Johns Hopkins Magazine -- June 2000
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JUNE 2000

O N    C A M P U S E S


Those crazy, hazy, dusty days of summer
A new dean for a "dramatic transition"
Tuition rise modest, for most
Puzzling over gold's allure
Dads are readers, too!
Women rowers stroke to stunning season
Caps off to victory
Students sit-in for higher worker wages
In from the cold
A newfound passion for cartooning
Behind the Podium at Commencement

Those crazy, hazy, dusty days of summer

Mud, dust, and the boom of construction crews will be the order of the day on the Homewood campus this summer, as work gets under way on the new new master physical plan, developed by the Baltimore firm of Ayers/Saint/Gross. The project, dubbed "Great Excavations" (the mascot: "Charles Diggins"), calls for removing roads, relaying asphalt walkways with brick, and relandscaping the quadrangles. By late fall, visitors to campus should find new lighting and benches, new signage, improved handicapped access, and information kiosks at the entrances to campus--not to mention 1 million new bricks in the walkways and several hundred new trees and shrubs.

Aesthetic improvements: brick walkways will replace asphalt throughout campus.
Photo by Glenn Small
A gift from an anonymous donor this spring has jump- started the actualization of the master plan, approved by the board of trustees in May. Over the next six months about 24 acres of campus--ranging from Shriver Hall north to University Parkway, and from the Bloomberg Center for Physics and Astronomy east to North Charles Street--will be transformed to create the pedestrian-friendly and aesthetically continuous campus envisioned by the master plan [see February's cover story, "A New 'Plan for the Century'"].

One of the most drastic changes involves removal of the road through campus that connects North Charles Street at the main entrance with University Parkway. The new look: a full circle, tar-and-chip road and brick walkway will loop from Charles Street up in front of the Milton S. Eisenhower Library and back again. The entrance from University Parkway will end in a loop by the White Athletic Center.

To complete the ambitious project in the six-month time frame, bricklayers and other expert workers will work on several areas of campus at a time, 10 hours a day, six days a week. Simultaneous with the open area spaces renovation, crews will continue construction of the new student arts center (due for completion in November), as well as the biomedical engineering building--Clark Hall--and the White Athletic Center addition.

Disruption to campus during the renovation is expected to be major, but administrators are working to keep disturbances to academic buildings and residences to a minimum.
--Barbara J. Kiviat '01

Ralph Fessler
A new dean for a "dramatic transition"

Ralph Fessler, the man known as a national leader in the movement to reform teacher education, has been named the new dean of Hopkins's School of Professional Studies in Business and Education (SPSBE).

Fessler, who was chosen after a national search, joined the Hopkins faculty in 1983 as a professor of education and director of what is now the Graduate Division of Education. He went on to serve as the school's associate dean of academic affairs and since last September has filled the role of interim dean.

The onetime public school teacher takes the reins of the school with the largest enrollment in the university: there are currently nearly 5,000 students in degree programs and credit courses and another 3,000 in noncredit courses.

It's also the school with the newest name. Known until last year as the School of Continuing Studies, SPSBE was redefined to focus more sharply on graduate education and business. Fessler says he intends to capitalize on the "uniqueness" of having these two fields "under the same umbrella." He has plans to create a track within Business's newly launched MBA program for educators, and is working to see how the school's Berman Real Estate Institute can bring a business perspective to the state's efforts at school construction planning. Within the Education division, the school is also newly offering a program for counseling within business and industrial settings.

Provost Steven Knapp describes Fessler as being "ideally suited" to lead the redesigned school through what Knapp describes as a "period of dramatic transition."
--Sue De Pasquale

Tuition rise modest, for most

More than half of Johns Hopkins's 18,000 students will see their tuition increase by 4 percent or less next academic year. The exception: full-time students in Arts & Sciences and Engineering, whose rates will rise 5.4 percent, boosting their tuition from the current $23,660 to $24,930.

