$2 Million Gift Honors Retiring Vice PresidentTrustees, classmates and friends are contributing more than $2 million to provide funds for a wing of Johns Hopkins University's new student arts center and name it for Vice President Ross Jones (pictured at right), who is retiring after 37 years.
Jones was surprised with word of the gift at a dinner in his honor tonight (June 8) hosted by the board of trustees.
Jones, a 1953 graduate of Hopkins who returned to the university in 1961 as assistant to President Milton S. Eisenhower, has been a close aide to six of the university's 13 presidents. As secretary of the board of trustees, he has worked with five board chairmen. At various times, he has headed the university's communications, fund-raising and alumni relations programs and supervised operations in the office of the president.
Three close friends who attended Hopkins with Jones created a fund to honor him and sent a letter inviting contributions. Nearly 100 trustees, friends and associates responded with pledges of just over $2 million. The donors include all five living Johns Hopkins presidents, Hopkins colleagues and others closely associated with Jones and the university. The size of individual gifts range from as little as $100 to well into six figures.
"We wanted to recognize both an extraordinary personal friendship and his long, distinguished association with Hopkins," said Andrew J. Bozzelli '53, who headed the effort with fellow trustees R. Champlin Sheridan '52 and Wendell A. Smith '54. "We are long-time friends who wanted to do it; that's all."
Bozzelli said that one trustee to whom he talked agreed almost immediately to make a major lead gift. Another who offered a very significant pledge told Bozzelli it was the easiest decision he and his family had ever made.
Robert R. Lindgren, the university's vice president for development and alumni relations and a professional fund raiser for nearly two decades, said he had never before seen such a tribute to an individual. He said he had told Bozzelli, Sheridan and Smith he thought it would be a great challenge to meet even their original goal of $1 million.
"To raise this kind of money in someone's honor is absolutely remarkable," Lindgren said.
The gift will help make a long-planned student arts center (pictured below) a reality. Construction of the $17 million center, at the eastern edge of the Homewood campus along Charles Street near 33rd Street, is expected to begin this fall. A total of $14.5 million has been raised.
The easternmost of the center's three connected buildings will be named in Jones' honor. That building will include offices for student groups and publications, practice rooms for student musicians and space for the visual arts. Other wings of the center will house performance space and other facilities for performing arts and for students working with electronic media.
Sheridan said that a building that will enhance undergraduate student life was a natural choice for honoring Jones because of his close association with students and his dedication over the years to their well-being.
"When we started looking at naming opportunities, a building in the arts center flashed out like a beacon," Smith said.
Gifts to the fund in Jones honor are counted toward the Johns Hopkins Initiative, the fund-raising campaign for The Johns Hopkins Institutions. The campaign has passed its initial goal of $900 million and the university's trustees voted last month to raise the target to $1.2 billion.
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