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The newspaper of The Johns Hopkins University May 5, 2008 | Vol. 37 No. 33
Engineering Deanship Is Endowed

Benjamin Rome ca. 1950
Photo courtesy Ferdinand Hamburger Archives

A. James Clark's $10 million gift honors Benjamin T. Rome

By Phil Sneiderman

University trustee emeritus A. James Clark, a leading commercial builder, has committed $10 million to The Johns Hopkins University to endow the deanship of the university's Whiting School of Engineering in honor of his mentor and business colleague Benjamin T. Rome.

"Mr. Clark's gift will make possible, for generations into the future, the innovation in teaching and research that is at the core of the Whiting School's mission," said President William R. Brody. "It creates a permanent stream of unrestricted support that the school's deans — present and future — will be able to invest strategically in faculty, students and programs.

"I am very grateful for Mr. Clark's generosity and for his confidence in the Whiting School and in our current dean, Nick Jones," Brody said.

Clark's gift will establish the Benjamin T. Rome Deanship in the School of Engineering. In making the new gift, Clark sought to pay tribute to his business mentor and to express his confidence in the current leadership of the Whiting School. The present dean, Nicholas P. Jones, a former chair of the school's Department of Civil Engineering, was appointed to the post in August 2004.

Rome, who died in 1994, was a 1925 civil engineering graduate of Johns Hopkins. He received an honorary doctorate in humane letters from the university in 1982. Rome generously supported the university's School of Advanced International Studies, especially its China Studies Program. One of the two SAIS buildings in Washington, D.C., bears Rome's name.

"Ben Rome was not only my first boss but a wonderful mentor as well. I owe much of my success, and the success of our business, to Ben. He was a great friend and teacher, and I am honored to be able to memorialize his name at his alma mater," Clark said.

Rome was president and CEO of the George Hyman Construction Co. in Washington, which was founded by his uncle. Rome hired A. James Clark shortly after Clark finished college. In the late 1960s, Clark succeeded Rome as president of the Hyman Co., which later became known as the Clark Construction Group. He is now chairman and chief executive of Bethesda-based Clark Enterprises, a holding company for a variety of businesses, including Clark Construction Group.

Clark is a former member of the board of trustees of Johns Hopkins Medicine. He previously donated $10 million toward construction of a three-story building for biomedical engineering research and education on the university's Homewood campus. That building, named Clark Hall in his honor, opened in 2001.

"This is a transformative gift for the Whiting School," said Nick Jones. "It represents a visionary commitment from an extraordinary person who is not only supporting the Whiting School but also honoring the connection that his mentor, Ben Rome, had to Johns Hopkins and Johns Hopkins Engineering. With this in mind, it is a particularly special honor for me to be the first holder of this deanship."

A formal ceremony for dedication of the deanship will take place in the fall.

The Benjamin T. Rome Deanship becomes the third endowed deanship in the nine schools at Johns Hopkins. In 1997, Frances Watt Baker and Lenox D. Baker, both physicians and double-degree graduates of Johns Hopkins, endowed the deanship at the School of Medicine. In 1999, international telephone and cable television entrepreneur J. Barclay Knapp endowed the deanship of the Krieger School of Arts and Sciences in memory of his father.

Clark's $10 million commitment for the Engineering School deanship counts toward the $3.2 billion goal of the Johns Hopkins: Knowledge for the World campaign, which is scheduled to conclude in December. As of April 30, total commitments to the campaign had reached $3.152 billion. The campaign, which benefits both The Johns Hopkins University and The Johns Hopkins Hospital and Health System, has focused on endowment for student aid and faculty support; research, academic and clinical initiatives; and building and upgrading facilities on all Johns Hopkins campuses.


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