Johns Hopkins Magazine - February 1995 Issue

On Campuses

Richardson to leave Hopkins

Hopkins President William C. Richardson surprised the university community when he announced in late December that he will be leaving Hopkins to become president and CEO of the W.K. Kellogg Foundation on August 1.

The prestigious foundation, based in Battle Creek, Michigan, is the nation's second largest, with well over $5 billion in assets.

Now in his fifth year at Hopkins, Richardson said the decision to leave was a difficult one. "I would rather it had come in some future summer, because we love it here," he told the Baltimore Sun. "But what I've learned in the past few weeks is that you don't get to pick your time. The Kellogg Foundation has only had two directors in the past 50 years."

Founded in 1930 by the cereal magnate, the Kellogg Foundation is second in size only to the Ford Foundation. It gives out about $250 million in grants each year, primarily in the United States, Latin America, the Caribbean, and southern Africa. "Many of the foundation's interests are very close to my own, including health, education, and community development," said Richardson. That fact, he said, made the opportunity too "irresistible" to pass up.

Morris W. Offit, chair of the Johns Hopkins board of trustees, praised the 11th president for an extraordinarily productive five years. Under Richardson's leadership, enrollment reached a record high this year of 16,330 students, and the university ended fiscal 1994 with a small surplus, the first in many years, Offit noted. In October, the Johns Hopkins Institutions kicked off an ambitious five- year, $900 million campaign, designed to bolster Hopkins's endowment and lessen its reliance on federal research dollars. The Johns Hopkins Initiative has already raised one-third of that goal, and Richardson personally landed two of the campaign's anchor gifts: a $50 million challenge gift in 1992 from Zanvyl and Isabelle Krieger, and $20 million in September from R. Champlin and Debbie Sheridan.

What's more, said Offit, the university has made great progress in each of the major areas that Richardson had set as priorities when he became president: curricular reform; interdisciplinary collaboration; international outreach; and enhanced diversity of the student body, faculty, and staff.

"We consider ourselves very fortunate to have had him with us for as long as we did," Offit said.

Richardson has also proved influential at the local, state, and national levels. Among university presidents he has led the battle to retain full federal funding for the costs associated with scientific and medical research by testifying repeatedly before congressional committees. And last year he was appointed by Governor William Donald Schaefer to chair Maryland's Health Care Access and Cost Commission, which is charged with expanding health insurance coverage and containing medical costs.

Hopkins's trustees have launched an international search for Richardson's successor. If a replacement cannot be found by July, an interim president will be named, Offit said. --SD

Hospital plans to "reengineer"

Feeling the heat of competition from managed care companies, in late October Johns Hopkins Hospital announced it is "reengineering" its operations. All phases of the hospital's organization will be scrutinized in an effort to run a tighter ship.

Cutting costs is not the main goal of reengineering, says Sheila Collins, director of organizational effectiveness and manager of the reengineering effort. "It's primarily to make us more competitive. That includes enhancing services and maintaining a high level of customer service. Our measure of success will be if outsiders look at Hopkins and say, 'They're competitive and they provide quality care.'"

Employees representing every department at the hospital will be asked to review their departments' operations, noting, for example, how much time is devoted to each particular task. In the next phase, employee work groups will examine that information to see what works and what could work more efficiently. "It's important that people closest to the work, who do the work, do that," says Collins. The hospital will start implementing some recommendations this August.

Academic medical centers like Hopkins are threatened by managed care companies, which steer patients toward the cheapest healthcare providers. Hopkins's costs are higher than many other hospitals, in large part because a sizable chunk of its budget goes toward research and education.

Reengineering is a trendy management term meaning fast-paced redesign with an eye toward boosting efficiency. It can involve streamlining tasks, merging departments, retraining employees so they can take on more or different responsibilities, and reducing paperwork. Pilot reengineering projects at Johns Hopkins Hospital have already saved millions of dollars. Orthopedic Surgery has reduced the number of vendors it uses from nine to three, for example, which director Richard Stauffer predicts will save $5.5 million over the next five years.

What reengineering won't mean, hospital officials vow, is large-scale lay-offs. Instead, officials hope to trim labor costs through such measures as attrition and early retirement. Nevertheless, in a recently renewed contract with the hospital, the local hospital workers union included several safeguards to protect workers from any potential fallout. One clause guarantees that the hospital pay supplemental unemployment benefits to any employees who may be laid off as a result of reengineering. --MH

A charmed men's soccer team

"It was mind-boggling," says Hopkins senior Chris Borris. "A charmed season," adds freshman Eric West. Indeed, the Hopkins men's soccer team rode a mind-boggling, charmed wave all the way to the Division III NCAA championships, where it fell short of the title to Bethany College of West Virginia by a score of 1-0.

