Johns Hopkins Magazine -- September 1999
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A select crop of freshmen
Internet access tightened
565 metric tons...
Gifts toward better health
Beyond the realm of medicine
Margie Muller dies

A select crop of freshmen

This fall's incoming freshmen are the most select group in Hopkins history. Homewood admissions officers received a a record number of undergraduate applications last year, enabling them to extend offers to only one-third of the 9,500 applicants--down from 42 percent of last year's 8,580 freshman hopefuls, says Paul White, Admissions Office director.

At the same time, says White, more of the top scholarship students decided to come to Hopkins, partly because of increased financial aid available, including the $30 million in undergraduate aid donated last fall by board of trustees chair Michael Bloomberg (Eng '64).

Bloomberg Scholars, a moniker now given to the university's most sought after aid applicants, are a growing group. This year 40 Bloomberg Scholars accepted Hopkins's offers--that's double the rate of students in that group who accepted last year. One undoubtedly important factor: their grant packages no longer include loans.

The total freshman class size is slightly larger than last year's as well, about 1,010 compared to 983.

Students entering the Whiting School of Engineering, meanwhile, are smarter--at least test-wise. The median combined SAT score of those who enrolled increased from 1368 last year to 1385 this year, out of a possible 1600.
--Joanne P. Cavanaugh

Internet access tightened

Networked computers have made for unparalleled access to information. But that same accessibility makes computer systems vulnerable to mischief. Hopkins Information Technology Services (Hopkins ITS) has begun stricter regulation of the institution's Internet access after a recent successful intrusion by hackers.

Stephanie Reel
Problems began on June 30, when hackers broke into servers on the Homewood campus, reports Stephanie Reel, the university's chief information officer. Troubleshooters within the department later alerted security administrator Dave Bobart, who realized on July 2 that the problem was not a single intrusion but a widespread attack on many systems, she says.

Computer security personnel discovered the hackers were going after a specific weakness in the Sun/Solaris operating system used on some Hopkins computers and so temporarily shut down some servers while they scoped the problem. Says Reel, "Everyone I've spoken to in security is of a mind that the hackers weren't after anything. They were simply there to demonstrate that they could get into these servers." The intrusion caused some university systems to slow down and, notes Reel, cost a number of computer security personnel their July 4 holiday weekends.

"We see this all the time," says Bobart. "Universities are an open environment. There's very little restriction on what types of services you can use. In such an open environment, to properly maintain all the computers in a secure fashion would require a large army that we do not have. It's very hard to come up with a nice compromise between being open and being secure."

Notes Reel, "We have pieces of our network that must remain secure. Patient information, for example. Then we have pieces of our network in which our researchers want to be collaborative, not just within the institution but across the planet. It's in their interests to keep things as open as possible."

In a step toward increased security, Hopkins ITS has begun limiting Internet access to the most widely used protocols, such as standard Web access via http and https (Netscape, for example, uses http), standard file transfer (ftp), the most common e-mail protocols, etc. Most users will notice no change. Hopkins is restricting access that uses less common, more vulnerable portals to the Net.

Says Bobart, "A lot of people don't take security seriously, and network security is only as strong as its weakest link. If people don't have passwords on their accounts, for example, then we have a problem. We have to worry about security on 65,000 fronts."

Photo courtesy
Homewood Recycling
565 metric tons...

That's the amount of greenhouse gases Homewood spared the Earth in 1998 by recycling, according to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. Homewood recycled 26.35 percent of its solid waste: newspapers, bottles, cans, and, yes, even magazines. That's about 55 to 60 tons each month, says Pat Moran, Homewood recycling coordinator. --Melissa Hendricks

Gifts toward better health

As the 1998-99 academic year wound down, Hopkins announced three new gifts totaling $40 million.

The Bunting Family of Baltimore, and the Jacob and Hilda Blaustein Foundation, each donated $10 million to the Johns Hopkins Oncology Center's new cancer research facility. That facility, to be called the Bunting Blaustein Building, is scheduled to open in January as a companion to the nearly completed Johns Hopkins Comprehensive Cancer Center in East Baltimore.

