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Alumni News

Editors: Jeanne Johnson, Philip Tang, A&S '95
Contributing Writer: Lew Diuguid, SAIS '63


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Jim Muller, Med '69: First Peace, Then Justice
Engineering Her Lucky Break
Shelf Life
Ed Seigenfeld, A&S '58: And He's Off
Karin Caifa, A&S, Peab '00: Covering the Candidate
Overcoming Obstacles to Academic Achievement
SOBA Gearing Up for 10th Anniversary
In the News...
Alumni Around the United States: A Sampling of Upcoming Alumni Events
Come Away with Us

Jim Muller, Med '69: First Peace, Then Justice

As a first-year medical student at Johns Hopkins in 1965, Jim Muller read a book that changed his life. The topic was nuclear weapons. The author was Hopkins psychiatry professor Jerome Frank. And the book, Sanity and Survival, was a cold-eyed analysis of the Cold War stand-off that posited the likely annihilation of the human race.

Photo Illustration by Kathy Vitarelli "I thought, 'My God, the world's going to blow itself up,'" Muller says. "I had never thought that much about the nuclear arms race, but it was clear that we needed to have contact with the Russians to find peaceful ways of working with them."

So began a lifetime of activism for Muller, a Boston-based cardiologist, who has taken on two fortresses of centralized power — the nuclear arms establishment and the Roman Catholic Church — and demonstrated the transcendent power of the individual.

Soon after reading Frank's book, Muller attended a lecture by Russell Nelson, then-president of Johns Hopkins Hospital, describing a tour of the Soviet Union and its hospitals. Muller, who had learned Russian as an undergraduate at Notre Dame, devised a plan. "I went to Russell Nelson's office — I was a first-year student, but he made time to see me — and I told him, 'I heard your lecture, I speak Russian, and I want to improve relations with Russia and the U.S.'"

Nelson steered Muller toward an exchange program that enabled him to study in the Soviet Union for six months. While in Moscow, Muller learned that Russian doctors opposed the arms race just as vociferously as American doctors. "They knew you couldn't win a nuclear war," Muller says. "But politicians from both sides were talking about winning a nuclear war."

Despite their shared views, Muller and his Russian counterparts weren't prepared to take a political stand in 1969. Their time came in 1980 when, Muller says, "I thought maybe we could unite with the Russian doctors to make a public statement."

While an associate at Brigham and Women's Hospital in Boston, Muller teamed up with several other doctors from around the world, including Bernard Lown, Med '45, to found International Physicians for the Prevention of Nuclear War. The group's goal was to make such a convincing case for the catastrophic health consequences of nuclear warfare as to render the nuclear option unthinkable. And their success was such that in 1985 they won the Nobel Peace Prize for their efforts. Today, the organization remains strong with a force of some 200,000 members in at least 58 nations.

Muller resigned his position as secretary in 1984, content with his contributions and confident that his days of grassroots activism were behind him. But in January 2002, when a scandal erupted in his own backyard, he couldn't remain silent. Accusations of sex abuse within the Catholic Church revealed concerted efforts by church leaders to protect priests suspected of child molestation. The white-hot center of the scandal was Boston, where revelations of Cardinal Bernard Law's handling of molestation charges against priest John Geoghan rocked the nation.

"I couldn't believe that an institution would cover up child sex abuse," says Muller, who holds honorary degrees from five Catholic colleges. "We still went to church, but it wasn't the same church. We didn't know what to make of things, and we wanted to talk about it with other lay Catholics."

In January 2002, Muller formed a discussion group at his church in Wellesley, which took the name Voice of the Faithful as it gained strength. "It grew explosively, even exponentially," Muller says. "Our first meeting had 40, and then 80, and the next 160. Pretty soon, there were thousands of people on our weekly e-mail report."

Vowing to "keep the faith, change the church," Voice of the Faithful pressured Law to resign, which he did in December 2002. The group now numbers 25,000 and is determined to carve out a more substantial role in church life for the laity — who, Muller says, "represent 99.9 percent of the church."

