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Diverse Names and Narratives Project

Dear Johns Hopkins Community,

We write to share that we are launching a new project at Johns Hopkins University and Medicine to recognize and more visibly celebrate the names and stories of the remarkable individuals who make up our institution’s diverse and exceptional history.

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. Yet we know that our institution’s recognition of some of these achievements has been insufficient, especially with respect to those from historically marginalized or underrepresented groups.

Earlier this month, the Committee to Establish Principles on Naming (CEPN) shared its draft report, which has been posted for open comment from our community and recommends a set of criteria and processes for considering requests to remove or contextualize names that now adorn existing named buildings or academic programs. We are deeply appreciative of this committee’s thoughtful work, and we anticipate adoption of the report’s recommendations by the end of June.

But even as that work progresses, we believe it is incumbent upon us to move forward on a parallel path with a proactive effort to recognize and elevate diverse people from our past in more tangible ways that do not require the “de-naming” of an existing facility or program. This imperative is one we have heard, particularly over this past year, from many of you, including our student organizations, members of the Roadmap 2020 Task Force, the Black Faculty and Staff Association, and other equity-seeking groups, and we are pleased to be able to respond in this way.

We are calling this project the Diverse Names and Narratives Project and framing it as 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.

In this vein, we have identified three prominent opportunities for naming that stand among our most visible and frequented buildings and programs, in which tens of thousands of people each year learn, live, and receive care. These are:

  • Charles Commons—A Homewood residence hall that is home to 600 undergraduates each year and 9,000 students since it opened in 2006, Charles Commons currently takes its name from the street upon which it sits and is a wonderful opportunity for recognition.
  • 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, M.D. when it opened in 1992, the center itself is colloquially known as “J-HOC” and also presents an opportunity for enduring recognition, serving 300,000 patients annually and home to medical students and residents, faculty, and frontline caregivers.

To assist us in this endeavor, we are establishing a cross-institutional task force —led by JHU trustee Susan Daimler, KSAS ’99, and School of Medicine Chair of Surgery and Senior Associate Dean for Diversity and Inclusion Robert S.D. Higgins and composed of students, staff, and faculty—that will make recommendations to us and to the university and health system trustees regarding the individuals whose names should be attached to these landmarks. The committee will be supported by the professional staff of the Johns Hopkins libraries and archives and will be expected to consult extensively with interested groups and stakeholders.

We hope that many of you and the broader Johns Hopkins community will participate by sharing your thoughts and recommendations with the committee using the email address here or the comment box below, and we invite you to learn more about the project on the Hub.

Thank you in advance for your engagement and for your contributions to helping us tell the stories of those who have propelled Johns Hopkins forward in discovery, education, and patient care.


Ronald J. Daniels
President, Johns Hopkins University

Paul B. Rothman
CEO, Johns Hopkins Medicine, and Dean of the Medical Faculty

Kevin Sowers
President, Johns Hopkins Health System


Comments and Suggestions for the Task Force

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