Baltimore’s biggest, richest university has a long and complicated relationship with its home city.
In more recent years, Johns Hopkins has tried hard to address the conception that the university is in the city, but not exactly of it. This week, The Economist takes a look at the evolving relationship, detailing Hopkins’s new commitment to fostering closer ties with the city it has sometimes been accused of ignoring (at best) or exploiting (at worst).
The university’s current president, however, has made a point of at least attempting to bridge the gap between the university and the community. As The Economist details,
The university has promised to increase its use of local and minority-owned construction businesses, to favour hiring local residents, especially those from distressed communities, and to use local vendors. It has encouraged more than two dozen other Baltimore companies, including BGE, a large regional utility, which already relies on local suppliers, to do the same. Tim Regan, the head of Whiting-Turner a large construction firm which signed up, says that Mr Daniels has tremendous power as a convener. In April the companies he recruited pledged $69m over three years, kick-starting what Bishop Miles calls “the most significant economic and jobs initiative in the life of the city”.
The article also notes the close relationship that some Hopkins professors have with city officials–for example, Daniel Webster, the head of the university’s Center for Gun Policy and Research, who’s working with Police Commissioner Kevin Davis to curb gun violence in the city.
It’s encouraging to read about some of the many ways that Johns Hopkins is trying to be a better citizen in Baltimore. That said, as other universities can teach us, there’s a relationship between community development and gentrification, one that Johns Hopkins would do well to pay close attention to.
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