The high-profile court case for which he provided expert testimony was the State of Minnesota and Blue/Cross Blue Shield of Minnesota vs. Phillip Morris Inc. and Others. The state and health care provider's intent was to recoup $1.7 billion in health care costs paid out for those people whose illnesses were a result of their smoking habits. As a firm believer in the link between smoking and diseases such as lung cancer, Samet merely felt he was doing his part in what he calls a "public health struggle."
But when it came to accepting payment for his three-year involvement in the case, Samet decided not to keep the money but rather to donate it to an institution he felt needed his support. That institution was Johns Hopkins.
"I believe in the mission of the [Epidemiology] Department, and I want to support it," Samet said of his "substantial" monetary contribution to his department's endowment. "I understand my position here at Hopkins gives me a certain amount of prestige and stature, and I want to support the university that supports me."
That message of support is being echoed by others as the campus campaign pledge drive, titled "Our Hopkins, Our Future," is now officially under way. The campus campaign is part of the Johns Hopkins Initiative that kicked off in October 1994, an ambitious effort to raise $900 million in five years.
Already, some of Hopkins' faculty and staff have responded to the university's challenge by giving what they can to the university.
But for Glenn Mueller, an adjunct faculty member of the School of Continuing Studies, it's not been just a case of giving money to the university but also of inspiring others to do the same.
Mueller, who teaches at the school's Allan L. Berman Real Estate Institute, said that two years ago the institute wasn't receiving the proper financial support from its own graduates. The master's students who had been through the program had not been making any financial gifts, Mueller said, so he "thought it would be worthwhile to put forth a challenge to these students." That "challenge" was a $10,000 drive for scholarship money.
"I wanted to get them to show support to the program and to improve it, to in turn make their degrees even more valuable," Mueller said. "And lo and behold, when the first graduating class of 1993 found out one of their professors was putting forth some money, they responded. We have already raised $8,000."
Mueller said fund-raising efforts such as the campus campaign allow the university to acquire the latest computer programs, better train faculty and also hire new faculty, which also allows them the freedom to perform more research work.
During this campaign, employees are being encouraged to make a pledge or gift to the institution one of three ways: by making a cash contribution, which can be given by check, credit card or payroll deduction; by transferring to the university a non-cash asset, such as real estate or a collection of value; or by designating a planned gift, such as a life-income-producing arrangement or making Hopkins a beneficiary of one's estate.
These gifts can be either unrestricted or earmarked to a particular division, department or program.
Yet, for some, the call to give has already been answered.
"Some don't wait to be asked; they give regularly, and many have already made their campaign gifts," said Sally O'Brien, director of development for the School of Hygiene and Public Health. O'Brien gave the example that all the School of Public Health's chairs and deans have already made pledges to the school's endowment, totaling $450,000.
"It's a wonderful example of leadership," O'Brien said, adding that having staff and faculty contribute to the university helps builds a spirit of community. "It's all about participation. By giving, it says, 'I believe in what we are doing.' "
Donations that are earmarked can also address pressing needs of the university, such as the daily operation of the campus libraries.
"It takes a lot of money to keep the quality up," said Michael Beer, a professor emeritus of history, who has donated money to the Milton S. Eisenhower Library for the campaign and last year chaired a student book-collecting contest. "We need to buy more books and more modern equipment. The library is such an important function of the university."
The major goal of the campus campaign is the universal participation of all 22,500 university employees.
According to one high-ranking university official, it all comes down to supporting an institution that you believe in:
"One thing I've noticed time and again in every division at Hopkins is the sense of commitment and pride in being part of this institution," said university president William R. Brody. "I think the great number of people, from all kinds of occupations here at Hopkins, who are finding room in their budgets to make a special contribution to this campaign is evidence of their tremendous faith in our mission."
For all these donors and their support, Brody added, the university is "very, very grateful."