Johns Hopkins University

views updated May 23 2018


JOHNS HOPKINS UNIVERSITY, a private, non-sectarian institution of higher learning, opened on 22 February 1876 in Baltimore, Maryland, as the country's first research-based, graduate-level university. Funded by the Baltimore Quaker merchant Johns Hopkins with a bequest of $7 millionthe largest philanthropic gift given to that date in the United Statesthe university was modeled after the great European universities. It was the first to combine the liberal arts, the classics, and scientific research. Known since its inception for innovative programs, many consider Johns Hopkins to be the first modern American research university. It revolutionized higher education, medical training and practice, and, not least, provided an unlikely arena in the battle for women's equality.

The university, which has eight academic divisions, first opened in modest classrooms in downtown Baltimore, but soon moved north to Baltimore's more spacious Homewood section, where the main campus is still located. The university's first president, Daniel Coit Gilman, launched what many at the time considered to be an audacious and unprecedented academic experiment to merge teaching and research. He dismissed the idea that the two were mutually exclusive: "The best teachers are usually those who are free, competent, and willing to make original researches in the library and the laboratory," he stated. To implement his educational plan, Gilman recruited internationally known luminaries such as the biologist Henry Newell Martin; the Greek scholar Basil Gildersleeve; the classicist Charles D. Morris; the economist Richard T. Ely; and the chemist Ira Remsen, who became the second president of the university in 1901.

The Johns Hopkins Hospital in East Baltimore opened to much fanfare in 1889. The university's research-based pedagogy soon attracted world-renowned faculty members who became giants in the emerging field of academic medicine, including William Osler, William Halsted, Howard Kelly, and William Welch.

In the age of scientific discovery and bacteriology, the opening of the country's first research-based hospital was propitious. John Shaw Billings, a surgeon and the country's leading expert on hospital construction, designed the pioneering hospital, the first in the country to offer, among a host of innovations, central heating. With its well-equipped laboratories and rooms, patients benefited from the new "bench-to-bedside" transfer of research from laboratory to patient. Faculty became clinician-physicians. The hospital's charter, reflecting the Quaker philosophy of its founder, mandated hospital care for the "sick and indigent" of Baltimore.

The founder of the university had always hoped to establish a modern medical school, sorely needed in the late nineteenth century, when medical education was in its infancy. At the time, there were few academic standards and even fewer known medical cures. A student could study for a few months at a proprietary medical school or apprentice with a physician. But the university faced a major hurdle. Soon after the completion of the hospital, the remaining endowment earmarked to start the medical school sank with the misfortunes of the 1880s stock market. In 1889, President Gilman put forth a national plea for a "man of large means" to endow the proposed medical school. The search for a benefactor took four years. The person who stepped up to the plate was Mary Elizabeth Garrett, the thirty-eight-year-old daughter of John Work Garrett, a Hopkins trustee and president of the powerful Baltimore and Ohio Railroad from 1858 until his death in 1884.

Despite Gilman's stated intention to make the university a place to "to develop character and to make men," it soon became a battleground for women's rights. Mary Garrett headed the national Women's Medical School Fund, founded in 1890 to raise money to make the proposed Hopkins medical school coeducational. The fund's roster included the country's wealthiest and most prominent grande dames and activists. They organized into fifteen chapters across the country and eventually raised $100,000. Garrett contributed $354,000, one of the largest amounts given by a woman in the nineteenth century, for the balance needed to open the medical school. She insisted on several unprecedented conditions, notably that women were to be admitted "on the same terms as men," and that the new medical students have a baccalaureate degree with a background in science and language.

One commentator at the time called the Hopkins victory the "crowning achievement for American feminism in the nineteenth century." In the fall of 1893, three women medical students took their place with fifteen male students. Hopkins became the nation's first coeducational, graduate-level medical school and the prototype for academic medicine. The Hopkins medical school ushered in a heightened era of medical standards, which emphasized bedside learning, research projects, and laboratory training. The new medical school produced some of the most outstanding scientists and physicians in the United States during the twentieth century.

Hopkins is known for a range of other groundbreaking programs. The Johns Hopkins University Press, founded in 1878, is the oldest American university press in continuous operation. In 1909, the university was among the first in the country to start adult continuing education programs and by the end of the century offered classes in numerous sites around Maryland and the District of Columbia. In the mid-twentieth century, the university began to focus on international programs. Since 1950, the

Paul H. Nitze School of Advanced International Studies in Washington, D.C., has been a division of Hopkins. In addition to the nation's capital, the school has campuses at Nanjing, China, and Bologna, Italy. In 1977, the university acquired the famed Peabody Institute in Baltimore, a leading professional school of music, founded in 1857.

In 2001, Hopkins enrolled 18,000 students and employed more than 25,000 full-time, part-time, and temporary employees, making it one of the top five employers in Maryland. In 1999, it ranked first in federal research and development funds, receiving $770.5 million, given primarily to the Applied Physics Laboratory. The School of Medicine is the largest recipient of National Institutes of Health grants and Hopkins consistently is named among the top universities and medical centers in the world. Its endowment tops $1.8 billion, making it the twenty-third wealthiest university in the United States.


Chronicle of Higher Education, Almanac Issue, 20012002.

