Johns Hopkins Magazine - November 1994 Issue

Campus News

Filling holes, etc.

Peabody director to step down

Peabody director Robert O. Pierce, the man widely credited for restoring the institute's financial health and academic reputation, has announced his intent to retire at the end of the 1994-95 academic year.

"This is a fast-paced kind of occupation," says the 60-year-old Pierce. "Peabody has its own peculiar set of challenges. I think it's best for me and for the institution to get somebody else to wrestle with those challenges. Fourteen years is pretty long in a position like this. One's effectiveness begins to diminish."

Pierce has been a member of the Peabody faculty since 1958. Until 1982, he was also principal horn for the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra. He spent two years as Peabody's dean and acting director before assuming the directorship in 1983. At that time the institute's endowment was a meager $2 million, and it had fallen from among the top ranks of American conservatories.

In the years since, Pierce steered the institute through a successful campaign that combined private gifts and a generous Maryland state aid package to put the school back on firm fiscal footing. According to current projections, Peabody's endowment is expected to reach $45 million by 1996, Pierce says. What's more, the institute is once again considered to be among the nation's premier music schools: enrollment has hit record levels (of about 600 students), and students and alumni regularly capture top honors in worldwide music competitions.

Pierce continues to see fundraising as "the most immediate and critical need for Peabody." Pointing out that other music schools in Peabody's class, such as Juilliard or Oberlin, have endowments of $100 million or more, he says that Peabody will eventually need to double that projected $45 million endowment to maintain its standing.

He adds that the institute's affiliation with Hopkins, begun in 1977, "has been immensely helpful in fund-raising and recruiting. It's just a magic combination."

That increased endowment will be needed to meet another significant challenge: responding to changes in music, including the effects of technology. "What's coming down the pike in the 21st century?" Pierce asks. "Do we want to react to the future, or be a pacesetter?" --DK

Digital Media Center will tap student creativity

Until recently, English professor Jerome Christensen and biology professor Harry Goldberg had rarely--if ever--crossed paths. "I didn't even know where the Department of Biology is," jokes Christensen.

Now the two men are working to-gether to establish Hopkins's new Center for Digital Media, a center whose strength, they say, will lie in its ability to pool the talents of students and researchers from a wide variety of disciplines: English, engineering, computer science, and medicine, to name a few.

In one of the center's pilot projects, for example, researchers at Homewood and the Applied Physics Laboratory are working to create a "virtual lab," in which science students equipped with headsets will be able to "dissect" a virtual frog--without ever spilling a drop of blood. In another project, Christensen and his students plan to create a digital drama series on CD-ROM, using both text and film clips. "Part of the problem in teaching drama is relating the text to performance," Christensen explains. With the CD-ROM, students will be able to click onto various performances of scenes from Death of a Salesman, say, or Raisin in the Sun. They'll also be able to interact with the series. "Do you want to stage A Doll's House naturalistically, or abstractly?" the computer screen might ask. From there the student follows an algorithm of choices and is "forced to accept the consequences for each choice," Christensen says.

While one by-product of the center may be revenue for the university (from marketing prototypes for educational CD-ROMs to high schools, colleges, and medical centers), its central purpose is to enable Hopkins students to take a "constructivist" approach to learning by using digital media technology, says co-director Goldberg.

Goldberg last year established a course in Applications of Interactive Multimedia, in which undergraduates use multimedia techniques to solve problems of their own design. Goldberg says he serves more as a consultant than an instructor. "One student developed a virtual lab on the computer screen, on which he could analyze an action potential as it was propagated down a neuron," he says. Another student, biology major Peter Zapalo '96, came up with a software program that enables figure skaters to analyze their performances scientifically. The program is much less costly and easier to use than current systems, and Zapalo has been flown to Florida and California to demonstrate its use to coaches and competitive skaters.

Says Goldberg, "If you give Hopkins students the reins to explore areas they're interested in, they're incredibly creative." --SD


Laid to rest: We publish this photo of a massive hole in the ground for two reasons. First, this year marks the 30th anniversary of the opening of the Milton S. Eisenhower Library, which is what was built in the hole. The photo was taken in October 1962 as the first structural steel appeared. Second, we'd like to lay to rest the apocryphal story that the library was built mostly underground because Daniel Coit Gilman demanded in his will that no building ever obstruct the view of Gilman Hall from Charles Street.

James Stimpert, library archivist, notes with patience that Gilman didn't even know there would be a Gilman Hall, which was built many years after his death. The truth is that the library was built largely down under so that it would not overwhelm nearby Homewood House, and to preserve the Federal architectural look of the campus, Stimpert says.

