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Wholly Hopkins
Matters of note from around Johns Hopkins


University: Cuts in State Aid Will Be Felt Across University

University: Commencement Festivities to Unfold -- Weather or Not

Engineering: Curriculum Changes Are Key to Diversity in Engineering Education

Sports: A Season of Superlatives for Men's LAX

Public Health: A Better Handle on Frailty

Policy: Welfare Reforms Haven't Hindered Kids

Humanities: A Physicist, on Why Philosophy Matters

Foreign Policy: Tense Times on the Korean Peninsula

Students: Reaching Out to China's Orphans

Humanities: Students Take on Role of Curator

Policy: Resolving Conflicts, Face-to-Face

Sports: Baseball Poised for Division III National Championship

Wholly Hopkins Departments: Bottom Line | Here & Abroad | Vignette | Datebook | Syllabus | Findings | Academese | Forever Altered | Vital Signs | Up & Comer | JHUniverse

Cuts in State Aid Will Be Felt Across University

Johns Hopkins University is facing a $4.4 million budget shortfall in fiscal year 2004 due to cuts in the Joseph A. Sellinger Aid to Independent Colleges and Universities program, which has provided financial support to Maryland's private colleges and universities since the mid-1970s.

Hopkins will receive a total Sellinger appropriation of $13.2 million in 2004, down from $17.5 million in 2003 and $19.3 million in 2002. Further cuts in the offing could reduce Hopkins' aid package another 25 percent to $9.9 million.

Illustration by
Joyce Hesselberth
"We knew going into fiscal year 2004 that the Sellinger program was targeted for reduction since it is a discretionary fund-but didn't know it would be of this magnitude," says James McGill, senior vice president for finance and administration. "The problem is that the state's budget woes are real and significant and they had to find a way to balance the budget."

The loss in Sellinger support will likely be felt across the board at Hopkins, in general academic and community endeavors. Exactly how the cuts will shake out has yet to be determined. But university officials say they hope to make cuts without reducing student financial aid packages, according to Ilene Busch-Vishniac, dean of the Whiting School of Engineering.

"We will not entertain any cuts to financial aid in order to reduce our budget," Busch-Vishniac says. "Our hope is that the budget cuts we make will not be visible to students or faculty, unless they dig very deeply." "The whole [Sellinger] formula is based on the number of students in each division," says McGill. "We divide it like we do every other revenue source at Hopkins. The revenue flows into each division and then it's up to the division how to handle [the reductions]."

In the Whiting School for example, cuts are likely to come in the form of freezing growth until the financial picture improves. "At this point, all of our plans for buildings remain in place, but [we may need] to prune some programs that have outlived their usefulness, and to possibly delay some new programs we had hoped to start," says Busch-Vishniac. "That should tide us through this fiscal year, but if the situation gets worse or does not improve, cuts may need to go deeper."

The Sellinger aid program was launched three decades ago as an acknowledgment on the part of the state that private institutions like Hopkins (which receive considerably less funding than state schools) have an important economic impact on the state. Indeed, according to a recent economic impact statement, Johns Hopkins is the largest private employer in Maryland. In fiscal year 2002, the Johns Hopkins institutions employed 41,028 people in Maryland in teaching, research, patient care, and administrative or support jobs. That was an increase in jobs of 8 percent since 1999. During the same three-year period, the total number of jobs in Maryland grew only 4.5 percent, notes Linda L. Robertson, vice president for government, community, and public affairs at Johns Hopkins.

As departments across the university brace for the cuts, the final outcome on the Sellinger issue is still a question mark, Robertson says. "Governor [Robert] Ehrlich has said he intends to veto tax measures that were part of the General Assembly's plan for a balanced budget. If he does so, the state likely will need to make additional cuts in spending to bring the plan back into balance," she says. That could add up to another 25 percent cut off the top of the already reduced Sellinger aid package to Hopkins. Under that scenario, Sellinger aid could be reduced by an additional $8.2 million, cutting funding to Johns Hopkins by roughly $3.3 million.

