Bakers Create $10 Million Endowment for School of Medicine DeanshipA double-degree alumni couple has made a gift to The Johns Hopkins University that will endow the position of dean of the university's School of Medicine.
Lenox D. Baker Jr. and Frances Watt Baker, physicians from Norfolk, Va., who met as Hopkins undergraduates and married as Hopkins medical students, have given a combination of stock and cash sufficient to create a $10 million endowment.
Their commitment was announced at a dinner Saturday, Oct. 12, celebrating the second anniversary of the public launch of the Johns Hopkins Initiative. The six-year campaign seeks to raise $900 million for the Johns Hopkins Institutions. "This is an extraordinary gift," said William R. Brody, president of the university. "The Bakers are actively involved with the School of Medicine, and they know how critical the deanship is to the school's success. They recognize, as some may not, that the deanship needs endowed support in the same way our senior professorships do."
"This gift is an important demonstration of confidence in the school and in Johns Hopkins Medicine," Brody said. "It comes at a critical time, when all academic medical centers are under increasing pressure because of changes in the health care market place."
Lenox Baker said his and his wife's decision to endow the deanship was, in part, a tribute to the physicians who have held the post, including Thomas B. Turner, who attracted him to Hopkins as a student, and Michael M.E. Johns, who served as dean from 1990 until earlier this year.
Lenox Baker, 54, a cardiac surgeon and a senior partner in Mid-Atlantic Cardiothoracic Surgeons Ltd. in Norfolk, is co-chairman of the Johns Hopkins Initiative, vice chairman of the university's board of trustees, and a trustee of Johns Hopkins Medicine. Frances Baker, 55, a pediatrician, is a member of the university's national alumni council.
Much of their gift was in shares of stock in IMPRA, a firm that Lenox Baker co-founded in the 1970s to manufacture devices used in surgery, including an artificial artery he developed.
"To us, a gift to Johns Hopkins is an investment in society, and we believe nothing brings a better return," Lenox Baker said. "We are glad we can give now, when we can watch the fruit of our investments. ... We hope that what we've done will encourage other people our age to make a gift now, rather than waiting. We can guarantee there is tremendous enjoyment in seeing your gift make a difference."
"This generous gift will make the Johns Hopkins School of Medicine one of only a handful in the country with an endowed deanship," said Edward D. Miller Jr., the school's interim dean. "It gives the dean extra flexibility to support worthy projects in the school, and allows him or her to be entrepreneurial and innovative in starting new initiatives."
Miller is serving as dean during the search for the first chief executive officer of Johns Hopkins Medicine. Under the new Johns Hopkins Medicine governance structure, the CEO will lead both the School of Medicine and the Johns Hopkins Health System and is expected to hold the title of dean. If the deanship and CEO position are ever separated, the endowment would continue to support the dean as the leader of the academic component of Johns Hopkins Medicine.
The Bakers, then college juniors and transfers to Hopkins, met in 1961, after their first day of classes in a five-year program leading to both undergraduate and medical degrees. They earned their bachelor's degrees and married in 1963, and received their M.D.'s in 1966.
Both Bakers have strong family ties to Hopkins. Frances Baker's father, the late James Watt, graduated from the School of Medicine in 1935 and the School of Hygiene and Public Health a year later. He received financial support from a wealthy benefactor as a Hopkins student; his daughter remembers that "as soon as he was able, he set up a fund at Hopkins to help other students," the Watt-Hansell Endowment Fund in the School of Hygiene and Public Health.
"It's always been a given in my life that, if you have the means, you should give to others," Frances Baker said. Lenox Baker's father, the late Lenox D. Baker Sr., was chief resident in orthopedic surgery at Johns Hopkins in the 1930s under Dr. George Bennett. Sarah, the oldest of the Bakers' four daughters, completed her master's degree at the School of Hygiene and Public Health in 1995 and is working on a research project at Johns Hopkins Hospital in neonatal health.
The Johns Hopkins Initiative announced Saturday that the campaign has, through Sept. 30, received $634.4 million in gifts or pledges. That is more than 70 percent of the overall goal of $900 million by the campaign's close in 2000. There have been $394.1 million in gifts or pledges for endowment and facilities, 75 percent of the $525 million goal in those areas, the primary focus of the campaign.
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