NEW YORK -- With more than $900 million in gifts and pledges in hand two years ahead of schedule, the Johns Hopkins University's board of trustees decided yesterday to extend the school's fund-raising campaign to $1.2 billion -- a $300 million increase to address pressing needs such as student financial aid.
The trustees also announced that one of their own, Bethesda construction magnate A. James Clark, has jump-started the extended campaign with a pledge of $10 million. The money will help construct a new biomedical engineering building, which will be named for him, on the university's Homewood campus.
Meeting in New York at the corporate headquarters of Bloomberg News, the financial news company founded by trustees Chairman Michael R. Bloomberg, the Hopkins board approved seeking the increase. When the campaign began in 1994, the goal was to raise $900 million by 2000.
The board also approved the hiring of Ilene Joy Busch-Vishniac as dean of the Whiting School of Engineering. Busch-Vishniac, 43, is a professor of mechanical engineering at the University of Texas at Austin. She will be the first woman to run a school other than nursing at Hopkins and one of only a handful of female engineering deans in the country.
Bloomberg, a 1964 graduate of the engineering school, said competition from other colleges and universities has driven Hopkins to continue its 4-year-old fund-raising initiative despite the university's $1.16 billion endowment.
"We were successful in a record time, but in that [four years] we fell from 20th-largest endowment to 23rd," Bloomberg said. "There has been more competition for the best students."
For that reason, a major focus of the continuing fund drive will be to boost the university's anemic endowment for student financial aid. President William R. Brody said he has become increasingly concerned since taking office in 1996 about Hopkins' limited ability to attract top students, particularly undergraduates, with scholarships and loans.
"This has got to be our highest priority," Brody said, "to make our education more affordable for both undergraduate as well as graduate students."
Only $29 million of Hopkins' endowment is earmarked for undergraduate scholarships, loans or work-study. The average student-aid endowment is $163 million at the 30 elite colleges and universities with which Hopkins sees itself competing.
Hopkins' undergraduate tuition of $21,700 is near average for comparable private schools, but the university lags in the amount of scholarship help it can offer low- and middle-income students.
About 60 percent of Homewood campus undergraduates get at least some need-based financial aid, and officials say the number seeking scholarships or loans has increased sharply since 1990. The average Hopkins undergraduate receiving financial aid leaves school owing $16,000, officials say. University officials say costs are forcing students to borrow more, work more while in school and to try to finish in three years instead of four.
Other schools with which Hopkins competes for students are able to give more help, with $1.44 in endowment for every dollar of tuition revenue. Hopkins, by comparison, has 41 cents in endowment for every tuition dollar. The situation is forcing the university to divert tuition money that otherwise would be spent for other needs, such as the library.
Instead of competing for students by cutting tuition, many colleges and universities are using scholarships and fellowships as a lure.
"We could have seen tuition wars," Brody said. "What we're seeing is financial aid wars."
The Milton S. Eisenhower Library is the university's second priority for the extra donations it hopes to raise.
'Might seem like slam-dunk'
Hopkins officials, having completed one of the largest fund-raising drives in higher education two years ahead of schedule, acknowledge that they are taking a chance in seeking even more.
"Just raising another $300 million might seem like a slam-dunk," Brody said. "A number of alumni and friends of the university have stretched to make incredible gifts to Hopkins. Those people we recognize have made an extraordinary sacrifice and understand they will not be able to make an additional contribution."
But Brody said university officials believe there are alumni who have not been tapped and others who already have given who could be in a position to donate more because of the booming economy and soaring stock market.
Kicking off the drive for the new goal is the promised gift from the chairman and chief executive officer of Clark Enterprises Inc. One of its subsidiaries, Clark Construction Group Inc., is the nation's largest privately held general building contractor. The company has built some of the area's largest sporting facilities, including Oriole Park at Camden Yards, Jack Kent Cooke Stadium in Prince George's County and the MCI Center in Washington, and the outpatient center and new cancer research building at John Hopkins Hospital.
Clark, who lives outside Easton, already has his name on the engineering school of the University of Maryland, College Park, from which he graduated in 1950. He gave the University of Maryland $15 million in 1994.
Clark, a Hopkins trustee for 10 years, did not attend yesterday's meeting. He declined through a spokeswoman to discuss his donation, but in a news release issued by Hopkins, he linked the gift to his longtime interest in engineering education.
"I think it's incumbent on all of us who have been successful to provide the financial resources to educate and train our future engineering leaders," Clark said. The 60,000-square-foot building Clark's gift will help underwrite -- to be named Clark Hall -- is to be the home of a new biomedical engineering institute. Hopkins already is one of the nation's leaders in biomedical engineering research, and officials hope the institute will help the university maintain its prominence in the field.
The institute will focus on three emerging areas of research: computer modeling, imaging, and cell and tissue development.
Computer models of cells and organs enable researchers to test drugs or medical devices before using them in human patients. Imaging, also using sophisticated computer programs, enables non-invasive examination of internal organs, as with mammograms or magnetic resonance scans. Cell and tissue engineering involves inventing new drug-delivery systems and artificial skin.
Clark Hall will enable the expansion of undergraduate biomedical engineering, already the university's largest bachelor's degree program with 479 students. With additional donations, Hopkins hopes to recruit 10 new faculty members for its Whiting School of Engineering, with half in biomedical engineering and the rest in related fields.
Busch-Vishniac, on sabbatical this year at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, will take over as Hopkins' engineering dean on Aug. 1. She has been on the Texas faculty since 1982 and served four years as associate chairman of the mechanical engineering department, which has more full-time students than Hopkins' entire school.
The Whiting School has been under the interim leadership of Professor Roger Westgate for the past year, since Dean Don Giddens returned to the University of Georgia after a five-year tenure.
Busch-Vishniac praised the Hopkins engineering program, which she noted was ranked 21st nationally by U.S. News & World Report magazine, and said she intends to boost its prestige.
Her husband, Ethan Vishniac, an astrophysicist at the University of Texas, also has been hired as a professor in the Hopkins department of physics and astronomy.
Other major gifts to Johns Hopkins
$55 million: Michael R. Bloomberg, 1995
$50 million: Zanvyl and Isabelle Krieger Fund, 1992
million: Harry and Jeanette Weinberg Foundation, 1995
million: Champlin and Debbie Sheridan, 1994
$17.7 million: Estate of Glenn Stewart, 1982
$15 million: Anonymous medical school alumnus, 1996
$14.6 million: Elizabeth Banks and family, 1989
$10 million: Anonymous family gift for cancer center, 1995
$10 million: Lenox D. Baker Jr. and Frances Watt Baker, 1996
SOURCE: Johns Hopkins University
Pub Date: 5/04/98