Students, staff, faculty, and alumni have played a part in the university's effort to maintain state funding. In March, university President William R. Brody appealed to the Hopkins community to write to state legislators to let them know how important the state's support is to life at Hopkins. Robertson said the letters caught the attention of the General Assembly.

"As I visited the State House throughout the closing weeks of the General Assembly, I heard frequently how impressed elected officials were with the show of support from members of the Johns Hopkins community," Robertson says. --Amy Cowles

Commencement Festivities to Unfold -- Weather or Not

This year more than ever, university planners prayed for sunny skies on commencement day ... or at least an abeyance of soaking rain.

For decades, the outdoor, university-wide graduation ceremony at Homewood has been a tented affair-on the Upper Quad for most of that time, more recently on Garland Field. With campus construction now complete, however, and new underground irrigation pipes that can't withstand massive tent stakes, a new venue was needed-and one that could provide more space for guests. Recent growth in the size of the student body prompted university officials last year to limit graduates to four guests, much "to the chagrin of the senior class," notes Dennis O'Shea, executive director of communications and public affairs.

With plenty of room for guests in the bleachers, the university's graduating classes will take seats on Homewood Field. Two "Jumbotrons" will magnify the action on stage.
Illustration courtesy P.W. Feats, Inc. ©2003

The solution? Homewood Field, site of countless Hopkins athletic skirmishes. With its stadium-style seating, the site can accommodate thousands of guests. The downside: no tent, leaving graduates and their families and friends fully exposed to the elements. The university-wide ceremonies will proceed on May 22 at 9:15 a.m., rain or shine, says O'Shea. Planners, though, are equipped for either extreme, having stocked up on ponchos and water bottles. Undergraduates from the schools of Arts and Sciences and Engineering will return to the scene at 1:45 p.m. for the bachelor's degree ceremony, featuring speaker New York City mayor Michael Bloomberg, Eng '64. (And the School of Professional Studies in Business and Education will hold its graduation there the following evening, at 7:30 p.m.)

In putting the ceremonies' fate in the hands of the weather, Johns Hopkins is following a number of elite universities-Princeton, Stanford, Columbia, and Penn, to name just a few-who have hosted untented outdoor ceremonies for years. Reassuringly, Princeton's associate secretary, Ann Halliday, says that the 10,000 orange ponchos she has on hold in case of emergency haven't been used in at least eight years.

But the reason, at least according to Halliday, could spell bad news for Hopkins: "God is a Princeton alum," she says. "That's why we've gotten by." --Sally McGrane

Curriculum Changes Are Key to Diversity in Engineering Education

Education Despite decades of diversity-oriented recruitment, undergraduate engineering programs around the country enroll and retain relatively few women and minority students. That dearth has engineering researchers at Johns Hopkins University thinking outside the box.

"Evidence is mounting that diversity in engineering student bodies is backsliding rather than improving," warns Ilene Busch-Vishniac, outgoing dean of Hopkins' Whiting School of Engineering, in a recent report on the issue. It was co-authored by Jeffrey P. Jarosz, special assistant to the dean. Among the statistics they cite:

In 1998, only 1.7 percent of baccalaureates awarded to women were in engineering. While blacks, Hispanics, and Native Americans make up a quarter of the U.S. population, those groups comprise only 6 percent of the engineering workforce. At Hopkins, women, make up one-fourth of the nearly 1,300 engineering undergrads. Yet minority students (including African Americans and Hispanics) make up only 7 percent.

Illustration by Scott Roberts

"The bottom line is that engineering education has long seen itself as exclusive," Busch-Vishniac says. "There's the example given to groups of new engineering students: Look to the left, and look to the right-one of the three of you will be left at graduation. Everything we've done has fostered exclusivity. What we are suggesting is that to attract a more diverse population in engineering, we need to be more inclusive."

