Johns Hopkins will recognize four trailblazing figures from its past by adorning prominent campus buildings and facilities with their names, the first fruits of an ongoing effort to more visibly honor and celebrate remarkable people from the institution's history, with a specific focus on those from historically marginalized and underrepresented groups.
The recommendations were made after extensive deliberations by a cross-institutional task force of students, faculty, staff, alumni, and community members assembled as part of the Diverse Names and Narratives Project, which was launched this past spring. The group made its recommendations to the boards of trustees of Johns Hopkins University, Johns Hopkins Medicine, and the Johns Hopkins Health System, which voted to approve the following:
The Johns Hopkins Outpatient Center in East Baltimore, known colloquially as J-HOC, will be named for Levi Watkins, a pioneer in both cardiac surgery and civil rights at Johns Hopkins Medicine who died in 2015. While the building in which the J-HOC sits was named for Robert M. Heyssel when it opened in 1992, the center is not named; it serves 300,000 patients annually and is home to medical students and residents, faculty, and frontline caregivers.
The Undergraduate Teaching Laboratories, a 105,000-square-foot facility with a distinct concave, glazed-glass façade that opened at the Homewood campus in 2013, will be named for Florence Bascom, a barrier-shattering geologist who earned a PhD from Hopkins in 1893, becoming the second woman in the U.S. to receive a PhD in geology.
The two towers of the Charles Commons residence hall in Charles Village, which opened in 2006, will be named for two trailblazers, Frederick Scott and Ernie Bates, who were among the university's first Black undergraduate students. Scott enrolled in the School of Engineering in 1945 and was the first Black student to earn a BA from Hopkins; he went on to a career as an engineer and editor before his death in 2017. Bates, an acclaimed neurosurgeon and entrepreneur, became the first Black student at JHU's School of Arts and Sciences when he enrolled in 1954. He received an honorary doctorate from JHU earlier this year.
"This remarkable cohort of Johns Hopkins pioneers has improved our society and made our institution a more impactful and more welcoming place for all people," JHU President Ron Daniels said. "Hopkins is better for their having been here. I am deeply moved that their names will soon be permanent parts of our Baltimore campuses, with the recognition that this is just a beginning and not an end."
Dedication events for each of the named facilities are presently being planned; details will be shared at a later date.
The four individuals who will be honored were chosen from an original list of more than 50 eligible people suggested by members of the Hopkins community. The task force, 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, met multiple times over the summer to discuss the candidates. and make their selections.
Their work was supported by the professional staff and student researchers from the university's Program in Museums and Society, as well as staff from the offices of diversity and inclusion and the board of trustees.
"It was an honor to co-lead this effort and serve alongside the thoughtful members of this task force, who took our charge seriously and were deeply committed to representing the rich history of our university," Higgins said.
Added Daimler: "We look forward to celebrating these four outstanding individuals and to the recognition of more Hopkins trailblazers to come."