UMAB prepares for visits with 3 presidential finalists


The first of three finalists for the presidency of the University of Maryland at Baltimore will be alternately wooed and interrogated as she begins a two-day campus visit today.

Dr. Jane E. Henney, the No. 2 official at the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, will meet with students, faculty members and administrators at the downtown campus.

Next week the process will be repeated with Dr. David J. Ramsay, the senior vice chancellor for academic affairs at the University of California, San Francisco. And on Jan. 26, Dr. Florence P. Haseltine, director of the Center for Population Research at the National Institutes of Health, will try to sell herself to the campus.

"It really is a wide open choice," said Mark A. Sargent, a law school professor and chairman of a committee that selected the finalists.

The committee will send the names of at least two of the finalists, with comments, to University of Maryland Chancellor Donald N. Langenberg and the UM Board of Regents, who will make the final selection. The new president is expected to take office within a few months.

The choice is seen as pivotal for a campus that has been hampered by leadership turmoil in recent years. Under pressure from the regents, Errol L. Reese resigned as president, effective last month.

The campus, with 5,200 students and an annual budget of $313 million, comprises schools of law, medicine, pharmacy, social work, nursing and dentistry, as well as a graduate program affiliated with the University of Maryland Baltimore County.

None of the three candidates was available for comment yesterday.

As FDA's deputy commissioner of operations, Dr. Henney, 46, oversees some 8,000 employees and has responsibility for about 90 percent of the agency's $924 million budget.

"We have many different cultures within FDA," said Commissioner David Kessler, who recruited Dr. Henney two years ago. "She has brought together our centers in a way that no one else has been able to do in the history of the agency."

"She is unequivocally one of the most talented physician-leaders I know," Dr. Kessler said.

Dr. Henney (pronounced Hainey) came to the FDA two years ago from the University of Kansas, where she was vice chancellor for health programs and policy.

D. K. Clawson, the executive vice chancellor at the University of Kansas, created a job for Dr. Henney in 1985 after watching her performance as deputy director of the National Cancer Institute.

"I think she's a tremendously talented woman," said Dr. Clawson.

Unlike Dr. Henney, who has spent time in both government and academia, Dr. Ramsay has spent his entire career in higher education, including the last 20 years at UCSF, one of the leading medical research campuses in the nation in terms of grants received.

UCSF, with its five professional and graduate schools, resembles UMAB. As senior vice chancellor for academic affairs, Dr. Ramsay has broad oversight of the campus' academic offerings, although the deans of the various schools report to his boss, not to him.

"My understanding is that he does have substantial responsibility for almost everything that goes on at the place," said Mr. Sargent, the head of the search committee.

"The California system has gone through worse financial turmoil than we have, and he was one of the people leading them through that," Mr. Sargent said.

Dr. Ramsay, 54, was born in England and received his medical degree and doctorate in physiology from the University of Oxford.

Even as vice chancellor, Dr. Ramsay has continued to supervise a lab doing research into the cardiopulmonary system, particularly the control of blood pressure.

"He's someone who is not just consumed by administrative detail but has his hands in the essence of what a university still is," said Mr. Sargent. "That was very much a plus for us."

Dr. Haseltine has been director of the Center for Population Research since 1985, last year administering more than $141 million in research grants. Subjects ranged from genetic defects in the pituitary gland to the development of a new plastic condom.

Dr. Haseltine, 51, has emerged in the last few years as a leading advocate for increased funding for research into women's health issues.

She was "singularly responsible" for a growing awareness of such issues, said Alan DeCherney, chairman of the department of obstetrics and gynecology at Tufts University. He has known her for more than 20 years.

Dr. Haseltine, who has a medical degree and a doctorate in biophysics, taught at Yale University medical school from 1976 to 1985.

Her strong feminist opinions and social conscience sometimes provoked controversy within the medical school, recalled Frederick Naftolin, chairman of Yale's department of obstetrics and gynecology.

"She's very intense on the things she thinks are important," Dr. Naftolin said.

Dr. Haseltine's personality would be a plus as a campus president, Dr. DeCherney said.

"She's an electric person. She's not dull," Dr. DeCherney said. "I think universities need these kinds of people. They have to be good salespeople."

Copyright © 2020, The Baltimore Sun, a Baltimore Sun Media Group publication | Place an Ad