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Matters of note from around Johns Hopkins

Public health: Deep in data, a spike in homicides

Physics: Warmer superconductors from iron

Peabody: A new resident composer

Homewood: Hopkins as a model campus

International studies: Relief finds its way to Myanmar

Student research: DNA busts fish mislabelers

Education: Fessler retires as dean

Medicine: Growing stem cells for blood

In memoriam: Remembering Chester Wickwire

Deep in the data, a spike in homicides

According to the United States Department of Justice's Web site, the nation's homicide rate has been holding steady at approximately 6.1 per 100,000 population. Delve deeper into the statistics, however, and a more complex and troubling picture emerges. New research out of the Bloomberg School of Public Health shows that while the overall homicide rate was flat, fatal shootings among urban black men jumped significantly between 1999 and 2005. The same trend held for white men in urban areas, though the increase was smaller.

To assess recent changes in homicide rates, Daniel Webster, co-director of the Johns Hopkins Center for Gun Policy, and Bloomberg School colleagues Guoqing Hu and Susan P. Baker sifted death data from the National Center for Health Statistics. They grouped homicides into gun deaths and homicide by other means, then sorted them by gender. Because the only increase they observed was among male gunshot victims, they devoted their analysis to that group.

When they sorted these men by race and age, they noticed striking increases in the homicide rates among men between 25 and 44. These increases — 31 percent for black men and 12 percent for white men — were concentrated in urban areas. In large central metropolitan areas (defined as 1 million population or higher) the increase in firearm homicides among all men 25 to 44 was 32 percent; in large fringe metro areas (communities suburban to large central metro areas) the figure was 30 percent. The study appeared in the July issue of the Journal of Urban Health.

Richard Rosenfeld, a criminologist at the University of Missouri-St. Louis, took the same data and further sorted white males into Hispanic and non-Hispanic. He says the increase among whites noted by the Hopkins researchers was due to an increase among white Hispanics. "I think in some ways it strengthens their conclusion that subgroup differences exist even when the overall trend is basically flat," Rosenfeld says. "In addition, it is of interest to know that the upturn in homicide disproportionately affects racial and ethnic minorities." Rosenfeld's conclusion didn't surprise Webster, who anticipated such a result. But he points out that people who identify themselves as Hispanic can be a diverse group. "We took the easy way out and just looked at race," he says.

Public health researchers try to stop epidemics by rooting out underlying causes. Among any group, gun violence often acts like an infectious disease, Webster says: Shootings prompt fear, and fearful people buy guns "with the idea that they'll be able to protect themselves. But it's easy to imagine how that behavior simply spawns more shootings." In their paper, the Bloomberg researchers discuss possible contributing factors. One is childhood exposure to lead, a proven neurotoxin that has been linked to violent behavior. Another is an influx of ex-prisoners. Webster notes that the number of incarcerations increased dramatically during the late 1980s and early 1990s. "It may be that we bought ourselves some short-term peace," he says. "But eventually folks get out." The paper points out that almost half of all released prisoners are convicted of another crime within three years. For his part, Rosenfeld is less convinced by the lead argument and thinks the authors have underestimated the effect of a sluggish economy.

Hidden among the data is at least one reason to be hopeful. Webster notes that the gun homicide rate among people in a younger statistical cohort didn't increase at all during the same time period. In fact, among black men between the ages of 15 and 24, Webster and his colleagues observed a slight decline. "Maybe we're going in the right direction," he says. "The time and effort that was directed toward youth violence prevention may be yielding some benefits."
— Cassandra Willyard, A&S '07 (MA)

MacArthur Fellows

Two Johns Hopkins researchers and an alumna were among the 2008 MacArthur Fellows, recipients of $500,000 grants from the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation. From left: Adam Riess, professor of physics and astronomy at the Krieger School, who won for his discovery of dark energy; novelist Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, A&S '03 (MA), for fiction writing that, says the foundation, "illuminates the complexities of human experience"; and Peter J. Pronovost, professor of anesthesiology, surgery, and critical care medicine at the School of Medicine, recognized for his work on improving patient safety in hospitals.

