The 125th Anniversary
Remarks by William R. Brody
Provost Knapp, faculty, staff, students, and members of the Greater Hopkins Community: it is indeed a great pleasure to welcome you all on this 125th anniversary year of the founding of Johns Hopkins University. I had hoped to deliver this address on the precise anniversary of Daniel Coit Gilman's inaugural address, which was given on February 22, 1876, a day which we now remember as Commemoration Day. Given the imprecision of weather forecasting, I didn't think we'd have a problem, but this turned out to be the one day that our meteorologists were accurate.
This is a wonderful university. It's wonderful because of the people who make up Johns Hopkins -- the faculty, the staff, the students. I am indebted in my position to have an extraordinary group of academic and administrative leaders who help run the university and help steer and guide it through many challenges. I'd like to acknowledge the deans and department chairs who are here today and who are at the helm, guiding their respective divisions and departments.
Let me acknowledge also Senior Vice President Jim McGill, who heads up Finance and Administration, Bob Lindgren for Development, and Provost Steve Knapp, an extraordinary colleague whose wisdom is matched only by his extraordinary wit, as you heard earlier. Steve is a very, very talented and able administrator and gifted teacher, and I'm delighted to have the opportunity to work with him.
In the five years that I've been President of Johns Hopkins -- it seems like five very short years -- I've really come to learn about Hopkins in a way that few others can. I've learned what an extraordinary place this is. And I've learned how much of our success is derived from the original vision and wisdom of Daniel Coit Gilman, our founding president.
President Gilman's bold framework for a new kind of university was outlined in his inaugural address. It is all the more impressive viewed a century-and-a-quarter later. During my presentation today, I will briefly refer to some of the twelve key points that Dr. Gilman outlined in his speech. But I encourage you to read the speech in its entirety; it's published on the Hopkins website and is remarkable in its foresight and vision.
To set the stage for today's presentation, let me say at the outset that, during my tenure at Hopkins, I have been warned by many people of the different threats to higher education. At the same time, I've begun to recognize that, while there are many challenges that threaten our existence, these are not necessarily the ones that you read about or have heard about in the media. I've thought a lot about the University and the forces that are shaping it, and I'd like to talk about how we are going to adapt to the changing forces and factors of knowledge generation. This afternoon I would like to reflect on five years of trying to understand where universities are going, and specifically, where Johns Hopkins might be going.
I decided to go back to my high school and college physics days for some help, and so I've titled these reflections on the future of the University "The Quantum Physics Model of the University." Don't worry, no mathematics will be involved.
You might also think of this as "The University Without Walls." I'll try, where possible, to reference these remarks to Johns Hopkins, but when I talk about universities, I'm really focusing on the category of research universities, those that emphasize the generation of new knowledge.
There are three books that have been very influential in my thinking about this. The first is a book by Peter Drucker called Post-Capitalist Society, which was written in the first half of the 1990's. It's really quite insightful. Drucker predicted a number of things that were going to happen, and that have happened subsequent to the publication of his book.
The second is also a very interesting book by Carl Shapiro and Hal Varian: Information Rules. Hal Varian is a professor at Berkeley and an economist who heads up their School of Information. He points out that the so-called "new rules" for business in the era of the Internet are really old rules. They are the rules for creating and disseminating information that began with Gutenberg's invention of the printing press.
For those in information businesses, this is hardly news. But for those of us who are trying to understand the impact of the Internet on organizations and society, I think it is important to recognize this fact. The Internet is just one step in the evolution of the communication of information. I believe it's going to have an impact, but not the kind of impact many people think.
The third is a book called The Innovator's Dilemma, by Clayton Christensen, a Harvard Business School professor. It talks about why it's so difficult for organizations to innovate when they are faced with disruptive technologies, which are technologies that initially result in worse product performance, but over time evolve to create entirely new industries.
Johns Hopkins University traces its roots back to 1876, when university president Daniel Coit Gilman created the first research university in America. His vision was that a new university ought to be created in which education would take place through the discovery of the unknown. I think if there is one word that characterizes Hopkins, it's that word: "discovery." Everything we do involves the discovery of new knowledge and then, the generation and dissemination of those discoveries. Where we've done well, we've done well with the idea of discovery at the core of our mission. And where we haven't done well, we've omitted the discovery mission. In that light, it's interesting to look at some of the ventures we've undertaken.
I would say that even in part-time education, our strongest programs are in areas where we have maintained some focus on discovery. Even if it's a smaller component than it might be in a full-time program, the discovery focus provides a unique strategic advantage for Hopkins -- you might say our market niche.
The discovery function is the heart and soul of Hopkins. I was struck by just how pervasive our discovery activities are when recently the director of NASA, Dan Goldin, came to speak at APL. He remarked that before coming he reviewed NASA research funding for universities, and found that Johns Hopkins is the number one recipient of NASA research grants among all universities. We've always talked about being the number one recipient, overall, of government grants. We're number one for NIH funds, and so forth. The NASA ranking just again points out the fact we're a finely honed discovery engine, if you will.
The fact that discovery is our core value has great relevance, I think, as to the kinds of forces and events that are going to be changing the face of the university.