Key to the solution, says Busch-Vishniac, is revamping the curriculum-for example, emphasizing engineering coursework that appeals more to women and minority students, including case studies in which engineering is used to study diseases, improve education, or clean up inner city toxic waste sites. "For the most part, we have looked at everything but the engineering curriculum," she says.

The authors point to research showing that "women tend to choose majors that they perceive have a high degree of interaction with other people and whose benefit is apparent." Tufts University, for example, offers such engineering courses as Children, Technology and Society, which focuses on the effects of toy technology. Among engineering majors at Tufts, 33 percent are women.

Women and minorities also tend to be drawn more to a curriculum that highlights team-oriented coursework and reduces "weed-out" courses, Busch-Vishniac notes. "For women and minorities, who already feel isolated by their underrepresentation, the effect of a perceived hostile environment is great," the report says.

The 26-page report stemmed from a recent National Academy of Engineering forum on diversity shortfalls in the engineering workforce nationwide.

"Evidence is mounting that diversity in engineering student bodies is backsliding rather than improving," warns Ilene Busch-Vishniac, outgoing dean of Engineering at Hopkins. Busch-Vishniac is one of fewer than 20 women engineering deans at the 360 engineering programs around the country. She is leaving her post in June at the end of her five-year term to dedicate more time to her family, research, and her role as president of the Acoustical Society of America. Her decision to step down, she notes, was influenced by the pressures she felt as a female dean to juggle significant administrative responsibilities with family obligations. She will remain at Hopkins as a professor in the Department of Mechanical Engineering, and she and Jarosz are seeking funds to craft new curriculum proposals.

Among their likely suggestions: introduce real-world case studies earlier in the course of study-during the freshman or sophomore years when theoretical courses are taught and drop-out rates are highest-so students can get hooked on what engineering can accomplish.

"There is a certain irony to the need to reexamine the link of engineering curricula to social relevance," her report notes, "given that engineering is often defined as technical problem solving for the benefit of humankind."
--Joanne Cavanaugh Simpson

A Season of Superlatives for Men's LAX

Last season, Hopkins men's lacrosse entered the NCAA championship tournament as the No.1 seed, befitting the country's top-ranked team. This year, the Jays did it again. At press time, Hopkins was ranked first in the nation with a 12-1 record, its lone loss by a single goal to Syracuse early in the season. The Jays were riding a nine-game winning streak after demolishing Army 14-2 in the first round of the NCAA championship tournament.

Standouts Kyle Harrison (l) and Adam Doneger In a season of superlatives, the Blue Jays became the first team in lacrosse history to defeat all four Atlantic Coast Conference teams-Virginia, North Carolina, Duke, and Maryland-in a single regular season. (Even more impressive, they did it on four successive Saturdays.) At press time, Hopkins had outscored opponents 184-88, and won its last five games by a combined tally of 86-25. All of this was accomplished by a young team: Johns Hopkins started more sophomores (five) than seniors (four).

Coach Dave Pietramala's potent offense was led by sophomore Kyle Barrie, who at press time had 30 goals and 17 assists. But seven members of the Hopkins attack had scored in double figures by press time, an indication of its depth. A tough defense led by Benson Erwin, Corey Harned, Michael Peyser, and goalie Rob Scherr held opponents to nine goals or less in 11 of the Jays' 13 games. --Dale Keiger

Public Health
A Better Handle on Frailty

Frailty afflicts the very old with weakness, depression, and a range of other health problems. Recent studies have left scientists with an exciting suspicion that the condition, once thought to be inevitable as people grew old, might be treatable or even preventable.

Johns Hopkins geriatrician Jeremy Walston is among a group of researchers who added new evidence in late 2002 to a growing set of data. They are finding that frailty may be a product of the body's loss of control of some of the inflammatory mechanisms that it normally uses to deal with disease and injury. In the most recent study, researchers showed that a frail group had higher levels of blood clotting factors and proteins that are markers for inflammation than patients in a non-frail group.

