UMAB president resigns Reese reportedly was pressured

March 05, 1993|By Thomas W. Waldron | Thomas W. Waldron,Staff Writer

Upheaval among leaders at the University of Maryland at Baltimore continued yesterday as Dr. Errol L. Reese unexpectedly announced his resignation as university president.

In announcing his departure, Dr. Reese said that when he received the job in December 1990 he didn't intend to serve more than three or four years.

But several people familiar with his situation said he left under pressure from University of Maryland Chancellor Donald N. Langenberg.

Dr. Reese's announcement came only three days after Dr. Kimball I. Maull resigned as head of the Maryland Shock Trauma Center. Dr. Reese was one of Dr. Maull's two bosses, but their resignations were apparently not linked.

Dr. Langenberg acknowledged yesterday that he and Dr. Reese had had differences, but said the decision to leave was Dr.

Reese's. He said Dr. Reese was leaving the university in good shape, and he declined to discuss their disagreements.

Dr. Reese, 53, said he will stay on through the end of the year or until a successor is named.

"I think we've accomplished a lot on campus," Dr. Reese said. "We did everything we said we were going to do."

The university's fund-raising has improved and the campus' diverse professional schools have become more of a cohesive unit during his tenure, Dr. Reese said.

His biggest disappointment was the legislature's failure to merge UMAB and the University of Maryland Baltimore County, Dr. Reese said.

Dr. Reese, a dentist by training, said he would take a yearlong sabbatical to work with an international, nonprofit health group on oral health issues.

He said he expects to return to teach dentistry at the university at the end of that year.

Dr. Reese said neither Dr. Langenberg or the University of Maryland Board of Regents had expressed unhappiness with his performance.

But several people, including university officials and legislators, said Dr. Reese was leaving under pressure.

"He wasn't through with what he wanted to do," said Sen. Barbara A. Hoffman, a key legislator on higher education issues.

Ms. Hoffman, a Baltimore Democrat, praised Dr. Reese and said his departure was fueled by his outspoken efforts to improve the university.

Ms. Hoffman cited a letter written last fall by Dr. Reese and University of Maryland College Park President William E. Kirwan that called for sweeping changes in the system. The letter made its way into the hands of legislators and eventually the press, angering Dr. Langenberg, according to several sources.

"Things got really sticky after that," said one university official.

Dr. Reese's departure might be related to clashes he had with two of the deans he brought onto campus, Donald E. Wilson in the medical school and Donald G. Gifford in the law school, according to sources.

Dr. Wilson, the only black dean of a predominantly white medical school in the country, was so concerned about Dr. Reese's oversight that he complained to legislators in Annapolis and threatened to quit, one lawmaker said.

Dr. Reese joined the faculty of the dental school in 1968. He served as dean of the school from 1975 to 1990.

He became president in December 1990 at a time of turmoil for the university.

He took over more than two years after the departure of the last permanent president, Edward N. Brandt, whose chosen successor, Augustus A. White 3rd, resigned before assuming the post.

After another job search failed to produce a suitable candidate, university officials settled on Dr. Reese.

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