Johns Hopkins Magazine
Johns Hopkins Magazine Current Issue Past Issues Search Get In Touch
Wholly Hopkins
Matters of note from around Johns Hopkins


University: Surf's Up for Hopkins-Nanjing

Engineering: A Short — but Intense — Stint for Interim Dean of Engineering

University: Something for Nothing

Sports: A Disappointing End to a Superior Season

Chemistry: New Chemistry Building Promises Lab Space, Five NMRs

Music: Phonograph Changes Our Tune

Public Policy: Civic Leadership Institute Helps High Schoolers Help Others

Students: Retiring Rabbi Leaves Legacy of Warmth, Connection

Medicine: Keeping Animals Safe and Research Sound

Sports: In Memory of a Fan

University: Being Johns Hopkins

University: Black and White and Wet All Over

Wholly Hopkins Departments: Bottom Line | Here & Abroad | Vignette | Datebook | Syllabus | Findings | Academese | Forever Altered | Vital Signs | Up & Comer | JHUniverse

Surf's Up for Hopkins-Nanjing

If it were up to Cyrus Frelinghuysen (SAIS '04), he'd be in Nanjing, studying economics and foreign relations in Chinese and hanging out with his Chinese roommate at a neighborhood dumpling shop. Instead, Frelinghuysen, a student at the Hopkins-Nanjing Center for Chinese and American Studies, is in Hawaii, thanks to the severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS) epidemic that swept through Asia and other areas last spring.

Each year, 100 students from the United States, China, and elsewhere enroll in the one-year joint graduate program of Hopkins' Nitze School of Advanced International Studies and Nanjing University. When SARS hit China, none of the program's students, faculty, or staff were diagnosed with the disease, but "the psychological impact of this was huge and scary," says Daniel B. Wright, former executive director of the Hopkins-Nanjing Center's Washington office.

When the epidemic began, Wright pulled together a response team of Hopkins foreign policy, epidemiology, and crisis-management experts to evaluate the situation in China. Then, when Beijing's mayor and health minister were fired for attempting to cover up the SARS epidemic, Wright, the response team, and Robert Daly, the Nanjing Center's American director, decided to end the spring semester six weeks early. "Five days after the students left Nanjing, SARS was actually reported to have occurred in Nanjing," says Wright.

After considering canceling the program for this year, administrators decided instead to move it temporarily to the East-West Center in Honolulu, which had the facilities to replicate the Nanjing program. "Here's an opportunity to make lemonade out of lemons," Wright says. "We can turn this bad situation into a brilliant move that will maintain the momentum of the program."

Faced with the change in locale, Frelinghuysen, a China studies and international economics major at SAIS, flirted with the idea of staying home. After all, the draw of the program was studying in China. In fact, 16 American students have deferred this semester. But when Frelinghuysen learned that the curriculum would stay the same and he would still have a Chinese roommate, he made the choice to head for Hawaii. "The only thing that's really changing is the location," he says. "We can't go to the local dumpling shop and have dumplings together, but that's a small thing to give up. The main point is they're going to preserve the essentials of the program."

The Hopkins-Nanjing Center wasn't the only program at Hopkins to suffer fallout from SARS. Here in Baltimore, international students struggled with the decision of whether to return home for the summer, and other students canceled their internships in SARS-affected countries. The Center for Talented Youth, a summer program that draws young people from around the world, experienced a spike in enrollment in an online writing class because parents worried about their children's exposure to the deadly respiratory illness. And the Bloomberg School of Public Health established a policy, adopted throughout Hopkins, that all new and existing students, faculty, and staff must be outside a SARS-affected area and free from contact with a SARS patient for at least two full weeks prior to enrollment.

"We can turn this bad situation into a brilliant move that will maintain the momentum of the program," says Daniel Wright. At press time, the CDC listed no countries as SARS-affected areas. But because there is a possibility that the disease could reappear, "the policy is there should SARS come back," says Alfred Sommer, dean of the Bloomberg School.

Assuming China remains SARS-free, the Hopkins-Nanjing Center will return to Nanjing for the spring 2004 semester. And the temporary move may turn out to be a good thing. Splitting the year between China and the U.S. means that each group of students, Western and Chinese, will have the opportunity to spend a semester in a foreign country — an experience that underscores the mission of the program.

