What a summer! Welcome back.

Dear Johns Hopkins Community: 

Summer has a well-earned reputation for being slow and quiet compared to the buzz of back-to-school in the fall. But not this summer. Not at Johns Hopkins. Indeed, the past three months have been humming with activity. So, as we begin another semester, I wanted to share some highlights of a truly historic summer and some of the major events we envisage for the start of our 148th academic year. 

Our new home in Washington, D.C. at 555 Pennsylvania Ave. is now officially open, and our D.C.-based faculty, staff, and students—from the School of Advanced International Studies (SAIS), the Carey Business School, Krieger School of Arts and Sciences, and others—have already moved in. The building is, as you know, located near all three branches of our government, and has majestic, awe-inspiring views of the Capitol (the best, in my opinion, from the cafe on the 7th floor). 

The facility itself is spectacular: 10 floors of gleaming state-of-the-art offices and classrooms that look out onto a grand atrium teeming with activity, an elegant performance hall, and other gathering spaces where we will host distinguished scholars and global leaders, hold convenings and workshops, and mount performances by the Peabody Institute. If you haven’t visited yet, I hope that you will take advantage of the many opportunities to do so. Just bring your Hopkins ID to enter and then wander the building.

We were also thrilled this summer to announce two major building projects on our Baltimore campuses that go to the core of our academic mission. 

The first is a new Life Sciences Building in East Baltimore, dedicated to basic biomedical and life science research. In true One University spirit, the building will bring together researchers from our School of Medicine, the Krieger School of Arts and Sciences, the Whiting School of Engineering, the School of Nursing, and the Bloomberg School of Public Health. Critically, the new building will allow us to develop new core facilities that will fuel our research engine, and it will be the anchor for a more expansive Life Sciences Corridor that will run along Monument Street, including the new Health Sciences Building and plaza opening in 2025.

The second project is a new data science and translation institute to be built on the Homewood campus that will support next-generation, data-driven research across our university and augment our existing strengths in data science, artificial intelligence, and machine learning found in Whiting, APL, the Bloomberg School of Public Health, Krieger, and the School of Medicine. We will soon start recruiting the first of 80 faculty associated with the institute, as well as 30 new Bloomberg Distinguished Professors who will connect disciplines throughout the university—from biostatistics to computational social sciences, precision medicine to education policy among many others—to the institute. At a moment when the possibilities, as well as the risks, of artificial intelligence and big data are mounting worldwide, this institute will pursue new discoveries in these fields while also grappling with societal and ethical concerns raised by AI. 

And, of course, we ended the summer as we always do by welcoming our newest Blue Jays to campus. This year’s undergraduate class is exceptional and reflects the extraordinary work our admissions team has invested over many years in recruiting one of the most diverse and academically talented student bodies in the nation. We were proud to have the story of these efforts recounted recently in The Washington Post. As I indicated in June, after the Supreme Court rendered its decision in Students for Fair Admissions, we have been working to ensure that our admissions practices fully comply with the court’s new restrictions on the use of race, while honoring our commitment to recruit meritorious students of diverse backgrounds and perspectives, across socio-economic divides, and from around the country and the world.

As you can tell, Hopkins spent its summer “break” well. And there is so much that we are excited about this fall.

We will soon release the final version of our university’s next strategic vision, the Ten for One, which reflects the input of more than 1,200 Hopkins faculty, students, and staff, and that was recently endorsed by our board of trustees.  We are excited about our progress toward the renewal of our undergraduate academic program through the continuing implementation of the recommendations of the Second Commission on Undergraduate Education (CUE2). This fall, for instance, all 859 KSAS first-year students are enrolled in one of our 74 first-year seminars taught by faculty representing every department and program of the school—from the humanities to the sciences—as well as other divisions of the university. 

We also recently established a new Staff Advisory Council that will hold its first full meeting this fall, marking another step in the process of modernizing our university’s governance arrangements, which began with the universitywide Tenure Advisory Committee and the Johns Hopkins University Council (of faculty and deans), and is reflected as well in the new cross-institutional Student Advisory Council. These new institutions are designed to ensure that staff, faculty, and student voices are a regular and critical part of our discussions of Johns Hopkins’ present and future.  

There is so much that is good and exciting happening at our university, and as always, I feel privileged to be able to work with you to advance our great mission. 

Welcome back,