Administrators point to the costs of operating the new student arts center as the reason for the slightly larger increase among students of the Homewood schools. Though construction of the $17 million, 50,000-square-foot facility is being supported by gifts to the university, the center's operational costs must be covered through tuition.

Among Homewood undergraduates, room and board will increase 4 percent, to $8,185, bringing the total cost of tuition and room and board for those living on campus to $33,121. That total figure is paid by less than half of Homewood undergrads; the majority receive need-based financial aid--aid that has shifted toward smaller loans and larger grants since trustee chair Michael R. Bloomberg '64 targeted to financial aid two-thirds of his $45 million 1998 pledge to the university.

Elsewhere around the university, the tuition news is, for the most part, good. Graduate students at Public Health, Medicine, and Nursing (PhD and MSN/MPH) will see tuition increases ranging from 4 to 4.4 percent. Increases for part-time students in the School of Professional Studies in Business and Education and the School of Engineering will range from 2.5 percent to 3.9 percent. And at the Nitze School of Advanced International Studies, tuition for master's degree candidates will increase just 2.8 percent. (Doctoral candidates will see a 5.5 percent increase.) Full-time music students at Peabody Conservatory will face a 4.6 percent increase, to $22,700.

M.D. students at Medicine pay the same tuition for each of their four years at Hopkins; the class entering next fall will see a 3.8 percent increase, to $27,000.

The biggest tuition hike will hit students enrolled in the master of science in nursing program; they will face a 16.6 percent increase. Administrators there note that the relatively new school has long charged less than the university's more established divisions. This year's increase will raise master's degree tuition to $20,115--still well below that at other Hopkins schools.

Puzzling over gold's allure

Erica Schoenberger is puzzled by gold. "What's so intriguing is that it's so useless," she says. "We rip open the earth to get it, then dig a hole and put it back in vaults in New York. "Why is it so valuable that we are willing to wipe out whole civilizations, blast mountains to rubble, and poison watersheds to get it?"

Schoenberger, a professor in the Department of Geography and Environmental Engineering, co-taught a course this past semester that examined the multifarious influences gold has had on civilization. But even after studying the issue, she still can't fully explain the metal's allure.

The wide-ranging course covered topics ranging from mining techniques and their impact on the environment, to gold's place in Byzantine art, to the gold standard in world financial markets. Students read Treasure of the Sierra Madre, by B. Traven; and the Brother Grimms' Rumpelstiltskin. They heard a lecture by Near Eastern Studies professor Betsy Bryan on the use of gold in ancient Egypt and one on alchemy by Hopkins science historian Larry Principe.

In one class, co-teacher Ellen Silbergeld (PhD '72) described her own research on the environmental consequences of small-scale gold mining, which often involves the use of mercury. Following ancient practice, miners in the Amazon region pour liquid mercury into vats of river water, causing any fine particles of gold to form an amalgam with the mercury. The miners then burn off the mercury to get at the pure gold. Toxic mercury waste ends up in the soils, river, atmosphere, and in exceedingly high levels in the blood of miners, said Silbergeld, an environmental scientist at the University of Maryland at Baltimore.

Aside from the documented hazards of mercury exposure (including cognitive impairment in children and potential death), mercury may contribute to another condition: malaria. At study sites in the Amazon, Silbergeld is currently testing the hypothesis that mercury exposure impairs the immune system's ability to fend off the disease.

High malaria rates and small-scale gold mining coincide in many parts of the globe, Silbergeld told the class. In ongoing research, she is studying whether the mercury-malaria relationship is cause and effect or coincidental.

Schoenberger, herself, does not sport much gold jewelry, but that is not for any moral reasons, she says. "Real genocide has been committed in pursuit of gold and other valuable commodities. But we're still in the question-asking phase: Why does every culture admire golden things?"

Dads are readers, too!

"Where is the magazine for a man in his 30s or 40s who wants enjoyable, smart, sophisticated stories about himself and his world? Where is that magazine? It doesn't exist right now," said Eric Garland '78, two months before launching a new magazine that seeks to be just that.

