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Setting the Standard for Maryland's Schools
Book Review: Of Love and Good Business
Shelf Life
Giving Voice to a Debilitating Disease
Preserving the Memories of Loved Ones Lost
Reaching Out to the Children of September 11
Constructive Capitalism: A New Initiative at SAIS
Peabody Alumni, for the Record
Alumni Council Reaches Out
Chapter Chatter
Distinguished Alumni Awards
Heritage Award

Nancy Grasmick, SPSBE '79 (EdD)
Setting the Standard for Maryland's Schools

Nancy S. Grasmick has been immersed for four decades in Maryland's most scrutinized institution, the public school system, and for the last decade she has been its chief. Still, when she needed a respite recently she drove from her downtown Baltimore office for yet another school visit. This was a special one, to Baltimore City's Windsor Hills Elementary--the school she attended as a child.

"It was wonderful when I attended," she says of P.S. 87. Her verdict after the visit? "It still looks wonderful."

Grasmick's 10-year tenure in the usually volatile post of superintendent of schools is bound up with the issues of reviving the state's most troubled school system, in Baltimore City, and, more globally, with an intensely debated testing program, the Maryland State Performance Assessment Program. The MSPAP is at the center of her efforts to measure schools' and students' achievement of established standards and hence to render education accountable to the citizenry.

Students throughout Maryland currently take the tests in the third, fifth, and eighth grades, and the program will soon be extended to include high school students. The MSPAP is designed to measure capacities for learning in the major subjects rather than simply retention. Students work on some problems in groups and answer in essays. "This is not just fill-in-the-bubble," says Grasmick. Performance is evaluated by school, rather than by the individual student, and state funds are allocated to schools that prove neediest. If improvement is still not forthcoming, the school comes under state intervention.

Nancy Grasmick makes more than 100 school visits each year. The testing system has drawn the ire of some teachers and parents, who argue that too much valuable instructional time is spent "teaching" to the test. And those who prize local autonomy of schools resent the idea of the state taking over poor performing schools.

But the program has earned plaudits, as well: The professional bible Education Week, in a massive evaluation of each state's school improvement efforts, found Maryland's first in standards and accountability. Grasmick was awarded the 2000 Harold W. McGraw Jr. Prize in Education, $25,000, "for her work in developing effective programs to improve teaching and learning at all levels." Texan Rod Paige, one of the two other 2000 winners, is now U.S. secretary of education.

When Grasmick recalls standardized tests in grade school-- "We were told to eat a good breakfast"--she harks back to a 1950s Baltimore school system that was prosperous and innovative, "a great system." But as she went on to what was then Towson State Teachers College and into teaching, she noted "a slipping of the standards, a disengagement of parents." Throughout the 1960s and '70s, Baltimore's economy weakened and its pay scales for teachers failed to compete.

In 1989, Maryland Governor William Donald Schaefer appointed another alumnus of P.S. 87, Baltimore civic leader Walter Sondheim Jr., to chair a commission on education reform. "Its report was visionary," making clear that Maryland, in its tradition of local autonomy, "didn't really have a statewide system," she says.

When Grasmick became superintendent in 1991 she used that report as her lesson plan. The drive for test-based accountability became an asset as she faced up to the continuing crisis of the Baltimore schools, which culminated in 1997 federal suits against the city system charging it was failing to provide an adequate education for city schoolchildren.

The result was a partial state takeover of the city schools, which Grasmick describes as "collaborative," in contrast to the "hostile" takeovers that other cities and states have experienced. Since then, $300 million in additional school aid has flowed to the city's poorest-performing schools, generally those in the poorest areas.

