Published by the Students of Johns Hopkins since 1896
May 20, 2024
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STEVEN SIMPSON / PHOTO EDITOR

The Editorial Board evaluates the University’s successes and shortcomings in meeting the goals outlined in the Ten by Twenty plan.

The University released the Ten for One draft, a document detailing 10 goals that Hopkins seeks to achieve by the end of 2030, on April 14. The Ten for One framework follows Ten by Twenty, the 2013 framework which outlined priorities to guide the University through 2020. The University has checked in on these goals through three progress reports and a final report card in 2020. 

As students, we wanted to look back at Ten by Twenty and evaluate whether Hopkins has achieved its goals set a decade ago. Below are our assessments of some of the University’s past objectives:  

Goal 1: Selectively invest in programs that support our core academic mission. 

The wording of this goal is vague enough that Hopkins is able to check the box in any way it sees fit. The University did not present an action plan, give suggestions on what programs would be created or explain which areas pertain to our “core academic mission.” 

In the 2020 report card, the administration writes that it used the ethos of selective excellence to determine resource allocation — but what does this actually mean? Examples cited include the Alexander Grass Humanities Institute, the Stavros Niarchos Foundation Agora Institute and the William H. Miller III Philosophy Department, which were all invested in by benefactors. 

Is it the administration or investors who are deciding which programs receive funding? Either way, this ambiguous goal means that no matter what investments they had made by 2020, Hopkins could claim they supported our “core academic mission.”

Goal 2: Strengthen our capacity for faculty-led interdisciplinary collaboration and launch a set of innovative cross-cutting initiatives that will contribute substantially to the world of ideas and action.

We acknowledge that Hopkins has commendably made progress toward this goal. The Bloomberg Distinguished Professorships (BDP), launched in 2013, emphasize interdisciplinary scholarship with appointments across 10 divisions of Hopkins. Just last spring, the University announced its intention to double the number of BDPs to 100 and create research clusters aimed at solving critical societal challenges. These initiatives accompany the BDP summer program, which offers undergraduates a paid opportunity to collaborate with BDPs for 10 weeks over the summer.

Goal 4: Build the undergraduate experience at Hopkins so it stands among the top 10 in the nation.

The 2022–2023 U.S. News and World report ranked Hopkins as the seventh university in the nation, which the University was quick to publicize. However, college rankings have been criticized for relying on institutional wealth and research expenditure as criteria. Moreover, rankings data can be misrepresented to inflate rankings, as Columbia University admitted to doing. 

From the wording of this goal, it seems that the University is conflating a college’s ranking with the quality of its undergraduate experience. However, as we have remarked in our previous editorial, these metrics are not a reliable way to represent students’ satisfaction with their time at Hopkins.

Goal 5: Build on our legacy as America’s first research university by ensuring that at least two-thirds of our PhD programs stand among the top 20 in their fields.

Hopkins has been successful in this regard — there is no shortage of highly-ranked graduate programs. While the publicity of a top 20 spot is great for recruiting impressive graduate students, rankings say little about the graduate student experience once they are actually here. Despite all they contribute to the University’s community and prestige as a research institution, the University has repeatedly overlooked and underpaid graduate students after they’ve set foot on campus. 

This year marked a pivotal moment in activism at Hopkins when graduate students overwhelmingly voted to unionize in hopes of obtaining a living wage and timely pay. But our teaching assistants shouldn’t have to fight in order to pay rent. Instead of setting their sights on climbing up the rankings, University administrators should listen to the demands of graduate students during union negotiations.

Goal 6: Attract the very best faculty and staff in the world through a welcoming and inclusive environment that values performance and celebrates professional achievement.

We support the University’s efforts to recruit the very best faculty and staff and hope it continues to draw bright and ambitious scholars to campus. The University has made attempts at creating a diverse and talented faculty body, announcing three scholarly cluster hires through the Fannie Gaston-Johansson Faculty of Excellence Program back in November. However, due to a lack of institutional changes, some students have raised concerns about whether Hopkins creates a climate and provides the resources necessary to sustain diversity. 

Goal 7: Enhance and enrich our ties to Baltimore, the nation, and the world, so that Johns Hopkins becomes the exemplar of a globally engaged urban university.

When Hopkins brings up its “ties to Baltimore,” it’s difficult not to think about the controversy of the East Baltimore Development Initiative (EBDI), a drastic urban redevelopment project that intends to expand the Hopkins medical campus. As a result, about 800 predominantly minority families have been displaced. The project is led by East Baltimore Development Inc., which includes Hopkins, the city of Baltimore and many other groups. 

Instead of enriching its ties to the city and its residents, the University is pushing residents out of their homes, forcing them to relocate their lives and damaging the chances of a future, repaired relationship between Hopkins and Baltimore.

Additionally, the University has continued with its plans to implement a private police force despite community opposition. Baltimore residents and Hopkins affiliates have expressed that marginalized groups in the community may feel unsafe with the presence of the Johns Hopkins Police Department.

We would love to give Hopkins more credit for the goals it has accomplished in the past decade under Ten by Twenty, but it’s difficult to determine exactly what the goals were. The objectives outlined in the Ten by Twenty plan are vague and open-to-interpretation. 

Though we appreciate the University’s efforts to be transparent by making the Ten for One plans public and holding listening sessions, we hope that the new framework contains more actionable items. We need a concrete vision for how the University aims to improve. To hold Hopkins accountable, we need more than buzzwords as promises.


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