Johns Hopkins Magazine -- April 1997
Johns Hopkins Magazine

APRIL 1997

O N    C A M P U S E S

Inaugural festivities for the 13th president... budget cuts at Medicine... interfaith encounters... 100 years of music

Brody installed as president
William R. Brody's installation as Hopkins's 13th president on February 23 was a fitting blend of time-honored tradition and high-tech wizardry--a blend that will be a hallmark of Brody's leadership as Johns Hopkins University moves into the new millennium.

Garbed in the gold robe, silk hood, and six-sided Dutch academic cap that hearkens back to the Middle Ages, Brody read his inaugural address not from a sheaf of papers but from a discreetly concealed laptop computer. And while hundreds of faculty, friends, and dignitaries packed Shriver Hall to witness the event in person, thousands more--from around the globe--were able to tune in via a live Webcast that offered real-time sound and video of the proceedings. (Visit this website:

Brody: Bits and bytes will replace bricks and mortar.
Brody told those assembled that "we are in the middle of a revolution," and that the university is at "ground zero" in today's "information explosion." Adapting to the forces of change will be key to maintaining the university's relevance to society, he said.

"I think we will witness the transformation of the university from a physical a virtual campus," said the 53-year-old physician, engineer, and entrepreneur. "It will be a university campus in which bits and bytes replace bricks and mortar, one in which scholars and students can communicate and collaborate electronically without the necessity of proximity.

"Such a network of scholars can preserve the essence of our Hopkins 'hand-tooled' education envisioned by Dr. Gilman, one in which the student is stimulated to learn by working closely with a faculty member to find answers to unsolved questions," Brody said.

Though solemnity marked much of the two-hour inaugural ceremony, there were lighter moments, as when student council president Charles Yang extended a "high-five" welcome on behalf of the undergraduates (and noted that Bill and Wendy Brody, by rollerblading at Freshman Orientation, had "won the ever-coveted 'cool' rating").

The Unified Voices, a choir comprised of staff members from the Hopkins Medical Institutions, offered a rousing rendition of "Climb Ev'ry Mountain" (which MIT president Charles Vest referred to later in the program when he advised his colleague and good friend to "pick your mountains and your streams with great care, and save your strength for the struggles that really matter.") And the Peabody Symphony Orchestra Brass performed the world premiere of a fanfare written by Peabody Institute director Robert Sirota.

Flanking Brody on the Shriver Hall stage were four veterans of the Hopkins presidency: Daniel Nathans (1995-96), William C. Richardson (1990-95), Steven Muller (1972-90), and Lincoln Gordon (1967-71). Brody told the four men that he was indebted to them "for leaving the university in great shape," and led the audience in a standing ovation for their combined 30 years of service to Hopkins.

The four rose and clustered around Brody for the official installation, when chairman of the board of trustees Michael Bloomberg '64 placed the gleaming silver links of the presidential insignia around his neck. (The names and portraits of all the university's past presidents--a dozen in all--are engraved on the links.)

Though acknowledging the financial and other challenges Johns Hopkins University faces in the months and years ahead, Brody concluded the historic afternoon on a note of eloquent optimism:

"We have within our hands--now--the chance to build the new academy, founded on an underpinning of mature experience, and flown on the pinions of youthful idealism. For Hopkins, after all, is at heart a young institution, still brash in our second hundred years." --Sue De Pasquale

Belt-tightening at Medicine
You'd think that new "medical czar" Edward D. Miller Jr. would have enough to do serving as Medicine's CEO and dean of the School of Medicine without continuing in his former role as director of Anesthesiology. But that's exactly what Miller intends to do, in a symbolic gesture to medical faculty and staff that it's time to "get real" about belt-tightening.

With the fiscal year starting in July, hospital administrators are looking to cut spending by $55 million--an average of 8 percent. Hospital president Ronald R. Peterson says he expects to reduce the hospital's workforce by 300 people over the next year. Peterson believes the downsizing can be achieved though "managed attrition," though he has not ruled out the possibility of layoffs.

Though Hopkins Medicine launched a re-engineering effort last year designed to enhance the quality of care while cutting costs, change has not come quickly enough to meet the "downward pressure on our revenue stream," Peterson says.