Grasmick acknowledges there are still plenty of needs unfulfilled, but contends that the city-state collaboration has gone a long way toward fulfilling her own standard: "No child should be denied a decent education by accident of where the child lives." --Lew Diuguid (SAIS '63)

Book Review:
Of Love and Good Business

In her fifth book, The History of the Wife, Marilyn Yalom, A&S '63 (PhD), chronicles the changing role of married women from Biblical times to the present. Given the enormity of changes in marriage and gender relations, readers might expect Yalom to focus on recent trends. In fact, the author devotes only the last chapter to the past 50 years. As Yalom shows, the previous 2,000 years trounce contemporary events in terms of progress and reversals.

Wives in Biblical times were the property of their husbands, and marriages were business deals transacted by the groom and the bride's father. In ancient Greece, the bride was not even present for the exchange of vows; her father pledged her hand. But within a few centuries, Roman marriages required the consent of the bride as well as the men in her life. Looking across the centuries, Yalom traces the legal evolution of marriage from a financial arrangement to a love match.

She tells fascinating stories along the way. Even famous women look different when examined in the role of wife. Anne Bradstreet, America's first poet, was a Puritan who nonetheless wrote passionate poems for her husband. Abigail Adams, wife of the second president, wrote letters to her husband encouraging him to keep women in mind as he helped shape the new country's laws.

Lesser-known women are every bit as interesting in their married lives. Take, for example, Katherina von Bora, a 16th-century nun who left the convent during the Reformation. (She and eight other nuns hid among herring barrels on a wagon to escape, against the will of their families.) Lacking a dowry, von Bora might have been unmarriageable, but she wed Martin Luther, the father of the Reformation. "What began as a match of convenience for both of them eventually turned into a marriage of love," Yalom writes.

Von Bora became mistress of the monastery at Wittenberg, which housed dozens of people, including the couple's six children. She ran the home as a business, complete with an orchard, a dairy, and a slaughterhouse. And she dealt with her husband's bouts of depression, which the couple hid from the public. Critics called her overbearing, but Luther praised her. "In domestic affairs," he said, "I defer to Katie. Otherwise I am led by the Holy Ghost."

Through such stories, Yalom examines the progress, incremental at times, of women's partnership role in marriage. Laws played a part, as women went from being property to legal entities who could own property. And she examines the history of divorce, from Hebrew husbands handing their wives a bill of divorce because "she finds no favor in his eyes" to today's no-fault divorces and rising divorce rate.

Yalom, a senior scholar at Stanford University's Institute for Research for Women & Gender, brought to the book the special knowledge of having been married to psychiatrist and writer Irvin Yalom (who completed his post-graduate fellowship in psychiatry at Hopkins in 1960) for 47 years. The couple, who met as teenagers and married eight years later, makes their home in Northern California. --Eileen Murphy

Shelf Life

The Bride's Kimono by Sujata Massey, A&S '86, HarperCollins (2001)
In a taut chase along the social seam between Tokyo and Washington, the bicultural heroine nearly gives her all in order to protect several kimonos entrusted to her for presentation at the Textile Museum in D.C. Baltimore makes a cameo appearance when her psychiatrist father, fearing for her sanity as she hems between lovers from East and West, counsels recuperation at Sheppard Pratt or Hopkins. --Lew Diuguid (SAIS '63)

Faith of Our Mothers, The Stories of Presidential Mothers from Mary Washington to Barbara Bush by Harold I. Gullan, A&S '53, William B. Eerdmans Publishing (2001)
The most recurrent characteristic of these mothers was their faith, not only in their sons but in the blessings of their religion, which they conveyed more often than not. Gullan also documents how little is known of 10 early mothers and how little has been written about any members of this critically influential cadre. --LD

Kim Snyder: a searing story to tell Kim Snyder, SAIS '86
Giving Voice to a Debilitating Disease

At first, Kim Snyder thought she had the flu. "It was Halloween--October 31, 1994--and I woke up in the morning with aches and pains and a low grade fever," says Snyder. At the time she was working in Baltimore as assistant to the producer on the Jodie Foster feature film, Home for the Holidays. "I thought a few days of this and I'll be fine." She soon returned to work, only to collapse during filming. Nine months later, Snyder was completely bedridden with an illness that her doctors were unable to identify. "It was like a horrible flu, but coupled with enormous pain," says Snyder. "I would lie in bed hunched in a fetal position for days on end."