Jeremy Waltson
Photo by Tamara Hoffer
When younger people get ill or injured, "normal inflammatory processes get turned on, they go up, and then they resolve relatively quickly," explains Walston, an associate professor of clinical services at Johns Hopkins Bayview. "It appears that in this frail group things get turned on and then they don't get turned off. Something's perpetuating this low-grade inflammation, and the consequences of that can be enormous, including loss of muscle, loss of bone, changes in red blood cell producing capacity, and probably some changes in the immune system that make people more vulnerable to infection."

Walston and other researchers are working to learn what triggers the change and what perpetuates it. So far, the leading suspects include genetic factors, chronic disease, and age-related factors like decreasing hormone production and oxidative damage to DNA. "Some people just say, okay, frailty is a problem of a collection of chronic diseases," Walston notes. "People get frail because they have all these diseases. [We've] found evidence that disease in part contributes to it, but it's probably also an independent process."

The new excitement about understanding frailty is a remarkable change from the situation 10 years ago, when, one after another, a range of innovative new treatments for frailty that had shown promise in preclinical testing went into clinical trials and came up negative.

Linda Fried
Photo by Chris Hartlove
Linda Fried, now chair of the Division of Geriatrics, was then director of the Geriatric Assessment Center at Johns Hopkins. She had an idea about why her field was, as she puts it, "stuck": no formal scientific definition had ever been established for frailty, and that left researchers unsure whether they were applying their treatment to the right group of patients. "Probably every human being has an image in [his or her] head of a frail older adult from their own personal experience," Fried says. "And so we all commonly assumed that we knew frailty when we saw it. But the problem was that when we tried to tell somebody else what we saw, we got stuck."

Fried took a leading role in pushing her field toward a definition. Working with other geriatricians, she began organizing conferences, surveying clinicians, and, finally, testing the hypothetical definition they came up with against comprehensive health data from a long-term cardiac study of older patients nationwide.

The new definition, first published a little more than a year ago, has been well-received by other geriatricians, Fried says. It established five symptoms as the criteria for classifying a patient as frail: weight loss, slow walking speed, low grip strength, a feeling of fatigue, and low levels of activity.

"Patients who met these criteria were the ones who were most likely to end up in the hospital, most likely to develop disabilities, or to end up in nursing homes. They were the ones who were on the downhill trajectory. And they also were more likely to die earlier," Walston says. That effect remained statistically significant even after researchers excluded the chronic diseases of cancer, cardiovascular disease, and diabetes.

Walston and other researchers are now intensively studying frail patients as well as the extraordinary patients who make it into their 90s and higher without significantly slowing down. They'd like to get a better grip on the set of factors that leads to frailty. Walston hopes that a better basic understanding of such factors will provide the key information needed to develop new drugs to treat or delay frailty's onset.

"That's what we really want to impact-to improve their overall quality of life." --MP

Welfare Reforms Haven't Hindered Kids

When sweeping welfare reform in the mid-1990s imposed stricter work requirements and a five-year limit on receipt of benefits, critics warned of dire results. Mothers pushed off the welfare rolls would have less time to spend with their kids. Families would be driven deeper into poverty. Children would suffer in a variety of ways.

But a recent longitudinal study by eight researchers, including Andrew J. Cherlin and Robert A. Moffitt, of Hopkins' Sociology and Economic departments, respectively, found that the transition by mothers from welfare to employment did not seem to cause problems for their children.

The study, published in March in Science (which rarely publishes sociological papers), examined 2,402 low-income families in Boston, Chicago, and San Antonio. About 46 percent of the children in the study-preschoolers (age 2-4) and young adolescents (age 10-14)-were African American, 48 percent Latino, and the rest white and other ethnicities. Among the study's findings: Transitions from welfare to employment seemed to have little negative effect on preschoolers.