Warmer superconductors from iron

For nearly a century, physicists have been mesmerized by the potential of certain pairs of electrons to create a continuous — and theoretically infinite — loop of energy. These "superconductors" can carry electrical current indefinitely with no loss of energy because they completely lack resistance. But to become useful as superconductors, electron pairs derived from alloys, compounds, or elements must be cooled to temperatures that veer toward absolute zero (-459 degrees Fahren-heit). So their use in magnetic resonance imaging machines, "maglev" trains, and other devices remains extraordinarily expensive because of the energy it takes to cool the systems. Hope surrounding the discovery in 1986 of ceramic superconductors that ran at higher temperatures was effectively scotched after the material, made from copper and oxygen, was found to be too brittle for large-scale use.

Now, scientists from Johns Hopkins and the University of Science and Technology of China believe they may have uncovered a new way to understand how superconductors work, and hence a new path toward reaching the full potential of superconductivity. In the June 5 issue of the journal Nature, a team led by Chia-Ling Chien, a professor of physics at the Krieger School of Arts and Sciences and director of the Materials Research Science and Engineering Center at Hopkins, reported that a new class of superconducting material made from iron and arsenic has unique characteristics that could lead to more affordable superconductors.

Chien, two colleagues from Hopkins — Zlatko Tesanovic, a professor of physics, and Tingyong Chen, a postdoctoral fellow — and two scientists from the university in China discovered that pairs of electrons in the iron-arsenic compound behave differently from electron pairs in cuprates, the compounds of copper and oxygen that have dominated superconductor research for the past two decades. By measuring the "gap" — the amount of energy needed to break the bond between the electrons in the iron — arsenic compound-Chien and his team discovered that those electrons exhibited a completely different type of symmetry from those found in cuprates. The unique arrangement of the compound's electrons might hold promise for high-temperature superconductivity, Chien says. Scientists must now devise theories for how the electrons work and whether they might one day lead to superconductivity at higher temperatures, without the brittleness of cuprates.

"Learned physicists thought that the iron superconductors would be the same as cuprates — how could they be different?" says Chien. "When we first reported the results, I would get nasty comments from people. But we showed that the high-powered theorists were wrong." Chien says his team's findings require new explanations for how superconductivity works. Despite a spate of research — particularly in China and Japan, which have taken over the lead in the field from the United States in recent years, Chien says &mdahs; superconductors continue to provide condensed-matter physicists with perhaps the greatest challenge in their field.

A lot hangs in the balance. Physicists theorize that a superconducting device might one day burn warmly enough to require cooling only from readily available and cheap liquid nitrogen, as opposed to the expensive system of liquid helium and extensive piping currently in use. "Getting something like this to run at room temperature — that's the holy grail for many physicists," Chien says. "You'd solve the world's energy problem by running a current forever for nothing. You could tap into the loop for energy whenever you needed it."
—Michael Anft

A new resident composer

Christopher Rouse
Photo by Christian Steiner
Composer Christopher Rouse is in his first year as Peabody Conservatory's Distinguished Composer-in-Residence. A Baltimore native and resident, Rouse has won a Pulitzer Prize and a Grammy for his compositions, which have been performed by every significant American orchestra. He also has a full-time position on the faculty of the Juilliard School in New York, so he spends a lot of time on trains. ("On Amtrak, I think I've got enough miles to go to Venus," he says.) Johns Hopkins Magazine caught him at home for a brief conversation about his new post.

What will be your responsibilities at Peabody?
Well, I'm supposed to teach a number of master classes during the year as well as talk about my own music in a public presentation. That's it, essentially. I'm not doing any private teaching, one on one.

How does a composer go about teaching a master class?
In essence, whoever the selected victim is will play a recording of something of theirs and I'll comment on the writing of that piece. My comments will be along the lines of the scoring and some kind of discussion of the flow of the piece, the sense of climax, the pacing, and so forth. Other students will be there, so everybody will hear what I think, and you don't want to hurt anyone's feelings. What I try to avoid is having to talk about style, and say, "You know, I don't really like 12-tone music, or I don't like minimalist music, or I don't like this or that." Whether I do or not, that's not terribly helpful.

