Frank Shivers likens the beginnings of The Johns Hopkins University to the tale of A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur's Court or, perhaps more accurately, Connecticut Doctors in Lord Baltimore's City.
Prior to Hopkins' founding in 1876, the Baltimore area was not devoid of colleges, medical schools or doctors for that matter. So, when it was announced that the new university and hospital proposed for the city would be led by a group of New England-educated men, Shivers says, Baltimoreans didn't exactly throw their arms open in a show of hospitality.
"You've got to understand this was post-Civil War, when many Southerners gravitated to Baltimore because they could get jobs here and numerous residents were sympathetic to the South," says Shivers, author, historian and instructor at the School of Professional Studies in Business and Education. "So here were all these Southerners who were quite happy with the way things were, and then in comes this new institution [with] largely Yale alumni in leadership. They viewed it as a group of Yankees coming to town."
Daniel Coit Gilman, the university's first president and one of those Yalies, understood the population's resistance to change and made a point to join many local organizations, in part to try and figure out what the city would accept and how the university could integrate itself.
"His must have been quite a job," Shivers says with a wry smile. "I think of Gilman as the person who did more than anybody to make this new institution acceptable."
Today, it is clear to see that Gilman's efforts, and those of the university's founding faculty, forever altered the course of the city's evolution.
The story of Hopkins and Baltimore will be the focus of a spring Odyssey course titled JHU and the Old Town by the Bay: Paths Intertwined. The seven-session noncredit course, which helps to celebrate the school's 125th birthday, will, through lectures and walking tours, tell the story of how Hopkins began, how it has developed through the years and where the institution is headed.
The course begins Feb. 28 and concludes March 21 with a panel discussion on how Hopkins and Baltimore are working together to plan for the future. Leading the discussion will be the university's 13th president, William R. Brody; Jay Brodie, president of the Baltimore Development Corporation; and members of city government. The panel, which could include Mayor Martin O'Malley, will discuss among other items the new Homewood campus master plan, the Eastern High School redevelopment project and expansion efforts on the East Baltimore campus.
Specifically, JHU and the Old Town by the Bay will offer a look at Hopkins' founders and the contributions of its faculty and students during its first 125 years. The corresponding study tours will explore the architecture and interiors of university buildings on the Homewood, East Baltimore and Peabody campuses, and the new Downtown Center. Not to be forgotten during the lectures and tours, Shivers says, is the city that the university calls home.
"I think part of the story is how [Baltimore] and this university met, interacted and, ultimately, what impact the university and hospital have had on the place," says Shivers, who is coordinating the course. "That is the point really, to show the relationship between city and campus, town and gown."
A Baltimore resident since 1951, Shivers is the author of Maryland Wits and Baltimore Bards: A Literary History and Walking in Baltimore: A Guide to the Old City. Since the early 1980s, Shivers has been providing, primarily through the Odyssey program, historical tours of various city neighborhoods, including his own Bolton Hill. An accomplished teacher and guide, Shivers was honored last year with an Excellence in Teaching Award from the Johns Hopkins Alumni Association.
The course is broken up into four lectures and three study tours. The lectures will take place on Wednesdays from 7 to 8:30 p.m. in the Shaffer Hall auditorium, located on the Homewood campus. The study tours will be held on Thursday, March 1, and two Saturdays, March 10 and 17. The cost is $148; employees may be eligible for tuition remission of 80 percent or more (check with your divisional Human Resources Office).
Lectures will address the defining moments and seminal figures in Hopkins' history. The speakers include Mame Warren, editor of the university's 125th anniversary book, Johns Hopkins: Knowledge for the World; Richard Macksey, a professor in the Humanities Center and the School of Medicine's History of Science, Medicine and Technology Department; and Gert Brieger, chair of History of Science, Medicine and Technology and director of the Institute of the History of Medicine.
Shivers, who is currently working on a book chronicling the architectural history of Baltimore, says the study tours are an opportunity to hear the stories behind Hopkins' buildings, architecture and art, including Carroll Mansion, the familiar domes on Gilman and Billings halls, East Baltimore's Phipps Garden and the variety of sculptures that dot the Homewood landscape. The tour of the Peabody Institute includes a look inside the renowned George Peabody Library and a concert by the Peabody Orchestra. Shivers adds that other locales associated with the school's history, such as Clifton Mansion, Johns Hopkins' summer home and the proposed site for the original campus, also will be visited.
Shivers will be accompanied by Cindy Kelly, director of Historic Houses, for the Homewood tour; Nancy McCall, archivist at JHMI's Alan Mason Chesney Medical Archives, for East Baltimore; and for Peabody, Anne Garside, director of the institute's Public Information Office.
Thomas Crain, director of the Odyssey program, says the course is intended both for the public, to get a "hands-on" look inside the university, and for Hopkins employees who wish to learn more about where they work.
"The course is not just about the impact of Hopkins intellectually; it's also about the personal histories of those who have come through here and our ever-evolving relationship with Baltimore," Crain says. "One of the main goals of Odyssey is to provide a bridge with the local community, and this course is certainly in keeping with that aim."
To learn more about Odyssey, go to http://www.spsbe.jhu.edu/programs/prog_non_credit.cfm.