Nearly a year after falling ill, she returned to Baltimore, where doctors at Hopkins Hospital were finally able to give her a diagnosis: chronic fatigue syndrome, or CFS, a little-understood disease sometimes disparagingly called the "yuppie flu," which is thought to affect as many as half a million Americans. Because researchers have been unable to isolate a cause or even precisely define the symptoms, CFS is medically controversial. Some physicians have denied the syndrome exists.

Snyder suffered three years of serious disability from her illness. Even today, more than seven years after it first appeared, she continues to feel aftereffects. Like about half of all CFS sufferers, she has very slowly gotten better but is still recovering. Yet even during the depths of her illness, the medical mystery of CFS and its surrounding controversy fascinated Snyder. "The storyteller part of me was intrigued. The more I learned, the more I wanted to tell people about it."

Eventually she went on to write, produce, and direct her first film, I Remember Me. The searing documentary examination of CFS from both a personal and societal perspective has won awards and recognition at film festivals in Denver, New York, and Sarasota, Florida. In November, the film opened for a limited engagement run in New York City and followed with openings in art-house cinemas across the nation.

Starting with a mysterious outbreak of a flu-like disease that afflicted more than 300 people in Lake Tahoe, Nevada, in the mid-1980s, Snyder's film explores how the illness was identified and subsequently disregarded by some in the medical profession. Although the Centers for Disease Control named the malady Chronic Fatigue Syndrome in 1988, critics contend the federal agency has been largely unresponsive to the illness. There has been relatively little research funding, and some of the funds appropriated were spent on other, unrelated projects, prompting a Congressional investigation. As Snyder moves from the historical context to the details of her own personal story, she captures the frustration and, at times, outright hostility that CFS groups feel toward the CDC and those researchers who dismiss the seriousness of the illness.

"I've tried to create a documentary that has the feel of a feature film," says Snyder of her directorial debut. "I like documentaries that have a story arc. I tried to give a feeling of someone who has somehow fallen into this world and feels compelled to investigate, almost like Homer's Odyssey."

Along the way, Snyder stops to interview film director Blake Edwards, who has suffered from CFS for many years. She visits a small town in Florida that may have had an outbreak of the disease in 1956, and talks to survivors who vividly recall the disease and how it affected their lives for years thereafter. Snyder even manages to track down and interview the young research scientist who was the CDC's chief investigator of the 1956 event, former Johns Hopkins School of Public Health dean D. A. Henderson, who recalls the concern he and other researchers felt in confronting what appeared to be an infectious disease, the cause of which could not be identified. In the last half of the film, she interweaves personal narrative and interviews with CFS patients with the story of Stephen Paganetti, a Connecticut teenager ill since the 10th grade who rides an ambulance to his high school graduation, which he attends lying flat on a gurney. His participation becomes, in effect, a celebration of the human will.

"What I think this film explores is the ability to create meaning and a sense of purpose in the midst of suffering," Snyder says. "When the name Chronic Fatigue Syndrome was coined it touched a raw nerve among many in the general population who feel themselves tired and overworked. It sounded as if a new disease had been created specifically as a way of letting some people step off the fast track. But in reality this is a terrible and painful disease that has an enormous impact on its sufferers, their families, and friends. I wanted to try to give them a voice. It's important for people not to be invisible in their suffering." --Mike Field

Alfred Feldman, Engr '78 (MS)
Preserving the Memories of Loved Ones Lost

Like many other survivors of the Holocaust, Alfred Feldman experienced the tragedy of September 11 in a very personal way. "There is a particular sense of loss when you are unable to find the remains," says Feldman, whose mother, sisters, and other relatives perished at Auschwitz.