The same was true of the adolescents. Where changes were observed, they tended to be improvements in the kids' mental health. Adolescents whose mothers left welfare also tended to increase their reading skills, and exhibited significant decreases in drug and alcohol use.

Income increased when mothers left welfare. They did have less time to spend with preschoolers but found ways to maintain the level of time spent with adolescents.

The researchers were surprised by their findings. Says Moffitt, "We expected to find more evidence that children had been harmed." But he warns against assuming a causal link between welfare reform and increased employment. "Many women left welfare when they saw jobs were available" -- not because restrictions forced them off public assistance. --DK

A Physicist, on Why Philosophy Matters

From a physicist's standpoint, Adam Falk probably addressed the recent Johns Hopkins Conference on Scientific Evidence. Don't be mistaken-he showed up, on the appointed day, at the appointed hour. But when a contemporary physicist considers matter's smallest constituent parts, he does so knowing that their location can't be pinpointed for any specific time, only predicted probabilistically. Falk is made of these parts, so technically there was only a high probability that he spoke to the assembled philosophers.

Illustration by
Mike McConnell
The conference, held over three days in April, was organized by Hopkins' Center for History and Philosophy of Science to discuss philosophical theories of evidence. "I thought it was time to put something big together," says the conference's organizer, philosophy professor Peter Achinstein, who also directs the center. "You could get philosophers of science, scientists, and historians of science all talking about the same thing."

Falk's message to the audience was simple in premise if not in practice: the world is fundamentally far, far weirder than you've ever imagined. Take that business of probability. Adam Falk, and all other matter, is composed of atoms, and atoms are composed, in part, of electrons. Quantum physics says that you cannot pinpoint the position, at any specific time, of any specific electron. Says Falk, "The theory predicts probabilities. That's the best you can do. So if the probability is 3/5 that an electron's in this box, and 2/5 that it's in that box, and I look 5,000 times, the theory says that on average I'll find it 3,000 times here and 2,000 times over there. But the theory cannot predict for any one time where you will find an electron."

Falk sees quantum mechanics as posing challenging questions for philosophers of science. If something "doesn't actually exist in any particular place," what does that say about being? Says Falk, "I think that philosophers worry more than physicists about the ontological problems of quantum mechanics. Quantum mechanics is natural for physicists because once you accept that the world is quantum mechanical, you don't need to resolve these problems in order to make scientific progress. Sometimes philosophers are so worried by ontology that they are willing to entertain non-quantum alternatives that have problems physicists are unwilling to accept."

Falk believes science is right-the world really is as strange as quantum physics demonstrates. "We have not found any experimental evidence that quantum mechanics is not the right description of the world. I don't know if we'll ever have a good understanding of why the world seems the way it seems to us. But that's the question, not how do you fix quantum mechanics, because it doesn't need fixing, as far as I can tell." --DK

Foreign Policy
Tense Times on the Korean Peninsula

Don Oberdorfer, journalist-in-residence at Hopkins' Nitze School of Advanced International Studies (SAIS), first went to Korea in 1953 as a young soldier in the U.S. Army. He has since written a book, The Two Koreas, and three times since 1991 has visited North Korea, most recently in November 2002. Interviewer Dale Keiger recently chatted with him about the current tense situation on the Korean peninsula, as North Korea defiantly pursues development of nuclear weapons.

Do you have a sense of how this current situation developed?

The North Korean regime, like many regimes that have a strong military component, has always wanted nuclear weapons. There has been a long quest for them, which came to a head in the early 1990s when North Korea was building a large plant at Yongbyon to create nuclear weapons from plutonium. This was halted by negotiations in which North Korea agreed to freeze its nuclear program at Yongbyon and allow entry of U.N. inspectors, in return for the United States' supplying 500,000 tons of heavy fuel oil a year, and the provision of two new, more modern nuclear reactors by the international community. That eased the situation for nine years.

