Johns Hopkins Magazine -- June 1997
Johns Hopkins Magazine

JUNE 1997

O N    C A M P U S E S

Preparing to avoid tragedy... so long to Engineering's dean... a stellar season for women's basketball... look who's talking

Report addresses campus violence
One year after sophomore Rex Chao's shooting death, allegedly at the hands of a classmate, the 14-member Committee on Campus Violence has issued a report calling for new initiatives to address such threats to student and staff safety as harassment and stalking, firearms, and dating violence.

The committee, which met regularly for seven months and included faculty, administrators, and two students, was commissioned by interim President Daniel Nathans in the wake of Chao's death in April 1996. Though Chao and his alleged murderer, Robert Harwood, had once been close friends, the friendship eventually deteriorated to the point that Harwood was "bothering and pestering" Chao with e-mail messages and up to 20 phone calls per day, according to Dean of Students Susan Boswell, who twice instructed Harwood to refrain from contacting Chao. Today, Harwood remains awaiting trial, most recently postponed until July.

In surveying 13 other peer institutions, the committee determined that Hopkins has experienced comparatively few major violent incidents in the past 10 years: two Hopkins students have suffered violent deaths (including an off-campus murder that remains unsolved), while four have committed suicide.

The committee looked closely to see whether there were environmental factors at Hopkins--such as the oft-cited intense academic pressure--that may have played a common role in these incidents, and concluded that "each seemed to involve either random violence or behavior that could not have been predicted."

Nonetheless, "the consequences are so serious and tragic that one incident is one incident too many," says committee member Paula Burger, vice provost for academic affairs at Homewood. "What this report said is that we need to have a sensitivity and awareness-- and a level of preparation--so that even one incident of violence might be prevented by our extraordinary vigilance."

Among its list of 33 recommendations, the committee called for:

  • Revising staff and student conduct codes to include an explicit reference to behavior that "causes or threatens harm to others" and to include "persistent, unwanted contact" among the list of punishable behaviors.

  • Training faculty, administrators, and student counselors to recognize the signs of behaviors that could become obsessive, and behaviors associated with harassment.

  • Developing a formal protocol to deal with students who cause or threaten to harm others. This includes establishing a risk assessment and prevention team (comprised of staff with expertise in counseling, legal issues, and security) that could be called on by faculty and managers who are concerned about situations that could potentially escalate into violence.

  • Revising the university's firearms policy to emphasize that the use and possession of firearms is "strictly forbidden" on university premises (even for those with government permits), and make clearer the certainty of sanction for violations of this policy (including expulsion for students and termination for staff). The committee also recommended collecting data to document the extent of weapons possession and use at Hopkins.

  • Training staff and students to become alert to signs of domestic or dating violence, and to intervene appropriately. (National studies show that 20 to 25 percent of college students report having been in a dating relationship that involved physical or sexual violence.) Here again, the committee called for data to be collected to determine the prevalence of such behavior within the Hopkins student body.

    The committee plans to meet again in nine months to assess how well the recommendations have been implemented. Those interested in seeing the full report can access it via the Web at
    --Sue De Pasquale

  • Don P. Giddens
    Engineering dean misses research, students
    After five years as top administrator of the
    G.W.C. Whiting School of Engineering, Dean Don P. Giddens will be back in the lab and the classroom. On July 1 he will return to Georgia Tech (where he earned three degrees and spent most of his professional life before coming to Hopkins) to join the faculty of the Institute of Bioengineering and Biosciences and resume his lab work in cardiovascular fluid mechanics.

    Giddens says he took on the Engineering deanship in 1992 with the understanding that he would devote "an incredible amount of energy" for five to seven years in an effort to "accomplish something significant."

    "I think we have done this," the 56-year-old said in April. "Returning now to a faculty position, being more involved with research and with students, is something I will enjoy. While being dean has been wonderful, that's a piece of academic life I've missed."