"It bothers me a lot that people disappeared [in the Holocaust] and nobody knows about them. Most are completely lost. There's no memory, no nothing." As his own contribution Feldman has written a book, One Step Ahead: A Jewish Fugitive in Hitler's Europe, published in November by the Southern Illinois University Press. A chronicle of his family's flight from the Nazis through Vichy France into fascist Italy, it is the story of how he and his father survived the war that claimed the lives of their loved ones. "It's a memorial to my family," says Feldman, who in 1990 retired from his career in chemistry and computers at the National Institutes of Health. He spent the better part of the following decade researching and writing the book.

At the outbreak of the war, Feldman, his parents, and three sisters were living in Antwerp, where his father worked for a German ore company. In May of 1940, as Nazi storm troopers overran Belgium and the Netherlands, and Panzer divisions raced across France, the Feldmans fled first west, then south, sometimes only miles ahead of the invading armies. Eventually they made it to Montagnac, in the unoccupied part of France controlled by the Germans through the collaborationist Vichy regime of Henri-Philippe Petain. Part of a sizable contingent of Jewish refugees from all over Europe, the family was able to survive for a time tending vines and doing other agricultural work. But gradually more and more restrictions were placed on Jews, particularly refugees.

A young Alfred Feldman with his father, Joachim, in late 1945. Then, in August of 1942, word came that the government was rounding up the able-bodied men for deportation to work camps. Feldman went into hiding while his father, who was too sick to transport, and his mother and sisters remained home. A local farmer and his wife fed and cared for the young man for several days as he hid atop their concrete wine vat. He eventually returned home, only to discover that while the police had indeed spared his father they unexpectedly had taken his mother and sisters. He would never see them again. Many years later, he was able to find their names on a German manifest of a train transport that left Paris on September 11, 1942, and arrived in Auschwitz two days later. Of the more than one thousand deportees on board, only 13 survived the war.

Feldman and his father spent the next three years on the run, eventually making a perilous crossing of the Alps into Italy. In their efforts to avoid capture by the Nazis and Italian Fascists, he and other Jews were aided by the local peasants. The resistance of the Italian country people is something that until recently has received only scant attention. Feldman hopes his book will help illuminate some uncommon acts of bravery and kindness that literally saved his life.

Says the author, "If it had not been for other people, no one would have been saved." --Mike Field

Reaching Out to the Children of September 11

In early November, the widows of the six Hopkins alumni who were killed in the September 11 terrorist attacks on America received a letter of condolence from Richard McCarty, dean of the Krieger School of Arts and Sciences. McCarty offered his sympathy and support--and also extended an offer of full tuition Hopkins scholarships for the children (five in all, ranging from 1 to 8 years of age) of the men killed.

Faculty and staff are also contributing to a separate scholarship fund initiated by the dean, called the September Eleven Memorial Scholarship Fund. Faculty and staff are asked to make contributions, which will be matched by Krieger School monies. "What these six alumni [who died] had in common--both with one another and with us as Krieger School faculty and staff members--was their Hopkins experience," wrote the dean in a letter to all faculty and staff. "It seems appropriate, therefore, that a tribute to them would make that shared Hopkins experience accessible to other young people." --ER

Constructive Capitalism: A New Initiative at SAIS
by Bernard L. Schwartz, Chairman and CEO, Loral Space & Communications

As I spend time on college campuses, I find an anti-business bias among many faculty members. This bias is not universal, but general enough to be disturbing. The perception is that CEOs are committed only to the bottom line, are seemingly indifferent to the human cost of staff reductions and plant closings, avoid environmental issues in favor of profitability, and advocate for tax reductions over societal concerns. This picture is not representative of top business leaders I know.

There do exist in our society pockets of inequality, poverty, inadequate education, and poor health and environmental conditions. On the other hand, we have in recent years seen the creation of new industries, millions of new jobs, greater access to medical and educational benefits, and social justice as never before. And American businesses are certainly among the leading contributors to the progress.

