With the building-of-the-hour as the dramatic backdrop, Johns Hopkins President William R. Brody and dozens of deans, top administrators and trustees gathered on Sunday, Oct. 13, to dedicate the Bernstein-Offit Building, the university's newest physical presence in the nation's capital.
Some 200 people attended the event, which was held across the street on the front lawn of SAIS's Nitze Building. Chairs faced 1717 Massachusetts Ave. to provide those gathered with a view of the new academic space.
The eight-story concrete and glass building honors David H. Bernstein and Morris W. Offit, childhood friends, university alumni and trustees, whose generosity made possible the acquisition of the building. The 1957 Johns Hopkins classmates have been advocates of a permanent home for the Washington programs of the Krieger School of Arts and Sciences and other university divisions.
At the dedication ceremony, Offit and Bernstein shook hands on stage as banners unfurled from the roof of the building that now bears their names. The banners read, "A Capital Celebration, A Capital Location."
In his on-stage remarks, Offit called Johns Hopkins "our country's leading global university" and said, "There's no better place to have a Washington campus than right here on Massachusetts Avenue."
Dan Weiss, dean of the Krieger School of Arts and Sciences, said the new space represented "an enormous opportunity for the university to develop a presence in Washington that we haven't had."
The university is currently exploring the possibility of two residential programs for undergraduates that would be based in the building. One such program would be in government study, with students spending a semester in Washington taking course work and interning in government offices. The other program would involve the study of cultural institutions and the humanities, similarly providing a semesterlong internship and course work experience.
Neither program would begin before the fall 2003 semester, Weiss said.
Speaking in a video shown at the event, Bernstein said, "We are confident that many more programs will evolve out of this. If even one student benefits, I will feel gratified."
Beginning with the addition of the Nitze School of Advanced International Studies in 1950, Hopkins has offered an increasing number of academic programs in the nation's capital. The Bernstein-Offit Building houses the Krieger School's Center for the Study of American Government, which offers seminars and internships to undergraduates; the school's Advanced Academic Programs, which offer master's degrees in select fields to part-time students; and the new Genetics and Public Policy Center of the university's Phoebe R. Berman Bioethics Institute, which was recently established with a grant from the Pew Charitable Trusts.
SAIS has also moved its Center for Transatlantic Relations into the building, freeing up space in the school's two existing buildings and providing the center more suitable quarters.
Other Hopkins divisions also are expected to offer academic programs and house other initiatives in the space.
"The global mission of Johns Hopkins and the international resources of Washington, D.C., are a perfect match," President Brody said. "The Bernstein-Offit Building as a permanent home expands opportunities for collaboration among our academic divisions and with the political organizations, embassies, think-tanks and other agencies that make Washington the world capital that it is. The benefit to our mission and to our students and faculty is incalculable."
David Bernstein, chairman of Duty Free International, was the founding chair of the Advisory Board of the Krieger School of Arts and Sciences. In 1989, he endowed the David H. Bernstein Professorship in Political Science at the Krieger School. He lives in Baltimore.
Morris Offit, founder of Offitbank in New York City and CEO of Offit Hall Capital Management, chaired the university's board of trustees from 1990 to 1996 and led many important initiatives at the university and The Johns Hopkins Hospital and Health System. In 1984, he endowed the Morris W. Offit Chair in International Finance at SAIS.
The architect for the building's renovations was SmithGroup Inc.