As chair of Voice of the Faithful's board of trustees, Muller finds himself leading a global movement once again. With more than 60 million Catholics in the United States — half of whom indicate support for Voice of the Faithful's goals — Muller and his colleagues are optimistic they can effect long-lasting change.

In March, Muller and co-author Charles Kenney published a book titled Keep the Faith, Change the Church (Rodale Press), which Muller hopes will galvanize the movement. "I think the scandal changed everybody's relationship to the church," he says. "Most people have a new reality to contend with, whether they've left the church, are thinking of leaving, or thinking of staying. Voice of the Faithful has made that reality easier to accept because they can see a way to fix it."

After almost four decades of activism, Muller himself is the embodiment of that one empowering idea: seeing a way to fix it.
— Jeff Labrecque, A&S '95

Engineering Her Lucky Break

It's not every engineer who gets asked by an eager fan for an autograph. But not every engineer steps out of school and into the stage lights.

That's exactly what Kaisha Askins did when she decided to pursue a singing career just one month after earning her engineering degree from Hopkins in 2002. As an electrical engineer, she had always been interested in music production. She was preparing to major in Recording Arts and Sciences at Peabody when her friend, the bassist for new rhythm-and-blues singer Vivian Green, invited her and another friend to sit in on a rehearsal session. "Vivian explained she had been looking for singers to perform with her and asked us to sing a chorus," Askins says. "She liked our blend and asked the two of us to join her as background singers. The classic right-place-right-time story."

Kaisha Askins (right) on stage Since then, Askins has been touring with Green across the United States and Europe, appearing with R&B artists such as Maxwell, Musiq Soulchild, Chaka Khan, and Aretha Franklin on several national TV programs including The Tonight Show with Jay Leno.

Through it all, Askins also manages to direct the gospel choir at McDonogh School in Baltimore and is pursuing a solo music career.

Askins was a veteran of some 36 concerts with Green when, one night in Atlanta, a fan asked for her autograph. In that moment, the reality sank in for the first time that she was living her dream.

As for engineering, she says, "I do intend to return to my engineering roots by incorporating my skills into recording engineering and production."
— Jeanne Johnson

Shelf Life

Roots of Hate: Anti-Semitism in Europe before the Holocaust, by William I. Brustein, SAIS '71 (MA), Cambridge University Press (2003).
The data is painful and relentless in this detailed analysis of the religious, racial, economic, and political bases of anti-Semitism.

The Claims of Kinfolk: African American Property and Community in the Nineteenth-Century South, by Dylan C. Penningroth, A&S '97 (MA), '00 (PhD ), University of North Carolina Press (2003).
How did the dispossessed look upon property? Slaves brought an African outlook, and kinship was key. In the American South, slave holders imposed their own practices on this familial approach to property holding.

The Way Home, a Novel, by Robert Earle, A&S '79 (MA), DayBue (2003).
This is family life as lived by a precocious teen — involving a grandfather of few words but nuclear influence, parents who threaten to split, and a brief stay in a Quaker school back east. Drugs and sex saunter through, yet a concern for the aged takes precedence.
— Lew Diuguid, SAIS '63

Ed Seigenfeld, A&S '58: And He's Off

Every year, on the first Saturday in May, the Kentucky Derby starters make their way to the track. Their lean legs twitch with latent power while a worldwide audience watches in anticipation. Then the grandstand crowd rises, and the band begins to play "My Old Kentucky Home."

Weep no more, my lady,
Oh weep no more today!
We will sing one song for the old Kentucky home,
For the old Kentucky home far away.

When Ed Seigenfeld hears that music swell, it puts a lump in his throat. "And I'm not even from Kentucky," says the no-nonsense New York City native.

For Seigenfeld, executive vice president of Triple Crown Productions, the company that produces the three horse races, nothing compares to the Derby. "There's such a sense of tradition and Americana," he says. "It's the hardest day of the year for me, but it's also the most fun."