What's the hardest thing to do as a composition teacher?
In composition, you're talking about how to take a blank page and fill it up not only with the best notes possible, but the notes that represent the student's attitude. With every lesson I have to try to get myself inside the head of a new person who has just shown up at the door, and in essence become them. There's not a lot of point in simply teaching how I write music. To be honest, [when I compose] I don't know what the hell I'm doing half the time. I'm very intuitive. The toughest thing is you really have to imagine how the student would like to set forth his or her ideas. I think that's why we find teaching composition an utterly draining, exhausting pursuit. I can't do more than two hours in a row without some kind of break. It just wipes me out.

What do you tell your students about making a living as a composer?
That's the $64,000 question. There are way too many composers in this country and not nearly enough opportunities for them, not just in terms of having "careers" as composers, but just getting a teaching job, or a job that has any relation to music. Nobody really told me that when I was a student, so I make sure to tell my students. Let's be honest here, it's a very, very tough business. All you can do is tell students the truth, and if they really are composers they're just going to stick with it. I always tell people, "If you can imagine yourself doing something else, go do it, because a real composer is someone who cannot live or breathe without creating music."
— Dale Keiger

Hopkins as a model campus

In David Hung's digital model of Homewood Field, there are no championship banners. But if there were, one of them could be for him and four more digital modelers, a team from Johns Hopkins that was among nine winners of Google's 2008 International Model Your Campus Competition. Contestants from 94 universities around the world used SketchUp modeling software to create 3-D digital representations of buildings on their various campuses, then sited those models on the satellite images that constitute the Google Earth database. Visit Johns Hopkins using the Google Earth browser, and campus structures seem to spring up from the ground — Gilman Hall, Homewood House, Charles Commons, even the News-Letter's little carriage house.

The Keyser Quad, looking toward Gilman Hall, as viewed on Google Earth. Five Johns Hopkins students created digital models of 19 Homewood campus buildings and won an international competition.

The project began in February 2007 as a proposed entry in that year's contest. Reid Sczerba, a multimedia development specialist at the Milton S. Eisenhower Library's Center for Educational Resources, had noted Google's announcement of the competition and thought it might be a good student project. He conferred with Joan Freedman, director of the Digital Media Center on the Homewood campus. Through fliers and an animated announcement that Sczerba created to run on the campus video system, they invited interested students to a meeting. Says Freedman, "We bought a pile of pizzas and 30 people showed up. It was astounding."

Sczerba taught the students 3-D modeling techniques, and they began working at the Mattin Center to painstakingly create replicas of campus buildings. They started with the Google Earth satellite images, which provided a straight-overhead perspective of campus structures. Using the SketchUp software, they then created 3-D boxes in the basic shapes of the buildings. The last step was to apply "skins" — digital images of all the buildings' exteriors — to the boxes. Simple.

Actually, not so simple. To build accurate models, they needed precise dimensions. For some buildings, they could consult blueprints. For others, they had to make their own measurements as best they could. For example, they would photograph one side of a building, measure by hand a feature such as a door or window, then use that measurement as a yardstick for calculating the overall dimensions. For this technique to yield accurate results, they needed photographs of entire buildings taken from a sufficient distance to be free of angular distortion. This proved impossible for Gilman Hall, so they used a less refined technique. Says Hung, "We just sort of eyeballed it." To get an accurate rendering of a building's facade, the students had to photograph each side at the same time of day, so that the light, and therefore the color, would match on all sides. People, trees, and shrubs had to be removed from the images using Photoshop. The project proved to be so big, the students missed the deadline for the 2007 competition and had to pick it up again for 2008.

