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Editor: Philip Tang, A&S '95
Contributing Writer: Lew Diuguid, SAIS '63

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Sheila Dixon, Edu '85: Another First for the "City of Firsts"
Neil Seidman, A&S '89: A Guardian of Hopkins History
Shelf Life
Scott Black, A&S '68: Permanently On Loan
Jill Murphy, Nurs '04: Mending Shattered Limbs — and Lives
In the News...
Johns Hopkins in Nanjing: Celebrating Two Decades in China
Alumni Around the World: Scaling New Heights, Charting New Territory
Even the Weather Cooperated: Johns Hopkins 2007 Reunion

Sheila Dixon, Edu '85: Another First for the "City of Firsts"

Sheila Dixon knows how to break barriers. In 1999, after a 12-year stint as an elected representative to the Baltimore City Council, Dixon became the first African-American woman to win Baltimore's post of City Council president. Last January, Dixon again made history when she ascended to the position of mayor, becoming the first woman in Baltimore's history to hold that title. She succeeded Mayor Martin O'Malley, who moved on to become the state's governor. We caught up with her recently at her office in City Hall.

Interview by Elizabeth Evitts

Says Baltimore Mayor Sheila Dixon, "It doesn't matter what your gender is. The challenges are the same."
Photo by Frank Klein

You are Baltimore born and bred. How has staying in one place impacted the type of leader you've become?
When I finished undergrad, I wanted to take a job far away. If that had happened, I know I would not be here today. What I decided, instead, was to maximize what I could do in my community, to travel lots and get out of the city, which I accomplished — I've been all over the world — but to really look at the jewel that Baltimore is and figure out where I fit in.

Your mother, Winona, was active in your community growing up. Have you taken after her?
I definitely took after my mother. She was a Girl Scout Leader, a PTA mom, president at my school, and then she got active in women's organizations and our church. I was raised Episcopal.

You began your career as a teacher. When did politics come on your radar?
It was the church experience that really got me involved in politics. Bethel AME Church took a strong stance in trying to eliminate apartheid. Before I started working on my master's at Hopkins, I got involved in a church member's campaign [for the City Council]. When I left the school system, I wanted to make policy changes in education because it was a somewhat frustrating experience for me. The school was great, the kids were great, but the bureaucracy was a little trying.

You have two school-aged children of your own now. How do you address the entrenched challenges of urban public education?
It's got to start with families, with people recognizing that education is one of the most important tools in our lives. It's the tool for freedom. I think we've lost sight of that, and it's wreaking havoc on our schools.

What would you like to see happen in the school districts?
We need to take a more holistic approach and push for community schools based on the profiles of neighborhoods. Services are then brought to the individual schools to help both children and family members.

You've passed several monumental bills lately, like the citywide smoking ban that will take effect in January 2008. When advocating for that bill, you referenced an indoor air-quality study from the Bloomberg School of Public Health.
We often look to Hopkins for the research and the studies that help us make recommendations. Hopkins is also taking a look at how [public] schools are run and the quality of people who are needed in the urban setting. I'm creating a position, an "education czar," to support our efforts to work with the schools and the universities. In the past, I don't think we've utilized our universities to the point that we could have.

Universities are also some of the biggest developers in the city right now. How do you navigate that line between the town and the gown?
You make sure when you do the development that the people who have been there are part of the discussion. Hopkins recognizes that the biotech facility can't stand alone if the community surrounding it is not benefiting.

What's the best part of being mayor?
I was a legislator for 20 years, and now I am an administrator. I've got control, where before I didn't. So when issues come up, you already have some thoughts about how you would handle it. It's a good fit.

Neil Seidman, A&S '89: A Guardian of Hopkins History

Neil Seidman tossed and turned, unable to sleep that night last July. The next morning, 56 stock certificates, all a century and a half old, would hit the auction block. If Seidman failed to be the highest bidder, a piece of Johns Hopkins history would slip through his fingers.