And while we're filling holes, the library has a new interim director: Stephen G. Nichols, professor of French. Nichols will serve in his new post until the university hires a replacement for former director Scott Bennett, who left Hopkins to head up library operations at Yale University. --DK

A new union to face managed care

Until recently, the Johns Hopkins Health System and the Johns Hopkins School of Medicine were two separate corporate entities--separate but with many bridges linking the two. All faculty at the School of Medicine, for instance, are also on staff at Johns Hopkins Hospital. Now, the two organizations have merged their health care delivery functions in a partnership known as "Johns Hopkins Medicine."

"We've always worked together," says Medical School dean Michael Johns. "This is a way to formalize a relationship we've had over the years."

Though still separate corporate entitities, the School of Medicine and the Health System are consolidating their policy, management, and operational groups. John Stobo, formerly chief of the School of Medicine's Department of Medicine, will oversee the partnership.

The union, say its leaders, will help Hopkins form alliances with managed care organizations and community hospitals. Those groups will see that Hopkins is "speaking with one voice," says Johns. Already, Johns Hopkins Medicine has in the works a large alliance with several Maryland hospitals. --MH

Women outnumber menin newest crop of med students

For the first time in the 101-year history of the School of Medicine, this year's incoming medical school class of 120 students includes more women than men.

"We've been inching toward a 50-50 split for several years now. Last year, women comprised 43 percent of the freshmen class. This year they are 53 percent," says Catherine DeAngelis, vice dean for academic affairs and faculty. She notes that the school has not changed its admissions policy or acceptance habits to bring in more women. "Each year brings a greater number of exceptional women candidates. Our admissions committee simply chooses the best students. The process takes months, and no one stops for a gender tally."

Currently, women comprise about 30 percent of the Medical School faculty, a figure that is slightly above the national average, but one that many at the school--including a new Women's Leadership Council--would like to see increased. The council is also working to equalize salaries and to garner more recognition for research projects directed by women at Hopkins. -- SD

Hopkins ranked #22 by U.S. News

Johns Hopkins dropped seven notches, from #15 last year to #22 this year, in U.S. News & World Report's annual ranking of America's 229 national universities. Hopkins administrators say the slip is due to a change in U.S. News's methodology, and to the university's "continuing commitment to part-time education in all divisions."

In the "faculty resources" category, which counted for 20 percent of the overall ranking, Hopkins dropped from #37 last year to #97 this year. That's due in part to a change in the ratio of full-time to part-time faculty: there were 206 more part-time faculty and 10 fewer full-time faculty at Hopkins in 1994 than in 1993. "This is exclusively in divisions and programs that do not affect Homewood undergraduates," notes Robert J. Massa, associate dean for enrollment management.

In addition, this year U.S. News factored in the salaries of all full-time faculty, rather than just the salaries of full professors, as had been done in the past. (According toU.S. News education editor Robert Morse, Hopkins's full professors are paid disproportionately better than junior faculty.) In another methodological change, Hopkins salaries were "deflated," since the cost of living in Baltimore is significantly above the national average. Finally, last year the "financial resources" category--in which Hopkins ranks #2 because of its success in attracting federal research dollars--comprised 15 percent of the total ranking. This year it comprised just 10 percent.

The rankings brought good news as well: Johns Hopkins ranked #4 in academic reputation, #9 in median SAT scores of freshmen, and #15 in admissions selectivity.

Top honors in the university category went to Harvard, which was ranked #1 for the fifth year in a row. Among liberal arts colleges, Amherst earned the #1 ranking for the second year in a row. --SD

Athletic Hall of Fame to induct charter class

A baker's dozen of legendary sports figures has been selected to the inaugural class of Hopkins's Athletic Hall of Fame.

Due to be inducted on October 29 are Henry Ciccarone '62, Louis Clark '22, Joe Cowan '69, Bill Jews '74, C. Gardner Mallonee '28, Bill Milne '74, Bob Scott '52, Fred Smith '50, Bill Stromberg '82, Harry Tighe '50, Doug Turnbull, Jr. '25, Jack Turnbull '32, and G. Wilson Shaffer '24. Shaffer, a longtime faculty member and dean at Homewood, was honored for his "outstanding service to athletics" at Johns Hopkins.

To be eligible for induction, candidates must have participated in at least two full seasons of varsity competition at Hopkins, and have graduated at least 10 years previously. For more information call (410) 516-0412. --SD

Written by Sue De Pasquale, Melissa Hendricks, and Dale Keiger.

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