'Hard Hat Day' a hit with UMES supporters | University of Maryland Eastern Shore Marketing Retarget Pixel

'Hard Hat Day' a hit with UMES supporters

  • The university provided invited guests a sneak peek at its new classroom building

    Friday, April 30, 2021
    Rondall Allen with scholarship benefactor Carolyn Elmore

    The University of Maryland Eastern Shore marked the half-way point of construction on its newest classroom building today with “Hard Hat Day,” an event that substituted for a groundbreaking ceremony cancelled a year ago by the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic. 

    When the $90 million structure is completed, the School of Pharmacy currently spread among six buildings will be consolidated under one roof and feature state-of-the-art laboratories for training and pharmaceutical research. 

    University leaders envision the three-story building being the first of two phases to create an allied health sciences complex on the east side of campus. 

    UMES offers eight such programs, including graduate degrees in physical therapy and physician assistant studies and undergraduate instruction in exercise science and rehabilitation services, which long-range planning recommends be clustered together to foster greater collaboration. 

    It was a sentiment emphasized in remarks by UMES President Heidi M. Anderson and her boss, Dr. Jay Perman, chancellor of the University System of Maryland. 

    Because of COVID-19 mitigation protocols, UMES organized a low-key, invitation-only event that included a small gathering of university supporters and elected officials, including state Sen. Mary Beth Carozza (R-Worcester) and Del. Sheree Sample-Hughes (D-Wicomico), speaker pro tem of the Maryland House of Delegates. 

    “You are well aware of the healthcare professionals' shortage we have here on the Eastern Shore and the state of Maryland,” Sample-Hughes said, turning to five current UMES pharmacy students sitting socially distanced on the front row.  “We need you.”

    Posters helped event guests visualize the finished building

    It was a theme repeated by an appreciative parade of speakers invited to participate in the celebration. 

    Afterwards, guests -- donning hard hats -- toured the first floor of the structure with 125,000 gross square-feet* across College Backbone Road from the university's Engineering and Aviation Science Complex, which opened in 2016. 

    UMES launched its Doctor of Pharmacy program in 2010 under former President Thelma B. Thompson, who enlisted the late state lawmaker, D. Page Elmore, as an ally to help the university secure mandatory approvals and funding to create the graduate program.  Dr. Carolyn Elmore, his wife, traveled from Florida to attend the event and sentimentally shared that she wished he had lived to see the fruition of one of his favorite constituent service projects. 

    In its first 10 years, UMES' pharmacy school has produced some 440 licensed pharmacists -- and most recently six doctorates in pharmaceutical science. 

    One Ph.D. graduate is engaged in promising research to create a reliable test that hopefully will help physicians shape an early treatment regimen for patients starting to exhibit COVID-19 symptoms. 

    Dr. Brandy Inkrote Taylor, an alumna who graduated in 2015, said the new building “is quite impressive.  When I was here, people really didn't know there was a pharmacy school at UMES. 

    “It's encouraging to hear that the university sees the value in having the various health profession students working together,” she said.  “It's so important.” 

    In the fall of 2020, the Maryland State Arts Council announced UMES qualified for a $260,000 grant through its Public Art Initiative to help the university with coordinated aesthetics for interior décor as well as entrance plazas and sidewalks. 

    Construction was halted for Hard Hat Day ceremonies so guided tours of the partially completed building could be conducted safely.  The building is on schedule to be completed by mid-2022, with the first classes expected to be held starting with the fall semester.

    (*) - The building will have 65,000 square feet of useable space.