Frelinghuysen is excited about that prospect. "In a way, this could work out as more of an exchange," he says. Not to mention, he's looking forward to getting to know more about Hawaiian culture. "I like poi," Frelinghuysen says. "And I'll probably try surfing again." -Maria Blackburn

A Short — but Intense — Stint for Interim Dean of Engineering

His post as interim dean of the Whiting School of Engineering is scheduled to last only six months, but Andrew Douglas has big plans.

For starters, Douglas, the Whiting School's associate dean for academic affairs, plans to further faculty discussion about an external review of the Whiting School that took place in spring 2003. "The question is, What do we need to do to make the Whiting School and all of its components a destination school?" says Douglas. He also wants to continue looking at collaboration between the Whiting School and the Applied Physics Laboratory.

Andrew Douglas, Interim Dean of Engineering
Photo by Will Kirk
"Those two things are too big to wait for a semester," says Douglas, who replaced Ilene Busch-Vishniac when she stepped down from the dean's post in June.

University Provost Steven Knapp calls Douglas a "very fair and dedicated administrator." Says Knapp, "He seems like an ideal person to manage the school during what we hope will be a brief period before the arrival of a new dean." A permanent dean is likely to be on board by January, says Knapp.

Douglas joined Hopkins in 1983, winning a promotion to professor one decade later and serving as chairman of the Department of Mechanical Engineering from 1997 to 1999. Douglas holds a joint appointment in the Department of Biomedical Engineering.

A native of South Africa, he earned undergraduate and master's degrees in civil engineering from the University of Cape Town and master's and doctoral degrees in solid mechanics from Brown University. -MB

Something for Nothing

This fall, Johns Hopkins is bringing back the Baltimore Free University, an eclectic, informal non-credit education program that blossomed just after the Summer of Love and wilted during the early stages of the Me Decade.

Administered by the Homewood-based Center for Social Concern (formerly the Office of Volunteer Services), the new BFU will, like its predecessor, feature a wide array of courses on personal enrichment, social issues, and practical skills.

"The experimental nature of this program is something I, and others, wanted to see brought back to Johns Hopkins," says Bill Tiefenwerth, director of the Center for Social Concern. "It all worked and thrived years ago, and I believe it can work again."

Bill Tiefenwerth, director of the Center for Social Concern, is heading the effort to revive the Baltimore Free University
Photo by Chris Hartlove
The original BFU was founded in 1968 by Chester Wickwire, the university's chaplain from 1953 to 1984, who wanted to present a less foreboding Johns Hopkins to the Baltimore community. According to Wickwire, the idea for the BFU grew out of the civil rights movement and "freedom schools" — informal classes, often held in church basements, that attempted to enlighten those in the suburbs about the social climate of the city.

With topics ranging from Baltimore history and modern psychology to atheism and gay and lesbian studies, courses were taught pro bono by local residents and by Hopkins faculty, staff, and students. And, except for a $10 registration fee that covered the cost of the catalog's production, it was all free.

The university dissolved the BFU in 1984, due primarily to competition with the Johns Hopkins Evening College, a precursor to what has become the School of Professional Studies in Business and Education.

In recent years, though, says Tiefenwerth, there has been a growing interest from community residents and former BFU instructors. This past May, Tiefenwerth convened a six-member planning committee charged with assessing the feasibility of a 21st-century BFU.

So beginning in September, the new BFU will roll out a slate of 12 to 15 courses. Still a work in progress, a list of proposed subjects includes digital photography, socialist theory, history of the labor movement, international languages, and how to start a nonprofit organization.

The BFU plans to distinguish itself from other lifelong learning programs. For instance, Odyssey — SPSBE's noncredit liberal arts program — and the BFU will exchange curricula plans so as not to duplicate course offerings.

Targeted toward everyone from teens to moms to retirees, BFU classes will be offered weekday nights and weekends at various Homewood campus locations and at branches of the Enoch Pratt Free Library. Courses will vary from weekend workshops to classes that extend two semesters. Once again, the BFU will only charge a $10 registration fee.

"It's really what the name suggests. It's in Baltimore, it's free and, while it's not degree-granting, it's a universe of ideas," he says. "And if someone can't pay the $10, well, we do have scholarships available." -Greg Rienzi

A Disappointing End to a Superior Season

For Johns Hopkins men's lacrosse, defeat in the national championship had a name: Tillman Johnson. The University of Virginia's all-American goalie played a spectacular game as the Cavaliers defeated the No. 1 ranked Blue Jays, 9-7, in the NCAA finals last Memorial Day. Johnson turned away 13 shots, including three in a span of 15 seconds, as the Jays surged back from an early 5-0 deficit but failed to overcome Virginia's stout defense.

