William R. Brody was inaugurated as the 13th president of
The Johns Hopkins University Feb. 23, in a day of celebration and
ceremony replete with academic pomp, institutional circumstance
and even a felicitous gift of sunny, springlike weather.
With the assistance of four former presidents and the approving presence of an unprecedented number of current and former trustees, Brody received the presidential chain of office from a beaming Michael Bloomberg, chairman of the board of trustees. As his wife, Wendy, children Ingrid and John, and hundreds of invited guests looked on, the new president shook hands with Bloomberg, former presidents Lincoln Gordon, Steven Muller, William C. Richardson and Daniel Nathans before delivering a half-hour address in which he challenged his listeners to help "build the new academy, founded on an underpinning of mature experience, flown on the pinions of youthful idealism."
Among dignitaries on the dais with Brody or seated in the audience were Maryland governor Parris Glendening, Baltimore mayor Kurt Schmoke, United States senators Barbara Mikulski and Paul Sarbanes, and many other elected officials. Glendening and Schmoke offered formal greetings to the new president prior to his installation, as did Massachusetts Institute of Technology president Charles Vest (a personal friend of Brody's), Western Maryland College president Robert Chambers, University of Maryland System chancellor Donald Langenberg and a half-dozen other representatives of the faculty, staff, students and alumni.
Before the greetings, the East Baltimore campus's Unified Voices Choir, under the direction of Gregory Branch, delivered a spirited rendition of "Climb Ev'ry Mountain" and "Wind Beneath My Wings." The multiracial gospel group in sky blue robes clogged the aisles and spilled across the stage in the crowded hall, and their sound was as big as their presence, garnering enthusiastic audience reaction.
After the formal greetings, members of the Peabody Symphony Orchestra, under the direction of Teri Murai, performed a musical interlude of three short pieces, including the world premiere of Peabody director Robert Sirota's A Baltimore Fanfare. The complex work echoed hauntingly through the hall from the musician's loft in the upper balcony and was greeted with warm applause.
Additional spectators to the event, unable to find seats in the Homewood campus's Shriver Hall, were able to watch the proceedings telecast live in nearby Arellano Theater. At the same time, an untold number of individuals from around the world could tune into the first-ever digitalized Internet broadcast of a university presidential inaugural by visiting the Brody home page on the World Wide Web.
Outside Shriver Hall, a small number of protesters from the Living Wage Campaign gathered, holding placards and passing out fliers.
President Brody's installation--the actual ceremony that took place in Shriver Hall--followed a long and rich tradition of formally recognizing the start of the university president's term of office. Seven of the university's 12 previous presidents-- beginning with founding president Daniel Coit Gilman--have been inaugurated on Feb. 22, which is celebrated as Commemoration Day, the anniversary of the founding of the university in 1876. Because of religious observances, Brody's installation took place a day later.
The installation ceremony was actually part of a much larger inaugural celebration that included--and will include--receptions for Brody hosted by each of the university's nine divisions. The first took place Feb. 5, when the president made his third official visit to the Applied Physics Laboratory since taking office at the beginning of the academic year. He was welcomed to the labs by director Gary Smith, the executive committee, department heads and their spouses.
During a tour conducted by Smith, Brody was briefed on image exploitation techniques that permit 150 to 200 times reduction, electronic transmission and full-size restoration of images. He was also shown 3-D micro-machinery devices, such as tiny medical tools, that must be used under a microscope, and heard about APL's quantum cryptography program, which is developing two-photon interferometry techniques for protecting coded messages during their transmission.
During a talk to APL's principal professional staff after his tour, Brody affirmed the need for APL's mission, saying "the university must participate in helping our government establish a strong national defense structure."
Brody noted APL's very important role in the part-time program at the Whiting School of Engineering, and asked for the lab's help in increasing the effect and reach of technology education. Noting APL's formal establishment of an Institute for Advanced Science and Technology in Medicine--and its teaming together with Hopkins Medical Institutions to work on projects-- the president said this "kind of collaboration will make Hopkins greater than the sum of its parts."
He emphasized that as the largest recipient of federal research funds, and as a vast repository of technology and technological experience, the university and APL have an obligation to stimulate new industries in the greater Baltimore-Washington area. "We will do everything we can to support the growth and development of the laboratory over the next decade," Brody declared.