Thanks to Neil Seidman, pictured here with Winston Tabb, the university's "birth certificates" now reside in the Hopkins archives.
Photo by Will Kirk
A few weeks earlier, Seidman, a corporate attorney in Boca Raton, Florida, happened upon an auction house's online catalog, where he found a listing for the paper certificates that represented the 14,636 shares of Baltimore & Ohio Railroad stock that Johns Hopkins left in his will to underwrite a new university and hospital.

"These certificates are the money that founded the university. And I had to have them," says Seidman, who instructed an agent to attend the auction and bid up to $25,000, more than double the amount suggested in the catalog.

The certificates, issued in the name of Johns Hopkins, the man, were worth about $5.6 million when they were transferred into one certificate in the name of the new university. (That certificate has been in the university archives for years.) Seven of the certificates bear the signature of Johns Hopkins himself in his role as president pro-tem of the railroad company, and a few others were signed by another B&O president, John W. Garrett, the father of Mary Elizabeth Garrett, founding benefactor of the School of Medicine.

Seidman says his interest in all things Hopkins didn't start until after he graduated. In fact, he only applied to the university because his older brother, Scott Seidman, Engr '87, was already enrolled. "It was only after I left that I fell in love with Johns Hopkins," says Seidman. "Once you leave, you realize the power and influence of Johns Hopkins. When you tell people you went to Hopkins, it really opens doors."

Seidman started collecting 10 years ago, when he acquired a B&O Railroad stock certificate with Johns Hopkins' signature. He also owns documents signed by Daniel Coit Gilman, the university's first president, and Ira Remsen, one of the five original faculty members and the second university president.

"In effect, these are the birth certificates of Johns Hopkins University," says Winston Tabb, dean of the Sheridan Libraries at Johns Hopkins. "It really is the beginning of the university, and with signatures from the Garrett family, it's not only the history of Johns Hopkins University, but also Baltimore and the country."

A few months after Seidman won the auction with an $8,000 bid against just one other collector, he brought the certificates to Baltimore for safekeeping in the Hopkins archives. Eventually, he plans to give over his entire collection because, inspired by the university's founder, Seidman sees himself not as the owner of Johns Hopkins history, but as its guardian. — Nora Koch

Shelf Life

This Mighty Scourge: Perspectives on the Civil War, by James M. McPherson, A&S '63 (PhD), Oxford (2007)
Sixteen essays, three of them al-together new, provide a tren--chant 221-page thoughtfest for those who of late have read the reviews in-stead of the books that consti-tute an ever-evolving schol--arship of the great war. One issue seemingly resolved here is that its basic cause indeed was slavery. If the titanic fight had begun at last to seem distant, these insights bring it back, nipping at the cerebrum, like bulletins from Iraq.

A Handbook of Luck, by Cristina García, SAIS '81, Knopf (2007)
Most of the novel's action occurs in this country while all of the principals are immigrants — Cuban, Salvadoran, Korean, Iranian — and much of their lives turns on that disparity. True to the title, chance is a major motivator: An un-lucky magician gives birth to a lucky poker player who loses his biggest gamble, and so on. García was born in Cuba but came to New York at 2. Her family sustained her Spanish and perhaps because of that, her sensitivities offer Americans a bridge to the newly arrived. Most of the time. About once a chapter, though, she puts a key sentence en español, no doubt a nudge to learn the idiom. — Lew Diuguid, SAIS '63

Scott Black, A&S '68: Permanently On Loan

Knowledge is power, so do your homework. Buy what you like, but buy the best you can afford. And never, ever worry about matching the divan. This isn't investment advice from Scott M. Black, founder and president of Boston's Delphi Management, Inc. It's the wisdom he's gleaned over the past 20 years from amassing one of the nation's best private collections of Impressionism and modern art.

Mr. and Mrs. Scott Black in front of their painting by Paul Cézanne, Trees at the Jas de Bouffan (ca. 1874), on January 25, 2006, at the National Gallery of Art, Washington
Photo by Kyle Samperton
A perennial on ARTnews Magazine's annual top 200 collectors' list, Black also made the 2006 Art & Antiques list of the world's 100 most influential art collectors. His collection has delighted visitors to the Art Institute of Chicago, the National Gallery of Art, the National Gallery in London, and other highly regarded museums. "One hundred percent of my collection is on loan. I'm very public-spirited about it," says Black, who is considered one of the financial world's most successful portfolio managers.