Well now remember, if you will, back to your high school physics days. There was the atom. Your teacher had a plastic model of the atom sitting on his or her desk -- with its nucleus, consisting of nicely spherical protons and neutrons. Going around the atom in orbit, like the planets around the sun, were the electrons. And everything was well- defined and very easy to understand.
It got a little complicated when they brought in the Bohr model and talked about the need for discrete orbits (i.e., the electrons couldn't rotate helter-skelter around the nucleus), but we don't need to worry about that. Like I said, there's no math in this talk.
But now think about the university, the classical university, with the campus as its nucleus. You know where it starts and where it ends. And you can think of Dartmouth, I guess, or Williams College -- even better -- out in the middle of nowhere. (Sorry; with apologies. My son goes to Amherst, so we have to say derogatory things about Williams. In fact, if I had gone to visit Williams when I was looking at schools, I probably would have gone there. It's a gorgeous place. And it fits my classical image of how a college or university campus should appear. )
In this classical model of the university, you know where the campus starts and where it stops -- it's the nucleus. And within that nucleus you have the protons that are tightly bound -- those are the faculty. If you're there, you're a faculty member for life, and you tend not to go anywhere else. And the students are electrons. They're circulating around, kind of in orbit -- literally and figuratively.
But you know that the students are associated with Williams College. They're not associated with Harvard or MIT, or, perish the thought, Amherst or Wesleyan. And things are very well ordered. In this model, in some sense, everybody's vision doesn't go much farther than the boundaries of North Adams, Massachusetts. You are pretty tightly coupled and bound geographically. You are physically and informationally connected within this relatively small environment. Transportation is limited, even today, and before the invention of telephone, radio and television, communication was equally restricted.
It's a well-ordered model. It's a stable model. The boundaries of everything are well defined: even the discipline boundaries are very well defined. The biochemists and the biologists know where their respective disciplines start. The mathematicians know that this is what we, as mathematicians, do. The physicists do something else. And God help you, if you're an engineer, you know you're playing with the applied stuff.
So there's very little interaction. And in some sense, the disciplines are the guilds, very much like clinical specialties are the guilds in medicine. The pathologists or the radiologists, they're the tradespeople in their guilds. It's a guild system, and the guilds sometimes exert themselves in very, very strong ways, very much the way guilds did before and during the Industrial Revolution.
The most important thing in this model is local expertise. If you're a faculty member at one of these places, the only thing that's crucial is that you have to know more about your subject than anybody within shouting distance. So if, at the turn of the century, you were a faculty member in Japanese politics at Hopkins, it was only imperative that you knew more about Japanese politics than anybody within a couple hundred-mile radius of the campus. A European historian at Williams was literally a prophet in the land of North Adams, Massachusetts.
Communication was slow, so if you were a jerk and really didn't know what was going on in your discipline, the time of discovery was fairly long before they could throw you out. There wasn't a way of comparing expertise to determine if you were the world expert -- or even the national or regional expert. The faculty were tightly bound because, not only was the tenure system important, but there weren't as many options; mobility was much more difficult, again, because of the constraints on communication.
Now we still have some people who take a while to get discovered. You have the cold fusion people who can pull the wool over our eyes for a while, but clearly, the old model is obsolete. Peter Drucker looked at this model and said, "In 25 years universities will no longer exist as we know them today, and the changes will be far more profound than when the printing press was invented."
Now I don't know whether that's true or not. I don't know exactly what Peter Drucker envisioned, so maybe he has all bases covered. When Drucker's statement came out, everybody was saying the university is going to go away like Borders was expected to melt away when Amazon.com entered the picture: that we're going to buy everything from Amazon, and the Borders and Barnes & Nobles with their large investment in bricks and mortar were going to go the way of the steam engine and the buggy whip.
I have a different view of what the threats are for universities; and since Borders and Barnes and Noble don't seem to be faltering under the e-commerce assault from Amazon, maybe there is hope for us as well. I do agree with Drucker that tremendous changes are coming, but I don't know exactly where we're headed, though I'm pretty sure that the Amazon-will-rule-the-world point of view is not the major threat for universities.
One thing that is important to understand is that universities have proven more durable over time than any other organizations except major religions. The question is, will universities continue to be durable, or will we find out that people no longer need our kind of religion?
I view universities as having three sets of threats to our existence. One is economic. Another is cultural or sociologic. And a third is intellectual.
The latter two are brought about by the information revolution, while the first is indirectly related to the information revolution, which I'll get to shortly.
The unique property of the research university, as I mentioned, is discovery. Through discovery we develop expertise. That comes in two ways. We develop both the experts, and we develop the intellectual property that goes along with that expertise.
We make discoveries that become intellectual property. These discoveries open up new fields, new visions, and lead to developing experts in new areas. You know, it's been said that the best vehicle for technology transfer is the moving van. There's a lot of truth in that. I do believe that the most important thing we do is to train people who become expert in particular areas, and these are our students, who go out to make the next generation of discoveries or to develop the commercial products that result from these discoveries
We accomplish this through a somewhat unique educational paradigm -- what we call the hand-tooled education. Hopkins, of course, invented the seminar, one component of the hand-tooled education. The laboratory experience is the other, and in both, close student-teacher interaction is critical to this whole model.
