About The Gazette Search Back Issues Contact Us    
The newspaper of The Johns Hopkins University September 20, 2004 | Vol. 34 No. 4
Obituary: Susan Bacon, Passionate Champion of Undergrads, Dies at 47

By Greg Rienzi
The Gazette

Susan "Suzy" Bacon, coordinator of student academic programs for the Krieger School of Arts and Sciences for the past six years, died on Sept. 11 after a prolonged battle with cancer. She was 47.

Friends and colleagues remember Bacon as a passionate champion of Johns Hopkins students, a dedicated and selfless employee and a warm soul whose bright, infectious smile lit up any room she was in.

Her dedication, in fact, knew no bounds, according to Steven David, special assistant to the dean and professor of political science.

For the past five years, Bacon had coordinated the Woodrow Wilson Undergraduate Research Fellowship Program, working closely with the fellows as they progressed in their research. Founded in 1999, the program allows students in the School of Arts and Sciences to delve into unconstrained research during their undergraduate experience, mentored by distinguished Johns Hopkins faculty.

David, who runs the Wilson program, said that a research project of this scale can be a daunting task and that Bacon was a caring and invaluable resource for the young fellows.

"With Suzy, they had someone who they could go to and just unburden themselves — in addition to the more mechanical aspects of her job, helping them with budgets, finding mentors. She was simply amazing," David said. "She really got to know virtually all the students, and she was there for them, both academically and also to lend a sympathetic ear if they had concerns about one thing or another. She was a kind of surrogate mother or aunt to the fellows, and she would push them a little if they were not on track, or reassure them if they were nervous about where they were going."

David said that the lion's share of credit for the success of the Woodrow Wilsons goes to Bacon. To honor her commitment to the program, the Office of the Dean recently created the Suzy Bacon Fellow of the Woodrow Wilson Undergraduate Research Program. David said that the honor will be bestowed annually on someone who manifests the qualities of commitment, caring and scholarship that Bacon embodied. On Sept. 8, Alexandra C. Sowa was presented with the inaugural honor.

"Suzy knew about this award before she died, and that was important to all of us, too. We did not want to do this after she was gone," he said. "We wanted to reward her contribution to the program. She was there every day, from day one, and I take some consolation that she died doing what she loved doing. I still can't believe that she is gone."

A lover of old movies and of unique pins, which she wore every day, Bacon was known as a devotee of the I Love Lucy show, after whose main star she named her beloved cat.

A 1980 graduate of Vassar College, Bacon came to Johns Hopkins in 1991 to work in the Development Office. Her first job was assistant to the major gifts officer, and she was later promoted to alumni projects coordinator. Bacon earned a masters of liberal arts from JHU in May 2003. In 2002, she received the Dunn Family Award in recognition of her extraordinary commitment and service to undergraduate students.

Friends describe her as an extremely likeable, outgoing person who was always willing to help others. David said she had a unique "rosy optimistic vision of life."

Bacon is survived by her parents, John Foster and Phoebe Edward Bacon; sisters Phoebe, Laurie and Deborah; a brother, Thomas; and three nephews and a niece. A memorial gathering for Bacon will be held at 11 a.m. on Saturday, Oct. 23, in the Meyerhoff Auditorium of the Park School. In lieu of flowers, donations may be directed in Ms. Bacon's name to Maryland Food Bank, 241 N. Franklintown Rd., Baltimore, MD 21234 or Center for Poverty Solutions, 2521 N. Charles St., Baltimore, MD 21218.


The Gazette | The Johns Hopkins University | Suite 540 | 901 S. Bond St. | Baltimore, MD 21231 | 443-287-9900 |