Photo courtesy of Ed Seigenfeld After graduating from Hopkins with a degree in political science, Seigenfeld was looking ahead to a career in law. But shortly after enrolling in law school at NYU, he got a part-time job with NBC that introduced him to the world of entertainment. It wasn't long before he packed his bags and headed west, where a job in advertising and marketing awaited him at NBC's studio in Burbank, California. Eventually, he decided to make the leap from TV to motion pictures. In 1968 he returned to New York, where he spent the next 13 years working as an executive for Paramount Pictures, Allied Artists, and United Artists, with responsibility for advertising, promotion, and publicity for films including such blockbusters as Francis Ford Coppola's Apocalypse Now, Bob Fosse's Cabaret, several James Bond films, Woody Allen's Manhattan, and nearly 100 others.

Seigenfeld was happily ensconced in the motion picture business in 1981 when he took a call from a recruiter looking for a high-powered sports marketer. That led to a job as a marketing vice president with the New York Racing Association, and later, Triple Crown Productions in Louisville, Kentucky. Now in his 14th year at Triple Crown, Seigenfeld oversees marketing and commercial sponsorship for three of the most prominent races in thoroughbred horseracing.

Ed Seigenfeld (right) at the races with New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg, Engr '64
Photo courtesy of Ed Seigenfeld
All three races are packed into an intense five-week stretch in the spring, beginning with the Kentucky Derby in early May, followed two weeks later by the Preakness Stakes in Baltimore, and then three weeks later by the Belmont Stakes in Long Island, N.Y. One of Seigenfeld's primary responsibilities is to manage the Triple Crown's relationships with its corporate and media sponsors, Visa and NBC.

Despite his immersion in the marketing, operational, and business details, come Derby day, Seigenfeld is just as susceptible to the magic of the spectacle as the fans filling the grandstands.

"There's such a beauty to the game and the horses," he says, "that sometimes I can forget it's a business."
— JJ

Karin Caifa, A&S, Peab '00: Covering the Candidate

When Karin Caifa says she had a 9-to-5 job, she means from 9 a.m. to 5 the next morning.

Nights long on work and short on sleep were the norm since last summer, when MSNBC tapped Caifa for an experiment in presidential campaign reporting. The cable news network hired her and eight other cub reporters to cover the campaigns of each of the nine leading Democratic presidential candidates — solo.

Caifa was assigned randomly to U.S. Rep. Dennis Kucinich (D-Ohio). And every night, after a full day of tracking his every move, Caifa returned to her hotel or found a nearby Starbucks, where she produced video feeds and written reports for MSNBC.

For Karin Caifa, covering the Kucinich campaign was a "hardcore political dream come true." Caifa was "definitely a one-woman show," she says — lugging nearly 30 pounds of equipment wherever she went, including a laptop computer, camera, tripod, battery chargers, tape recorder, two cell phones, a pager, and wireless microphones.

Despite the grueling schedule and the — quite literally — heavy demands of the job, Caifa loved it. She had been selected from a pool of 50 qualified candidates, which was narrowed to 18, and finally to nine. "It felt a bit like American Idol," recalls Caifa, who was ecstatic to learn last July that she was among the chosen few. "I didn't want to be on the sidelines during the 2004 campaign," she says. "For me, this was a hardcore political dream come true."

A native of Wallkill, New York, Caifa admits to being a political news junkie. She traces her passion for politics to childhood visits to The New York Times, where her grandfather worked as a printer. Since earning her dual degrees in international studies (A&S) and clarinet performance (Peabody), Caifa has taken every opportunity to steer her career on a political path. She worked as a reporter and editorial assistant for Congressional Quarterly in Washington, D.C., and as a news associate for CNBC's Capital Report.

Then came the MSNBC opportunity. Along with her fellow "campaign embeds," Caifa attended a boot camp of sorts last summer, where she received technical and political training, as well as journalistic insights from Tom Brokaw, Chris Matthews, and other NBC news veterans.