Let me just talk briefly about the value proposition of the university, because I think it's important to understand our niche amidst all the potential threats to our existence. Health care and education have some similarities and the recent experience with health care reform provides some lessons for universities and colleges. As we saw the HMOs and threats to academic health centers come along, one of the issues for insurers was, why should we pay more to send our patients to Hopkins Medicine?
Over time, I think it's becoming clearer that there is intrinsic value to the academic health center and to the kind of health care that a place like Hopkins can deliver. It's taken us a while to be able to demonstrate that objectively. But the more we demonstrate that, the more we create value and are able to validate the unique brand of medicine we deliver.
I think it's the same sort of thing in education. We have a unique brand of education, but it's a little hard to demonstrate the value. I can say expertise is what we produce, and expertise is the key to transforming information into knowledge and understanding. And it's understanding that you ultimately want. You want to take information, which is raw, and convert it into some knowledge that is applied to a specific area. Insight is what you gain: understanding from that knowledge.
The second point is the value of expertise. Expertise is the key to regional economic competitive advantage. Harvard Business School professor Michael Porter has done a lot of research to show that the two most significant drivers to economic success within regions -- whether it's regions within a country or around the world -- are the amount of R&D that is performed in the region and the annual growth in the number of R&D personnel that are trained every year.
Those, of course, are exactly the two functions that research universities do. We perform research and we train the experts who conduct the research and development. So, if you look around the country, it is no accident that Silicon Valley has Stanford and Berkeley, or that Route 128 has Harvard and MIT, and Maryland, which ranks quite highly in terms of entrepreneurial companies, has a very strong educational component with Hopkins and the University of Maryland. There is an intrinsic value proposition in what we do; it's the value of the research university.
But why it should cost more than $30 thousand a year to go to one of these places is harder for the general public to understand. They want the famous, highly expert professors to teach their sons and daughters, but they don't want to support the necessary infrastructure. Thus, the economic threats to the university are significant, and I don't think they are going to go away as long as we continue pursuing the educational paradigm under which we operate. We have high labor content, because this focus on the hand-tooled education requires it. We don't want to give up the small seminars, and we don't want to give up the close interaction in the laboratory.
The nut of the problem is that the other sectors of our economy have achieved significant productivity gains over the last 20 years. You only have to recognize this by going into a bank, or going into an automobile manufacturing plant. You go into one of these industries today, and if you had been there 50 or 100 years ago, you almost wouldn't recognize that you're in the same place.
But if you went into a classroom at Hopkins today, and you went into a classroom in 1878, two years after we opened our doors, they would look virtually identical (except perhaps for the PowerPoint or the slide projector). We have not changed the educational delivery system. Our labor content remains high, by design. So while the rest of society gets more productive, it means we become more costly relative to median family income. And guess what -- that's exactly what's happened.
There are only a couple of ways around that. One is to change the paradigm. We can make the delivery more efficient, but potentially less effective, by increasing class size and thereby jeopardizing the hand-tooled educational process. Or we can provide more scholarship support and endowment that off-load the cost of education, so it's borne by society in a different way. In this model, large amounts of the cost do not have to be borne by the individual student, which is, of course, mostly where we are currently.
A fundamental problem with higher education is that presently we don't know how to make education more efficient and more effective. We confront a dilemma that other industries don't have. For instance, if the CEO of Lockheed Martin wants to improve productivity, he has a way of measuring the quality of whatever it is that he's producing or manufacturing. If he changes a manufacturing process, he can say this is better quality and higher costs, or better quality and lower costs, or whatever.
But we don't have a good way of measuring the quality of what we do. We can measure test scores. We can measure long- term success. We can say, well, 20 years later they start companies like Bloomberg and become successful CEOs. But we don't have a way of directly measuring the quality of the education we deliver. And when you don't have a way of measuring quality, it's very hard to change the educational paradigm. So when it comes to technology and education, we really can't tell you whether students do better, except by test scores, with Internet-based education or CD-ROMS, or whether they do better one-on-one or in large classrooms.
Probably, the answer is very complex. There are probably some students who do well sitting in lectures and some students who do well sitting at computers and some students who never appear to do well at either, and then they come back later to give us money for our buildings. But there is no question that, if we could figure out how to utilize technology, it can remove many of these barriers, whether they are geographic, temporal, cultural or financial.
It's not that we aren't using and developing technology. Each of the divisions at Hopkins are actively trying to do these things: from Public Health having a Master's Degree in Distance Education, to Engineering using interactive and simulation tools for course work and laboratories, to Medicine using simulation tools to train surgeons, and so forth. But, we really don't know how to measure the quality of what we do, and we don't know yet whether the technology is going to be cost-effective.
So the challenge as we go forward is to try to come up with some innovative ways of improving teaching productivity. And the problem is that there's not much money spent on research in education. It's trivial, the amount we spend: I think three-tenths of a percent of our total expenditures for education, are directed toward educational research. That goes from K through 12 all the way up to higher education. So there's very little substantive research. In fact, Hopkins has one of the largest Department of Education grants in the country, and I think it's less than a $5 million-per-year grant.
