Entrepreneur and former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg speaks during Johns Hopkins University’s commencement ceremony. Bloomberg is a Hopkins Class of 1964 graduate. Photo by Will Kirk/Johns Hopkins University.
Entrepreneur and former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg speaks during Johns Hopkins University’s commencement ceremony. Bloomberg is a Hopkins Class of 1964 graduate. Photo by Will Kirk/Johns Hopkins University.

The Johns Hopkins University has become well known for offering statistics about the COVID-19 pandemic, tracking the number of cases around the world.

During commencement ceremonies yesterday on the Homewood campus, President Ronald Daniels offered a few more about its own students:

“You completed, wait for it, 67,000 COVID saliva tests,” he told members of the graduating Class of 2021.

“Requiring 337,000 minutes of your time. And roughly, give or take, 4,563 ounces of your saliva.”

For the record, he continued, “our experts have determined that this is enough saliva to fill one large bathtub or for someone to take two very long showers.”

With that out of the way, Daniels went on to confer degrees on approximately 1,200 undergraduates attending the university-wide ceremony outdoors at Homewood Field. Graduates on the field took seats that were distanced from each other, and received two tickets each for guests — another nod to the pandemic. Graduate degree candidates participated online and in divisional ceremonies.

Hopkins also presented an honorary degree to Ernest Bates, a pioneering neurosurgeon, entrepreneur, philanthropist and member of Hopkins’ Class of 1958. Bates was the first Black student in the university’s School of Arts and Sciences and in 1977 founded American Shared Hospital Services, an organization that provides surgical equipment and medical technology to hospitals around the world. He wasn’t present for the ceremony but his Doctor of Humane Letters degree was accepted by his grandson, Alexander Bates, a member of the graduating Class of 2021.

The commencement speaker was Hopkins Class of 1964 graduate, entrepreneur and former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg, who has racked up some statistics of his own.

Bloomberg has given his alma mater more than $3.5 billion. That includes a 2018 gift of $1.8 billion entirely for financial aid, allowing Hopkins to permanently offer “need-blind” admissions and eliminate the need for student loans. According to the university, approximately 60 percent of the Class of 2021 received financial aid supported by Bloomberg Philanthropies,

Bloomberg’s first gift to Hopkins was $5 in 1965, the year after he graduated. Daniels noted that Bloomberg’s donations to Hopkins make him not only the largest donor in Hopkins’ 145-year history but the donor who has given “more than any other individual to any university, ever.” This month, Hopkins and Bloomberg Philanthropies announced the establishment of the Vivien Thomas Scholars Initiative, a $150 million effort to increase diversity in science, technology, engineering and math PhD programs at Hopkins.

Johns Hopkins University graduates celebrate commencement day.

Bloomberg, making his third appearance as commencement speaker at Hopkins, congratulated Daniels on an important achievement: “You did the one thing that we really depend on university presidents to do,” he said, “and that is to give us good weather at graduation.”

Avatar photo

Ed Gunts

Ed Gunts is a local freelance writer and the former architecture critic for The Baltimore Sun.