The Hopkins School of Public Health is the beneficiary of a $20 million gift from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundations. The donation will create the Bill and Melinda Gates Institute for Population and Reproductive Health. The foundations, established by Microsoft Corp. founder Bill Gates and his wife, previously committed $2.25 million to the school in 1997.

The new institute will bring scholars from Latin America, Asia, and Africa to Hopkins to earn advanced degrees. It also intends to initiate research collaborations, train scientists in information technology, and promote the sharing of experience among developing countries and impoverished neighborhoods in Baltimore.

With the contribution from the Gates Foundations, the Johns Hopkins Initiative has surpassed its increased goal of $1.2 billion. The initiative will continue through June 2000, to raise additional funds for student aid endowment, libraries, faculty support, and capital projects. --Dale Keiger

Photo by
Richard W. Linfield
Margie Muller dies

On July 25, the Hopkins community noted with sadness the passing of Margie H. Muller (pictured at left), longtime Maryland bank commissioner and wife of former Hopkins president Steven Muller (1972-90). She died at Johns Hopkins Hospital at age 71, after a long struggle with emphysema.

The Muller family, including daughters Julie and Elizabeth, arrived at Hopkins in 1971 when Steven Muller was named provost; 10 months later he became president of the university and Hopkins Hospital.

Margie Muller rose through the ranks in the Baltimore banking community and in 1983 was tapped by Governor Harry Hughes to be bank commissioner. The post involved supervising a staff of 30 regulators and monitoring 80 state-chartered banks, 20 credit unions, and mortgage brokers.

Throughout the 1980s and into the turbulent '90s, when some of the nation's biggest banks were lobbying to take over local institutions, she helped Maryland make a smooth transition into interstate banking. She was fired in 1996 by Governor Parris N. Glendening, after she criticized his plan to save money by merging her office with the consumer credit commissioner's office; she felt the move would hamper efforts to regulate banks.

"Margie was bright and absolutely dead honest," said her husband. "She was the opposite of a politician. She did what she thought was right, regardless."

Beyond the realm of medicine

Look out Pavarotti. A revived Hopkins award granted this year will let science-oriented undergrads explore their artistic side before it becomes atrophied in the pursuit of an MD.

Called the Goodman Awards, the $2,000 grants are named for Louis E. Goodman '34, a Baltimore surgeon who died 12 years ago. As part of his bequest, he set up a fund for "ideas and matters beyond the realm of medicine."

Originally set up for $1,500, the awards were to be granted to one student per year for projects such as visits to archives, summer study at museums, music lessons, an internship with a theater group, or a service project in the arts.

The only glitch: the money was forgotten about for several years.

After being alerted to the existence of the awards by the Development Office, Ronald Fishbein, advisor to undergraduate prehealth professions students, researched the the fund's history and found enough money to spin off three awards this year. The Goodman is granted to juniors for projects to be done in the summer before their senior years, and can be used by students planning to enter the fields of medicine, engineering, dentistry, and other areas.

Product of the pinhole
Photo by Doug Housman/ AIDS Photo Project
This summer's recipients include premed students Steven Chang, who is teaching painting to elderly patients at Bayview; Doug Housman, who is teaching photography using pinhole cameras to AIDS-affected children and teens; and engineering student Sarvenaz Zand, who is using a manual camera to help give fifth-graders an outlet for artistic expression.

"It's a wonderful opportunity," Fishbein says. "So many of our students are so science-oriented. Some have hobbies or interests, yet are grinding away, preparing to get into medical school. This is to show them there's another side to life."

Fishbein should know. He has been a longtime surgeon and a sculptor. And in a recent paper published in Academic Medicine Fishbein points out: "The really skillful clinician is equipped with extraordinary powers of observation, which may well have taken root in his or her exposure to the artistic details of great paintings, sculpture, and architecture."