When you look at Internet-based education, (and this includes CD-ROM and multi-media), I think one of the problems/challenges we face is just the high cost of developing courses. Our Center for Talented Youth produced a multimedia course to teach children how to solve the Pythagorean theorem. It uses a CD-ROM game designed for very gifted and talented 11 to 13-year-old kids, done along the lines of Myst, or Dungeons & Dragons, or similar CD-ROM games. It's very clever, and if we had time, I would have brought it to show it to you. But it cost about $1.5 million to produce this one CD-ROM that does only one thing, though hopefully very well.
Now, we have over 8,000 students enrolled in CTY. Presumably, high school students who are not gifted and talented, who are of normal intellect, could also use this for their Geometry classes. So there's a very large market and maybe there will be an economic return to justify the large up-front development and production costs for the software.
But we couldn't invest $1.5 million in doing this for Medieval History, for example, where the market is not nearly as large. So until the cost of developing these tools gets better, we really don't have the means of mass- customization. We have mass-production tools for this, but not mass-customization. And that's one of the challenges, trying to figure out where to put our educational resources to do the most good. Again, we need to be able to better measure quality.
This leads to what is becoming an increasingly sticky issue, which is who owns all of this material that is produced? Traditionally, we have given faculty the right to own copyrights to the material they write. We want faculty to write the textbooks, because if they write the textbooks, the students will come to Hopkins. We can say, "We have Professor Burns, and she has written this textbook and is very famous, so you ought to come to Hopkins."
Of course, if Professor Burns writes the textbooks she also gets a few thousand dollars for her efforts. I wrote a textbook, and I think I got $800 royalties, and that was after my mother and all my cousins bought the book. If you are Paul Samuelson, of course, and you wrote the Economics textbook, the royalties can be substantial. But by and large, there wasn't much opportunity for royalty generation from textbooks.
Now, of course, Harvard is suing one of its faculty members who developed an on-line course for a for-profit law program, claiming, I think, that it represents a conflict of commitment. The Internet is creating lots of issues of this kind.
Another one concerns the company that pays students to sit in on courses and take notes, and then put those notes on the Internet. When I first heard of this, my initial reaction was that it sounded like a great idea. After all, this enables students to review notes in their own class they may have missed, or in a different class at a different school, on the same subject they're studying elsewhere. It seems from this perspective to be a great opportunity for students to learn more efficiently.
But I'm afraid it represents a real threat. It may have a chilling effect on teaching. Imagine I'm teaching at Berkeley, and I have a new experiment that I just finished in the laboratory the day before. I haven't published it, but I go and talk about it with my students in class. It creates a stimulating discussion and some excitement for the students. The next thing I know, my research results show up on the Internet, and some other company appears to own the copyright. So I can't do it: I can't tell my students. It's completely impeding. Say I'm writing a book for my course on uncommon sense and I want to give the students a draft copy before it's printed. No can do (if my draft copy is going to end up on the Internet!)
These things are causing all kinds of problems. Jim Neal, our dean of university libraries, talks about the fair use provisions of the copyright act, which allow us to duplicate for internal use any copyrightable material without charge. Those vitally important provisions are up for grabs in a number of laws currently being proposed in Congress. These are all issues that I think are going to change the dynamic, depending on how they go, of how we disseminate information and how we interact with students. And it could be, in a very profound way.
Let me go back now to Peter Drucker's book. I'm going to make an analogy. Peter Drucker in Post Capitalist Society made some observations about the information revolution and drew some important conclusions. First, was that modern communication gives everybody access to the same information. He viewed the fax and the cell phone as the key drivers of the fall of the Berlin Wall. And therefore information access destroys walls or boundaries -- it ended the Cold War.
Information access also reduces the sovereignty of nations. The ability to maintain distinctness is based, in some sense, on controlling information. The more that people have access to the same information, the more that people begin to share across boundaries, the less important the state becomes.
In some sense, the superpowers lose influence. And as they do, people go back to their tribal roots, because people still want identity. This is the subject of Tom Friedman's book, The Lexus and the Olive Tree. People want to drive home from work in their efficient Lexus automobile and then go in their backyard and sit under that special olive tree that maintains their distinct cultural identity. But of course, that may not always be possible. So Drucker and others predicted that there was going to be a huge rise in local tribal conflicts.
And these are the consequences, of course, of the advent of post-capitalist society. It's global, it's fast, and everybody has the same information.
Productivity increases are driven by technology. The Internet has gotten a lot of play. Now, I'm told, if you put .com after your name in Silicon Valley, the venture capitalists will not return your phone calls. It's amazing how quickly things have shifted. You had tremendous hype that was unrealistic, and now you have tremendous depression, which is also unrealistic. If you look, the Internet is changing business. But it's not necessarily destroying traditional bricks and mortar businesses. It's using e-commerce to make business more efficient and more effective.
John Chambers, the CEO of Cisco, said at The World Economic Forum last year that e-education is where e-commerce was three years ago. He believes that e-education is going to be a big driver of change. I don't believe that it's going to drive us out of business. I think e-education is going to be very important for training, but probably not for the kind of thing we do.