From December 2006 to May 2007, nearly his entire collection of 43 paintings and 10 sculptures — the largest installation to date from his collection — was on display at the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston (MFA). The exhibit, The Romance of Modernism: Paintings and Sculpture from the Scott M. Black Collection, marked a homecoming for Black, whose parents took him to the museum when he was a boy. Black grew up in Portland, Maine, where his father owned a wholesale grocery business, and later in Newton, Massachusetts. He has fond memories of the Degas, Monet, Picasso, and Renoir reproductions his parents would display in the house. His collection now includes these artists, as well as Dufy, Matisse, Miró, Chagall, Rodin, and others. His parents' love of art also had a big impact on Black's sister, Barbara Black Goldfarb, A&S '77, SPH '81. She owned a contemporary art gallery, the Barbara Scott Gallery, in Miami before becoming president of the women's division of the Greater Miami Jewish Federation.

As a Hopkins undergraduate studying applied mathematics and economics, Black was a frequent visitor to the Baltimore Museum of Art. After graduating from Harvard with his MBA and beginning his financial career — Black held positions with Xerox, Joseph E. Seagram, Merrill Lynch, and the William O'Neil Company before creating Delphi in 1980 — he continued the family hobby of frequenting museums at home and while traveling. Today, he and wife Isabelle travel extensively in Italy and France to visit the cities and towns where artists lived.

Though he never formally studied art history, Black has the passion of a scholar. "I'm analytical," he says. "I started that at Hopkins. I'm good with dates and can date every painting plus or minus a year." He's a firm believer in knowing what he owns, studying the painting and painter extensively before and after he buys a piece. Black is just as adamant that collectors should never buy as an investment, but rather for the joy of owning original art.

In addition to sharing his collection with museums around the world, Black has been generous with his alma mater. He's a guest lecturer in investment strategy for undergraduate economics classes and has served on the Alumni Council. In 1995, Black and his sister established the Black Chair in Economics, currently held by H. Peyton Young. Black also endowed the Scott M. Black Scholarship Fund and the Scott Black Fund for Teaching, and supports Hillel. In recognition of his outstanding service to the university, the Alumni Association honored Black this year with a 2007 Heritage Award.

What drives Black as a collector is the same joy he got wandering art galleries as a boy. "I buy what I like," he says. "At a gut level, you have to emotionally connect with a painting." — Sarah Achenbach

Jill Murphy, Nurs '04: Mending Shattered Limbs — and Lives

Jill Murphy is no stranger to stress. As an Army nurse at Walter Reed Army Medical Center, she cares for servicemen and women who've been severely wounded by massive blasts and gunshots. Extensive fractures and amputations are among the most common injuries that Murphy, a native of Ireland, treats in Ward 57 for Orthopedics and Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation. Add to that the pressure of what she calls working in a fishbowl. "Every day our work is scrutinized by the public," says Murphy of Walter Reed's recent bad press.

Walter Reed Army nurse Jill Murphy marvels daily at the courage her patients show in defying death.
Photo by Christopher Myers

Thanks to her résumé, though, it's nothing she can't handle. After all, the U.S. Army second lieutenant, who emigrated to the U.S. from Ireland in 1994 with only two suitcases and $500, has jumped out of airplanes as an Army paratrooper, worked as a civilian emergency medical technician, and braved the waves as a member of the Irish Surf Team. In July 2004, eight days after graduating from the Johns Hopkins University School of Nursing's accelerated program, Murphy joined the Army Reserves 450th Civil Affairs Battalion. She shipped off to Afghanistan's Paktika Province as part of a reconstruction team; her experience there, she says, had one or two things in common with nursing school. "Learning nursing requires a lot of courage," Murphy explains. "You need to do things outside your comfort zone."

On November 1, 2004, while bullets whizzed past her during a fire fight, Murphy kept alive an Iowa National Guardsman whose arm had been blown off during the battle. She received a medal of commendation from the Army for keeping her cool — and at Walter Reed's Ward 57, the soldier received a new arm. When Murphy's tour of duty ended in January 2006, she requested assignment to Walter Reed.

