Our commitment to Baltimore
Dear Faculty, Students, and Staff,
This summer, I hosted a small group of high school students from the Johns Hopkins Summer Jobs Program in my office, offering cookies and lemonade as, with typical teenage reserve, they shared stories about their internships and future ambitions. When they grew quiet, I asked what they found to be most surprising about Johns Hopkins.
Without missing a beat, Jevaugh, a rising sophomore at Dunbar High School, declared: “The love!” He went on to describe how warmly he had been welcomed onto the university’s communications team, and how excited he was by the experience.
In recent months, to my delight and continual amazement, I have been privileged to hear others in our city echo Jevaugh’s simple but heartfelt appreciation of “the love” coming from our university and health system.
I heard it at a church in West Baltimore when I joined pastors, government officials, and BUILD community organizers to talk about the ways our work was jointly contributing to the success of this city.
I heard it at Johns Hopkins Hospital when I met one of the 120 people hired last year as part of our extraordinary effort to employ ex-offenders.
I heard it in the response to our annual school uniform drive, which this year outfitted 650 Baltimore children before the first day of class.
And I heard it as our freshmen returned from Baltimore Day during Orientation last week, captivated by newly discovered corners of Charm City, and already planning future explorations.
As you all know, Johns Hopkins’ commitment to our city and our neighbors is not new; it is part of who we are, inherent in our work from clinics to classrooms. And in the wake of the unrest in Baltimore last spring—a moment that laid bare harsh and multi-generational inequalities—our work is ever more important.
We are not naive about the challenges of Baltimore. We know there is much work to be done to realize the full potential of our city and to live up to this country’s commitment to equal opportunity.
In this respect, let me share a few recent initiatives that members of our Johns Hopkins community are undertaking to help bend the trajectory of our city:
- At Barclay Elementary/Middle School, a few blocks from the Homewood campus, our School of Engineering has forged a 10-year partnership to develop a flagship academic program focused on electrical and mechanical engineering and computer science. In partnership with Baltimore City Public Schools, we’re working on curricula and teacher training, and building state-of-the-art engineering and science labs that will open this fall.
- We are launching a major expansion of our economic inclusion program across the university and health system, with measurable commitments to increase local hiring, purchasing, and contracting and create more opportunities for minority- and women-owned businesses. Called HopkinsLocal, this effort is a promise to do more to leverage Johns Hopkins’ hiring and purchasing power and create lasting economic growth in Baltimore.
- Our faculty members have undertaken research projects aimed specifically at Baltimore’s challenges—from exploring the perspectives of Baltimore’s youth, to studying how law enforcement efforts around illegal guns and drugs have affected gun violence in the city.
- And we are exploring, and advocating for, new programs and opportunities to increase jobs and workforce training for city residents who need them most.
All these efforts—whether a student volunteering in a neighborhood cleanup, a faculty member working with the Safe Streets program in Park Heights, or our institutional support for the $1.6 billion East Baltimore Development Initiative—are firmly rooted in Johns Hopkins’ commitment to Baltimore, and in “the love” that Jevaugh told me about this summer.
At a university, the start of a new academic year is always a time of renewal. It is a moment of hope and of promise, and an opportunity to harness our ideas, our energies to think and act anew.
I look forward to celebrating the many accomplishments of the Johns Hopkins community this year. And I know I will continue to be awed and inspired by—and deeply proud of—the ways we will express our belief in the myriad possibilities of the city we call home.
Ronald J. Daniels