Which is not to say that the Internet is unimportant, or that accessing it is not crucial. But this idea that we must embrace the Internet or die is probably not exactly right in the sense of worrying about delivering courses to strangers 2,000 miles away. I do believe that the future model for our hand-tooled, highly interactive education will be found there. But before that happens, we have to figure out if we can use -- and how to use -- this technology to make the delivery of our kind of education more efficient.
So I looked at what Peter Drucker said, and with apologies to Professor Drucker, whom I've never met, I'd now like to present Post Capitalist Society for the universities.
First of all, modern communication gives everyone access to the same information. The profound implication is that the faculty and universities no longer have a monopoly on knowledge generation. Not that we ever did, but we had a much nearer monopoly before than we do when information is so freely mobile.
The second thing that Drucker said is that information access destroys walls -- the end of the Cold War was his example. For universities, the equivalent of the end of the Cold War is that academic disciplines are becoming indistinct. And the guild system, if you will, is losing relevance. In medicine, for instance, the internists and the radiologists and the cardiac surgeons now all have access to the same information. Cardiologists perform angioplasty rather than surgeons, surgeons interpret CAT scans instead of radiologists and radiologists take out breast tumors using image-guided techniques rather than surgeons.
The information revolution is dramatic. It used to be that to figure out if a patient had a brain tumor, you had to spend years studying and learning to perform and interpret a neuroencephlagram (an image composed of highly obscure shadows) -- a painful process (for the patient) and a complex puzzle for the neuroradiologist. Today, the same patient would have a CAT scan and suddenly almost anyone can make what I call the "janitor diagnosis." That's where you put the CAT scan image on the image viewer and the janitor happens to walk by at that precise moment, eyes the image and says, "Dr. Brody, I think that patient has a brain tumor." It's that obvious.
It doesn't mean that there isn't a need for expertise, but that expertise is much more widely distributed. Where the roles of the neurologist, the neurosurgeon, the neuroradiologist, and the neuropathologist begin and end is becoming unclear.
Getting back to Drucker, at the same time you are seeing the reduction, if you will, in the sovereignty of the nations, you are seeing the reduction in the sovereignty of universities. Increasingly, the faculty owe their loyalty to their academic field rather than to their university. This was somewhat true 50 or 100 years ago, but it's much more true today, because 100 years ago you couldn't easily travel to a meeting of the International Society of Magnetic Resonance and talk about magnetic resonance for the detection of cancer cells. You might be able to go to the Baltimore/Washington Society of magnetic resonance and talk about these things. The ability to amalgamate groups of superspecialized experts either physically or electronically creates a very different magnitude in the attractive forces between the faculty member and the university versus the faculty member and his subspecialty academic colleagues.
This trend is driving away those attractive forces that tightly bound the faculty to the university half a century ago. The faculty increasingly have to go where their academic discipline takes them -- not only their academic discipline but also, more importantly, their field of expertise.
The superpowers lose influence, which means that you get the rise of local tribal conflicts. And we are definitely seeing this in universities. The local tribal conflicts are these disabling conflicts that occur among faculty who belong to different disciplines.
Let me just give you a specific example, this one fortunately from another university. This university was constructing a new biomedical research building, where the Dean of Medicine wanted to house people in laboratories based upon their area of interest. For example, people studying degenerative diseases of the brain would be housed in one floor of the building, bringing together the neurologists, the biochemists, the neuropathologists, the molecular biologists and the biophysicists, all with specialized expertise in degenerative diseases of the brain. Then on another floor, the Dean thought, we'll put people who are interested in endocrinology and so forth.
Well, everybody went along with this except the biochemists. The chair of biochemistry said no, "we are biochemists, we are different from the biophysicists and we want to be together. It is important for our discipline to remain together." We see these tremendous tensions occurring between the guilds. These are the academic equivalent of Serbia and Croatia.
In the long run, I think those universities that can reassemble themselves and have permeable and semi-permeable membranes across disciplines, and do this quickly, are the ones who are going to win.
Yes, the Internet is having an impact, but it is, in my view, more evolutionary than revolutionary as it pertains to research universities. When the telephone was invented, it allowed L.L. Bean to go into the telephone order business as well as the mail order business. But it didn't fundamentally change L.L. Bean's business. In that sense, I think the Internet is yet just another way of communicating. It's faster and cheaper, but it's still communication. But the cultural and intellectual fallout from instantaneous communication is profound. I think that's the thing that we have to deal with.
So when I look at the university in this century -- what it will look like after the classical model -- I see it's certainly going to be global, it's certainly going to be fast, and everybody is going to have information. Maybe it will be technology driven, although exactly how that occurs, I'm not sure.
But this new paradigm leads me to propound the quantum physics model of the university. When I arrived at MIT, I was informed that much that I had been taught in high school physics was poppycock. Those neat models of the nucleus orbited by electrons were fictions. I learned you could no longer think of the nucleus as a nicely defined entity. Instead, it's sort of a cloud with indistinct boundaries. So that's when I switched from physics to electrical engineering.
But I want to suggest this morning that our model of the university is undergoing exactly the same enlightened redefinition: the indistinct cloud model will replace the simple nucleus representation of the college campus. We don't have one campus. I can't even count how many campuses Hopkins has. We're going to have a lot more of them. I don't know whether they're going to be local or global or both. They're probably going to be both. But we're going to have a lot of them and their boundaries will be indistinct. Some of them will belong to us and some of them, like our Berlin program for undergraduates, will be shared with five other universities.
