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A new window for learning
An anniversary bash to remember
Hospital workers stage strike
Pitching toward a major career
A splashy showing
Back to the beginning
A different route to medical school

A new window for learning

Call it a lantern of knowledge.

At night, the new Downtown Center of the School of Professional Studies in Business and Education (SPSBE) radiates light through three glass-enveloped stories, casting a glow over Baltimore's business district. Running around the outside of the building is a flashing Bloomberg News ticker, another tie to the surrounding business district.

"The glass opens up the building to the surrounding community and the community to the building," says Ralph Fessler, dean of SPSBE.

The new Downtown Center: A "sculptural beacon"
Photo by Alain Jaramillo
The new Downtown Center houses the school's business division, which includes the MBA program, as well as specialized programs in areas such as real estate, human resources, marketing, finance, and information systems.

Students are primarily working professionals, pursuing master's degrees on a part-time basis.

The new building at the corner of Charles and Fayette streets, which opened in January, replaces the one the school had been using and had outgrown, a few blocks north on Charles Street.

Architects Ziger/Snead of Baltimore kept the skeletal structure of the site's former building--which housed Hamburger's department store--and then wrapped it in glass. The result is what Steve Ziger, principal of Ziger/Snead, calls a "scaleless sculptural beacon"--a short building that can architecturally hold its own against its taller neighbors, including a 16-story granite-clad building designed by Mies van der Rohe.

Inside is approximately 35,000 square feet of classroom and office space. Beyond the three-story-high lobby are classrooms, conference rooms, a library, two computer labs, the 180-seat Jean and Allan L. Berman Auditorium, and two "MBA case-study rooms"--horseshoe-shaped classrooms with tiered seating and data and electric connections for each student.

The building is owned by Peter Angelos, an attorney best known as the majority owner of the Baltimore Orioles. He has expressed a desire to revitalize that area of the city, and has made financial contributions to support Hopkins programs. Fessler calls the new center "an integral part of the revitalization of the core of the downtown business district." --Barbara J. Kiviat '01

An anniversary bash to remember

A sellout crowd of 600 students, faculty, staff, and other guests packed Homewood's Newton H. White Athletic Center on February 18 to swing the night away. They twirled to the jazzy beat of live bands and received a little help perfecting their moves from dancing instructors. The swing dance was just one of many celebrations planned to fete the 125th anniversary of Johns Hopkins University. Two ongoing projects include the MSE Library exhibit "From Gilman to Greatness: 125 years of Hopkins History" and a far-reaching employee volunteer and community outreach campaign, "125 Ways of Caring."

Photo by Jay Van Rennselaer

Hospital workers stage strike

A group of Johns Hopkins Hospital employees staged a 25-hour strike on January 31 to protest low wages and pension plans for some 1,500 hospital employees who are members of the Service Employees International Union (SEIU).

The protest came about two weeks after a contract extension between Hopkins Hospital and SEIU members had expired. Despite efforts to negotiate a new collective bargaining agreement, no settlements had been made.

The union members (consisting mostly of nursing aides, supply assistants, and nutrition, environmental service, and facilities management workers), called for increasing the minimum Hopkins wage rate from $7.52 to $10 per hour, and improving pension plans.

"Two big concerns of mine for a long time have been workers' low wages and that they are not retiring on enough money to live," says Robert Moore, president of District 1199E-DC, SEIU.

Hospital spokesperson Gary Stephenson says Hopkins offers "a package competitive with industry standards," and remains committed to reaching a compromise. "We've attempted on numerous occasions to negotiate but the union has postponed and canceled meetings," says Stephenson. "They seem more interested in negotiating with the media."

The union scheduled another one-day strike for March 15. Other Baltimore area hospitals negotiating with the SEIU are Sinai and Greater Baltimore Medical Center. --Emily Carlson (MA' 01)

Pitching toward a major career

Former Hopkins baseball star John Christ '99 continues to progress through the minor leagues. As spring training opened for the 2001 season, Christ was in the Cleveland Indians' system, hoping to advance to the Class A Carolina League, which would be three steps up from where he started two years ago.

"I'm hoping to get on a full-season roster," says Christ. His two previous years had been spent in short-season leagues, so called because the teams play only 70 games. Short-season leagues represent one of the low levels of minor-league baseball. If Christ makes the Indians' farm team in Kinston, North Carolina, he will play a full 140-game season at the upper A level, three rungs down from the big-league team.

Christ had a good season last year, advancing from his first team, in Burlington, North Carolina, to the Mahoning Valley Scrappers, who play in the single-A New York-Penn League. As a relief pitcher, Christ appeared in 18 games, posting a 2-1 record with a fine earned-run average of 3.12. He struck out 27 batters in 26 innings.

"I need to become more consistent," Christ says, noting that he's working on off-speed pitches to complement his blazing fastball. When he played for Hopkins against Division III college opponents, he says, he'd typically face two or three good hitters in a nine-man lineup. In the minor leagues, he's finding four or five guys in the opposing lineup who can really hit, and that number will only increase if he's promoted to higher levels. Not that his confidence has waned. "Baseball is baseball," he says. "If you're good enough, it doesn't matter who you're facing."

"He always was a very competitive kid," recalls Hopkins baseball coach Bob Babb. "He always thought he should be the best player on the field. Most of the time he was."

Babb, who calls Christ the best he's ever coached at Hopkins, says, "He had a very strong arm, which was very resilient. He could pitch a lot and never seemed to have a sore arm. That's what makes him so attractive as a [big-league] pitching prospect: He can throw really hard every day. The Cleveland organization sees him as a prototypical closer that they can use every day for an inning or two and know he'll be ready again the next day."

