Autumn trees are reflected in the glass walls of the UTL

Johns Hopkins launches effort to honor its diverse history through named buildings, programs

The Diverse Names and Narratives project will focus specifically on recognizing individuals from historically marginalized and underrepresented groups and elevating their stories

Johns Hopkins today announced the first steps in a new effort to recognize and more visibly celebrate the names and stories of remarkable people who are part the institution's history, with a specific focus on individuals from historically marginalized and underrepresented groups.

"Since our founding, many thousands of people associated with our university and health system have made an outsized impact on so many different areas of human endeavor," JHU President Ronald J. Daniels, Hopkins Medicine CEO Paul B. Rothman, and Johns Hopkins Health System President Kevin Sowers wrote in a message to the Hopkins community today. "Yet we know that our institution's recognition of some of these achievements has been insufficient."

The Diverse Names and Narratives Project presents "an opportunity to seek out, affirm, and elevate the diverse and underrepresented accomplishments and experiences of extraordinary people who have lived, studied, worked, and healed on our campuses and in our communities," they added.

"This project is an acknowledgment that we need to act deliberately and intentionally to elevate the lives and impact of exceptional individuals who have made indispensable contributions to Johns Hopkins over the years, but who have been overlooked or gone without proper recognition for too long."
Katrina Caldwell
Chief Diversity Officer

The project is part of a broad, multifaceted effort at Johns Hopkins to advance diversity, equity, and inclusion and address discrimination. That effort includes the creation of the Committee to Establish Principles on Naming, which earlier this month shared a draft report recommending criteria and processes for considering requests to remove or contextualize names that now adorn existing buildings or academic programs.

This parallel project will be a proactive effort to celebrate diverse individuals from the institution's past without renaming or "de-naming" facilities or programs.

"This project is an acknowledgment that we need to act deliberately and intentionally to elevate the lives and impact of exceptional individuals who have made indispensable contributions to Johns Hopkins over the years, but who have been overlooked or gone without proper recognition for too long," said Katrina Caldwell, JHU's vice provost for diversity and inclusion and chief diversity officer. "It's an opportunity to tell a more complete and representative story, to inform and to inspire."

To begin, Hopkins has identified three prominent initial naming opportunities:

  • Charles Commons: This Homewood campus residence hall is home to 600 undergraduates each year and 9,000 students since it opened in 2006; it currently takes its name from the street on which it is located
  • Undergraduate Teaching Labs: One of the most beautiful buildings on the Homewood campus, the "UTL" opened in 2013 and unites under one roof an array of disciplines in the life sciences
  • Johns Hopkins Outpatient Center: While the building in which it sits was named for Robert M. Heyssel when it opened in 1992, the center itself is colloquially known as "J-HOC;" it serves 300,000 patients annually and is home to medical students and residents, faculty, and frontline caregivers

A cross-institutional task force of students, faculty, and staff will be established to make recommendations to Hopkins leadership and the boards of trustees for the university and health system regarding individuals who deserve recognition. The task force will be co-led by JHU trustee Susan Daimler, KSAS '99, and School of Medicine Chair of Surgery and Associate Dean for Diversity and Inclusion Robert S.D. Higgins.

The task force members are:

  • Susan Daimler, KSAS '99 (Co-Chair), Trustee, Johns Hopkins University
  • Robert "Bob" S.D. Higgins (Co-Chair), Director of the Department of Surgery, Professor of Surgery, and Senior Associate Dean of Diversity and Inclusion, School of Medicine
  • Jeremy Brown, John C. Malone Assistant Professor, Department of Mechanical Engineering, Whiting School of Engineering
  • Angus Burgin, Associate Professor, Department of History, Krieger School of Arts and Sciences
  • Boi Carpenter, Senior Associate Vice President for Development and Alumni Relations, Johns Hopkins University
  • Bassil Dahiyat, WSE '90 (BSE), '92 (MSE), Member, BME Advisory Board
  • Reverend Frances "Pastor Toni" Murphy Draper, SOE '73 (MA), Founding Pastor, Freedom Temple A.M.E. Zion Church; CEO and Publisher, Afro-American Newspaper
  • Sherita Hill Golden, HS '97, SOM '00 (PGF), BSPH '00 (MHS) Vice President and Chief Diversity Officer, Johns Hopkins Medicine; Hugh P. McCormick Family Professor of Endocrinology and Metabolism; Professor of Medicine
  • Kaliat T. "K.T." Ramesh, Alonzo G. Decker Jr. Professor of Science and Engineering, Whiting School of Engineering; Founding Director, Hopkins Extreme Materials Institute (HEMI)
  • Niarah Russell, SON '22, Incoming President, School of Nursing Senate; President, Black Student Nurses Association
  • Lainie Rutkow, BSPH '05 (MPH), '09 (PhD); Senior Adviser for Strategic Initiatives, Johns Hopkins University; Professor of Health Policy and Management, Bloomberg School of Public Health; Professor, Department of Emergency Medicine, School of Medicine
  • Calvin L. Smith Jr., Director of Student Leadership and Involvement, Johns Hopkins University
  • Natalia Trayanova, Murray B. Sachs Professor of Biomedical Engineering and Medicine; Director, Alliance for Cardiovascular Diagnostic and Treatment Innovation (ADVANCE)
  • Rahwa Yehdego, KSAS '22, Vice President, Black Student Union

The work of the task force will be supported by the professional staff of the Johns Hopkins libraries and archives. The group will convene for the first time next month and will consult extensively with interested groups and stakeholders from across the institution. To share feedback and/or recommendations with the task force, send an email to diversenamesandnarratives@jhu.edu or use the online feedback form.

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Tagged diversity