UMAB Aims at Top Three Ranking

November 05, 1994

In an editorial Nov. 5, The Sun mistakenly listed the University of Arizona as one of the University of Maryland Dental School's peer institutions. The University of Arizona has no dental school. The reference should have been to the University of Alabama.

The Sun regrets the error.

Dr. David J. Ramsay, on his inauguration yesterday as president of the University of Maryland at Baltimore, issued an stiff challenge to each of the schools -- medicine, law, dentistry, nursing, pharmacy and social work -- under his leadership: To achieve Top Three ranking nationally within five years among institutions in their class.

Will all six make it? Probably not. But their deans will be held accountable for failure or success. So intense will be the quest for excellence that much of the inter-disciplinary bickering that has troubled UMAB should be eliminated. That is Dr. Ramsay's aim. And by any measure, the six graduate schools -- a unique complex in American education -- are acquiring the space and resources to move up dramatically in their professions.


The UMAB campus on the western edge of downtown Baltimore is one of the premier construction sites in the region. Now on a building-a-year pace that is transforming the neighborhood at a cost of $500 million in a decade, it will have vastly expanded laboratory facilities, new VA and UM hospitals buildings, enlarged libraries, a nursing school and an enhanced capability to blend research with commercial marketing. The benefits to the Baltimore economy are immense.

To realize Dr. Ramsay's goals will take a lot more than bricks and mortar. It will require teamwork on a level that has been missing at UMAB, political skills in obtaining federal and state financing and mega-campaigns for greater private sector support and joint ventures. To obtain Top Three ranking, which at present eludes all six UMAB schools, will require real competitive drive.

Take the School of Dentistry, the oldest in the world, now ranked seventh by U.S. News and World Report magazine. Dr. Ramsay's old school, the University of California at San Francisco, is at the top of the heap, along with the University of Washington. The UM School of Dentistry's peer institutions are currently the Universities of Illinois, Michigan and Arizona. Its projected jump upward sparked by an emphasis on research and training is "doable" in Dr. Ramsay's opinion.

The School of Medicine hopes to move out of its current peer group among public institutions -- Colorado, Virginia and Wisconsin -- into top ranking now shared by UCSF, Michigan and Alabama -- as its lab facilities expand by 25 percent.

Other UMAB graduate schools will be required to stretch themselves as never before under the Ramsay administration. It's an ambitious undertaking that could turn UMAB into one of the best public professional institutions in the country.

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