Bicentennial campaign touts medical school's influence

The 200-year-old University of Maryland School of Medicine, the oldest public medical school in the US, is looking to raise local and national awareness.

The 200-year-old University of Maryland School of Medicine, the oldest public medical school in the US, is looking to raise local and national awareness.

It hopes the campaign will not only attract new students, but also portray itself as the institution that educates a majority of Maryland's physicians and help bring it out from the shadow of certain other medical schools in the state, said Jo Martin, the school's director of bicentennial planning.

Idea: The school is celebrating its bicentennial, using the theme "The Enduring Power of Leadership." Events have been set up throughout the year to highlight the school's teaching, contributions to biomedical research, and other well-kept secrets.

Tools: The school will host a three-part lecture series in the 2,200-capacity Hippodrome Theatre with money that went unused as part of the lecture budget. Those talks - on diabetes, leadership, and the central nervous system - will feature not only medical experts, but also people like Cal Ripken Jr., Patti LaBelle, former Attorney General Janet Reno, and, possibly, Michael J. Fox. The day after the final lecture, the school is canceling classes for the first time in 200 years and sending its students into public schools around the state to help drive younger students' interest in science. "It's important to get kids excited about science and also for them to learn that you don't have to become a doctor to attend our school," Martin said. "Almost half our students are studying fields like physical therapy, which a lot of people don't know."

Measurement: Chris Daley, account executive at Maroon PR, said success will be measured in part by national and local media coverage throughout the year. It also will be based on how students, faculty, and donors respond to the celebration.

Organization:  University of Maryland School of Medicine
Campaign:  Bicentennial Celebration
PR team:  Maroon Public Relations
Other marketing:  Web site
Launch:  November 29
Budget:  Less than $1 million (Private-donation funded)

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