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May 30, 2024

Hopkins may axe BME department

By BIO N. GNEER | March 30, 2017

APRIL FOOL'S: This article was published as part of  The News-Letter's annual April Fool's edition, an attempt at adding some humor to a newspaper that is normally very serious about its reporting.

The University’s prestigious Biomedical Engineering (BME) Department is under threat of closure. In a memo written by various administrators to faculty of the department, it lists various grievances against the program and calls for the creation of a “neutral committee” to decide the department’s ultimate fate.

One of the major concerns cited in the memo is over the interdisciplinary nature of the department which combines biology, medicine and engineering. Many administrators feel that the department has “no real academic focus,” which they claim makes it difficult for them to market to prospective students.

Beverly Wendland, Dean of the Krieger School of Arts and Sciences and former chair of the Biology Department, found it difficult to understand the varying aspects of the program.

“So I understand the biology portion of Biomedical Engineering, but I don’t get the medical and engineering part,” she said. “The department claims to provide an education in all three of those fields, but I simply don’t understand the other two. They should change their name to just biology.”

Ed Schlesinger, Vice Dean of the Whiting School of Engineering (WSE), spoke about how the program rank falling from first to second in ranking of the program in U.S. News & World Report played a major role in their decision.

“We saw that the program had some issues and we really want to take a deep in-depth look at seeing whether this program is important to keep at Hopkins,” he said. “We could have offered constructive criticisms on how we could improve curriculum or tied our current research to classwork, but instead we wanted to make everyone poop their pants and threaten to shut the entire thing down.”

Responding to accusations that the University does not care about sciences, Ed Schlesinger, Dean of WSE, pointed to various other ways Hopkins was supporting scientific research in other fields.

“Look, we all love science here at Hopkins. Look at our Applied Physics Laboratory! We just applied for 100 million dollars of government funding in drone research because that is something the new presidential administration is interested in,” he said. “All our work in the other sciences does not mean we don’t care about BMEs. The impression that sciences are under attack at Hopkins is plain ridiculous.”

The “neutral committee” is headed by Sheridan Dean of Library and Museums Winston Tabb, who also led the “neutral committee” which investigated the Humanities Center. He spoke about his apprehension of reviewing another department for termination.

“I’m not sure why they really wanted me for this. I don’t know much about the sciences; They should try to find experts in the field to evaluate BME,” he said. “I feel like I didn’t give them the answer they really wanted last time, but I will definitely do my best and take into account all the perspectives into my final report. Sorry in advance if the report is submitted late.”

Wendland confirmed Tabb’s suspicion that the administration wished to close the Humanities Center.

“I would’ve gotten away with it too, if it weren’t for those meddling kids,” she said.

BME students had mixed reactions to the threat of closure. Some reacted to this news in despair.

“I place all my self-worth as being a BME. I’ve tattooed ‘BME’ on my chest. My resume just says BME,” sophomore Michael Freed said. “I don’t even know how I’ll introduce myself to others anymore.”

However, BME student Ruth Leyes saw this news as liberating.

“I can’t believe it. I’m free. I’m done with it,” she said. “I have a life again.”

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