A look at the four people giving their names to campus buildings


Prospective undergraduates at Hopkins will know Undergraduate Teaching Labs (UTL) and Charles Commons by other names. In an effort to recognize and uplift those historically marginalized and under-represented in the institution’s history, Hopkins will rename these campus buildings and the Hopkins Outpatient Center in their honor.

This effort was made as part of the Diverse Names and Narratives Project, which created a task force to research the annals of Hopkins’ history and communicate with Hopkins and the wider Baltimore community to select four people to be honored.

The project was co-led by Susan Daimler, Trustee of Hopkins, and Dr Robert SD Higgins, Chief Surgeon at Hopkins Hospital and Director of the Department of Surgery at the School of Medicine. Higgins described the selection process in an interview with The News-Letter

“We have gathered many important and very prestigious recommendations from more than 50 potential candidates to name some of these buildings. And we worked with that group and narrowed it down, and then made a recommendation to the board, ”he said. “They will be recognized as part of the history of the institution for many years to come.”

The name change is the result of the work of the University Committee for the Establishment of Naming Principles (CEPN), which was tasked with developing a framework for evaluating naming and name change practices. Senior Adelle Thompson, the only undergraduate representative at the CEPN, expressed her hopes for the impact of these new standards on campus culture in an interview with The News-Letter.

“Taking the first step to say, ‘Okay, that name doesn’t represent our university’ is one more step in making Hopkins more accessible to everyone,” she said. “And also just to remind people that names have a story – so many names on our buildings have a lot of bad history, and it’s taking its toll.”

Allison Seyler, archivist and public historian currently responsible for the Hopkins retrospective program, expressed satisfaction that two of the three selected buildings were undergraduate spaces in an email to The News-Letter.

“It’s important for students to see people on campus who look like them and who look like them or who approach the world in the same way, so I think it’s important to make sure these characters are prominently displayed in undergraduate spaces, ”she wrote. “These spaces are also quite visible and visited by many people every year, so this change can also leave a lasting impression of our commitment to a larger community.”

The UTL will bear the name of Florence Bascom, the first female geologist in America. Bascom became the second woman in the United States to earn a doctorate in geology, awarded by Hopkins in 1893. Beyond being the first woman hired by US Geological Survey and the first woman to be elected and to serve on the Board of the Geological Society of America, Bascom was highly regarded by her peers as one of America’s Top 100 Geologists. As a faculty member at Bryn Mawr College, Bascom founded the Department of Geology and trained the next generation of female geologists.

Seyler reflected on the legacy of the pioneering scientist.

“She really carved out a place for herself in a male dominated field and set the tone for women in graduate school at Hopkins,” Seyler wrote. “One of the things I love most about Florence Bascom is her tenacity – I mean that in terms of pursuing the career she wanted, being recognized in her field for her professionalism, and then her efforts to move it forward. ”

The two Charles Commons towers will be named after Frederick Scott and Ernest Bates. Scott, a Baltimorean, applied to Hopkins in 1945 and became the first undergraduate African American. He was also a founding member of Beta Sigma Tau, Baltimore’s first interracial fraternity that included members from local universities, such as Loyola University Maryland and Morgan State University. Bates graduated in 1950 with a chemical engineering degree and went on to work for the Radio Corporation of America laboratories in New Jersey and was editor of the American laboratory newspaper.

Scott felt the pressure of being the first and only black student in his time at Hopkins. In addition to participating in the Beta Sigma Tau fraternity and its bridge group which played cards at Levering HallScott often experienced feelings of social isolation during his time at Hopkins in addition to academic challenges.

In the 1960s and early 1970s, other black Hopkins students formed the Fred Scott Brigade, a group of Hopkins alumni, in his honor.

Ernest Bates was accepted in 1954 as the first black student in the School of Arts and Sciences. He would go on to serve as vice chairman of the university’s board of trustees, the first black man to enter many white spaces in Hopkins.

“It was an ongoing trend in his life,” Seyler wrote. “He completed his residency in neurosurgery and became one of the first three Black Board certified neurosurgeons in the United States.”

For his black Hopkins comrades, many of whom lived off campus in Baltimore, Bates was a refuge. He provided a place to go out and leave books, lunches, and coats between classes, even letting his classmates sleep the night before a big exam so they didn’t have to move around in the morning. He maintained that for four years at Hopkins.

Bates earlier received an honorary doctorate in human letters This year, accepted on his behalf by his grandson, then eldest in Hopkins.

Finally, the Hopkins Outpatient Center will be renamed in honor of Levi Watkins Jr., a cardiothoracic surgeon who was the first black chief resident of Hopkins Hospital. On February 4, 1980, Watkins and Vivien Thomas were the first physicians to successfully implant an automatic defibrillator in a patient. Seyler explained that Watkins was not only active in cardiology but also in civil rights.

“Levi Watkins attended Dexter Avenue Baptist Church and knew Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. personally – civil rights activism was part of his foundation as a child and teenager – he even participated in the boycott of Montgomery buses at age 11, “she wrote.

Higgins described the role played by Watkins recruiting minority students at Hopkins.

“I knew Levi Watkins personally as a cardiothoracic surgeon,” he said. “I interviewed him as a medical student and also as a potential faculty member over the years … I think he was someone who raised the bar in the field of education in terms of medical school admissions and doctoral support for under-represented students in medical school.

According to Higgins, the community aspect of renaming buildings was essential.

“These are people who have made an impact on our communities, especially in the city of Baltimore, which I think is very important for the University to connect with the community, Baltimore being such an important part. of our university mission, ”he said.

According to the Diverse Names and Narratives Project, events to celebrate the naming of these buildings are still being planned; details will be shared later. To share potential recommendations with the working group for future naming opportunities, students can send an email [email protected] or fill this form.

Zachary Bahar contributed reporting for this article.


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