"Today we're saving many limbs that in years past would have been amputated," she says. "With some of the really extensive fractures, we use external fixators with pins going through the skin, and large Kevlar or titanium rods holding the fracture in place like a big metal web." As Ward 57's only Hopkins-trained and combat-experienced nurse, she's in a unique position. "My patients know that I have risked my life. My combat experience helps me go the extra mile for them."

The hardest part of her job, she says, isn't witnessing the devastating injuries, but handling the emotional stress when treatment doesn't go as planned. "I see my patients defy death," says Murphy. "Most of them lose several times their body's volume of blood, and many go into cardiac arrest a few times along the way. They come so far with such struggle that it just cuts you so deep to see something go wrong. I don't know any [co-worker] who hasn't cried in the car going home."

For Murphy, it's all worth it when she's walking in another part of the hospital and gets a hug from a patient she doesn't recognize. "I realize that the last time I saw the patient, he was emaciated with no legs in a wheelchair, just a shattered body with no hope. Now he's laughing, joking, and walking. That's the reward." — SA

In the News...

C. Megan Urry, A&S '80 (MS), '84 (PhD), will become the first woman chair of Yale University's Physics Department on July 1. Urry, the Israel Munson Professor of Physics and Astronomy, is renowned for her research on super-massive black holes. Since arriving at Yale in 2001, she has also worked at the local, national, and international level to attract more women and minorities to the physical sciences. She was elected a Fellow of American Women in Science in 2006.

Eric Sylvers, SAIS '97, "a journalist by training and a walker by nature," set out to traverse the Italian portion of the Via Francigena, an ancient pilgrimage road, on April 21. Departing from Switzerland's Gran San Bernardo Pass, he expected to cover 560 miles before arriving in Rome on May 23. His goal: to see the mostly forgotten cultural route become an eco-friendly draw for tens of thousands of trekkers a year, like the Camino de Santiago in Spain. Visit Sylvers' blog at

When the University at Albany ruined opening day of the 2007 Hopkins men's lacrosse season by beating the Jays 8-7, there was only one consolation: Albany's head coach is Scott Marr, A&S '91. Marr was an attackman on the 1987 national championship team and the 1989 national runners- up. This year he guided the Great Danes to the best season in the school's history: at press time, a 15-2 record, a high ranking in the national polls (No. 2 at one point), and the team's first appearance in the NCAA quarterfinals.

Johns Hopkins in Nanjing: Celebrating Two Decades in China

Two decades ago, China's only uncensored, open-stacks library opened in the new Hopkins-Nanjing Center for Chinese and American Studies. Offering access to thousands of books and documents, the library's launch represented a significant step forward in the availability of information to scholars in the country.

The Nanjing Center's new building houses classroms; offices; housing for faculty, staff, and visitors; a free-standing auditorium equipped with video-conferencing and webcasting technologies; and a conference facility with five LCD-equipped meeting rooms. Today, the library is still one of a kind, with an 85,000- volume collection focusing on subjects such as U.S. and Chinese history, foreign relations, economic development, and society. This month, when university President William R. Brody leads a delegation to Nanjing to celebrate the center's 20th anniversary, he will also dedicate a new building with a newly expanded library as its centerpiece, representing the center's growing presence in China and on the world stage.

"Twenty years ago, it would have been unimaginable for Johns Hopkins leadership to envision the China we will be visiting in June," notes Jessica P. Einhorn, SAIS '70, dean of Hopkins' Paul H. Nitze School of Advanced International Studies (SAIS), which along with Nanjing University administers the center. "For Nanjing University and ourselves, this is a celebration rich with meaning and excitement."

When the center admitted its first class of graduate students in 1986, China had only been officially open to the outside world for a few years. "Travel was difficult, English was not widely spoken in China, and there were even fewer Mandarin speakers in the United States," says Kathryn Mohrman, executive director of the center's Washington, D.C., office. "Citizens of both countries knew little about one another, and what they did know from their governments was colored by international politics."