When the United States got firm evidence sometime in the middle of last year that the North Koreans had started a separate, secret program to enrich uranium, assistant secretary [of state] James Kelly was sent to Pyongyang to tell them the United States was not going to deal with them until they got rid of it.

Don Oberdorfer I was in Korea a month after Kelly, with former U.S. ambassador to South Korea Donald Gregg, for three days of discussion. The North Koreans said they would "clear the concerns" of the United States if the U.S. would recognize their sovereignty, not interfere with their economic programs, and sign a non-aggression treaty. [Gregg and I] came back and urged [the administration] to engage with the North Koreans to get rid of this nuclear program. The administration decided to do the opposite, to pressure North Korea rather than to engage them.

Predictably the North Koreans escalated, and in mid-December restarted the nuclear reactor that had been shut down, and broke the seals placed by U.N. inspectors on the spent fuel that could be reprocessed. Then they kicked out the inspectors and left the international treaty against proliferation of nuclear weapons.

I believe that after it became clear that the United States had no intention of dealing with them diplomatically, the North Korean leadership, even more than before, became influenced heavily by the military.

Can the U.S. fix this?

Some people, including me, think the way to fix it is to talk directly to the North Koreans and see what could be worked out. There are some in the administration who believe the way to handle this is to just be strong and tough and the North Koreans will eventually cave in. My knowledge of Korea does not suggest that that's a likely scenario. The Koreans have fought attempted domination many times in their history, and they are tough people.

Reaching Out to China's Orphans

As a Woodrow Wilson Research Fellow at Johns Hopkins, Heather Campbell, A&S '03, has spent the last three summers in Beijing, researching conditions in Chinese orphanages. What she discovered has given her a new calling.

Together with classmate Jennifer Jackson, A&S '03, Campbell has set up a nonprofit agency aimed at meeting some of the unaddressed needs in Chinese orphanages, which, according to Campbell, are functional but understaffed, with as many as 30 babies to one worker. "These children just need to be touched," says Campbell. "These kids don't have anybody to do that."

Campbell (l) and Jackson will go to China soon to begin work.
Photo by John Dean
The goal of Campbell's research project (made possible through $10,000 in funding from Hopkins) was to examine the implications of China's "one child policy" (some 95 percent of all healthy children in the orphanages are girls, she notes) and to gather information about the conditions in the government-run orphanages.

She discovered early on that the Chinese government keeps the institutions geographically isolated and out of the public eye, fearing exposure. "You can't find these places in the phone book," she notes. "You have to rely on word of mouth." To locate one orphanage, she got an address from a friend of a friend, then took a bus to rural Shanghai and just showed up. "I said I'd do anything-change diapers-just let me volunteer."

"The project itself was terribly brave," says Campbell's Woodrow Wilson advisor Matthew Crenson, a political science professor. The project was the subject of a profile last spring on cable TV's Research Channel.

Campbell first met Jennifer Jackson on an Intersession trip to the Galapagos Islands and the Ecuadorian rain forest last January. They discovered much in common: both were interested in human rights, had done extensive volunteer work with the underprivileged, and wanted to continue this work after graduation.

Campbell knew there were no organizations in China that did the grassroots organizing she had in mind. Hence the duo launched The Phoenix and the Dragon Organization -- aimed at giving disadvantaged children in China the chance to become "strong, proud, and noble."

Their central objective is to increase the number of volunteer workers in orphanages by raising awareness among Chinese women's and student groups-which are plentiful and well-organized, Campbell says. "Due to limited media coverage, the Chinese people are mostly ignorant of the unfortunate circumstances surrounding the orphanages in their country," she notes. The two hope to set up networks of volunteers that can be sustainable over the long term.