The Cavaliers' first four goals came in a ragged opening period that proved disastrous for Hopkins. "We put ourselves in a hole in the first quarter, and you can't do that with a team of Virginia's caliber," Hopkins coach Dave Pietramala said in the post-game press conference. "I thought we played much better in the final three quarters, but you're not going to beat a team at this level after giving them a five-goal lead."

Senior goalie Rob Scherr (2) and senior defenseman Michael Peyser (19)
Photo by Rob Brown
Hopkins was making its first appearance in the championship game since 1989. Coming into the final contest, the Jays were riding an 11-game winning streak, including a 19-8 demolishment of Syracuse in the national semifinals. That game featured a dazzling 14-0 run by the Jays in the second half, which left Syracuse visibly despondent.

The championship loss, played on a muddy field at M&T Bank Stadium in Baltimore before a record crowd of 37,944, put a disappointing end to what had been a sterling season. Hopkins posted an 11-1 regular-season mark, defeating arch-rivals Princeton, Maryland, and Virginia. The only loss was a one-goal defeat at Syracuse. In the first three rounds of the NCAA tournament, the Jays looked unstoppable, battering Army, Towson, and Syracuse by a combined score of 37-16.

Sophomore attackman Kyle Barrie was named first-team All- American and led Hopkins in scoring in the 2003 season.
Photo by Rob Brown
But Johnson proved they could be stopped. Before the game, Hopkins' co-captain Bobbie Benson '03 had anticipated facing the Cavaliers' goalie: "I wish we knew what the solution was. . . . We'll just have to try and get good shots." The Jays did get good shots, including a number at point-blank range, but Johnson proved too tough.

Time and again during the season, the Jays had played strong second halves to put away opponents. By halftime of the championship game, Hopkins had cut Virginia's lead to 6-4, and Pietramala said he'd felt confident coming out for the second half. Hopkins did pull within one in the third quarter, but never got closer. After the game, Jays co-captain Adam Doneger '03 was asked if he had thought Hopkins would somehow pull out a victory. "Up to the final whistle," he replied.

Hopkins returns most of its talented and deep attack and midfield next season, including all-Americans Kyle Barrie, Kevin Boland, and Kyle Harrison. -Dale Keiger

New Chemistry Building Promises Lab Space, Five NMRs

Throughout last summer, you could amuse yourself by going to the Hopkins chemistry department Web site and watching through a Webcam the construction of the department's new laboratory building. Repeatedly hit the cam's reload button, and you could make equipment and construction workers doink around the job site, as if in time-lapse photography. Chemistry chairman Paul J. Dagdigian admits that he would check the cam several times a day.

Dagdigian was on the building's planning committee, so he had an excuse beyond idle play. The new $17 million facility will provide laboratory space for eight research groups and enable faculty members to vacate obsolete Dunning Hall. The new building, situated between Macaulay Hall and the Johns Hopkins Club, will have two wings. The new labs will be in the larger wing, and computer labs, conference rooms, and faculty offices in the smaller.

The new chemistry building is located between
Macaulay Hall and the Johns Hopkins Club.

"Dunning was built in the mid-1960s," Dagdigian says. "The systems were in terrible shape, especially the fume hoods. Students and postdocs do most of their work with chemical reactions in these hoods because of the noxious nature of most chemical reagents. In several cases, we had to move students out of laboratories until emergency repairs could be made." Chemistry professor John P. Toscano recalls dust and soot problems from deteriorated duct linings, and floods from failed valves.

Says Dagdigian, "We had talked for many years with the administration about renovating the building, as we did a few years ago with Remsen Hall." Plans changed though, he says, "when space on campus was identified where a new building could be constructed for the same amount of money as the renovation."

Members of the department now occupying Remsen will remain there. After the labs are moved out of Dunning, it may be used as swing space for humanities faculty when the planned renovation of Gilman Hall commences.