A digital camera floats 200 feet above Decker Quad, tethered by fishing line. The camera took several aerial photos before snagging in a tree.
Photo by David Hung
By then, the team was down to a hardcore five — Hung, Conor Kevit, Michael Loecher, Jeff Lin, and Steve Wang. Their biggest problem was the new Decker Quadrangle. According to the out-of-date Google Earth satellite pictures, Decker was still a parking lot. Somehow, the students needed to get an aerial perspective on the fully built-out quad. Their solution was to hack a Nikon Coolpix 2100 digital camera with a timing device, so it would take a picture every 10 seconds, and send it aloft tethered to helium-filled balloons. They bought eight Mylar birthday balloons, attached the camera, tied on some fishing line so they could retrieve it, and on a calm day in May launched it. Briefly it snagged on the roof of the Computational Science and Engineering Building, then drifted free. All seemed to be going well until a gust of wind sent the whole rig sailing into a tree, where it snagged, out of reach. A Hopkins security guard tried popping the balloons with a BB gun provided by Freedman, but that didn't help. The camera remained thoroughly ensnared. "That night, of course, it poured rain," Freedman remembers. The next day, a paint crew from Hopkins Facilities Management came to the rescue, using a cherry picker to retrieve the camera, which had survived the rain. The modeling team downloaded the images, fashioned their own overhead perspective, and raced to finish the last models in time for the competition. On July 9, they learned that they'd won.

It's fun to open Google Earth and "fly" around campus, inspecting their work. They modeled 19 buildings, and the detail is impressive. For example, the university seals appear on the doors of the MSE Library. The Joseph Brown sculptures appear in front of the Newton H. White Athletic Center. Through the windows of the Mattin Center, you can glimpse furniture. "We were going to put our own photos in there," Hung says, smiling. "But we ran out of time."
— DK

Relief finds way to Myanmar

When 10 students from the Nitze School of Advanced International Studies planned an eight-day, late-May trip to Myanmar, they expected to study development issues such as poverty and health care. They did not expect Cyclone Nargis. The deadly storm struck the southern tip of Myanmar on May 2 and killed more than 138,000 people who lived in villages dotted across the Irrawaddy delta. Floodwaters and 120 mph winds obliterated property and left more than 2 million people homeless.

SAIS students presenting offerings to monks at a monastery outside Mandalay

The students, led by Bridget Welsh, an assistant professor in Southeast Asia Studies at SAIS, responded swiftly to news of the disaster. In mere days, they raised from family, friends, and the SAIS community more than $11,000 in donations. They took the money with them when they flew to Myanmar, arriving May 25. As part of their original plan, the group toured historical sites and met with representatives of nongovernmental organizations and SAIS alumni living in the country. But they spent the majority of their time aiding people in the delta.

Welsh had obtained from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs a letter of permission to travel to the delta to observe conditions there. So with $2,200 of the collected relief funds, the students bought a ton of food, first-aid kits, water-purification tablets, children's clothes, school supplies, and other relief material from a local market near Kunyangon and loaded a pair of rented trucks. Then they drove two hours along muddy roads strewn with abandoned vehicles to the village of Apheyouk, which had been 85 percent devastated. The students, seated atop rice bags, passed mangroves, rice fields, and villages laid to waste. Initially, Myanmar's ruling junta had blocked international aid efforts, but the trucks passed through four checkpoints without incident and delivered the relief supplies to a monastery, part of a grassroots distribution network capable of reaching 10,000 people.

Aided by SAIS alumni and friends in the area, the group next identified another village in acute need: Ma Lot, located farther down the delta. Thirty-eight people died in this community of less than 400, and many more were displaced. The cyclone had torn apart a nearly completed middle school there, the dream of a local farmer who had built the structure entirely by hand. The school, 70 percent completed before Nargis hit, was to serve 10 villages and 768 children. The SAIS group chose to donate their remaining funds to its reconstruction.

