intention to retire. The search for his successor continues, while Dr. Richard D. Richards serves as acting dean.

) The Sun regrets the error

After losing a top candidate for the presidency of the University of Maryland at Baltimore in a political maelstrom more than a year ago, the university's regents are expected to end a national search for a new president next week by naming an insider.

The candidate, Errol L. Reese, is dean of the dental school, and until last month he was also chairman of the search committee that for six months had been interviewing candidates and inviting them to campus. His selection outside the regular screening process comes after two years of turmoil in which the campus of six professional schools will have seen all but one of its six deans leave. Because of the lack of a president, the post of medical school dean has been vacant for more than two years.


Dr. Reese, dean of dentistry since 1975, said he offered himself as a candidate after nominees put forward by his committee rejected the post or, in one case, got rejected by Chancellor Donald N. Langenberg.

wasn't part of my plans, obviously. I am going to roll up my sleeves and give it my very best shot," Dr. Reese said, adding that he also volunteered to head another search committee.

He said the first order of business would be to bring about some coalescence on a campus that is home to schools of law, medicine, pharmacy, nursing, social work and dentistry.

"Each unit is a tower of strength," Dr. Reese said. "Together, we are not functioning too well right now. If we pull together, we can pole-vault to the top, relative to health science centers around the country. I hope everyone will give me a chance."

The naming of a new UMAB president is the first major appointment for Dr. Langenberg, who took office in June. He said yesterday that while the process was unusual, so were the circumstances.

After two years of searches that for one reason or another did not yield candidates, he said, he faced a dilemma: "What next? Continue the process for a third year, or respond to increasing expression of concern on campus that the situation was reaching a crisis stage, that most of the leaders were serving in an acting position, that there were serious budget and management issues on campus, none of which could be resolved without a permanent president.

"My conclusion was, we had to move ahead. We had to make a decision."

Dr. Langenberg said he considered many candidates before focusing on the chair of the search committee. He said he spoke with members of that panel yesterday and found most to be supportive.

The process of naming Dr. Reese, who began his career as a professor at UMAB in 1968 and who has presided over the modernization of the country's oldest dental school, drew harsh criticism from several faculty members yesterday.

"There is absolute furor because the search committee was short-circuited. It's a slap in the face of the faculty," said one professor who declined to be named. "These are people who have gone through an awful lot of trouble. In fact, other deans on this campus have been through that process and have been recommended, pro or con."

Two members of the search committee who were contacted yesterday declined to comment. The faculty learned of the new president in meetings yesterday with Dr. Langenberg, who is expected to nominate Dr. Reese at a regents meeting next Thursday.

Among the other faculty members whom the selection committee considered for the presidency were William J. Kinnard, the acting president, and, sources said, Michael J. Kelly, the law school dean.

Dr. Kinnard resigned Monday as acting president, a post he filled in April 1989 and continued in after the aborted selection of August White, a Harvard surgeon, for the UMAB presidency in August 1989. Dr. White quit shortly after his selection, complaining that the regents planned to make major changes without consulting him.

The last permanent UMAB president, Dr. Edward N. Brandt, left to assume the presidency of the University of Oklahoma medical school in April 1989.

During the last 24 months, the university also has seen the retirement of its longtime medical school dean and the replacement of deans of nursing and, for the second time in two years, the dean of social work. Searches are under way for a new dean of medicine and of pharmacy, the school headed by Dr. Kinnard when he became acting president. As a result of Dr. Reese's promotion, a new dental school dean also must be selected. The graduate school dean and a vice president for institutional advancement also are vacant.

The uproar over Dr. White, the Harvard surgeon, led the faculty to vote to censure former regents Chairman Peter O'Malley, who subsequently resigned. Dr. Kinnard, who has been credited for hTC taking an activist leadership as acting president, said the events of the past two years meant the search committee did not get the names it wanted.

"The sad thing is, this is good campus. It has the potential for greatness. There are lots of fine things going on here," he said. Now, he said, the campus needs a period of stability.

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