Once released into the field, it didn't take long for Caifa to get acquainted with Kucinich — in large part because she was the only reporter covering him on a regular basis. While Kucinich was in Iowa, Caifa rode with him in a minivan, and the two discussed everything from foreign policy to Britney Spears' brief January marriage.

And she always kept her camera at the ready. "You never know what's going to happen next," she says. Her persistence paid off in November when she captured exclusive footage of Kucinich and Time magazine columnist and CNN commentator Joe Klein in a heated confrontation over the candidate's exclusion from CNN's post-"Rock the Vote" coverage and his position on the war in Iraq.

She was there for the campaign's lighthearted moments as well, such as the premiere performances of the Kucinich Polka and Kucinich Eats His Spinach, written and performed by devoted political fans.

"It's a very musical group," Caifa says, recalling another concert — this one in Texas organized by the campaign and featuring Willie Nelson, who endorsed Kucinich — as well as a Washington, D.C., reception at which Kucinich launched an impromptu sing-along of This Little Light of Mine.

Caifa's colleagues who covered the more prominent candidates didn't have that kind of one-on-one access. But that's not the only difference between Kucinich's campaign and those of the higher-profile Democrats such as John Kerry (D-Mass.) or Howard Dean. "There are few political operatives in Kucinich's campaign," Caifa says. "Everyone's there because they like him. It's a very grassroots, no-frills campaign." Although Caifa harbors no illusions of Kucinich winning the nomination, she predicts he'll remain in the race as long as he can. (As of press time, he was still in.) "Kucinich is very stubborn," she says, "but I think there's a time when he'll have to pack it in."

MSNBC pulled Caifa off the campaign in March after Kerry all but won the Democratic nomination. Says Caifa, "I am going to be kicking around NBC News until they figure out exactly what to do with me next — the predicament of all embeds once their candidate departs."

But chances are, she'll stick to political reporting, even if it means the long nights continue. "This is what I want to be doing, and that's what keeps me going," Caifa says. "I'll sleep in November."
— Marlene England

Overcoming Obstacles to Academic Achievement

Asia Caldwell, 14, is the oldest of four children born to a teenage mother in Brooklyn. She's a study in motion: helping care for her siblings, playing the piano, drawing portraits, participating in an early-prep program for high schoolers interested in studying law, and excelling in an advanced math-science program at Brooklyn Tech, one of New York City's top public schools.

Besides all that, Asia finds the time and energy to partake of academic enrichment opportunities through Johns Hopkins' Center for Talented Youth (CTY), where she participates in summer academic programs and business mentoring. As an academically gifted African American from a low-income household, Asia exemplifies the type of student the recently launched Next Generation Venture Fund was created to help.

Established jointly by the Goldman Sachs Foundation, Johns Hopkins, and Duke University, the fund is an investment initiative designed to support young people from underrepresented backgrounds who have demonstrated high potential for succeeding in professional careers or in other leadership capacities.

"The Goldman Sachs Foundation has helped CTY create a program that finds students who for so long have gone under the radar," says CTY Executive Director Lea Ybarra. "The foundation's support lends a gold seal of confidence to this new effort as CTY seeks additional donors to help extend a proven model."

The fund is seeking investment from companies, foundations, and individuals that will enable it to offer a rigorous program of academic, personal, and social enrichment to qualifying middle- and high-school students. An investment of $18,000 in one student covers a five-year program including individualized education planning and counseling; advanced and college-level courses focusing on analytical, quantitative, writing, and reasoning skills; summer school programs on a participating college campus; a peer network of talented students to foster a culture of achievement; and career and leadership development programs to encourage professional aspirations.

"African Americans and Hispanics account for nearly one-third of the college-age student population — and their numbers are growing — but too many talented young people from minority and disadvantaged backgrounds are unable to access the enrichment and support opportunities which lead to high achievement," says Stephanie Bell-Rose, president of the Goldman Sachs Foundation.