Donations will go to the reconstruction and reopening of this middle school in Ma Lot. "We wanted to work on something permanent, and this project made perfect sense seeing as we're from an educational institution," says Welsh, an expert on Southeast Asian politics who visits Myanmar two to three times annually. "Middle school is the bridge to the future for these children. These are the critical years of math and reading." The reopening of school doors would also signify a welcome return to normalcy for the children in the community, she says. Reconstruction of the school began in July. To date, a foundation has been laid, brick walls erected, and the roof framed. Welsh, who returned to the site in late July and plans to go back in December, says that her group hopes to raise another $5,500 to complete the building and purchase teaching supplies. Progress on the rebuilt school can be monitored at

"The students showed tremendous compassion," Welsh says. "They reached out and helped whenever they could. That is what this relief effort has been about: a people-to-people initiative helping those who have suffered a great deal and continue to struggle."
—Greg Rienzi

"If you really are a Democrat, no matter how close victory is, you know your party is fully capable in the final moments of screwing it up anyway."
— Tucker Carlson, MSNBC senior campaign correspondent, speaking September 9 at the Milton S. Eisenhower Symposium

DNA busts fish mislabelers

It sounds like an experiment performed by a genetics grad student. Or an investigation carried out by a vindictive sushi chef, trying to close down his competitors. But no, the research into fish labeling that recently caught the attention of The New York Times was done by two high school girls, now Johns Hopkins freshmen, who were drawn to Hopkins more for its writing and humanities programs than for science. "We aren't typical science people," Louisa Strauss says. "Really, we just love sushi," Kate Stoeckle adds.

Kate Stoeckle (left) and Louisa Strauss with some favorite food
Photo by Chris Meyers
What the Times wrote about last August was DNA testing of fish that revealed more than half of the restaurants and stores sampled by Stoeckle and Strauss had sold them mislabeled food. This fish tale began when the pair were juniors in high school. They had gone out to dinner (sushi, of course) with Stoeckle's father, Mark. He is a scientist at Rockefeller University and an expert in DNA barcoding, a technique that can identify a species by examining a single gene. At the table, the girls began to wonder if the barcoding technology could be used to test their fish. Through Dad Stoeckle, they got in touch with Eugene Wong, a graduate student at the University of Guelph in Ontario, Canada, which is home to the International Barcode of Life, a project that is assembling the world's first reference library of DNA barcodes. Wong agreed to help them.

Stoeckle and Strauss then went to four sushi restaurants, taking leftovers home in a doggy bag, and made their way to 10 supermarkets, where they bought various types of fish. "There was a strict process to it," says Strauss. "We took a picture of the label, we took a picture of the fish, we cut a piece of the fish, put it in a vial with rubbing alcohol using sterilized tweezers, and labeled everything." Then they sent the vials to Canada, using a kit that Wong had provided. "It was like developing film," Stoeckle says. "We took the 'pictures,' and they developed the film. We didn't go into it thinking we would find anything. It was more about finding out whether the [DNA barcoding] technology would work for sushi and fish."

Strauss and Stoeckle sent in 60 samples; the barcoding worked on 56 of them (those that did not work had been pickled). A quarter of the samples, 14 of 56, from two of the four restaurants and six of the 10 markets, had been mislabeled. Mozambique tilapia was wrongly labeled "White Tuna," and "Mediterranean Red Mullet" was actually spotted goatfish, found only in the Caribbean. Seven out of nine samples of red snapper had been mislabeled, and of those, two were actually the endangered species Acadian redfish. All of the mislabeled samples had been marketed as more expensive or more desirable fish. Pacific Fishing magazine published the results of their study in its September 2008 issue.

The experiment allowed them to feel the thrill of scientific discovery for the first time. "In high school, you take a science class and it's very formulaic," says Stoeckle. "You do experiments where you already know what the results are supposed to be. This is the first time that we've done something where we didn't know what to expect, and we found something new." Neither Strauss nor Stoeckle has declared a major yet, but Stoeckle says she's leaning toward psychology, Strauss toward history of art.

The two believe that DNA barcoding would make a great iPhone application. Says Stoeckle, "You could be walking down the street and see a feather, or you're on the beach and you see a fish scale . . . if you wanted to know what it is, you could [test it]," says Stoeckle. Strauss agrees. "Like a scanner, or something."
—Rebecca Messner, A&S '08

Ralph Fessler retires as Education dean

Ralph Fessler Ralph Fessler has announced that he will retire as dean of the School of Education at the end of the academic year. A state and national leader in teacher education, Fessler has been at Johns Hopkins since 1983, first as professor and director of the Graduate Division of Education, then as dean of the School of Professional Studies in Business and Education. In January 2007, SPSBE was divided into two independent schools, the School of Education and the Carey Business School.