Most of China's orphanages are understaffed and underfunded, reports Heather Campbell, A&S '03. She and classmate Jennifer Jackson, A&S '03, have set up a nonprofit agency that will tap networks of volunteers from Chinese women's and student groups.
Photo by Steve Spartana

They are also working to develop educational programs for Chinese street children, which will cover basic issues such as the importance of hygiene and provide positive role models (adult volunteers) in a place that is safe and welcoming, away from the streets.

"To my knowledge, there is no [nongovernmental agency] doing this. It's really pathbreaking," says political science professor Kellee Tsai, who has given the undergraduates informal feedback along the way. "It should get a lot of international interest."

Campbell and Jackson aim to get most or all of their funding from donations and grants. (They outline their plans on their Web site: Until then, says Jackson, "we are both running ourselves into debt taking out loans." But, she says, "We really believe that this will work, so it is worth it." --SM

Students Take on Role of Curator

At 9:15 on a Friday morning, 10 Hopkins undergraduates assemble in a gallery of the Baltimore Museum of Art (BMA). The gallery is part of an exhibit devoted to the cellist Gregor Piatigorsky-an exhibit that will soon be gone. The students ignore the musician's Stradivarius cello and concentrate instead on a blue chair that has been carried into the room.

They are here to learn what a museum curator does by doing what a curator does. For aHistory of Art course called Recontextualizing Museum Objects, they are curating an exhibition of art related to Edgar Allan Poe. Their work is not merely a class exercise. The BMA actually will open their exhibit, in this very gallery space, beginning in September and running through January 4, 2004. The students want one corner of the exhibit to be an inviting reading nook for museum visitors, with a couple of chairs, a table, and some books by Poe. This chair will be one of those used. Karen Nielsen of the BMA's staff notes that the cushions are rumpled and says, "Apparently Poe's been sitting in it. He comes in at night."

Doreen Bolger, BMA director and class instructor, conceived of the course after two years of discussion with Krieger School of Arts and Sciences dean Daniel Weiss, an art historian. The two had talked of forging new collaborations between Hopkins and the BMA, in part to get more students through the museum's doors.

BMA director Doreen Bolger created a class that gives Hopkins undergrads hands-on experience in curating an actual museum exhibit.
Photo by John Dean
"Initially, I had considered doing something where the students would pick different objects [from the museum's collection] and recontextualize them using other objects in the museum," she says. A student might choose table silver from the BMA's American Wing, for example, then make an installation that placed the silver back in its original context, with table linen, ceramics, and so on. "After I turned in the description of the course, I was walking through the galleries and noticed one of Edouard Manet's prints that illustrate [Poe's] 'The Raven.' I started wondering if there would be enough material to do an exhibition on Poe and the visual arts."

Bolger took what she calls "a leap of faith" and decided to have the class collaborate on curating an actual exhibit. The students have worked on all aspects of a curator's job: finding and selecting art for the show, planning educational programs that will use it, working with a designer on how the exhibit will be laid out, planning where to place the prints and objects they've selected, writing wall tags, and publicizing it.

The exhibit will include Poe-related prints and drawings by Manet, Alphonse Legros, Henri Matisse, and Paul Gauguin, as well as the reading nook. Says Bolger, "The artists interpreted things they had visualized from their reading. The students want people to see that, then go to this little reading room, sit down, read the stories, and go through the same sort of visualization."

Bolger has been pleased with the class. "I think it's surprising how fundamentally they understand, considering they've never been curators," she says. "Society is set up so that verbal people win. There's no category on the SAT test called 'visual.' I think there are people at Hopkins who have enormous untapped potential visually." --DK

Resolving Conflicts, Face-to-Face

On a Tuesday evening in April, seven people -- five adults and two fourth-grade boys -- are seated in a circle in the crafts room of a rec center in East Baltimore. Months earlier, the two boys had been playing in a 7-Eleven parking lot, when one stole the other's bike; he was later arrested for the theft. On this evening the two boys slowly recount the incident and attempt, with the help of their parents and facilitator Nell Andrews, to reach an agreement about how to make amends. There's no question about what happened and who's responsible. The goal of this meeting is to write a binding contract about restitution without engaging the courts.