The next week, the president visited the Paul H. Nitze School of Advanced International Studies in Washington, D.C., where he spoke on "Hopkins' Global Perspective" at a reception Feb. 13.
Noting how "the information age is transforming every aspect of our society, including the universities," Brody described what he called "the globalization of research" and the increased mobility of students seeking quality higher education around the world. These, he said, are key factors in the new outlook for American universities.
Corresponding to these changes, said Brody, is a need to "redefine Johns Hopkins University as a university not built around bricks and mortar, but rather, as a network of scholars in different places around the world with whom students can affiliate, and associate, and learn" for a lifetime.
Brody began the day by chairing a meeting of the SAIS academic board in which he particularly lauded the school's campuses in Nanjing, China and Bologna, Italy, as well as its joint-degree programs with other U.S. universities.
"We will find ways to collaborate interactively through electronic means, and it is that change in technology that is going to have a dramatic effect on how we reconfigure the university in the future," he said to a group of faculty, students and staff from SAIS.
A night of violation, violence and vengeance on Valentine's Day was the Peabody Institute's way of celebrating the new president's installation. Brody brought his wife, Wendy, and son, John, with him to enjoy the Peabody Opera Theatre's Feb. 14 performance of Mozart's Don Giovanni.
Singing the title role was Peabody student Chen-Ye Yuan, a native of the People's Republic of China and winner of the Gold Medal in the 1994 Tchaikovsky Competition in Moscow. Chen-Ye headed a cast of students from around the world, including Korean student Dae San No as his sidekick, Leporello.
Dr. Brody paid a backstage visit with the cast before taking his seat in Friedberg Hall for a performance that the Baltimore Sun review called "fresh and radiant."
The evening began with a reception in NationsBank Lounge, where students entertained with a few arias as a "taster" of what was to come. Later, Peabody director Bob Sirota presented Brody with the music to Schubert's Fantasie in f minor for Four Hands to symbolize the warm collaboration the institute enjoys with a Hopkins president who is also a classically trained pianist.
On Thursday, Feb. 20, the School of Continuing Studies sponsored a faculty forum in the Glass Pavilion on the Homewood campus to introduce the Brodys to many of the full- and part-time faculty members and their work.
Representatives from the Center for Technology in Education, the Police Executive Leadership Program and the Division of Business and Management, among others, attended and showcased their research and activities during a poster session before an official welcome by SCS dean Stanley Gabor.
"The ultimate goal of our school is to provide excellence in teaching and learning for adults who study part-time," Gabor told the faculty. "You are the heart of the academic enterprise."
Division of Education director Ralph Fessler said SCS researchers and staff are committed to the idea of career- and life-long learning. For that reason, new ideas are often explored.
"We're constantly striving to stay on top of what's happening in the region and in the nation," Fessler said. "As we look to the future, we can't stand still."
Brody also talked of the future, and changes that he believes will change the nature of education.
"What we call nontraditional is going to be traditional in the future," he said, citing distance learning and off-campus facilities. "Continuing Studies is the innovator to watch. The rest of Hopkins will learn from Continuing Studies."
The following afternoon, Brody toured an electronic poster session set up in Shriver Hall to showcase some of the high-tech research being conducted in the Whiting School of Engineering. Faculty members and students used computer terminals and videotape machines to give Brody and many other visitors a glimpse of their cutting-edge experiments.
Many of the demonstrations highlighted the use of new technology in medical applications. Several researchers showed how they are analyzing computer images of a beating heart to help physicians detect and treat cardiac ailments in their early stages. Another display focused on "PAKY," a surgical robot that inserts a needle quickly and accurately into a human kidney, helping urologists remove stones and perform other treatments.
Yet another electronic "poster" outlined an unusual new collaboration between the Department of Geography and Environmental Engineering and the School of Hygiene and Public Health. This research team will try to determine whether global climate changes have triggered an increase or decrease in the incidence and severity of certain diseases.
The researchers participating in the showcase ranged from full professors to graduate students and even an undergraduate. Senior Steve Crutchfield demonstrated "Zoom Lens," a software program he invented to magnify images on a computer screen.