Chemistry's new building will connect to an underground nuclear magnetic resonance (NMR) center that is also under construction. This new center will have room for five high-field, high-resolution NMR spectrometers, which will be used to probe the structure of biomolecules. The department anticipates beginning installation of 600-megahertz and 800-megahertz instruments late this year. The new center will serve not only researchers in chemistry, but also in biology, biophysics, and medicine.

"The 800 is a state-of-the-art, flagship instrument, the anchor store of the shopping mall," says chemistry professor Craig Townsend. "This puts the university on the map as a serious player."

Toscano says, "In terms of student and faculty morale, the new building's really going to be a big boost. We'll have a beautiful new, modern building to show off to students visiting. [Also] we're looking to hire a few people over the next years, at least one of whom will go into the new building, which should be a major selling point." -DK

Recording, says Peabody musicologist Mark Katz, has changed the way music is made.
Photo by Mike Ciesielski
Phonograph Changes Our Tune

Mark Katz turns the crank on an Aeolian-Vocalion internal horn phonograph, circa 1920. The turntable begins to spin a 78-rpm recording of Fritz Kreisler, playing the slow movement from Dvorak's New World Symphony, and Katz, a musicologist at the Peabody Conservatory, sets the needle into the record's grooves. When Katz looks at this "talking machine," he sees more than a lovely ornamental addition to his Baltimore row house. He sees technology that has profoundly influenced music. Sound recording, he asserts, changed how classical composers worked, has affected the improvisatory nature of jazz, changed how violinists play their instruments, and continues to influence the development of music students.

Katz makes his arguments — and discusses modern phenomena like digital recording, hip-hop, and the Internet — in the book The Phonograph Effect: From Edison to the Internet, forthcoming from the University of California Press. Hopkins Magazine recently chatted with him about his work.

Johns Hopkins Magazine: How did this project start?

Mark Katz: I was an undergraduate at William & Mary in 1990, and I saw an article in The New York Times, a review of some reissues of old violin recordings. The author remarked that the playing he heard on these recordings was much different from what we hear now. And there was this throwaway line where he said, "I wonder if some of these changes have to do with the process of recording." That was a novel idea to me. Later, as a doctoral student at the University of Michigan, I pursued the idea. If recording influences violin playing, what other kind of performance does it influence? What about composition? Listening?

JHM: You believe that violinists changed from rarely using vibrato to using it all the time because on recordings in the early 1900s the technique better projected their sound and masked intonation problems.

MK: Yes. It's still a circumstantial case, though. I found very few violinists who would say, 'Of course I use more vibrato because of recording.' But what I realized is people don't think that way. They're put in front of a recording horn or microphone, they play, and when it doesn't sound so great, they try something new. I think a lot of violinists didn't notice they were doing it.

JHM: You talk about jazz, in which an improvised solo is recorded, and from then on, audiences want to hear the musician "improvise" choruses that match what they've heard on the record.

MK: The great irony of recording jazz is that an improvisational art is captured on record, and that creates a feedback loop where people expect now to hear it a certain way, and the performers want to give the audiences what they expect. There's still plenty of improvisation, but recording and jazz grew up together, and there's this tension between the two.

JHM: Popular songwriters, of course, wrote to accommodate the old time limits of records — three or four minutes per side. But you note that classical composers did, too.

MK: That's exactly right. Elgar, Stravinsky, Puccini were doing the same thing as Duke Ellington or Louis Armstrong. We like to think of classical composers as working in their own realm, not affected by day-to-day concerns like money and technology. But they're just as influenced by technology as a pop band. Someone like Igor Stravinsky had to make a living. He actually liked to put demands on himself, and thought of recording limits as just another challenge.

JHM: Recording, through splicing multiple takes, permits the creation of technically flawless performances. Has that affected conservatory students' expectations of how a musician should play?

MK: Definitely. Students either don't know or don't think about how these recordings are really documents that were created out of many different performances. What students aren't thinking is that no one can play [live] like that.

JHM: Has recording been good or bad for music?

MK: I'm uncomfortable saying one or the other because it suggests that we're powerless to affect how technology affects us. If as a musician you feel you have to imitate recordings, that's bad. But if you think of recordings as offering insights into performances, and listen to many different recordings of a piece and let that spark your creativity, then recordings are a good thing.
-Interview by DK

Public Policy:
Civic Leadership Institute Helps High Schoolers Help Others

Zephafif Schumacher spent three weeks this July studying at the Peabody Institute, but her lessons didn't cover composers or arias. Instead, the 17-year-old from "suburbia" outside Albany, N.Y., studied the impact of urban poverty through the Civic Leadership Institute, a new summer residential course offered by the Johns Hopkins University's Center for Talented Youth (CTY).