    Under Giddens's leadership, the School of Engineering has seen growth in two key areas: the number of faculty has jumped 29 percent, from 86 to 111, and annual research expenditures have nearly doubled to almost $30 million. The dean goes out on another high note as well: this year the Whiting School made its debut in U.S News & World Report's "Best Graduate School" engineering rankings, earning a spot at No. 17.

    On the undergraduate front, Giddens worked to improve the advising and teaching evaluation programs; initiated a new major in computer engineering; and helped in launching internship programs in central and Eastern Europe and a new minor in entrepreneurship and business.

    Hot-shooting Julie Anderson led the team in scoring, rebounding, and blocked shots.
    Women hoopsters make Elite Eight
    The women's basketball team made history in March, when it became the first
    Hopkins basketball squad--men's or women's--ever to advance to the NCAA quarterfinals. "It was such a significant accomplishment--it really hits you right in the heart," says Coach Nancy Blank, in her 11th year as head of the Hopkins team.

    The Elite Eight berth was just the icing on the cake in what turned out to be a season of firsts for the Hopkins women. Hot-shooting co-captains Julie Anderson and Angie Arnold became the first female players ever to break the 1,000-career-point mark as juniors. Anderson, who was named Centennial Conference Player of the Year, also set new school records for career points (1,427), rebounds (1,031), and free throw attempts (493).

    "Julie can rebound the ball on the defensive end and get down the floor and into scoring position before you can blink," says Blank, "and Angie is very good at finding her in traffic--they're a great inside/outside combo." Both women were named Kodak honorable mention All-American.

    The team finished the regular season with a 25-5 record, recording their first-ever undefeated Centennial Conference regular season (the five losses all came against NCAA teams). In the NCAA Tournament, the Blue Jays knocked off Cabrini College, Elizabethtown, and Western Connecticut State before falling to University of Scranton, 65-54, in the quarterfinals.

    Given the relative youth of the Hopkins team (two of the starters were freshmen and all five will be returning next year), Blank says there's every reason to expect an even stronger showing from her Blue Jays next season.

    "The freshmen didn't just get experience, they got quality minutes," says Blank, who was named Women's Basketball Coaches Association Division II, District 4 Coach of the Year. "That places them in a different class as sophomores; they'll be coming in with savvy and confidence. This year we had young depth; next year we'll have experienced depth." --SD

    Look Who's Talking
    Though the June issue of the magazine goes to press too early to include
    Commencement coverage, we can tell you who's slated to speak at the 10 graduation ceremonies scheduled to take place across the university on May 21 and 22:

    University-wide Commencement
    William R. Brody, Johns Hopkins University president

    Krieger School of Arts & Sciences and G.W.C. Whiting School of Engineering Undergraduate Ceremony
    Timothy Johnson, MD, ABC News medical editor and lecturer at Harvard Medical School

    Whiting School of Engineering Master's Ceremony
    Frank L. Hubbard, executive director, American Society for Engineering Education

    Krieger School of Arts & Sciences Master's Ceremony
    Joel Achenbach, editor, writer, and nationally syndicated columnist at the Washington Post

    School of Continuing Studies Undergraduate and Graduate Ceremony
    Christian Poindexter, CEO of Baltimore Gas & Electric Co.

    School of Hygiene and Public Health Diploma Award Ceremony
    Charles Clements, MD, president of Physicians for Human Rights

    School of Medicine Ceremony
    Mary Ellen Avery, Thomas Morgan Rotch Distinguished Professor of Pediatrics at Harvard Medical Center and physician-in-chief emeritus of Children's Hospital, Boston

    Nitze School of Advanced International Studies Ceremony
    Hillary Rodham Clinton, first lady

    Peabody Diploma Award Ceremony
    Barry Tuckwell, French horn virtuoso

    School of Nursing Ceremony
    Diane Carlson Evans, RN, founder of the Vietnam Women's Memorial Project in Washington, D.C.