The visitors walked on floors that glowed with a shiny perfection, poked their heads into lecture halls that resembled more the bridge of the Starship Enterprise than the classrooms in which they themselves had been taught and wandered around pristine laboratories fully equipped with sleek new medical equipment.
These welcomed guests came to celebrate the new Anne M. Pinkard Building, the School of Nursing's first permanent home. And everywhere they looked, it was clear just how "new" this facility was.
Yet the dedication ceremony that took place June 11 was not just about celebrating a building that was new; it was also about honoring all that was old, according to Sue Donaldson, dean of the School of Nursing.
"We see it as a building that celebrates nursing, with its grand spaces that look out into the world, its historical displays, its high-tech classrooms and laboratories," Donaldson said in her opening speech, as she stood against the backdrop of portraits of five past School of Nursing deans. "This new building was designed as an edifice to honor nursing, and to honor our school's distinguished past."
Visions of the past to which Donaldson alluded are scattered throughout the building: in quotations from prominent nurses in history etched into the walls and in pictures of nurses caring for their patients.
In what Donaldson called "a historic Hopkins event," the ceremony was attended by more than 700 people, including university president William R. Brody, School of Medicine dean Edward D. Miller, trustees from both the university and hospital, local politicians, friends of the university, School of Nursing staff and alumni, and Anne M. Pinkard herself, the Baltimore philanthropist and university trustee emerita in whose honor the building is named.
With a brass band playing in the background, the ceremony kicked off with Donaldson's welcome. Following her opening remarks, President Brody spoke of his experience as a physician and how he has always been "tremendously impressed by the high level of professionalism and pride in their profession exemplified by those in the School of Nursing.
"Anyone who has ever worked in a hospital or been a patient in one knows the value of nursing and understands the importance of nursing excellence," Brody said. "Today we are here to celebrate the dedication of this building, but in a sense I would also like to celebrate the most important part of the school, which I believe is the faculty, the staff and the wonderful students we get from all around the world."
The School of Nursing was established in 1889 from the $7 million bequest of Johns Hopkins, who wanted to create a school that would supply the community with trained and experienced nurses. It opened as The Johns Hopkins Training School in October, five months after the opening of The Johns Hopkins Hospital. Since that time, the school has had offices and classrooms in various buildings on the Medical Institutions campus in East Baltimore. Now, however, the Pinkard Building, which officially opened in January, houses the entire School of Nursing, as well as the Institute for Johns Hopkins Nursing and the Center for Nursing Research.
Located at the corner of Wolfe and McEl-derry streets, across from the main entrance of the hospital, the School of Nursing is a six-level building that contains classrooms and lecture halls equipped for teleconferencing, a 230-seat auditorium, research space with state-of-the-art laboratories, a computer center and a courtyard with garden.
The total cost of the building, which was designed by Ayers Saint Gross of Baltimore, was $17.2 million, three-quarters of which came from private contributions as part of the $900 million Johns Hopkins Initiative campaign. Part of this private contribution was $3 million donated by the Robert G. and Anne Merrick Foundation and the Jacob and Annita France Foundation, two foundations that are headed by Pinkard, an active university trustee from 1973 to 1991. The board of trustees voted to honor Pinkard in recognition of her long history of service to and support of the university and the Johns Hopkins Health System.
During the dedication ceremony, Pinkard was honored again, with an inscribed Steuben vase that read, "Anne M. Pinkard. In deep appreciation of her inspired support. The School of Nursing 1998."
"This is a very special occasion," Pinkard said after being handed the vase by President Brody. "But it's even more special because of the attendance of so many members of the Hopkins family. I'm truly awed to be associated with the efforts of so many of you out there."
Pinkard went on to talk of the university's advancements, from its founding by the bequest from Johns Hopkins, to the first computer purchased by the hospital in the 1960s, to the recent growth of the medical campus, namely the School of Nursing Building.
"Who knows where we are going in the next 20 years?" Pinkard said. "But we can rest assured that with the outstanding vision of present and future leadership, this building will provide the foundation for the continued progress of and innovation for the delivery of nursing education and research."
However, although Pinkard talked of present and future leadership, one of the ghosts of the School of Nursing's past, in pure Dickensian fashion, was also in attendance. While Dean Donaldson was giving her final remarks, an actress portraying M. Adelaide Nutting, a member of the first graduating class and superintendent of the School of Nursing from 1894 to 1907, strode down the auditorium's aisle. Dressed in a superintendent's uniform from the late 1800s, Nutting's alter ego spoke of the early history of the School of Nursing and the importance of progress and growth throughout the years.
Following the ceremony, guests were encouraged to tour the facility and ask questions of the staff and faculty who were in some of the classrooms and laboratories.
One of these faculty members, clinical instructor Jody Roblyer, said the new building will provide a better service to the students, and she stressed that it gives them what they have been lacking for many years, which is "space."
And not only did they get "space" but, judging from the admiration of the visitors to every detail--from the hardware on the doors to the handsome wood lockers that line the walls of the building's academic floors to the inspiring mural honoring community health nursing--they got an extraordinary space as well.