I've argued that we ought to manage the libraries for all the universities in the Baltimore area. Jim Neal is ready to do it. He's made the proposal. But so far, nobody's stepped up. The idea that Hopkins would manage the library for Goucher might not settle well with the Goucher faculty, but it makes sense. When we have a service that can be shared to reduce costs and improve productivity, we should do it. Perhaps Goucher will provide all of our foreign language education for Hopkins undergraduates. Eventually, economics will drive the survivors to adopt such models.
In the quantum physics model of the university, the faculty obey the uncertainty principle. Remember the uncertainty principle says that if you've got a particle, the more you try to determine its position, the less accurately you can know its velocity. In our case, the more you try to track down where the faculty member is, the less easy it is to tell his or her affiliation.
Two years ago, I got on a plane to Singapore when we were finalizing our Singapore agreement for Medicine. I'm on the plane, and there are two Hopkins faculty members on the plane: one from engineering and another from arts and sciences. And I said, what are you doing?
One of them says, "I'm working with the Center for Material Sciences at the National University of Singapore. We have a strong collaborative agreement there." The other one says, "I teach mathematics in the winter quarter at Singapore." Having just left Baltimore in a snowstorm, I thought to myself, here's a really smart Hopkins faculty member. He's here in the fall and spring, and in Singapore in the winter. But the fact is, these are Hopkins faculty members. Or are they?
Years ago, when a grant went out it had one Hopkins faculty member's name on it. Then things changed and you had multiple Hopkins faculty members because no one faculty member could have enough expertise to get the grant. So you had to have a molecular biologist and a neuropathologist and an epidemiologist to get the grant. Then what happened is that we had faculty members from other universities, strange to say. And I would guess, I don't know, probably 20 percent of our grants go out with faculty from other universities.
The Whiting School recently received a prestigious National Science Foundation Engineering Research Center grant for robotic surgery. But if you read the fine print on the grant you'll see who's participating: we have faculty from engineering, from arts and sciences, faculty from medicine and APL. Ok, that's great. But we also have faculty from Carnegie Mellon, MIT, and Harvard Medical School. So, is it a Hopkins grant? I don't know.
What if you were to ask the faculty participating from Harvard or Carnegie Mellon or MIT, did they ask the president of their university if they could participate, and was this a good thing or a bad thing? They would probably tell you, I don't care. This is exciting research. This is where we're going.
Similarly, consider our faculty member teaching mathematics in Singapore: I didn't give that person my approval. I don't know if Kreiger School dean Dick McCarty did. I don't know if Dick cares. But we're giving those faculty members tenure: a lifetime, no-cut contract. They retain the rights of ownership of a lot of their intellectual property.
I'm not arguing against this. I'm not saying we should run our university like a railroad or like your corporation. But you probably wouldn't do things this way in your company. I'm making the point that it's an asymmetric relationship. Furthermore, it's becoming more asymmetrical as we face this strong pressure to tenure our faculty and hold onto them. Yet they're being drawn away. Princeton, for example, prohibits faculty from teaching a course on sabbatical at another university that they teach at Princeton.
This is because faculty can do what, in the quantum mechanical world, is known as tunneling. Tunneling is where a particle can be here, and has a firm wall separating it from there, but somehow it can appear on the other side. So we think we're creating this firm wall -- we've got the faculty member nailed down by tenure -- and then all of sudden she appears over in Singapore or Harvard or somewhere else. Like some particles in quantum mechanic physics, they're what we call loosely bound.
Of course the students are becoming more loosely bound as well. Because the students are going to want to go to places that offer expertise. Maybe they'll say, "Well, Hopkins, you've got the expertise in fluid mechanics but you don't have the expertise in quantum mechanics, so I'm going to take my fluid mechanics courses at Hopkins, but I want to take my quantum mechanics courses at Princeton." I think in the future we're going to see more picking and choosing of this sort.
When you have that, it raises a lot of issues. First of all, what are the bounds of Hopkins? Where do our boundaries end and where do other universities begin? And do we care? These are truly questions to which I don't know the answers.
What defines a Hopkins faculty member? Is it tenure, time commitment, or something else? What also is happening is that an increasing number of faculty at all research universities are being appointed to non-tenured track positions. This gives us flexibility. It allows us to hire faculty who might not make it through the tenure system because of certain ramifications or hurdles, but who are otherwise extraordinarily gifted faculty. It allows us to ramp up in a very specific area, but not to be straddled with a lot of faculty in that area 20 years later if that discipline or that area goes away.
What is our obligation to the faculty member? When Bart Giamatti left the Presidency of Yale to become the Commissioner of Baseball, I couldn't imagine why he made the change. Then I recognized that he would only have to contend with Free Agency, whereas at Yale, he was running a baseball team with a lot of superstars who had the privileges of both permanent free agency and no-cut contracts (tenure). This relationship worked well when faculty were not highly mobile, but in today's environment, it raises questions. What is the faculty member's obligation to the university? What should be the university's obligation to the faculty member?