In June of 2003, the U.S. Supreme Court struck down an admissions process at the University of Michigan that assigned points based on minority status. However, it reaffirmed diversity as a compelling interest, favorably citing outreach programs aimed at attracting students from disadvantaged backgrounds. In the wake of that decision, the fund provides an avenue for attracting students from such backgrounds who demonstrate the potential to succeed at selective institutions.

In 2000, the Goldman Sachs Foundation and Johns Hopkins initiated a pilot program that has promoted the academic achievement of 400 middle- and high-school students from the nation's urban centers and remote rural communities. These students have realized significant achievement gains, including higher grade-point averages and higher rates of enrollment in honors and advanced-placement courses. The first cohort from the pilot initiative has come of age, and its members are spread among such distinguished institutions as Amherst, Georgetown, MIT, Pennsylvania, and Wesleyan.

"This is a substantial accomplishment for students who come from families of modest means living in hard-pressed communities," says Ybarra.

Backed by its three partners, the Next Generation Venture Fund is scaling up the CTY pilot initiative. With additional investment from companies, foundations, colleges, and universities, the fund expects to see a dramatic increase in the number of participating students.

"Companies and universities alike share a need for talent," says John C. Whitehead, chairman of the Goldman Sachs Foundation. "And though they compete on many levels, collaboration of the type envisioned by the Next Generation Venture Fund is a more productive and effective approach to developing our next generation of leaders."

For information on how to invest in the fund, call 410-516-0097.

SOBA Gearing Up for 10th Anniversary

Ten years ago, Henry Boateng, A&S '93, SPH '99, and some fellow students formed the Johns Hopkins Society of Black Alumni (SOBA) to support the university's black graduates and provide black students with alumni mentors and career contacts. Reflecting on the past decade, current SOBA President Robert Clayton, A&S '84, says he's "tickled, considering how far we've come."

Clayton cites the SOBA Professorship for Prominent Scholars as the group's crowning achievement. The professorship, funded by a $2 million endowment, will be part of a new Presidential Professorship program that will enable the university to move quickly to recruit outstanding and nationally prominent professors, including African-American scholars and scientists, when the opportunity arises. SOBA is well on its way to achieving its fund-raising goal, says Clayton.

SOBA President Robert Clayton, A&S '84; Hopkins President William R. Brody; and Maryland Lt. Gov. Michael Steele, A&S '81
Photo by Robert Smith
Besides raising money, SOBA has a history of raising awareness. The society started in 1993, when Henry Boateng was outraged that the Milton S. Eisenhower Library's Black History Month exhibit showcased a white abolitionist and left blacks out. Boateng, who was president of the Black Student Union, led a protest that prompted the exhibit's removal. University leaders, including then-president William Richardson, sat down with Boateng and other BSU leaders to address their grievances.

At the outset, the students put top priority on Hopkins' lack of black studies and black faculty. Later, they expanded their agenda to address other concerns, including the need for an organization to support black alumni. Reaching out to the university's Alumni Relations Office, Boateng found a receptive partner. Together, they formed a steering committee that, a year later, created SOBA.

Since its first meeting, SOBA has focused on the need for more black faculty. In 2001, the group announced plans to establish the SOBA Professorship. Two years later, during last fall's Alumni Council leadership weekend, Clayton announced that fund-raising had progressed to the point that recruiting for a professor was imminent. The professorship will work as a rotation: Once the first scholar is selected, he or she will be offered the title of SOBA Professor for a set period of years. At the end of that term, the professor will continue as faculty, with his or her department assuming responsibility for funding, and the SOBA Professorship will be offered to another scholar. As this process progresses, SOBA will generate opportunities for generations of Hopkins faculty and students.

Clayton takes pride in the professorship but credits others with "all the hard work" — including executive committee members from over the years and past presidents Tony Coles, A&S '82; Steve Eaddy, A&S '78; and Loren Douglass, SAIS '95.

What's next for SOBA? "My goals are to increase and solidify SOBA's membership and develop its next generation of leaders," Clayton says. "And I want to lay the foundation for a second professorship."

In the News...