The process is called community conferencing, and it's based on the traditional African Maori justice process of settling disputes face-to-face, with all affected parties present at the meeting. Facilitator Andrews is an employee of the Community Conferencing Center, established three years ago by Lauren Abramson, assistant professor of child psychiatry at Hopkins' School of Medicine.

Lauren Abramson
Photo by Chris Hartlove
Some 75 percent of juvenile offenses in Baltimore City are non-violent ones, notes Abramson. Through the Community Conferencing Center, she explains, "The police can divert a case before they have to send it to Juvenile Justice, before [the offender] goes to intake." The suspects are still arrested, "but if the cases are resolved by community conferencing, they won't have a juvenile record."

Once police refer a case to the center, a facilitator has 120 days to settle the matter. Each of the five facilitators handles as many as 14 cases at any one time. In 2002, the Baltimore police diverted 250 youngsters to the center, and 2,500 citizens took part in the mediation process. That means the average conference involved 10 people, a number that thrills Abramson. "The court doesn't involve 85 percent of these people," she says. By inviting everyone affected by an incident and by holding the conferences in the neighborhoods where the people live, "we're building networks of support for these kids."

"This is the only program of this kind being done in a large American inner city," Abramson says. "There haven't been any incidences of violence during the conferences, and we've done more than 500 of these in one of the most violent cities in the country."

Lauren Abramson's Community Conferencing Center gives non-violent juvenile offenders the chance to resolve conflicts in a supportive environment. In the April conference at the Baltimore rec center, Andrews encourages the boys to talk. They do, somewhat reluctantly. After they deliver a factual account of the incident, she asks them to discuss how they felt about what happened. The boys stare at the floor and fidget nervously, as Andrews waits quietly. Finally, to fill the silence, the parents speak about how the experience has affected them-the time lost to dealing with police, the money lost to the theft of the bike, the energy spent trying to teach their kids to do the right thing, the anger spent on watching them get in trouble anyway. Over the course of an hour, everyone speaks. Together the group reaches an agreement, which Andrews documents in a written contract. At the end of the meeting, the once-reticent group has been transformed: They share juice and cookies, and exchange hugs and vows of support.

Abramson sees conferencing not only as a boon to the Baltimore City community but also as an opportunity for Johns Hopkins. "Most of the [facilitators] doing this work come from a justice background, but I'm trying to get Child Psychiatry residents involved," she says. "There are [many] who would like more community-based experience."

Abramson says her next step is to follow up with children who've been through the process: "I've spent a fair amount of time building the program; it's time to shift the focus toward the research part," she says. "There's a goldmine of what can be learned-tracking, understanding the impact of this process on kids' lives." --Eileen Murphy

Baseball Poised for Division III National Championship

Paul Winterling The toughest opponent Hopkins baseball faced for much of the spring season was the weather: rain and even late snow caused many home games early in the season to be rescheduled. But once the Jays got on the diamond, they tore through their schedule. At press time, Hopkins was ranked sixth in the nation in the American Baseball Coaches Association Division III poll, and first in the mid-Atlantic region.

With a gaudy 32-5 record, the team was poised for a run at the Division III national championship. It had already won the Centennial Conference playoffs.

Among the Jays' prime offensive weapons was a trio of sophomores: Mike Spiciarich, batting .437; sophomore Paul Winterling, hitting .412 with 10 home runs and 40 RBIs; and Mike Durgala, with a .409 average, 35 RBIs, and 8 home runs.

Russ Berger Pitching proved strong as well, holding opponents to an average of three runs per game (while the offense was scoring more than nine per game). At press time Russ Berger '04 sported a perfect 6-0 record, with a 2.68 ERA. Jeremy Brown '03 was the strikeout king, recording 60 in 48 innings of work. --DK

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