Francis Fukuyama (left) and Bernard Schwartz, at SAIS To counter the prejudice against business, I believe our campuses should be exposed to a more balanced view--not an apologia or defense, but a fair and balanced debate leading to a sound national commitment to economic growth and social justice. And so I decided to establish the Forum on Constructive Capitalism and a professorship of political economy at the Johns Hopkins University Nitze School of Advanced International Studies.

Why did I choose SAIS?

No one solicited my support on behalf of the School. I sought out SAIS because I wanted to have an impact on our society, government, and the world economy. I chose SAIS for four reasons.

One is relevancy. SAIS is shaping the debate, it's part of the national debate. The school addresses real issues in real time. It is not a purely academic institution, but a world institution that's in the real world taking on real issues.

Second, SAIS is in the center of influence, the center of power: Washington, D.C. There's a strong relationship between SAIS and people in the government who are making policies. Graduates and faculty and former faculty are working there. They have access to centers of influence. Other graduate schools or think-tanks are not as well positioned. The relationship that SAIS has to the center of power is a very important differentiator.

Third, SAIS has a world vision--an integrated global and national view, leading to insights based on actual experience.

And last, there is an aura of excellence, not only about Johns Hopkins but about SAIS. The Nitze School is a first-class performer on the stage of excellence.

When you put those elements together, I see a difference between SAIS and almost every other like institution around the country. I came to SAIS because I wanted to have an impact. I came because SAIS has something of great value to offer.

Reflections on Capitalism and Globalization

"Democracy and free markets will continue to expand over time as the dominant organizing principles for much of the world," according to Francis Fukuyama, the Bernard L. Schwartz Professor of International Political Economy at SAIS and author of the international best-seller The End of History and the Last Man. "Modernity is a very powerful freight train that will not be derailed by recent events, however painful and unprecedented," he wrote recently in the Wall Street Journal.

Fukuyama, who joined the SAIS faculty in 2001, a year earlier inaugurated the Forum on Constructive Capitalism with a discussion of globalization's relationship to social capital, defined as the ability of people to cooperate in groups based on their sharing of common norms and values. The forum has also featured:

Newsweek International editor Fareed Zakaria on the extent to which globalization means Americanization;

Robert Sidelsky, British economist and biographer of John Maynard Keynes, on aspects of the social market economy approach to public policy; and

Peruvian economist and best-selling author Hernando de Soto on why capitalism thrives in the West and fails elsewhere in the world.

Bernard Schwartz, whose generous support led to the creation of both the forum and the Schwartz Professorship at SAIS, said at the inaugural lecture: "It is important for Americans to understand that we are not out to win over the world but--hopefully--to bring better progress to it and to our country as well."

Peabody Alumni, for the Record

When Peabody alumnus George Steiner harks back to the days when women first joined the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra, he chuckles and notes that the biggest concern was, "My God, what will they wear?" Steiner, Peab '38, '40 (MM), shared his reminiscences recently with Peabody Institute archivist Elizabeth Schaaf, who is collecting Peabody oral histories for a new project, Homecoming.

Homecoming is the brainchild of Schaaf and the Steering and Homecoming Committees of the Peabody Alumni Council. At a meeting last year, members of the Peabody Alumni Steering Committee mourned the recent loss of an elderly alumna.

"We were talking about how sad it was that we didn't get a chance to record her memories and stories," says Deborah Kent, Peab '94 (DMA), chair of the Steering Committee. The project will record the memories of alumni selected jointly by Schaaf and the Alumni Council. Interviewers include Schaaf and a handful of trained alumni volunteers, including Kent.

Archivist Elizabeth Schaaf is described by Peabody Director Robert Sirota as "the keeper of our collective experience and soul."
Photo by John Davis
"You can talk to almost anybody who's been around Peabody and get a great story," says Kent, "and a different version of that story," she adds with a laugh. "Homecoming is our attempt to reach out and preserve all these stories, and it will go on as long as we can find people with interesting ones to tell."

