Welcome back 2013

Dear Faculty, Students and Staff,

This summer, I was touched by two acts of kindness by Johns Hopkins employees – not as a president, but as a father and spouse. Let me explain.

In the first instance, my daughter, Ally, was driving around campus in her grandfather’s hand-me-down car when she misjudged a turn, hit the curb and blew a tire. As Ally cursed her bad luck – not for blowing the tire but for forgetting to charge her now-dead phone – an employee from Purchasing happened to drive by. He stopped, checked that Ally was okay, fixed her tire, and tutored her on the finer points of lug nuts and tire changes. All this, and she was a complete stranger to him.

A month earlier, my wife, Joanne, was rushing to her office at the Bloomberg School of Public Health and decided to grab lunch at the Grille at the Johns Hopkins Outpatient Center. Reaching the front of the line, salad in hand, she discovered a slight problem: She’d left her wallet at home. For a desperate moment, she wondered if she would be stripped of her public health credentials if she returned the salad ingredients to the salad bar. Seeing Joanne’s predicament, the young woman manning the register simply said, “I got you.” When Joanne returned later that afternoon to pay the bill, the cashier, whom Joanne had never met before that day, refused. Shaking her head, she repeated, “I said I got you.”

Of course, as grateful as I am for these moments of compassion, this kindness comes as no surprise. To me, these incidents, small, yet commonplace, speak to a much larger truth about our university. They are but two examples – replicated and amplified across our campuses and communities – that underscore the core of decency, of selflessness, of humanity that imbues our common enterprise.

In arenas large and small, the Johns Hopkins message is consistent: “We got you.”

It is embodied daily, sometimes hourly, in the pathbreaking discoveries of our scholars, and in our clinicians’ unrelenting efforts to bring innovative care to their patients. It is reflected in the rapidly rising classrooms and new curricula of East Baltimore’s Henderson-Hopkins school. And as we return for another academic year, it is abundantly evident in the almost palpable excitement of our faculty and staff, who are poised to welcome, mentor and assist our students as they discover for themselves the magic of this place.

This year, as always, I am reminded of my good fortune that my family is part of the Johns Hopkins family.

Welcome back. Here’s to another magnificent year.