Garland's latest journalistic venture--dads magazine--will hit newsstands across the country this month. It's geared toward married men with children, an audience that the magazine industry neglects, in favor of those who are young and single, Garland says. "The mission of our magazine is to help men be better dads, with emphasis on the many roles they have in their lives--as a father, as a business professional, and as a consumer; an active, curious, engaged man who is in the prime of his career," says Garland, the new magazine's editor and chief executive of Dads Media LLC.

Garland is the perfect example of the audience dads targets. A husband and father (he has a two-and-half-year-old son, and another child on the way), he has enjoyed a string of journalistic successes. Before starting the New York-based dads magazine with partners Seth Kean (publisher) and Walter Rosenthal (marketing director), Garland was executive editor of Brill's Content, another publication he joined as a start-up. He has also worked as a writer and editor at Money magazine, Adweek, Mediaweek, and Baltimore magazine. In the mid-1980s he co-founded and served as editor of Warfield's, a regional monthly business magazine.

Articles in the inaugural issue range from a feature on two experts who have published books about social and cultural pressures on boys, to a father's survival guide for a trip to Disney World. On the cover is Orioles-legend Cal Ripken Jr. While entire books have been written about Ripken as a baseball great, Garland points out, "you haven't really read about Cal as a dad."

Women rowers stroke to stunning season

As the Hopkins academic year wound down, a handful of speedy women were looking to drop a few seconds.

In only its second year of competition, the Hopkins varsity eight women's crew was on the verge, at press time, of qualifying for the NCAA championships. In crew, the fastest boats (the boats that command the most attention) are the eights, so called because they have eight rowers, plus a coxswain who steers and calls the rowers' cadences. Only four Division III teams would be invited to the championship regatta, but Hopkins took a big step toward being one of that quartet when it beat rival Marietta College at the end of April.

Coach Lynn Snyder's rowers were consistently ranked in the top 20 all season, and defeated a number of Division I opponents. In early April, the Hopkins eight won the Occoquan Sprints, and was the only Division III eight to qualify for the semifinals of the Southern Intercollegiate Rowing Association Regatta later that same month.

Crew members credit several factors contributing to their startlingly rapid ascension: their coach, their coxswain (Barbara Kiviat '01), their improved strength and conditioning, and their experience. Notes Terry Prendiville '00, the boat's only senior, "What most people don't know is that crew is not based merely on brute strength. Without effective technique, strength will only get you so far down the course. Poor technique is akin to running a marathon with stones in your shoes."

Adds teammate Hilary Rowe '01, "A race is only seven minutes long, but a lot goes on in those seven minutes. It's a very mental sport." At press time, the women were looking ahead to the prestigious Dad Vail Regatta in Philadelphia, where a strong showing could result in an invitation to the national championships. Says Snyder, "Getting into the finals of the Dad Vail would be huge."

Snyder has built a nationally competitive program in the face of daunting odds. "We race bigger schools that have scholarships for rowing, people who have boathouses on campus, people without the academic load of Hopkins students. But most of those things are just mental barriers. [As a coach] you have to generate the idea that people in a boat, and practice time and commitment--those are the things you need."

Says the third-year coach: "Our vision is to leap to the top level, where we're competing against the fastest crews in the country."
--Dale Keiger

George Kennedy
Caps off to victory

Johns Hopkins athletes clearly had a good year in the water. In addition to the women's crew, the men's and women's swimming and diving teams fared well in the NCAA Division III national championships.

The Hopkins men's team finished fifth in the championships, the 16th time since 1971 that the Jays have placed fifth or better among Division III schools. Freshman Scott Armstrong placed third in the 1650-meter freestyle and 500-meter freestyle. He garnered 10th in the 200-meter freestyle. His 15:41.94 in the 1650 broke the longeststanding Hopkins swim record (it had stood since 1979). Men's coach George Kennedy was named Division III coach of the year, his second such honor.

