Thursday, June 05, 2014
“My parents raised us with two guiding principles: learn and give,” says Dr. Taylor, a retired psychiatrist and a 1973 graduate of the University of Maryland School of Medicine. He has been a supporter of the school, both financially and emotionally, for nearly that long.
The motivation for his most recent show of support, a $500,000 bequest to establish a fellowship in his name for the department of psychiatry — one of the largest-ever single gifts to the department — is no exception.
“Part of my desire for giving to the School of Medicine over the years is that it’s just the way I was raised,” he says. “My family taught us the value of having a charitable nature, from my grandparents on down to my brother, my sister and myself.”
Apparently, practicing medicine and supporting the Maryland medical community are Taylor family traditions, as well.
For example, in 1954 Dr. Taylor’s uncle, Irving J. Taylor, MD, created Taylor Manor Hospital (now Sheppard Pratt at Ellicott City), a pioneering psychiatric treatment facility. In 2006, Dr. Taylor and several family members, all of them physicians, combined forces and resources to renovate the first-year medical lecture hall in the University of Maryland’s Bressler Research Laboratory that now bears the Taylor name.
Several years ago, Dr. Ronald Taylor and Dr. Richard L. Taylor, a 1975 graduate of the University of Maryland and a neurologist, funded an endowment for the Dr. Ronald J Taylor and Dr. Richard L. Taylor Lectureship in Neurology and Psychiatry.
More recently, Dr. Ronald Taylor and his brother, Dr. Richard Taylor, pledged together in 2013 to endow the presidency of the Medical Alumni Association (MAA) of the University of Maryland School of Medicine.
And last fall, Dr. Ron Taylor pledged the half-million dollar bequest to establish the Ronald J. Taylor MD (’73) Fellowship in Psychiatry Endowment. The two-year fellowship will be awarded to hire a prominent junior faculty member “who has demonstrated an exceptional ability and commitment to medical education or research.”
Dr. Taylor says that his track record of support is just his way of saying thanks for all that he has received, both as a student and an alumnus.
“I am very grateful to the University of Maryland for giving me an opportunity and a profession that became a path for my life,” he says. “I have been tremendously successful because of my relationship with the university. Other nonprofits have interested me over the years and to which I have donated. But, the School of Medicine is very special to me.”
After graduation from medical school, Dr. Taylor did his residency at the University of Maryland from 1973-1976 and worked briefly at the VA Hospital, serving as assistant chief of psychiatry under the legendary Charles W. Savage, MD, an early researcher in LSD treatments for psychiatric conditions. And although he went into private practice soon after his term at the VA, Dr. Taylor remained in contact with the school through teaching positions and currently serves as an adjunct assistant professor of psychiatry.
His devotion to serving and supporting his alma mater was solidified, however, when he was elected to the MAA Board of Directors just six years after graduation. Dr. Taylor played a leadership role in the group’s restoration campaign for Davidge Hall in the 1980s. And he was elected president of the group in 1985, becoming one of the youngest members to hold that position.
Dr. Taylor says that his decision to get involved with the MAA was just an extension of his natural desire to make a difference.
“Early on, I knew I wanted to stay active with the university, to be involved and to give back,” he says. “I thought joining the alumni association would be one avenue to that goal.”
Both the university and the MAA have honored Dr. Taylor for his commitments over the years. He was named a member of the 1807 Circle of the John Beale Davidge Alliance, a permanent recognition society for alumni, faculty and friends who make contributions of $50,000 and above. And last fall, he was honored by the MAA with the Distinguished Service Award for his early contributions to the association’s financial well-being and his role in establishing the MAA’s endowment fund.
But Dr. Taylor admits that his fondest memories of his association with the school of medicine, and the ones that made the greatest impact on him professionally, involve the faculty.
“The faculty were always inspiring, creating a wonderful atmosphere, and they measured their own success by the success of their students,” he says. “The faculty created a learning and teaching atmosphere that was truly outstanding.”
He adds that the key to his education was that it took place both inside and outside of the classroom.
“[The faculty] were caring people who treated us like a large family. They loved teaching and looked out for the students and always tried to help them,” Dr. Taylor says. “We learned through example. The same care they showed the students was transferred to the patients. It was what we were learning to do — to care for others.”
Dr. Taylor says he decided to make a donation of a planned gift to benefit the department of psychiatry so that the university can continue to “provide an opportunity for success” similar to his own, for many years to come.
“I hope the department of psychiatry can utilize the gift to encourage and foster the development of future great leaders and teachers in psychiatry, like the faculty did for me,” he says.
Dr. Taylor also hopes that his gift will inspire his fellow classmates and other potential donors to consider giving back to the University of Maryland School of Medicine.
“I’m hopeful my gift will remind other alumni that they, too, can have a real impact on the School of Medicine,” he says. “When we attended medical school, we were given a gift that had little financial risk for each of us. Now is our time to share.”
And he emphasizes that, as his own history of support has shown, it’s not necessarily what you give that matters most.
“Everybody can do something, can give back at some level,” he says. “We all need to do what we can so that the excellence continues and the future of medicine at the University of Maryland continues the tradition of transforming medicine into the future.”
For information about making a donation, please contact the University of Maryland School of Medicine Office of Development at 410-706-8503.