Harvey, A. McGehee, et al. A Model of Its Kind. Vol. 1, A Centennial History of Medicine at Johns Hopkins. Vol. 2, A Pictorial History of Medicine at Johns Hopkins. Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press, 1989.

Schmidt, John C. Johns Hopkins: Portrait of a University. Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press, 1986.

Warren, Mame. Johns Hopkins: Knowledge for the World, 18762001. Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press, 2000.

Kathleen Waters Sander

See also Coeducational Movement ; Education, Higher: Colleges and Universities ; Medical Education ; Medical Research .

Johns Hopkins University

views updated May 18 2018


Johns Hopkins University was founded in 1876 by educational pioneers who abandoned the traditional roles of the American college and forged a new era of modern research universities by focusing on the expansion of knowledge, graduate education, and support of faculty research.

Early Years

In 1873 Johns Hopkins, a childless bachelor, bequeathed $7 million to fund a hospital and university in Baltimore, Maryland. At that time this fortune, generated primarily from the Baltimore and Ohio Railroad, was the largest philanthropic gift in the history of the United States. Flush with funds, the new board searched the nation for appropriate models of higher education. Finding none to their liking, they opted for an entirely new model. It was to be a truly national school dedicated to the discovery of knowledge. It owed its inspiration not to America's higher educational system but to modernized Germany. By following the Germanic university example, the board animated a new spirit and structure, which moved higher education in the United States away from a focus on either revealed or applied knowledge to a concentration on the scientific discovery of new knowledge. This made Johns Hopkins the genesis of the modern research university.

The Gilman Period

Johns Hopkins was intended to be national in scope, so it could serve as a balm for a country divided over the sectional strife of the Civil War. As such, the university's official commemoration took on great significance: 1876 was the nation's centennial year and February 22 was George Washington's birthday. Notwithstanding the care taken in selecting this date, the institution's viability depended directly on the board's choice for the first president. They chose wisely. Daniel Coit Gilman, lured away from the presidency of the University of California, helped create Johns Hopkins University and lead American higher education in new directions. In word and sometimes deed, Gilman held to some traditional goals of the denominational college but, nevertheless, he created the first American campus focused on the faculty and their research. To Gilman, Johns Hopkins existed not for the sake of God, the state, the community, the board, the parents, or even the students, but for knowledge. Therefore, faculty who expanded knowledge were rewarded.

Connected with the new university's focus was its concentration on graduate education and the fusion of advanced scholarship with such professional schools as medicine and engineering. It was the national pacesetter in doctoral programs and was the host for numerous scholarly journals and associations. Having a faculty-oriented perspective, the university did not want its professors bogged down in remedial education, but rather wanted to attract serious, prepared students who could genuinely participate in the discovery of new knowledge. Though the opposite is often mistakenly believed, Johns Hopkins has always provided undergraduate education, although Gilman had to be persuaded to include it and other early presidents attempted to eliminate the program. However, whether undergraduate or graduate, Johns Hopkins concentrates on providing research opportunities for all of its students. And its strong ties with John Hopkins Hospital, a teaching and research hospital, attract students from around the nation interested in biomedical engineering and medicine.

Modern Times

The legacy of adroit leadership begun by Gilman has continued. Among the many able presidents, Milton S. Eisenhower, brother of Dwight Eisenhower, led Johns Hopkins during the 1950s and 1960s when the university's income tripled, endowment doubled, ambitious building projects were undertaken, and strong ties with Washington, DC, were developed. Because of his contributions, Eisenhower was one of two men named president emeritus. Steven Muller, who served as president from 1972 until 1990, is the only other one awarded this titleand along with Gilman is one of two to be named president of both the Johns Hopkins hospital and the university.

Though privately endowed, Johns Hopkins University embodies what Clark Kerr called the "federal grant university," as it often tops the nation in federal research and development expenditures. Johns Hopkins University also illustrates the skewed priorities of federal grants, as the school's humanities programs cannot hope to attract research funding commensurate with that attracted by medicine, public health, engineering, and physics. Despite this imbalance, the institution remains committed to professional instruction in conjunction with academic disciplines within a true university setting. The Georgian-style Homewood campus provides an academic atmosphere that allows students to participate in extracurricular activities. In intercollegiate athletics, Johns Hopkins is famous for lacrosse and houses the National Lacrosse Hall of Fame and Museum, a fitting location because the Blue Jays have won thirty-seven national championships. At the same time, its medical school and hospital remain in their historic setting in downtown Baltimore's harbor area. The university's educational presence in Baltimore is supplemented by its economic role as the city's single largest employer. Clearly, the Johns Hopkins University continues to fulfill its mission as a national university and as an academic pioneer.

See also: Graduate School Training; Higher Education in the United States, subentry on Historical Development; Research Universities.


Hawkins, Hugh. 1960. Pioneer: A History of the Johns Hopkins University, 18741889. Ithaca, NY: Cornell University Press.

Rudolph, Frederick. 1962. The American College and University: A History. New York: Random House.

Schmidt, John C. 1986. Johns Hopkins: Portrait of a University. Baltimore, MD: Johns Hopkins University.

Jason R. Edwards

Eric Moyen

John R. Thelin