Within all this, I think we need to remember that there is a fundamental difference between a business and a university. We're a bottom-up organization. We want to foster creativity. You don't manage faculty, and you don't want to restrict their creativity. So none of this should be interpreted as any effort to try to bind the faculty more, to hold them down. And protection of academic freedom is tantamount to our long term success. But I just want to raise issues that we are facing. These are what I would call cultural and sociological challenges that the system, as it has evolved, is not equipped to confront.
Just witness Harvard trying to go after one of its faculty members for doing something that has been a time-honored tradition. You develop courseware in the books, right, that's O.K. But somehow courseware on the Internet is not books, so you shouldn't do that. It's a real challenge.
The implications are something that I think the Board needs to consider over the long term. Who owns the faculty's intellectual output and to whom should the faculty owe their allegiance? In my view, one of the problems is not tenure per se -- I think tenure is very important -- but the uncapping of mandatory retirement. This has made it very difficult for us to do any rational planning and makes it difficult to renew departments with a disproportionate number of senior faculty.
It used to be that tenure was defined as a contract till retirement, which meant age 65. Congress removed mandatory retirement, effectively uncapping tenure. So now we could have faculty members at age 100 who still have tenure. Of course, we can remove tenure, and we have the vehicles to do that. But it is a difficult and arduous task. And more to the point is the challenge of renewing departments to change directions. In the past, when you could count on a certain turnover of faculty at age 65 you could more rationally plan for department renewal.
The other point is, do you need it? Is tenure necessary? I'm reminded of when Steve Knapp went to a meeting of provosts of all the research universities recently. One of the things that's happened in academia is that there is a lot more mobility. There are bounties to recruit top faculty. People with these retention packages then become very expensive to hold onto. One of the other provosts at this meeting said, "Well, maybe we shouldn't offer retention packages to faculty that get lured away." And the other provosts started writing down the name of that university. They're thinking, "Great, we're going to come after your faculty." Certainly, you don't want to be the first one to try to eliminate tenure.
Finally, you have to think about what it means that the community of scholars is no longer within the quadrangle. And sometimes, they're no longer within the university -- even if it has multiple campuses. Really, the new community of scholars exists, not even within a discipline, but within a focused field. Although I'm a radiologist, I'm much more interested in cardiovascular applications of magnetic resonance than I am in going to a meeting of general radiologists. A general meeting of radiologists holds very little allure to somebody who is doing highly specific research in the field of radiology. The same is true in other fields.
Very importantly, how does teaching fit into this picture? Teaching is, in some sense, the reason we're here. We all talk about it, but it doesn't necessarily get the highest priority when all this filters out. And I think that's a concern.
I have some concerns that the university of the not-too- distant future will become primarily a marketing organization. You come to Hopkins and we offer the course, but, in fact, we hire faculty from here and from there, and we'll put it all together under the Hopkins umbrella. As I discussed earlier, we're already doing this in our research enterprise. We're much more of a marketing organization than we are some vast conglomeration that owns all the pieces of the delivery of content or the conduct of research. Consider the robotic assisted surgery I mentioned earlier. We have some pieces of the delivery ourselves, but we borrowed from Carnegie Mellon and MIT and so forth to help create content. And that's not necessarily bad.
I'd just like to close with this thought. When Dan Goldin came, he had a wonderful expression: "The Tsunami of Science." He said, "You don't know what's coming down -- it's coming down so fast." I think he's exactly correct. There are so many discoveries that have fundamental significance. For instance, in medicine, where we've talked a lot about genetics and genomics, less attention has been paid to stem cell research.
The fundamental discoveries in the last couple of years of stem cell research involve being able to take mature cells from the brain, move them back, and create from them stem cells that then have the potential to regenerate neurons. Or even the extraordinary potential of stem cells that can regenerate whole organs. It's amazing. The whole field of cellular engineering, of tissue engineering, of being able to take these advances and do who-knows-what is not fully appreciated.
Another area that has unforetold potential is nanotechnology. Again, the idea that you can build these micro machines and their potential applications are just enormously exciting. APL and the School of Engineering have a lot of background in this area.
It goes on and on. The pace of development and the fundamental discoveries that are being made are so profound and so rapid that they make it very difficult to even comprehend the magnitude of change we're witnessing.
So when I look at what the university is going to be doing in 2020, I have no idea exactly what it's going to look like. But I can tell you the one thing: it's going to be more like a floating crap game than a gaming table at Las Vegas or Atlantic City. You've got to be able to pull a half-dozen experts together quickly and have a game. And the faster you can do that, and the more seamlessly you can do that, the better you're going to be.
If those people are in your university, great. But increasingly, they're not. You need world-class expertise. And you can't have all the world-class experts, particularly because you don't know where that next field is going to come. So you've got to have not only the flexibility in your rules and procedures, but the culture within the university to do that.
I think -- and I say this with great pride -- that Hopkins has the ability to be the best floating-crap-game organizer in the world. Better than any other place that I've ever seen. We don't have entrenched disciplines at Hopkins. The quote that came the other day from ABC's Hopkins 24/7 had it right: "the only thing that's important is how good you are." It doesn't matter what your discipline is, or what is your title or how old you are.
