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The newspaper of The Johns Hopkins University April 24, 2006 | Vol. 35 No. 31
JHU Honors Montgomery County Visionary

MCC's original building is now named Gilchrist Hall

By Greg Rienzi
The Gazette

Charles W. Gilchrist, the former Montgomery County executive whose vision led to the creation of the university's Montgomery County Campus, was honored posthumously in a special ceremony on Friday, April 21, when the campus's original building was dedicated as Charles W. Gilchrist Hall.

The ceremony, which also marked the 20th anniversary of the groundbreaking of the campus in Rockville, Md., drew dozens of Johns Hopkins and government officials, including President William R. Brody; former President Steven Muller; and Montgomery County Executive Doug Duncan. Gilchrist's wife, Phoebe, and many other family members were in attendance as well.

The event honored Gilchrist for his leadership in the creation of the Shady Grove Life Sciences Center, where the campus resides, and focused on the campus's beginnings and its two decades of robust growth.

"More than 20 years ago, Charlie Gilchrist recognized how important Johns Hopkins teaching and research would be to the future of Montgomery County and the entire region," Brody said. "Time has not only shown him right, but has demonstrated an even greater need than first imagined."

Established in 1988 in the heart of suburban Maryland's biotechnology and information technology corridor, Johns Hopkins' Montgomery County Campus currently serves 5,000 full- and part-time students in more than 60 degree and certificate programs from four university divisions: Arts and Sciences, Engineering, Public Health and Professional Studies in Business and Education. Roughly 350 adjunct and full-time faculty teach there, and dozens of researchers work in its labs.

The campus most recently opened Building III, a 115,000-square-foot facility that features wet labs, computer labs, classrooms, meeting space and a 1,000-square-foot bookstore. The building, which opened in 2004, also has space for leasing to non-JHU tenants with which Johns Hopkins can establish academic, research or other collaborations. The first to sign on were CBH Health, a community-based private sector clinical research organization, and the Rockefeller Neurosciences Institute. The two have since been joined by Vanda Pharmaceuticals and the National Federation of Families for Children's Mental Health.

The master plan for the 35-acre campus includes expansion over the next 10 years to seven buildings totaling 850,000 square feet of academic and research space.

"In recent years, we have begun to 'complexify' the campus — going beyond the teaching mission to include research centers and a growing research presence," said Elaine Amir, MCC director, at the dedication. "We're still fulfilling our promise to make county and state leaders proud of their investment in Johns Hopkins Montgomery County."

Charles Gilchrist and former university President Steven Muller, who served on the Montgomery County Commission on Higher Education in Science and Technology, worked together to bring about the plan whereby the 35 acres of land, public facilities and $9 million were donated to JHU to start the campus.

Gilchrist served two terms as Montgomery County executive, from 1978 to 1986, and then, instead of taking an expected run for U.S. Congress or Senate, announced he would be leaving government service to become an Episcopal priest. He was ordained several years later and moved into an impoverished community in Chicago. He returned to Maryland in 1999, in the final stages of cancer, and passed away at The Johns Hopkins Hospital.

President Brody in his speech honored Gilchrist and Muller, Brody's predecessor, for their vision for the future of Montgomery County and the greater region. Brody focused his comments on the need for the United States to provide more leaders in all areas of science and technology and on how the country's "once unassailable lead in brainpower is starting to slip."

"Clearly, Johns Hopkins has a vital role to play here in Montgomery County," he said. "When Steven Muller and Charlie Gilchrist signed the agreement in 1985 that led to the creation of this campus, there was great hope for the future. More than two decades later, we have seen those promises fulfilled, and we again look to the future with an eye on challenges, but nonetheless a tremendous sense of optimism."


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