In June, Maryland will shift 330,000 current Medicaid recipients into managed care organizations, where costs are more tightly controlled. The shift could result in a 25 to 30 percent drop in income for Hopkins Hospital, Peterson estimates. Hopkins must also do more to compete with aggressively priced suburban hospitals, which have been charging up to 30 percent less than Hopkins because they don't have teaching epxenses or as many uninsured patients, Peterson said.--SD

A spiritual rubbing of elbows
On a cold night in February, student representatives from more than a dozen religious groups--Buddhist, Hindu, Jewish, and every flavor of Christianity--sat down in a circle on the floor of Newman House and talked candidly about aspects of their faith they find troubling.

Most were surprised to find that the issues they had been grappling with individually--such as the role of women in their respective faiths--were issues their friends had been grappling with as well, says Julie Schames '99, a representative of the Jewish Students Association. "I learned a lot about myself," she adds.

University chaplain Sharon Kugler, who coordinated this second annual all-night "Lock-In" involving members of the Johns Hopkins Interfaith Council, says the encounter left her "glowing for days" afterward. "It was very powerful," she says. "It is quite rare that you can put representatives of all the major world religions together in one room and get students to see each other beyond the label of their religious traditions, as fellow students and as friends."

Since Kugler joined the university in 1993, the Interfaith Council has nearly doubled in size to include student representatives from 15 religious organizations.

Students on the council say that though discussions sometimes grow heated, there's a spirit of cooperation that allows them to wipe the slate clean with each meeting. Many say that their participation has helped to strengthen their own religious convictions.

"In trying to explain your own faith to others, it forces you to look more closely at your own faith, in what you believe and what other people in your faith believe," says Tapan Kant '98, a representative of Students of Hinduism.

Plans are currently underway to establish an Interfaith Center near the Homewood campus. "It's something we very much need," Kugler says. "It will provide an opportunity for both the figurative and literal rubbing of elbows of these different cultures and traditions. And only good things can come of that." --SD

The founding president of Vermont Public Radio has been appointed general manager of the Hopkins-owned
WJHU-FM. Raymond G. Dilley assumed the radio station's top spot in January, replacing Dennis Kita, who left last summer for a position with the Corporation for Public Broadcasting.

"The first priority is to put the station on a very firm financial footing," says Dilley, who was CEO of Vermont Public Radio from 1976 until 1993, when he became director of National Public Radio's international service.

Dilley's arrival at WJHU-FM came 18 months after the station switched from a mixed news and classical music format to a weekday lineup dominated by news, public affairs, and cultural affairs programming. As expected, the format change led to an increase in expenses, causing the station to run a $130,000 deficit for fiscal year 1996. Since then, the financial picture has brightened; in fact, the station's most recent fundraising drive in February was a record-breaker, bringing in $151,000. "That pushes the income line in the right direction," Dilley says.

Equally encouraging are surveys showing record audiences-- including an average last summer of 117,000 a week and 5,900 at any one time.

"All the indicators really look good," says Dilley. "Audience numbers are at an all-time high. Fundraising is at an all-time high. What we see is tremendous potential. Now we just have to tap it." --SD

A century of music for the Peabody Symphony
The Peabody Symphony Orchestra, a group that has risen from the ashes more than once during its 100-year history, celebrates its centennial on April 6 with a performance--fittingly enough--of Gustav Mahler's demanding Resurrection symphony.

Over the years the orchestra has survived two world wars (which siphoned off musicians and twice darkened its stages), and a billowing electrical fire (which interrupted a 1967 dress rehearsal of Carmina Burana involving 250 students). Of course there have been numerous high points as well: such as the group's 1987 concert in Moscow's glittering Tchaikovsky Hall, which garnered six encores and was broadcast live throughout the Soviet Union.

Today the 90-member orchestra continues its century-long tradition of introducing listeners to new and unusual compositions. Under the baton of Hajime Teri Murai, the student orchestra has premiered dozens of new works and picked up a number of awards for the Adventurous Programming of American Music from ASCAP.

Conductor Murai has a particular fondness for Mahler, whom he considers "the last great Romantic," and he has made performing a Mahler symphony an annual event for his young musicians. In the Resurrection symphony (Symphony No. 2), the Peabody Orchestra musicians will join forces with the Peabody Singers and Peabody Chorus, as well as the Morgan State University Choir. The event will also celebrate the city of Baltimore's bicentennial. --SD