"It has been a privilege and an honor to work with such outstanding faculty and staff, talented students, and dedicated alumni who attend to some of the most challenging and important issues facing education," Fessler said in the September announcement. "The School of Education is a creative, innovative, and responsive community that has made a difference in the lives of children, and I believe that the best is yet to come."

Under Fessler's leadership, Johns Hopkins education programs obtained national accreditation from the National Council for Accreditation of Teacher Education; moved into the Education Building, the former Seton High School on Charles Street near the Homewood campus, marking the first time the university's education programs had their own building; and established a number of university-wide collaborations to bring an interdisciplinary approach to K-12 education. While at Hopkins, Fessler served on numerous state and national task forces and boards, including as chair of a task force that led to the "Redesign of Teacher Education," the guiding document for teacher-education reform efforts in Maryland. He also served on the board and executive committee of the American Association of Colleges for Teacher Education. His research activities have centered on studying teacher career stages and implications for teacher leadership development.

"Ralph has presided over the continued growth and maturation of a school that is well-positioned for national prominence," university President William R. Brody said in the release. "The initiatives he has taken over the years to build the infrastructure needed for both teaching and research will have a lasting impact on Johns Hopkins and the School of Education. I am grateful for his many contributions and accomplishments as dean."

University Provost Kristina M. Johnson says a nationwide search for a dean will begin soon.
—Catherine Pierre

Growing stem cells for blood

As a young doctor treating children who suffered from disorders such as leukemia, Elias Zambidis grew frustrated at the pace of research into cancers of the blood. Around 70 percent of young patients who receive chemotherapy or bone marrow transplants become free of these cancers — "a very notable achievement given what survival rates used to be," he says — but more than 1,000 children nationwide still die each year. In hopes of finding new ways to treat difficult cases, Zambidis, an assistant professor of pediatric oncology at Sidney Kimmel Comprehensive Cancer Center, decided five years ago to turn away from researching traditional treatment methods toward a more speculative, if promising, one: embryonic stem cells. "It became obvious to me and to others that if you wanted to understand cancer, you have to understand stem cells," he says.

Photo by That choice has led Zambidis and his team of researchers at the Institute for Cell Engineering at Johns Hopkins toward a discovery that could lead to new treatments for several blood and heart disorders. By identifying stem cells that create blood in the first few weeks of embryonic development, Zambidis' team was able to grow those cells, called hemangioblasts, in the lab using stem cell lines and discarded eggs from in vitro fertilization clinics. In the developing human body, hemangioblasts go on to become blood cells that form parts of the heart as well as arteries, veins, red and white blood cells, and platelets. "Because we can create these hemangioblasts — the mother of all blood cells — we can now study all of the early blood processes as well as how diseases like leukemia develop," he says. "If you can understand how healthy stem cells work, you can learn how they turn bad." The team published its results in the August 26 online edition of the journal Blood.

Hemangioblasts mature in an embryo's yolk sac within the first two months after conception, then disappear. Because the cells develop in very young embryos, the team couldn't take its experiment from test tube to the bench due to age restrictions on the ethical use of live human embryos. But they were able to confirm their ability to identify such cells in mice and zebrafish.

The findings could prove crucial to improving the treatment of blood cancers. Zambidis' team has established early-forming stem cell lines of sickle cell anemia and other diseases. "The value of understanding the earliest blood stem cells is that it can lead us to a way of making tissue for transplants of blood, bone, and neurons — transplants we can use to cure or reverse disease," Zambidis says.

"We're making healthy hemangioblasts even as we're looking at diseased ones, so we can learn to apply the technology. Our goal is to be able to grow billions of blood cells, so we can give sick people back healthy blood and reverse their disease."

Scientists are "very close" to developing treatments from stem cells, he adds. Other researchers, including celebrated cancer researcher Bert Vogelstein, professor of oncology and pathology at the Kimmel Center, are looking into the relationship between healthy stem cells and those that go on to create cancer tumors. "We're all trying to come up with new ways to use old drugs against cancer stem cells," Zambidis says. "The next step is to get to the point where in vitro fertilization clinics can detect genetic glitches. Instead of discarding diseased embryos, we can study them and their stem cells to search for a cure. It's a revolutionary tool."