When asked about anti-German sentiment in the music world during World War II, Irving Cooperstein, Peab '34, SPSBE '41, said, "The only contact I had with Germans in those days was when we did The Messiah with a German singing society. In those days about a third of the orchestra was Jewish. We came into the hall for rehearsal with one of these [German] groups, we sat down, and we saw a swastika hanging down over the choral terrace among all these flags. At that, Gittleson, who was the concertmaster and a very fine violinist, he just got up and walked out. We all walked out."

These tales of societal strife, of pivotal historical moments (like racial integration, for instance), are only part of what Homecoming will collect and preserve. The other aspect of the project looks toward the future, with interviews with recent alumni that will explore the transition from student to professional.

Two hundred years from now, historians will have a firsthand account of 21st century Baltimore, Peabody, music, and education, all through the lives of a handful of alumni who participate in the project. --ER

Shane Pak, A&S '91, Idy Iglehart, Med '83, and Raquel Silverberg, A&S '92, dig into a pile of crabs at the fall meeting of the Alumni Council. Alumni Council Reaches Out

The Johns Hopkins Alumni Council includes 150 people from every division of the University and nearly 30 states. The group's mission: to promote the welfare of the University, broaden and sustain friendships among its alumni, and stimulate alumni interest in Johns Hopkins.

Council members, who serve for up to two consecutive three-year terms, meet on the Homewood campus one weekend each October.

"We started out as a by-alumni-for-alumni organization, but now we're expanding, reaching out to students, who are our future alumni," says Council President Idy Iglehart, Med '83. Last year, the Council awarded nearly $40,000 in grants to student groups for projects ranging from community outreach programs to Breast Cancer Awareness Day to the prestigious Milton S. Eisenhower Symposium.

In March, Iglehart and Fritz Schroeder, executive director of alumni relations, will convene the first Johns Hopkins European Alumni Leadership Conference in Brussels. --ER

Chapter Chatter
Focus: Chicago Chapter

In early December, 30 Johns Hopkins alumni and guests attended the Van Gogh and Gauguin exhibit at the Art Institute of Chicago. Hugely popular, the exhibit appeared nowhere else in the United States.

The Chicago Chapter can add this event to a long list of smash hits in its recent past, including a dinner lecture last spring with Hopkins Associate Dean Steven David discussing Middle East issues; the sell-out Hopkins Day at Wrigley Field, where the Cubs defeated the Mets; and the popular annual Student Send-off party.

For information about upcoming events in Chicago, send an email to

Quick Facts: Chicago Chapter
Number of . . .
Hopkins alumni in the Chicago area 1,460
Nursing alumni 48
Former Blue Jay lacrosse players 8
Former Blue Jay football players 20
Distinguished Alumnus Award winners 2
Nobel Prize winners 1
Professors 51

Distinguished Alumni Awards

Recognizes personal, professional, or humanitarian achievement

Morton M. Mower, A&S '55, a renowned cardiologist, co-invented the implantable cardiac defibrillator, first used at Hopkins. He served on the Hopkins faculty for 20 years and at Sinai Hospital as chief of cardiology. He now heads his own research firm and consults on the design of cardiovascular devices.

Robert B. Welch, Med '53, has been an esteemed ophthalmologist with the Wilmer Eye Institute and School of Medicine faculty for more than 40 years. During that time he has substantially advanced clinical diagnosis and surgical treatment of eye disorders. He recently published a 400-page history of the Wilmer Institute, The Wilmer Ophthalmological Institute, 1925-2000, The First 75 Years.

Heritage Award

Recognizes outstanding service to the Johns Hopkins University

Albert G. Laverty, Engr '53, is a generous advocate for Johns Hopkins and its Whiting School of Engineering. He is a charter member of the Society of Engineering Alumni, has hosted Hopkins events in the Houston area, and serves on the executive committee of the University's Alumni Council.


Alumni awards are presented to alumni and friends at events throughout the year.

Return to February 2002 Table of Contents

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