The Johns Hopkins Gazette: April 30, 2001
April 30, 2001
VOL. 30, NO. 32


A Great Gift for Homewood

Dedication of Mattin Center marks 'a turning point' for student life

By Greg Rienzi
The Gazette

Johns Hopkins Gazette Online Edition

With a shower of confetti released on the count of three, the Mattin Center, the newest addition to the Homewood campus, was officially dedicated on Friday, April 20. The 53,000-square-foot center, which has been described as a "creative chrysalis" for students, is the first major Homewood facility built exclusively to support the arts and extracurricular activities.

Hundreds gathered in the Mattin Center's Allfirst courtyard to witness the event, among them university trustees, deans, senior administration, donors and various people who had worked on the project, including the building's architects, Tod Williams and Billie Tsien.

Christina Mattin, for whose family the building is named, receives from board chairman Michael Bloomberg a letter of thanks that replicates the Mattin Center's distinctive signage.

"This is indeed a memorable moment," said university president William R. Brody. "It brings home to me the fact that with the opening of the Mattin Center we are truly writing a new chapter in the history of Johns Hopkins' Homewood campus. I say to all of you here today, but most especially to our students, look around here; it's for you. May this new building make your time at Johns Hopkins infinitely richer and more fulfilling."

Accepting the center on behalf of the students was Anuj Mittal, Student Council president.

"I have looked around, Dr. Brody," he said. "The facilities are amazing. From the rehearsal rooms to the digital media lab to the black box theater, this center will become the home for student life and will invigorate our campus. This is a great day to be a Hopkins student."

A shower of confetti--thanks to students placed strategically at the top of the courtyard's brick walls--marked the end of the Friday afternoon dedication ceremony.

Michael Bloomberg, chairman of the board of trustees, hosted the dedication and spoke of the years of effort that went into the center's creation. The concept and vision for the center dates back four presidencies, to the tenure of Steven Muller, also in attendance at the ceremony.

"This has been a long time coming," Bloomberg said. "When I was an undergraduate here, starting in 1960, I thought we needed something like this. And you can see, if you just persevere and have some help from some generous people, you can actually get there."

Bloomberg was referring in part to Christina Mattin, a 1975 alumna and a university trustee, whose financial commitment was the impetus that made the new facility a reality. Mattin made the gift in memory of her grandparents and parents, and in honor of her two children.

Morris W. Offit, whose namesake building holds the west wing and Swirnow Theater, said of the Mattin Center, "This gives us a spiritual core."

The Mattin Center is actually a three-part complex: the west wing and the Richard and Rae Swirnow Theater, which together comprise the Morris W. Offit Building; and the east wing, which is the Ross Jones Building.

The dedication ceremony, which was projected onto an oversized screen, featured video tributes to Offit, a trustee and former board chairman, and Jones, vice president and secretary emeritus. The two were honored for their longtime commitment to Hopkins and its students, and their involvement in the creation of a student arts center.

Ross Jones, for whom the east wing is named, told the assembled crowd, "These buildings say to you, students today, and to generations of students to come, that Johns Hopkins cares deeply about your life outside the classroom."

"We are celebrating a dramatic turning point in the life of the undergraduates on this campus," Jones said. "These buildings say to you, students today, and to generations of students to come, that Johns Hopkins cares deeply about your life outside the classroom. That it recognizes the importance of encouraging you to create, to interpret, to perform, to lead and to bring out all those wonderful human qualities which will enrich your lives, and which might have lain dormant if these handsome facilities were not available to you."

Offit told those gathered, in reference to his tribute, that this is "quite a time for a little boy from Baltimore's Forest Park section." Offit took his time on stage to thank Mattin for her commitment to the facility that now bears her family's name.

"Christina, what you are doing is ennobling and enriching the soul of Johns Hopkins. This gives us a spiritual core," Offit said. "It is your financial generosity and, in effect, your generosity of spirit that have made this possible."

Mattin said that from the time she was a student the School of Arts and Sciences at Hopkins, the need for a facility devoted to the arts was clear to her.

"This has been a long time coming," said Michael Bloomberg, chairman of the board of trustees.

"The dedication of this center indicates the importance that Hopkins places on the need for balance in the lives of our students," Mattin said. "And I am very pleased by the student response and excitement about the center. It encourages me that it does, indeed, meet a need and will add to the quality of life for Hopkins students for years to come."

To see some of the dedication ceremony--and take a look inside the Mattin Center, where student groups performed and painted as part of the afternoon's event--go to

The video was shot and edited by students in video production courses offered through the Film and Media Studies program, which is within the English Department.