Toiling in the low minor leagues is not easy: long bus rides, no days off once the season begins, bad meals, low pay for many players, and no guarantee that your career won't end tomorrow. "It's tough," Christ admits. "It's not a great lifestyle." This past off-season, he was able to apply his Hopkins engineering training (he graduated with a 3.49 GPA) by working for Florida Power, gaining engineering experience as he refined his pitching in anticipation of the upcoming season. "Baseball's only going to last so long," he says.

But the 23-year-old hopes that for him it lasts a good bit longer. --Dale Keiger

A splashy showing

The Hopkins men's and women's swim teams closed out fine seasons by each finishing second in the recent University Athletic Alliance (UAA) swimming and diving championships. The women's team went on to a best-ever fifth-place showing at the NCAA national championships in March.

For the second straight year, Stephanie Harbeson '03 garnered UAA swimmer of the year honors. At the UAA meet she won both the 200-meter and 500-meter freestyle, swam the anchor leg for the Blue Jays' first-place 800-meter freestyle relay, and placed second with two other relay teams. Her performances qualified her for the NCAA championships in five events. She set a UAA record in the 200 free; the 800 free relay also set a league record.

Seniors Lindsay Collins and Kris Lewis enjoyed parallel success. Both were named UAA divers of the year for women and men, respectively. Both won their respective one- and three-meter competitions, and both qualified for the NCAA championships. All told, 23 Hopkins swimmers and divers performed well enough to move on to the nationals. -- DK

Back to the beginning

As Charles Darwin knew, the surest way to understand the biological origin of species is to go to the original source--the animals.

The naturalist's famed journey on the HMS Beagle in the 1830s brought him to the Galapagos archipelago, a series of arid volcanic islands where his observations of the characteristics and behavior of finches would years later help him formulate his theory of evolution.

Hopkins undergraduate students in January 2001 followed the same scientific advice, visiting the Galapagos and the rainforest of Ecuador in an intersession field biology and ecology course held for the first time this year.

"In a true academic way, we are always taught to go to the original source. What better way to understand Charles Darwin than to go back and see what he saw, to go back to the beginning?" says Randy Brown, associate professor in comparative medicine and surgery at the School of Medicine.

Brown and Greg Ball, Hopkins psychology professor at the Krieger School of Arts and Sciences, led the group of 23 Hopkins students who paid $2,800 each in travel and other costs to take the weeklong course. Student majors ranged from international studies to neuroscience to economics.

During a sojourn in the Ecuadorian jungle, students met a local shaman (at right) and fished for piranha in the Cuyabeno River. Ball, who also teaches an animal behavior course at Homewood, gave a lecture on natural selection, telling the students about beak development in Darwin's famed finches (for instance, how beaks evolved to better grab seeds and crack them open or how birds with bigger beaks survived during droughts, bearing more offspring). Local guides helped them investigate the nursing behavior of sea lions, the eating habits of the land iguana, and the unusual hue of the elusive sea bird, the blue-footed booby.

"It's different than learning in a classroom," says Chris Nathasingh, a sophomore biomedical engineering major. "You can take in biology like a nature show. Only it's live."

Part of the course was to compare the ecology of the isolated animal laboratory of the Galapagos with the complex ecology of the rainforest. As Brown notes: "The Galapagos is like someone humming a tune, rather than standing full blast in front of an orchestra. In the rainforest, you are overwhelmed by the biological diversity of the floral and fauna."

Students spent a few days in the northern Ecuadorian jungle, where they stayed in a lodge one degree off the equator, met a local shaman, and took a river journey on 30-foot canoes, one of which dropped a motor into the Cuyabeno River. They fished for piranha and glimpsed five species of wild monkeys. They also traveled to the capital city of Quito in the Andes. In Quito, some got their first glimpse of third-world poverty. "We learned a lot about the culture," says Jessica Kraker, a senior in neuroscience. "It was sad to see the poorer kids, the little girls carrying babies around."

A central element of the course, according to Brown and Ball, was to give students a balanced view on the tug-of-war between a nation's economic needs and the desire to protect the environment. Such lessons became evident just before the trip, when Ecuadorian fishermen staged violent protests to recent fishing limits on the Galapagos, and after students returned to Baltimore, when an oil tanker spilled more than 150,000 gallons of diesel fuel into the pristine marine environment near San Cristobal, one of the islands visited by some of the students.

"It was terrible," Kraker says. "Some of the species live only on the Galapagos Islands. If they die, there are no more of them."

Says Brown, "Hopefully, students will fall in love with and help people protect these environments," That's why you teach. Maybe somebody will do something far bigger and better than you ever imagined." --Joanne Cavanaugh Simpson

A different route to medical school

Who says a former economics or philosophy major can't go to medical school? The new Hopkins Post-Baccalaureate Premedical Program is aimed at making just such a jump possible.

"This is the English major with a 3.9 who decides a couple years out that she wants to be a doctor, but doesn't have the organic chemistry," says Steev David, associate dean for academic affairs for the Kreiger School of Arts and Sciences. The 14-month-long program is designed for academically elite students who need the science and math courses required by medical school, says David. He anticipates the program will attract career changers, as well as more recent graduates.

The first class of about a dozen students is expected to enroll at Homewood this summer. The "post-bacs" will take many of their courses alongside Hopkins undergrads; after completing the program they'll have a "glide year" to take the MCATs and apply to medical school.

David Trabilsy, who left an assistant deanship of admissions at the School of Medicine to become director of the new program, says the Hopkins programs will join about 75 other post-bacc premed programs across the country. --BK

Return to April 2001 Table of Contents

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