Johns Hopkins University

  • Education
  • 1876

American colleges had undergone much growth and change by 1876, but that year might be thought of as the U.S. inauguration of the German university model—featuring academic independence, a high degree of structure, and an emphasis on research. Johns Hopkins, an enterprising Baltimore businessman, founded his university then with a $7 million grant and his selection of Daniel Gilman as president. The new institution’s main departure was in putting priority on graduate research and education rather than undergraduate teaching. Hopkins’ original vision included both a university and medical school, and Gilman subsequently attracted some of the leading medical minds and scientists in the country. Years later, Harvard president Charles Eliot confessed that his university’s graduate school “did not thrive until the example of Johns Hopkins forced our faculty to put their strengths into the development of our instruction for graduates.” The new university also became inextricably entwined with its patron’s hometown. When the school fell on hard financial times, the people of Baltimore rallied to its aid. Twice before the end of the nineteenth century, the Baltimore business community saved the school after its railroad-heavy stock holdings bottomed out. And local giving extended far beyond financial emergencies. By 1902, new donations from Baltimoreans had surpassed the university’s original endowment. Johns Hopkins now ranks as Maryland’s largest employer.