Schumacher was one of 80 high-achieving high schoolers who took in a street-level view of crime, homelessness, and drug abuse from the up-close (yet safe) vantage point offered by the leadership institute. The program's aim is to give these students a window on issues surrounding urban poverty while introducing them to people working to make things better.

"We students saw and understood the community in many forms," she said in a speech at the institute's closing ceremonies. "But what we learned wasn't just in the classroom — it was on the streets of Baltimore and in the shelters of D.C., in the conversations with peers and the lectures from professionals. We took the world and made it our classroom, connected our education to reality."

Zephafif Schumacher (center right) and Heidi Kim (center left) join other students at the Civic Leadership Institute in July.
Photo by Jay VanRensselaer
For three weeks, "reality" was the struggling neighborhoods in Baltimore and Washington, D.C. Students visited a homeless shelter, made minor home repairs for senior citizens, visited a police station for a session on juvenile justice, and worked at a food kitchen. The experience was designed to be an eye-opener, says CTY executive director Lea Ybarra.

"Voter participation, especially among the young, continues to decline in spite of daily headlines suggesting we need more civic-mindedness," she says. "And research indicates that many of the relationships and associations that bind our communities are weakening as well. This all adds up to a fear that we may be losing grip on the great tradition of civic leadership and service that built our country. CTY's Civic Leadership Institute aims to help restore that tradition to a critically important group of outstanding young people."

The Civic Leadership program can give the 10th- through 12th-graders up to 60 hours of service-learning credit toward graduation, but that's not the motivation for many of these students.

"Schools and parents say we have to [volunteer]," says 15-year-old Heidi Kim, of Irvine, California, "but often people wind up doing meaningless projects to complete the requirement. We have an opportunity to do something great with it instead. So much needs to be done."

Field study and community service projects were supplemented by a series of evening lectures by area "changemakers," including former Maryland Lt. Governor Kathleen Kennedy Townsend; Vincent Pan, founder and director of Heads-Up, a Washington, D.C., tutoring program that pairs college students with low-income children; and CarMax president and CEO Austin Ligon, a member of CTY's National Advisory Board whose children were CTY students. Each guest spoke about how everyone, whether he or she is a politician, activist, or businessperson, can use power responsibly to be an agent for positive change.

"The speakers we had encouraged us to go out and change the world for the better and told us we could do it," Schumacher says. "Our teachers and resident assistants motivated us as well, not only educating us in society's ills, but inspiring us to do more." -Amy Cowles

Retiring Rabbi Leaves Legacy of Warmth, Connection

When Joseph Katz first became Johns Hopkins University's rabbi in 1986, he feared that the school's Jewish students might not connect with him. "They didn't know what to expect from an Orthodox rabbi," Katz says.

His concerns, it turns out, were unfounded, despite his conservative religious outlook. Students found him "engaging, open, warm, caring, funny, and authentic," says Yehuda Kranzler, a senior Writing Seminars major who is an Orthodox Jew.

Photo by Will Kirk A scrapbook of Katz's 17 years at Hopkins is filled with photos of him surrounded by people, their arms linked, their faces beaming. Letters exude warmth and praise for Katz, who retired in June and was named rabbi emeritus.

"The students made it work. They reacted to me. They came. They talked. They enjoyed. That's what's kept me here." As campus rabbi, Katz helped strengthen the university's Jewish community, says Rabbi Joe Menashe, director of Hillel at Hopkins. "Because of his work, this became a Jewish community built on Jewish values."

Katz's presence was felt far beyond his cramped offices in the Bunting-Meyerhoff Interfaith and Community Service Center (which he still keeps). He opened his Park Heights home to students for Shabbat. A die-hard sports fan, he's a faithful supporter of the JHU women's basketball team. He composes a weekly Jewish studies newsletter that he now e-mails to some 300 people.

"He really truly understands what it means to have a ministry of presence on campus, says Sharon Kugler, JHU's chaplain. "He was always around when he was needed — he'd just show up. When school was in session there would be Muslim kids, Catholic kids, the gospel choir [at the interfaith center]— all of them would know Rabbi Katz."