Before that final heartbreaker, the Blue Jays had knocked off Top 10 Elizabethtown and Muhlenberg in the first two rounds of the NCAA playoffs, then scored a 1-0 victory over No. 2-ranked Tufts in the quarterfinals, before advancing to a semifinals win over Trenton State. Not since 1975 had the Hopkins men advanced as far as the NCAA quarterfinals.

The 1994 season saw a virtual resurrection of Hopkins's men's soccer, which just two years ago had a record of 3-13. That's when new head coach Matt Smith came on the scene.

Smith, formerly a top soccer assistant at Towson State University, arrived to find a team with a losing record that had gone through four coaches over the past 10 years. Hired so late in the school year, Smith was unable to do any recruiting for the 1993 season. Nevertheless, he managed to lead his team to a winning 9-6 record.

"He basically had a bunch of guys who liked to play soccer, no big-time recruits," recalls senior midfielder Dave Kohlmeyer. "He got our team chemistry evolved, which is something we were lacking before." Smith says his biggest job was not just getting his team to win, but getting them used to winning.

"In my first year with the team, I wanted to get back to basics and have fun," says Smith. "Winning wasn't all I wanted to be about, but I have the attitude that if you lose, make sure they beat you, don't give it away. We had games where we outshot our opponents and all around outplayed them, but we lost anyway. Winning was something they needed to learn how to do."

Thanks to an aggressive recruiting effort on Smith's part last spring, the Hopkins team started the 1994 season on a higher level than it had in years. The Blue Jays found that being an underdog worked to their advantage. Most of their opponents looked right past them. "We all knew that once we made it to the playoffs, we were expected to lose every game," says Kohlmeyer. "Coach Smith made it a point to let us know which coaches put us down, and it really got us psyched."

The team's most explosive spark plug was Eric West, of Mechanicsville, Pennsylvania, whom Smith had actively recruited. The freshman sensation got the ball to the back of the net in almost every game of the season. He broke Hopkins's all-time single-season scoring record with a total of 22 goals.

As for next year, Coach Smith has his hands full--of mail, that is, from more than 100 athletes nationwide who want to be considered for his team. --LD

Postdocs lobby for fair wages

Anyone who's ever worked in a research lab has heard postdoctoral fellows complain about being "slave labor." Now members of the newly chartered Johns Hopkins School of Medicine Postdoctoral Association hope a letter from the dean will guarantee fair wages for postdocs at Hopkins.

Until now, half of all the postdocs at the School of Medicine earned salaries below standards set by the National Institutes of Health, says postdoc association president Ora Weisz, a fifth-year postdoctoral fellow in cell biology. These standards range from $19,600 for first-year fellows to $25,600 and up for postdocs in their third year or more of training.

As a result of the group's lobbying, Dean Michael Johns sent a letter to all School of Medicine research heads asking them to comply with the NIH guidelines for postdoc salaries and benefits. The letter also requests that all fellows be given health insurance--only 80 percent currently receive it.

Though postdoc salaries have historically been low, in the past these fellowships normally lasted only a year or two. Now, due to the grim job outlook, new PhDs are spending four years or more in postdoctoral positions "in a sort of holding pattern," Weisz says. --MH

Jewish student center planned

Jewish students at Hopkins and other area colleges and universities will soon have a new student center, thanks to the Associated Jewish Community Federation of Baltimore.

The Associated has agreed to lease the Abel Wolman house, located on North Charles Street just across from the Homewood campus, from the university so that Jewish students throughout Baltimore will have a place in which to socialize and worship together. Currently, between 100 and 150 Hopkins students take part in the university's Jewish Student Association, says faculty advisor Jerry Schnydman, director of Alumni Relations. "I suspect that number will grow now that they have a house to go to," he says.

Built by revered faculty member Abel Wolman back in 1938, the four-story house is considered to be one of the most impressive works by architect Laurence Hall Fowler. Hopkins trustee Bud Meyerhoff bought it for the university in 1993 to keep it "within the Hopkins family," Schnydman says. --SD

Written by Sue De Pasquale, Lisa Dicker '95, and Melissa Hendricks

Send EMail to Johns Hopkins Magazine

Return to table of contents.