Posted in Speeches
Remarks by President Ronald J. Daniels
Scott Tower Dedication Ceremony
Hi, I’m Ron Daniels, president of Johns Hopkins University.
I’m sorry I couldn’t join you in-person, but I did not want to miss the opportunity to celebrate the life and legacy of Frederick Scott with his family and friends, with my Hopkins colleagues, and with the Fred Scott brigade, who have for decades sustained Frederick’s legacy by supporting generations of Black students and Hopkins alumni.
Seventy-seven years ago, Frederick enrolled at Johns Hopkins as our first Black undergraduate.
By his own account, his time as a student was not always easy.
He felt the pressure to succeed academically and to find acceptance among his fellow students – all of whom were white.
He commuted to campus by streetcar each day from West Baltimore.
And just a year into his studies, he was called into active duty with the United States Army, where he continued to take courses.
Still Frederick persevered. He received his degree in chemical engineering in 1950 and co-founded Beta Sigma Tau, Baltimore’s first interracial fraternity, that united the students of Hopkins, Loyola, and Morgan State.
But that narrative hardly captures the fullest extent of what Frederick brought to our university.
In an interview he gave to Johns Hopkins back in 2004, Frederick was asked that very question. What he believed he brought to Hopkins, he said, was “a broad-based capability to contribute a whole person in this academic setting.”
A whole person.
Frederick understood that his greatest gift to our university wasn’t reducible to grades or extracurriculars. It was, rather, the entire complex of experiences, attitudes, beliefs, and interests that made him so wholly, indelibly him.
To bring one’s whole person can be a difficult task even today let alone in 1945.
In doing so, Frederick challenged – and helped to change – the norms that prevented so many other people of diverse backgrounds from being welcomed as equal members of our university community and supported – fully – by their alma mater in their journey through Hopkins and beyond.
Today, we mark Frederick’s legacy – one that continues to resonate across Hopkins and our city in the newly renamed Scott Tower– and we will soon have the privilege, too, of honoring Ernie Bates, the first Black student in our Krieger School of Arts and Sciences.
Located in the heart of our Homewood campus and the Charles Village neighborhood, Scott Tower stands as a testament to our commitment to ensure that all those who live, work, and study at Hopkins know that they are valued and encouraged to always bring their fullest selves to our community – just as Frederick did.
Nor will this work end here.
The naming of buildings like Scott Tower, aided by the work of our Diverse Names and Narratives Project and by groups like the Fred Scott Brigade, is one way we are honoring all those across our history, who, like Frederick, were committed to changing the culture of our campuses forever.
Just as these visionaries brought their fullest, most authentic selves to Hopkins, we know that sharing their stories and contributions with our community is essential if we are to realize our promise to become the more equitable, more complete institution Frederick called us to be.
I am thrilled that today’s dedication marks the first of many more to come as we continue to elevate and acknowledge all those commanding spirits—both past and present—who have left an indelible imprint by bringing their “whole person” to Hopkins.