The rabbi's retirement comes at a time of change for Hopkins' Jewish community. Construction on the Homewood campus's new Smokler Center for Jewish Life began last November. The $5 million building will be the first permanent home for the university's Hillel, the group that coordinates programming and activities for the campus's estimated 400 Jewish students.

Katz, 71, says he's uncertain whether he will become involved with the Hillel organization in his retirement. In fact, other than seeing more of his 19 grandchildren, sending out his newsletter, and attending women's basketball games, he doesn't know what retirement will bring.

Katz's students have their own opinions. In a recent issue of the Campus Ministries newsletter, Kranzler wrote a loving appreciation of Katz. "Retirement," he wrote, "holds no power over a titan." -MB

Keeping Animals Safe and Research Sound

As Johns Hopkins University's new associate vice provost for animal research, Christian Newcomer is responsible for everything from overseeing the accreditation of all of Hopkins' animal research programs to making sure the tens of thousands of mice used for research are doing well in their cages.

"We want to have healthy animals," Newcomer says, sipping from a mug adorned with the face of a google-eyed pig. "There's not just a responsibility to the animals, but an appreciation that high-quality animal care facilitates research findings."

Newcomer's appointment comes in response to a December 2000 review of Hopkins' animal care programs by the American Association for Accreditation of Laboratory Animal Care International. At the time, Hopkins was failing to meet accreditation standards, and its accreditation status was put on probation. The problem was due in part to the increasing use of genetically modified mice to model human diseases, which has caused the number of mice used at the university over the last decade to jump from 10,000 to 70,000. (Other research animals at Hopkins include about 15,000 rats, a few hundred rabbits, and a few hundred primates.) The increased number of lab animals created a need for one person, Newcomer, who would oversee all of the issues surrounding animal research. Newcomer, who arrived in May, holds a doctorate in veterinary medicine from the University of Pennsylvania and served for two years as director of the Veterinary Resources Program at the National Institutes of Health.

By caring for animals, Christian Newcomer wants to see that research is done right.
Photo by Chris Hartlove
"Hopkins needed to strengthen its program in some areas, and it has responded very favorably," says Newcomer. For example, the university capped the number of mice that research labs could house. It is opening a new animal research building in East Baltimore. And all animal services staff who work directly with animals must now be certified by the American Association for Laboratory Animal Science. (During a March site visit, the animal care accreditation agency indicated that the university was making a good effort to earn full accreditation, says Newcomer.)

As for the future, Newcomer plans to explore new research suggesting that cage environments may alter cognitive development or behavior of laboratory animals. He'd like to find some inexpensive ways to make cages more stimulating to their occupants; something as small as adding a tissue nest to a mouse cage could make a big difference in that animal's welfare, he says.

Newcomer also would like to eradicate all infectious diseases in the 1,250 to 2,000 strains of mice used at Hopkins. It's a big step — one not viewed as essential by some animal research professionals — but Newcomer believes it's the right thing to do. A researcher using diseased mice "might get false data or spurious findings," he says. "It might take 20 animals to get the data that 10 animals would take."

He's not just concerned about animals. Staff who provide daily care to animals often work in cramped spaces and are at risk of developing repetitive stress injuries. The new animal research facility will have automated cage-washing to reduce the need for staff to turn the cages, and Newcomer would like to see more automation as a way to reduce injuries. "The jobs in the care and research of animals are physically demanding jobs," Newcomer says. "It's very demoralizing to see coworkers going down with injuries because of their job." -MB

In Memory of a Fan

Hopkins men's lacrosse lost a fervent fan with the passing of Donald K. Burdick (MLA '79) last July. Burdick, who died after five rounds of chemotherapy failed to arrest his bladder cancer, was known for rarely missing a Hopkins game, even when he was most seriously ill. Hopkins lacrosse coach Dave Pietramala brought Burdick into the team's locker room at the start of the 2002 season for an inspirational talk about struggle and devotion. The team played this past season with Burdick's initials inked on their chin straps.

While undergoing treatment for his cancer, Burdick insisted on being driven from the hospital to the Jays' win over Towson University in the quarterfinals of the 2003 NCAA tournament. He watched the semifinal victory over Syracuse and the championship loss to Virginia from a hospital room decorated by his nurses with Hopkins streamers.