Michael Karweit, a research professor in chemical engineering, showed how computers can be turned into "virtual laboratories," allowing students to tackle common engineering problems without the expense of maintaining a physical lab.
Taking part in Friday's electronic poster session allowed everyone--not just the president--to get a look at other research under way at the university. The next day, it was the university's mission of service that came under scrutiny.
When Brody, his wife, sister and brother-in-law arrived at the university's Safe and Smart Center for a tour of Baltimore's Waverly neighborhood on Saturday, one of the first things organizers did was scramble to find change for the parking meter on Greenmount Avenue.
"We really don't need for him to get towed," said Sylvia Eastman, Hopkins coordinator for community relations, "or get a ticket."
University vice-president and secretary Ross Jones provided the needed coins, and the group met with neighborhood activists, residents and members of the Hopkins Student Council inside the center before touring historic areas of the neighborhood and visiting some of the community projects happening there.
Pete's Grille, a neighborhood eatery known for its casual brunches and neighborhood atmosphere, was the first stop of the tour. "You see everybody from the mayor to ladies on welfare here at Pete's," Better Waverly Community Organization co-chair Sarah Begus told the Brodys. "It represents everything we like about Waverly. There's real diversity."
A special Waverly trolley transported the group of about 25 down Homestead Avenue and to 34th Street for a look at some of the older homes in the neighborhood, which was established in the late 1800s according to BWCO co-chair Paula Branch.
"My impression of the neighborhood was all the brick row houses," Brody said, as he walked past gingerbread homes. "I wasn't aware of all the Victorian architecture."
At the Waverly Family Center, residents told the Brody contingent how they had been helped by a variety of programs, including GED tutoring and parenting classes. Hopkins students, noted director Michelle Hughes, volunteer at the center to tutor each week. The president expressed his hopes to see more such partnerships between Hopkins and surrounding areas.
"We want to be good neighbors," he said to the audience of volunteers. "We value your participation."
Later that afternoon, he was to see further examples of Hopkins' community outreach when he visited students from Alpha Phi Omega, Hopkins' first co-ed service fraternity, who were busily making hundreds of peanut butter and jelly sandwiches for Our Daily Bread, a city soup kitchen.
In the same building, members of the Hopkins Athlete Mentoring Program, a group of varsity athletes who tutor and mentor fourth graders at the city's Dallas Nicholas Elementary School, put together colorful packages of homework aids for the youngsters they mentor.
The new president listened while, one by one, leaders of 30 campus volunteer groups--representing about 500 active student volunteers--introduced themselves and the group they represent. Brody was visibly impressed as students talked about their work as companions to AIDS patients, as tutors, mentors, workers for Habitat For Humanity and volunteers in shelters.
Students explained how they raise money to send American doctors to perform facial reconstruction surgery in Third World countries, or how they decontaminate used medical equipment at Johns Hopkins Hospital to send overseas to needy countries. All these groups are student-generated and student-run.
Later, Brody watched Boy Scout Troop #1, the first Hopkins-sponsored Boy Scout troop, receive its charter. Under the leadership of Hopkins senior and scoutmaster Chris Brown, the 12-member troop moved to the Homewood campus that week. With the help of enthusiastic Engineering faculty members and former boy scouts like Gary Ostrander and Doug Green, Brown hopes to draw boys into the troop from all over the city.
It was a tiring but exciting day in what Brody described as "the kaleidoscope of events" leading up to his installation. No doubt it helped inform his remarks before the hundreds of students, staff, faculty and friends of the university who turned out to hear him remind his audience that "all of us assembled here today are keenly aware of the legacy and accomplishments and unique character of this university.
"Hopkins is a place where new models are created to solve vexing problems," he said, "where a spirit of entrepreneurial adventure imbues our activities. It is a place where individual initiative is prized. Indeed, we can say that spirit is not only prized, it is expected, and this university has prospered greatly because of this tradition."
William Brody officially took office Feb. 23, committed to keeping that tradition intact.
Contributors to this article include: Ben Walker, Remy Nathans, Anne Garside, Christine A. Rowett, Leslie Rice and Phil Sneiderman
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