Remembering Chester Wickwire

The Rev. Chester L. Wickwire, notable civil rights activist, Johns Hopkins chaplain emeritus, and founder of the Johns Hopkins Tutorial Project, died on August 31 from complications of dementia. Ralph E. Moore Jr., A&S '74, is the director of St. Francis Academy Community Center in Baltimore. He contributed this remembrance.

Rev. Chester L. Wickwire, pictured in 1970
Photo courtesy Ferdinand Hamburger Archives of the Johns Hopkins University
At Shriver Hall sometime in September of 1970, I first laid eyes on Dr. Chester L. Wickwire. I was a freshman looking up from the audience at him seated among other Johns Hopkins University officials during orientation. He hoisted himself to the microphone and there he was, appearing a most peculiar man, as the song goes. His crewcut and eyeglasses were straight out of the 1950s. There were his ever-present forearm crutches, symbols of his determination. There was his striking tongue-twister of a name, and that blended Colorado-Nebraska accent of his, which lingered as the voice of conscience in your head once he engaged you in one of his causes. I remembered having heard his name around campus during registration: "Wickwire's cool." So I decided I would take a class with this unconventional minister, then the university chaplain. I did take a course with him that first semester and all seven subsequent semesters until I graduated in 1974. I was associated with him in some way or another until he died.

The classes were informative. The first time I ever heard of Sunni and Shiite Muslims was in one of his comparative religion classes. But it was not the course work so many of us were drawn to, it was the man. Dr. Wickwire kept us laughing, while his awareness of and involvement with global and urban activities of civil rights, the peace movement, the labor movement, and economic justice captured our attention. His manifest dedication made us his lifelong devotees.

There were many of us. Dr. Wickwire had a way with students and members of the community alike. He challenged us in class, not so much about the material but about our values. He drew community members to justice causes by standing with them, firmly side by side.

Much of the time, he recruited you to a demonstration or to a meeting by calling you himself. He knew we couldn't resist his personal invitations. So we came, honored to be asked. And we kept coming back.

Two years after graduating from Hopkins, I applied to serve as one of Dr. Wickwire's assistants in the chaplain's office.

Among other duties, it became my job to help with some of his courses, marking tests and papers, as well as coordinating his efforts with the city's Interdenominational Ministerial Alliance — an organization of mostly African American ministers — who met monthly and moved through the community with political and moral authority. Upon the sudden death of the alliance's leader, Wickwire — "Doc," as I always referred to him — became president of the group, the first and last white man to preside over that organization. He was uniquely respected by those ministers because he had fought for civil rights side by side with so many and gone to jail with some of them in the '60s as they fought to integrate Gwynn Oak Amusement Park.

It was also my job to coordinate the Sunday Experience for Dr. Wickwire. Instead of a regular Sunday service, at 11 a.m. he provided provocative speakers, panels, films, and music for his congregation of un-churched campus neighbors. For two years I helped him secure speakers ranging from anti-war activist Phillip J. Berrigan to an Anglican theologian from King's College, Cambridge, Dr. Norman Pittenger. On occasion, we showed Ingmar Bergman films.

I learned a lot from him in that job. He was gently demanding, questioning you during staff meetings in such a way that he always made you realize you could do more, no matter how smug you felt about the job you thought you had just finished. Suffice it to say, I truly learned the value of hard work while working for Wickwire.

There is so much I could say about my dear friend. Our relationship continued to grow over the years as it did with so many. I met many people I now call friends through the chaplain's office. So many of them are kind and dedicated to the causes of peace, eliminating poverty, providing quality services in medicine, the law, government, or education. We all were affirmed in our values through our association with our beloved, poetry-writing preacher, Dr. Chester L. Wickwire. To explain our attraction to him, I quote another poet, Walt Whitman: "He is one of those who are beautiful and happy. He is one of those that to look upon and be with was enough." Farewell.

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