Peabody alumnus Dominick Argento, '50, joined the ranks of Grammy Award winners, including stars like Beyoncé and Outkast, at February's 46th Annual Grammy Awards. Argento, a winner in the Best Classical Contemporary Composition category, was honored for his composition Casa Guidi, recorded by mezzo-soprano Frederica von Stade and the Minnesota Orchestra under the direction of Eiji Oue.


The Wall Street Journal published a December 2003 interview with Battalion Logistics Officer Charlotte Millard, A&S '01, on what it's like to be a woman in charge of dozens of soldiers, the majority of whom are men. Millard is a third generation Hopkins grad; she works out of the Al Asad Airbase in Iraq.


Ronald R. Luman, Engr '86, has been appointed head of the Joint Warfare Analysis Department at Johns Hopkins Applied Physics Laboratory.

Previously, Luman worked for 21 years in APL's Strategic Systems Department, serving as group supervisor and program area manager. His experience includes working as a technical adviser on strategic missile systems, and also working as chief analyst for the Joint Countermine Advanced Concept Technology Demonstration with the Office of Naval Research.

Alumni Around the United States: A Sampling of Upcoming Alumni Events

Reunion/Homecoming 2004
April 29-May 2
April 23-25
School of Professional Studies in Business and Education
April 29 & May 1

Atlanta Chapter
Tuesday, May 4
Reception and lecture with professor of constitutional law Joel Grossman

Baltimore Chapter
Tuesday, April 20
Senior alumni luncheon lecture, "The Angry Red Planet," with astronomy professor Timothy Heckman

Chicago Chapter
Wednesday, April 14
Journalist-in-residence Don Oberdorfer on "The United States and North Korea: The Crisis Ahead"

Florida Suncoast Chapter
Saturday, May 22
Lunch and lecture at the Mote Marine Laboratory with assistant provost Gary Ostrander

Florida Southeast Chapter
Sunday, May 23
Lunch and lecture at the Miami Seaquarium with Gary Ostrander

New York Chapter
Tuesday, May 4
Professor Steven David to lecture at the Harvard Club of New York on the Arab-Israeli conflict

North Carolina Chapter
Tuesday, May 18
Dinner, film, and discussion of Partners of the Heart with Dr. Merel Harmel

North Texas Chapter
Saturday, April 24
JHU vs. Navy lacrosse telecast at Ben's Half Yard House

San Diego Chapter
Saturday, May 8
The Ahn Trio performs at the Poway Center

San Francisco Chapter
Tuesday, June 1
Director of China Studies David Lampton on U.S.-China relations at the Marines' Memorial Club

Seattle Chapter
Thursday, May 20
Orioles vs. Mariners baseball

Washington, D.C. Chapter
Friday, May 14
Lecture and screening of Rear Window at the AFI Silver Theater with associate director of film and media studies Linda DeLibero

Come Away with Us

The Johns Hopkins alumni travel program is one of the most popular services offered by the Alumni Association, each year taking hundreds of alumni, their families, and friends to destinations around the world.

The program offers trips to satisfy every interest, taste, and budget. Golf fans, for example, can take the ultimate golf vacation by attending the 133rd British Open Championship at Scotland's revered Royal Troon — and even play five rounds on the legendary links layouts of Scotland, Ireland, and England. During the 10-day trip, sightseers can explore Dublin, the Albert Dock, the Burns National Heritage Park, and take a trip aboard the M/S Clipper Adventurer.

If golf isn't your thing, perhaps opera is. The Alumni Association is offering a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to see the first-ever open-air staging of Georges Bizet's Carmen in Seville, Spain. Amphitheatres have been created as sets in four of the city's most beautiful sites, and audience members can stroll or take horse-drawn carriages between venues as the opera's action unfolds. Local vendors will offer refreshments along the way as the audience heads to the Plaza de Toros for the final act.

The alumni travel program has 15 other exciting trips for you to choose from. For a complete list of travel offerings, visit us at To request an alumni travel brochure, contact the Alumni Relations Office at 1-800-JHU-JHU1 or e-mail

Return to April 2004 Table of Contents

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