The two universities set out to change that by bringing young people from China and the United States together in a residential learning experience on the Nanjing University campus, where they would explore each other's language, history, politics, and economics.

After two decades, the center is growing. The new building, part of a recently completed $21 million campus expansion, adds 100,000 square feet of space and also houses the new two-story library, which replaces the one that opened in 1986. Now with room for up to 200,000 works, the library is hoping to grow its collections in law and social sciences, with special attention to American studies and U.S.-China relations.

The expansion coincides with the launch of a new two-year graduate program offering concentrations in economics, law, and politics, building on the center's existing certificate program. "Both programs are designed to provide comparative perspectives of China and the United States while illustrating the vital interrelationship between East and West," says Robert Daly, American co-director since 2001.

As the center continues to grow, endowed professorships and fellowships are helping the center recruit faculty and students.

Alan Hassenfeld, chairman of Hasbro, Inc., and his family have provided support since 1989. "Our family has always believed you don't have a right to impose your values on another society or country. [It is still important to] understand its culture, religion, and history," Hassenfeld says.

When his brother, Stephen, A&S '63, died in 1989, the family's commitment to global understanding and the company's presence in China led to establishing memorial fellowships and scholarships for the center's students. "By offering young adult Americans the chance to understand the Chinese culture in depth and their Chinese counterparts the opportunity to learn about our culture, we can break down some of the barriers that separate the two nations," Hassenfeld says.

Today, more than 1,700 graduates of the center are working in diplomacy, business, academia, journalism, government, finance, and nonprofit organizations in China, the United States, and other countries.

One measure of the young center's success, says Mohrman, is that early graduates are assuming positions of influence in the international arena: Alumni include the U.S. consul general in Shanghai, a member of the Chinese permanent mission to the United Nations, and a founding partner of China's largest private law firm. "The vision," she says, "is that some day the Chinese minister of foreign affairs and the American secretary of state will sit down together and find they both attended the Hopkins-Nanjing Center." — Sharon Congdon

Alumni Around the World: Scaling New Heights, Charting New Territory

Alumni leaders from 10 countries — including the United Kingdom, Estonia, and Turkey — attended the fourth European Alumni Leadership conference in March. The two-day conference was held at the Nitze School of Advanced International Studies' Bologna Center. With Alumni Council president Jim Miller, A&S '64 (far left), presiding, the group discussed alumni programs, student recruitment, and social and career networking, and toured the renovations of the Bologna campus.

In March, 41 Johns Hopkins alumni and friends, representing eight university divisions and seven states, traveled to 14,000-foot heights in Peru and the lost city Machu Picchu. Highlights included a visit to a laboratory of Incan mummies, a workshop on colonial ceramic art, and a tour of an alpaca farm. "We love travel adventures," noted participant Mary Lou Clark, Bus '94. "Going with like-minded individuals who want adventure, education, and discussion really enhanced the experience."

Even the Weather Cooperated: Johns Hopkins 2007 Reunion

Homecoming Weekend, April 20-22, proved to be picture- perfect: Thousands of Homewood alumni and their families returned to campus to enjoy the beautiful weather, crabcakes and beer, a Blue Jays lacrosse victory over Navy, alumni colleges, a welcome from President William R. Brody, and some 15 reunion class parties.

Jeff Gray, A&S '74, coaches a future Hopkins star at the annual lacrosse clinic for children.


One of the best attended events: the third annual young alumni party under the Bloomberg courtyard tent.


Fiftieth Reunion couple Gary and Margaret Hedges, of Alaska, enjoy a champagne brunch at the Hopkins Club.


A loyal mascot: perennial Blue Jay Mike DeRosa, A&S '86.


The Distinguished Alumnus Award is presented to Michael J. Zinner, MD, Eng '67, Med '79 (HS), and Faculty '90, flanked on the left by President Brody and Alumni Association President Jim Miller, A&S '64, and on the right by Whiting School Dean Nick Jones at the kickoff luncheon.


A true-blue (and black) fan cheers the Jays on to a 10-9 victory over Navy.


Return to June 2007 Table of Contents

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