The Johns Hopkins Gazette: February 23, 1998
Feb. 23, 1998
VOL. 27, NO. 23


John Chandler Hume, dean emeritus of Public Health, dies at 86

Rod Graham
School of Public Health
Johns Hopkins Gazette Online Edition

John Chandler Hume, professor emeritus of health policy and management and dean emeritus of the School of Public Health, died of pneumonia on Feb. 16. He was 86.

Hume, an international authority on venereal disease treatment and eradication, was born in Brooklyn, N.Y., on May 16, 1911, and had a distinguished career as a public health officer, practicing physician, educator and administrator. After receiving his undergraduate training in biology at Princeton University, he graduated from Vanderbilt University School of Medicine with an M.D. degree. He earned his M.P.H. and his Dr.P.H. degrees from the Hopkins School of Public Health.

Hume spent some time in private practice, then in the Commissioned Corps of the U.S. Public Health Service. During WWII, he was responsible for venereal disease control programs in the areas surrounding military bases and a shipyard near Wilmington, N.C.

In 1947, he joined the faculty of the School of Public Health and, from 1952 to 1955, served as chief of the Maryland Department of Health's venereal disease control program. In 1955, he left Hopkins to become medical director of the U.S. Health Mission to India.

He returned to the school in 1961 as professor and chairman of the Department of Public Health Administration, as well as associate dean of the school. He succeeded Ernest L. Stebbins as dean in July 1967.

During Hume's tenure, enrollment more than doubled, the budget increased threefold, and faculty increased by 20 percent. He oversaw the institution of the Masters of Health Sciences program in 1970, and the opening of the south and east wings in 1968.

Always outspoken for the causes he believed in, Hume took American physicians to task in 1975 for becoming lax in researching tropical diseases once such plagues as smallpox, cholera and typhoid were no longer a threat in the United States. He was also a tireless lobbyist for government-financed family planning programs and for a strong network of public health schools worldwide.

Upon his retirement in 1977, Hume was lauded for reestablishing the school's relationship with state and city health departments, revitalizing the link with the Eastern Health District and encouraging interdivisional cooperation. The north wing of the school was dedicated in his honor in June 1977.

"Dr. Hume was a committed faculty member and leader of the school," remembered Dean Alfred Sommer. "While illness kept him away more than he would have liked in recent years, he devotedly attended major events when he could and followed developments closely and with great pride."

Hume's three children remember with great fondness the lively dinner table discussions that were liberally sprinkled with his dry wit, remarkable puns and marvelous sense of irony. (His mother, however, would sometimes say, "I wish we could have just one dinner-table conversation without the subject of syphilis coming up.")

While in medical school, Hume met the former Amelia Elizabeth Brown on a blind date one Friday night. He proposed that Sunday, and they eloped two months later. They would have celebrated their 65th wedding anniversary this year. In speaking of him, his wife said, "John felt that, of all his accomplishments, teaching was the most important and enjoyable thing he ever did."

In lieu of flowers, donations may be made to the School of Public Health's John C. Hume Fund, which provides support for students. A private service will be held this week; a memorial service is planned for April 9 at 5 p.m. in the school's East Wing Auditorium.