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The newspaper of The Johns Hopkins University March 12, 2007 | Vol. 36 No. 25
Hopkins History: Fund-raising in the '30s
By Ross Jones
Special to the Gazette

The need to raise money from private sources has always existed at Johns Hopkins. Celebrating the institutions' first 50 years, the Half Century Campaign from 1924 to 1926 raised a little over $4,375,000 for the university, and gifts designated for the hospital amounted to $1,528,000. Other contributions brought the grand total to a little more than $7 million.

A decade later, in early 1936, more funds were desperately needed.

Hopkins faced enormous financial challenges. The Depression years had caused large accumulated deficits. The faculty had voluntarily reduced their salaries by 10 percent. Many professorial chars were unfilled. Student aid had been slashed.

President Isaiah Bowman, in office less than a year, launched a $750,000 Sustaining Fund to help meet expenses for the next two years. He appointed P. Stewart Macaulay, a 1923 graduate who recently had become secretary of the university, as coordinator of the campaign. The trustees quickly gave $75,000, or 10 percent of the goal, and some $10,000 was appropriated for campaign expenses. Macaulay drew up plans to solicit the university's 8,475 alumni, and Bowman wrote dozens of earnest letters explaining the circumstances and requesting generous support.

Suddenly, there was a little "blip." The president told the trustees that one Howard Simmons of the Harvard Club of Baltimore had informed him that Harvard was planning to raise money in the city in connection with Harvard's tercentenary.

"However," Simmons had told him, "Harvard does not desire to solicit subscriptions in this territory without the approval of President Bowman." Simmons had even suggested, Bowman told the trustees, that Harvard would be willing "to solicit subscriptions from their own membership and divide any sum so raised equally" between Harvard and Hopkins.

Despite such a display of institutional generosity, unimaginable today, the trustees' board minutes of March 2, 1936, indicate that the trustees advised Bowman to express their "appreciation of the Harvard Club's very generous offer of cooperation and state that the university would be much gratified if the club did not solicit funds in this territory at the present time."

No record of Mr. Simmons' reply was found in the Hamburger Archives at Homewood. But, by the end of December 1936, nearly $513,000 had been raised, assuring the successful completion of the Sustaining Fund by 1938.


Ross Jones is vice president and secretary emeritus of the university. A 1953 graduate of Johns Hopkins, he returned in 1961 as assistant to president Milton S. Eisenhower and was a close aide to six of the university's presidents.


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