A University of Maryland regent died Saturday after a long fight with cancer – in the middle of a medical malpractice trial over her care. She was 39.
Katrina J. Dennis, had been a member of the University System of Maryland Board of Regents since August 2017. She was also a partner in the Baltimore office of the law firm Saul Ewing LLP and has served on several boards and commissions in the state, appointed by Republican and Democratic governors.
Gov. Lawrence J. Hogan Jr. (R) appointed Dennis to the Appellate Courts Judicial Nominating Commission in 2015 and to the Board of Regents in 2017. She was also appointed by former Gov. Martin J. O’Malley (D) to the Board of Directors of the Maryland Transportation Authority.
Dennis had battled cancer since 2015, when she received treatment for a form of breast cancer that later spread throughout her body.
“Despite her struggle, Katrina remained active and committed, working hard and experiencing all that life offered through travel and service,” Board of Regents Chairwoman Linda Gooden and University System of Maryland Chancellor Robert L. Caret said in a joint statement on Sunday. “The Board of Regents has lost an amazing talent, a hard-working colleague — and a caring friend. Katrina was also an alumna (University of Baltimore School of Law), who gave so much to the USM, the State of Maryland and the legal profession. Katrina’s is a tremendous loss — and she will be greatly missed by her many colleagues and friends in the USM.”
Hogan said Sunday that he was “deeply saddened” by Dennis’ death.
“Katrina was a top lawyer, a respected leader in the Baltimore region, and someone who lived each day committed to giving back to her community,” Hogan tweeted. “We extend our sincere condolences to Katrina’s loved ones, and ask all Marylanders to keep them in your prayers.”
According to her University of Maryland biography, Dennis believed that her successes were the “result of her being able to stand on the shoulders of giants.”
“Without the guidance of mentors and sponsors, her life may look very different. She believes that it is, therefore, her personal responsibility to share the wisdom she has gained with young people in need of strong role models and mentors,” the biography stated.
Dennis also served on the board for the Baltimore City Head Start program, and on the executive committees of the Baltimore Chapter of The Links, Incorporated and the Omega Eta Omega Chapter of Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Incorporated. She was also named a 2017 Distinguished Woman by the Girls Scouts of Central Maryland, among other honors.
Earlier this year, Dennis became chairwoman of the Coppin State University Presidential Search Committee.
Dennis’ medical malpractice claims and a trial in Baltimore County were documented in stories by The Baltimore Sun. She sought $24 million in damages from her physician and the University of Maryland St. Joseph Medical Center, where she sought treatment for a curable form of breast cancer in 2015.
The cancer had spread through much of Dennis’ body before her death.