In fact, the thing that attracted me to Hopkins when I was in the MRI business is we sold a machine to Hopkins. Radiologists and cardiologists never work together. We provided a machine to cardiology to work on cardiovascular applications of MRI. I came here and the cardiologists and radiologists were working closely together, and I was astounded. I said, "How can this happen?" But it is true that at Hopkins, the only thing important is how good you are.
I think that's an extraordinarily important asset that we have to capitalize upon. But we also have to be sure that we have the vehicles to make it happen. Where we run into trouble is at the interface. If engineering cooperates with public health and APL, the funding mechanism gets tricky. You've got three different corporations, if you will, and you have three different funding mechanisms. How do you work out the dollars and cents? That shouldn't be the faculty members' concern, that ought to be our administrative concern. And that's part of our job -- to figure out how to make that piece of it seamless.
Sometimes it works seamlessly and sometimes it's tremendously difficult. But the culture is important. The culture is the most important part. At one university, there was a program project grant in the neurosciences. Three different departments worked together, but the neurologists refused. In the end, the program project failed because the culture of the floating crap game just wasn't there. The necessary groups were not going to work together.
We don't have that problem at Hopkins. And I think it's a tremendously important asset. The disciplines have to become secondary to the fields of expertise. You need disciplines for education and for quality control -- because you need a way of promoting people and being able to recognize their expertise. The best way to do that, at least currently, is through the disciplines. So you have to have both the disciplines, and the fields of expertise, and you have to allow the people to work across the disciplinary boundaries.
Universities increasingly have to emphasize depth of scholarship rather than breadth. Which means we have to give up fields. For instance, we're not in all the modern languages -- we're only in a few. We have to partner with other places in order to provide that expertise. And whether we partner with another university or we bring in adjunct faculty to teach, we just have to say here's our focus, and in these other areas we have to outsource that capability.
Partnerships and alliances, and maybe a few mergers of universities, will provide the breadth. One of the other things that I'll say is that this is going to be a game of scale. Right now, there are too many colleges and universities, and I don't think that all of them are going to be able to afford the infrastructure to compete. We've been approached in the last year by one college that probably can't make it and wants to merge with Hopkins. I don't think we're going to pursue anything in that regard, but it points out that of the several thousand colleges and universities, they're not all going to make it.
I think there are several ways that they can make it. One is that they can merge. Although mergers are very difficult because the cultures of institutions are so different. The different cultures oftentimes preclude successful mergers, as we've seen in health care. Almost none of the health care mergers in academic medical centers have worked out. On the other hand, partnerships and alliances are a good way to accomplish some of the same things short of a full merger. That may be the way to go.
I think that, like it or not, the majority of the faculty are probably going to be non-tenure track because of this need to quickly assemble and disassemble and change fields and change directions. I think also there is an increasing recognition that even if you tenure faculty members, they are not going to have the same loyalty to the institution that the institution gives to them. Short of some modification of the retirement rules to allow term contracts, I'm not sure that we're going to be able to do much.
These are just some areas. When we think of Hopkins I think increasingly we need to look at these areas where we can pull together programs across boundaries. Some of these already exist. Some are things that we'll think of in the future. One interesting application that Dan Goldin pointed out is that we talk a lot about medical applications of the physical and information sciences -- biomedical engineering, the space biomedical institute, having people from APL work with medicine. What we haven't spoken about much is the opposite approach: taking people from the biological sciences and having them work on non-medical fields.
For example, consider the field of biologic computing, that is, making computers out of biological components using molecular assemblies. I read a business plan for a company that's building chips -- computational chips -- using DNA as the architecture on which to lay down the silicon, the super structure. All of these things are going to have tremendous implications.
As I mentioned, we've had a lot of pressure on APL to work with the medical school on medical problems. But what would happen, Ed Miller, if one of the APL people came to your molecular biologists and said, "We want you to work on some chips for the defense department." What kind of reception would they get? I think it's something that we need to think about because, potentially, it's an extraordinary opportunity for a place like Hopkins. Counter-proliferation, bioterrorism defense, information security -- these are all areas where I think we have intrinsic strengths. We need to think about how we're going to build these cross-university programs because that's where the exciting research frontiers are going to be.
So, is the American university obsolete? I don't think so. I know that some aren't going to survive because the cost structure is just not sustainable. If you look at small colleges, Amherst, Swarthmore or Williams are going to survive, but there are hundreds of other small colleges that don't have the cachet or endowment that these three colleges have. Others may not be able to succeed, and I think the same thing is true among some research universities.
Finally, I think the education paradigm is going to shift, but I think a role for intensive interaction is still going to remain. I just want to close with this thought about that. I was at a symposium with Uwe Reinhardt, the famous economist from Princeton. I got up and talked about the challenges to research universities and so forth. And I used the Drucker quote about how, twenty-five years from now, the universities will be unrecognizable.
Reinhardt got up after me and said, "Well, Bill, I don't believe any of that." He said, "You know, the other day my wife and I were having trouble with our teenage son who is in high school. And I said to my wife, I said Honey, isn't there some place that we could send our son where he would go in as this obnoxious kid and come out a few years later as a refined, friendly, affable young man?' And she said, Yes, it's called a college or a university.'"
So, anyway, that's the future of universities.
Thank you very much.
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