A freshman paced the women's championship effort as well. Freestyle swimmer Stephanie Harbeson took second in the 1650 and the 500 free, and third in the 200. (All three of her times broke her own previous school records, which she'd set at the UAA Championships in February.) She also swam on four of the Hopkins relay teams that placed in the top 11, and personally accounted for 50 team points, the sixth-highest total among all competitors. As Harbeson headed into the last quarter of the 1650, she lost her cap and goggles. Perhaps she should think of doing that more often.

Students sit-in for higher worker wages

Demanding that Johns Hopkins increase hourly wages for its lowest paid workers, student protesters in February erected a shanty on the "beach" in front of the Milton S. Eisenhower Library, and waged a 17-day sit-in at Homewood's Garland Hall.

The protest ended when the Student-Labor Action Coalition (SLAC) and administrators signed an agreement that included a commitment from the institution to continue discussions on the wage issue, and to accelerate pay increases.

Basically, the students want all workers employed by the institution, whether directly or through subcontractors, to earn no less than the "living wage"--a term used by activists and some economists to define the hourly wage necessary for a full-time worker to keep a family of four above federal poverty guidelines- -and to tie the wage to the cost of living. The living wage is currently $8.20 per hour, or $17,050 per year. (Several cities have calculated their own living wage rates. Baltimore's will be $8.03 starting in July.) Currently, the lowest paid Hopkins workers (who are at the Health System) earn $7.75 per hour (career employees), or as low as $6 per hour (contract workers). Last year, Hopkins announced that it would raise minimum hourly wages in a step-wise fashion to $7.75 for all employees by July 2002.

But SLAC, which had been talking through the issue with administrators for four years, wanted Hopkins to commit to the living wage. The living wage is the bare minimum of what is required to live in Baltimore, says SLAC's Jess Walsh, a visiting scholar at the Hopkins Institute for Policy Studies. She notes that the Economic Policy Institute, an economics think tank in Washington, D.C., calculated that for a family of four to live modestly in Baltimore without government assistance, the family would need an annual income of $34,732.

On February 28, SLAC members moved into Garland, which houses the offices of the president and other top administrators, as well as the offices of Financial Aid and Admissions. Protesters took turns occupying the lobby and reception area during the day, maintaining about a dozen people at any one time, and remained in the building at night.

Garland offices remained open throughout the sit-in, although the Admissions Office shifted to Levering Hall. For its part, Hopkins argued that the living wage was a moving target that the institution could not realistically guarantee it could always meet. Further, administrators noted that academic medical centers were facing serious financial constraints placed on them by managed care and Medicare cost controls.

Ten days into the protest, President William R. Brody issued an e-mail to students, faculty, and staff. In it he noted, "SLAC seems unwilling even to consider the argument that the inflexible policies it advocates could significantly harm Johns Hopkins Medicine's financial condition. That could force job cuts or even cutbacks in free clinics, community health programs, and other forms of uncompensated care by Johns Hopkins Medicine that last year totaled $120 million. Tying future wages irrevocably to an uncontrollable variable would so reduce the administration's options that the result might be to hurt some of the very people SLAC says it wants to help."

The sit-in finally ended on March 16 after SLAC and Hopkins administrators signed an agreement. It included this statement: "All workers should be able to live in dignity and support themselves and their families, and Hopkins recognizes that compensation is critical to the well-being of such workers." The agreement also stated that Hopkins and SLAC would work together to form a committee on poverty to examine "the causes and consequences of poverty," and to look for ways of alleviating poverty in Baltimore.

Talks between SLAC and Hopkins have continued. In April, Hopkins announced that it would increase hourly wages ahead of schedule for employees contracted through Broadway Services Incorporated. (BSI employs about 600 Hopkins security guards, custodians, and parking lot attendants and is a subsidiary of the Dome Corporation, which is owned by Johns Hopkins.)

Starting this July, BSI workers employed at the Health System would receive a minimum hourly wage of $6.75 (instead of the previously scheduled raise to $6.50/hr). University BSI workers would receive $7.75 per hour (instead of the previously scheduled raise to $7.25).

