Barbara Mikulski to take position at Johns Hopkins

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WASHINGTON — Former Sen. Barbara A. Mikulski no longer holds elected office. But even in retirement, she'll keep a hand in politics.

The Maryland political powerhouse, who left the Senate this month after four decades in Congress, will join the Johns Hopkins University as a professor of public policy and an adviser to the president, the school said Thursday.


Mikulski, a Baltimore native who became the top Democrat on the Senate Appropriations Committee and the longest-serving woman in Congress, will be based in the political science department and serve as a Homewood Professor of Public Policy — a title the school said it reserves for individuals of significant accomplishment.

"I'm proud to join the Johns Hopkins faculty and to share my expertise and experience in public policy," Mikulski, 80, said in a statement. "Being at Johns Hopkins enables me to continue to play a role locally in shaping Baltimore's future while promoting a national agenda of innovation, leadership and service."


Hopkins President Ronald J. Daniels called Mikulski "just an extraordinary public servant."

"As she came to the decision that she was not going to run again, we jumped with alacrity at the opportunity to think about trying to recruit her," he said. "We just thought she would be an invaluable person to have as part of our community and, in particular, be a very important source of counsel to me and other leaders in the university."

In 2015, outgoing Gov. Martin O'Malley joined Hopkins' Carey Business School as a visiting professor focusing on government, business and urban issues.

Mikulski, long one of the state's most popular politicians, shocked observers in Washington and Maryland when she announced in 2015 that she should not seek a sixth term in the Senate.

She was cautious in discussing her retirement plans, but told The Baltimore Sun recently that she was interested in working in academia and on social issues.

The former social worker — a University of Maryland graduate — will donate her congressional papers to the Sheridan Libraries at Johns Hopkins. Former Sens. Charles McC. Mathias, the Republican she succeeded, and Paul Sarbanes, the Democrat with whom she long served, also donated their papers to the libraries.

Hopkins awarded Mikulski an honorary degree in 1995.

Mikulski's retirement set off an intense race for the Democratic nomination last year. Rep. Chris Van Hollen defeated fellow Rep. Donna Edwards in the Democratic primary and Republican Del. Kathy Szeliga in the general election to win the seat. The Montgomery County lawmaker was sworn into office this month.


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Mikulski will participate in lectures and seminars across the university, organize gatherings with policymakers and work with students and faculty members, the school said. As a presidential adviser, she will consult with university leaders and Johns Hopkins Medicine on public policy issues.

In Congress, Mikulski championed the National Institutes of Health, NASA, and other federal agencies based in Maryland. She successfully pushed for women's health initiatives, sponsored a law to extend the statute of limitations for suing an employer over wage discrimination and helped to save the Hubble Space Telescope.

She begins Monday in the political science department.

"We're wasting no time," Daniels said.

Baltimore Sun reporter Tim Prudente contributed to this article.