Burdick, an extraordinarily popular history and social studies teacher in Baltimore, was 56.

"Hopkins lacrosse not only lost a fan, we lost a great friend in Don Burdick," says Pietramala. "We were extremely fortunate to have had the opportunity to get to know Don, and to have him as a member of our lacrosse family. He will be sorely missed by our staff and all our players." -DK

Photo by Will Kirk University:
Being Johns Hopkins

The coelacanth, a prehistoric fish once thought extinct, exhibits a peculiar habit of popping up now and again, its own way of subtly reminding the world, "Yep, still here."

Bearers of the name Johns Hopkins display a similar tendency.

While John Hopkinses are about as common as ragweed, those endowed with the extra s belong to a far more exclusive club, of which one member calls Baltimore home.

Mr. Johns Hopkins Jr. of Bolton Hill shares more than just the university and hospital benefactor's name, however. He's also kin. More specifically, the founder's grandfather — the original Johns Hopkins — was this Johns' great-grandfather to the seventh power.

Like fine china, Johns says, the prominent name has been dutifully passed down through the generations.

"My father was a Johns, as were my grandfather and great-grandfather," he says. "My father's side of the family has a penchant for conserving everything, including names."

When the subject of the famous extra consonant comes up, Johns, 33, quickly recounts the tale of how it was all a matter of a last name put first. Margaret Johns, the founder's great-grandmother, married Gerald Hopkins in 1700, and the couple used the surname to christen one of their children.

Johns Hopkins Jr. carries on the name — and the traditions — of the founder.
Photo by Will Kirk
More than just a family tradition, the name Johns for this 21st-century version has become a badge of honor.

Johns recently became the executive director of Baltimore Heritage, a nonprofit group that has been involved with preservation and neighborhood revitalization since 1961. Prior to that, he worked for four years at Maryland's Department of Housing and Community Development. He also sits on the board of directors of the Friends of Clifton Mansion, an organization that seeks to preserve and restore the founder's summer home in Clifton Park, which now houses a nonprofit youth service corps. Not coincidentally, the university and hospital's founder, who never had children, devoted a lion's share of his wealth to causes that benefited Baltimore's youth and underprivileged.

Despite what some may assume, Johns never had an overwhelming desire to become a doctor or college professor.

"I never considered the name a burden in any sense. It's more a privilege," he says. "It's also a privilege to be able to work in the same spirit that the founder did. It has long been a family teaching to give back as much as possible. So I believe I'm where I am today more out of a sense of family responsibility than the sheer name itself."

But really, what is life like as a trademark? It has its moments, according to Johns.

Born and raised in St. Louis, he says the name has always been inescapable, especially when he's east of the Mississippi.

"The closer I moved to Baltimore, the more eyebrows it raised," he says. "In Baltimore, well, saying my name requires constant explanation. I guess I would say the common reaction is dead silence, a blank stare, then the remarks, 'Is that really your name? Any relation?'"

The name can also cause some confusion.

"People could never find me in the phone directory," he says. "It just got too impossible telling the operator all the time, 'I'm looking for the person, not the institution.' So now we use my wife's name."

Then there's the mail issue. Beyond the pet peeve of scores of letters arriving an s short, the occasional credit card bill and magazine addressed to Johns manages to find its way to the university or hospital's mail room.

Johns, an affable and instantly likable sort, rolls with the punches. He was blindsided at age 17, however, when a certain university mailed an application package with a letter that began, "Dear John Hopkins."

"Now there's a touch of irony for you," he quips. He wound up going to Yale. Johns says he and his wife, Mary, are planning to build a family. And if they had a boy? Another Johns Hopkins?

"It's certainly high in the running," he says with a laugh. "Like I always say, if more people had an s at the end of their name, the world would be a better place." -GR

Black and White and Wet All Over

"They're wet, and they need to be fixed, but it's not like a flood. These books can be brought back." —Quintin Schwartz, general manager of Document Reprocessors, the New York restoration company called in to care for books damaged in a water leak at Peabody Library. As many as 8,000 books from the renowned collection were harmed by the leak, caused, officials say, by a damaged air-conditioning pipe.

Return to September 2003 Table of Contents

  The Johns Hopkins Magazine | The Johns Hopkins University | 3003 North Charles Street |
Suite 100 | Baltimore, Maryland 21218 | Phone 410.516.7645 | Fax 410.516.5251