Hopkins representatives further point out that nearly 70 percent of direct or contract employees who are now at the wage minimums are full-time workers with benefits. The lowest-paid among them now make $7.68 in combined wages and benefits, a number that will go above $8.50 on July 1.

Says SLAC's Walsh, "We continue to say that the administration should pay a living wage and it is a matter of prioritizing the budget."

Hopkins spokesman Dennis O'Shea counters, "SLAC refuses to give credit where credit is due. Even before the sit-in, Hopkins wages were well above minimum wage, significantly higher than other employers', and moving even higher on an announced schedule.

In from the cold

"We've leased just about every classroom in Dupont Circle. There's no more space. We've been thinking about looking at the benches on the Circle, though we'd have to move some of the chess players."
--political science professor Benjamin Ginsberg, on why the university is purchasing an eight-story office building in Washington, D.C., across from the Nitze School of Advanced International Studies, to house the
Krieger School of Arts & Sciences Part-Time Graduate Programs in Washington. Through the purchase, Arts & Sciences will consolidate and expand its offerings for more than 500 master's students and about 30 full-time undergraduates. (See Alumni News for more information about the building and its donors, alumni David Bernstein '57 and Morris Offit '57.).

Hopkins has the Cold War to thank for the 36-year-old building at 1717 Massachusetts Avenue: it once housed the former East German government's diplomatic mission.

A newfound passion for cartooning

When Rachel Masilamani '99 graduated from Hopkins a year ago with a degree in anthropology and a minor in art history, she didn't go looking for a job or head off to graduate school.

In fact, she quit the job she already had and decided to stay home and draw cartoons all day. For months, she did this.

It was a bold move to find out if she was any good and whether she liked it. Each day, she set the alarm and made herself write stories and sketch images, as if she were going to work. "I think it really paid off," she says. "I got better and the ideas came faster."

The judges of the Xeric Foundation, an organization set up by a creator of the Ninja Turtles to help young cartoonists, agreed, awarding her up to $5,000 this spring to self-publish her first comic book, a 24-page work of insightful, often funny little stories called "RPM Comics." It is due out this month.

Xeric grants are well-known within comic book circles. Each year, roughly 75 cartoonists submit full-length comic books and five are usually given awards, says Kendall Clark, grants administrator for the Xeric Foundation.

These are no action adventure stories that Masilamani is creating. In fact, she's hard- pressed to categorize her work. She draws inspiration from her own life and her observations of people and their behaviors. Her stories have well-developed plots, with twists and turns and surprise endings.

Anthropology, it turns out, has provided the perfect training for a cartoonist because it taught her how to study people. "I really like people," she says. "I like how they move. I like when they carry something heavy. I like how they talk to each other. They're just endlessly fascinating." (To order a copy of RPM Comics, send $3.75 to Rachel Masilamani at P.O. Box 50027, Baltimore, MD 21211.)
--Glenn Small

Behind the Podium at Commencement

Students across the university were set to receive their degrees on May 24 and 25. A rundown on the speakers:

Universitywide Commencement:
William R. Brody, president, Johns Hopkins University

Krieger School of Arts & Sciences and G.W.C. Whiting School of Engineering Undergraduate Diploma Award Ceremony:
George Tenet, director of Central Intelligence

G.W.C. Whiting School of Engineering Master's Ceremony:
George W. Reynolds, director, industry and university initiatives, Northrup Grumman Corporation

Krieger School of Arts & Sciences Master's Ceremony:
William A. Reinsch, undersecretary for the Bureau of Export Administration, Department of Commerce

School of Professional Studies in Business & Education:
June Strecksus (pictured at right), executive director of Maryland Business Roundtable for Education

School of Hygiene and Public Health:
Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases

School of Medicine:
Antonia Novella, commissioner of health, New York State Department of Health

Nitze School of Advanced International Studies:
Kofi Annan, secretary general of the United Nations

Peabody Institute:
Philip Glass (pictured at left), composer

School of Nursing:
Jacquelyn Campbell, associate dean for PhD programs and research