50-year Hopkins dream a reality

Ex-Baltimorean's $50 million gift launches graduate business program

December 06, 2006|By Gadi Dechter | Gadi Dechter,Sun reporter

When William Polk Carey first tried to interest the Johns Hopkins University in launching a business school in the 1950s, the future real estate magnate, then in his 20s, had only social connections to sweeten the suggestion: Carey was a distant cousin of the university's namesake, and his mother was a good friend of Milton S. Eisenhower, then campus president.

Eisenhower dismissed the idea, saying there was a glut of business programs in the country.

A half-century later, the chairman of the New York real estate investment business W.P. Carey & Co., which owns $8 billion worth of property around the world, has leveraged his persuasive powers with a $50 million gift from the W.P. Carey Foundation.

Carey's vision of a graduate business school at Hopkins will not only come to pass but will bear his family name. The Carey Business School will open in January, the school announced this week.

"Johns Hopkins has seen the light," Carey, 76, said yesterday with a chuckle.

University officials say the graduate school's first new degree program will probably be an accelerated one-year Master of Business Administration program, offered to a limited number of Hopkins undergraduates who will complete it immediately after earning their bachelor's degrees.

The demand for such five-year programs is increasing in the competitive MBA marketplace, according to the Graduate Management Admission Council. Arthur Kraft, chairman of the Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business, said the joint degree is a wise focus for a new school that aspires to compete with established programs.

"Their own undergraduates are extremely talented, and if they can encourage them to go on to the MBA, they would probably be stronger than people they would be able to attract from the outside, because they're a new program," Kraft said.

Hopkins President William R. Brody said that is the strategy, though he pointed out that the university has been awarding business-related master's degrees since the 1960s, mostly as part of the university's evening and part-time programs for working adults. It began offering a part-time MBA in 1999.

Next year, the approximately 2,400 business students enrolled in Hopkins' School of Professional Studies in Business and Education will come under the Carey school umbrella, while the education-studies students will join a new School of Education.

Carey's gift - which the university hopes to match with additional donations of $50 million - will primarily pay for operating costs; no new buildings are planned.

Hopkins has no plans to offer either bachelor's or doctoral degrees in management, though officials are considering a traditional two-year MBA program.

Ralph Fessler, dean of the professional-studies school, will be dean of the new education school. Brody said he hopes to complete a national search for a business school dean within a year.

Though Baltimore is home to popular part-time MBA programs at Loyola College, the University of Baltimore and Towson University, Carey envisions Hopkins eventually joining the ranks of nationally rated business schools. His hope is that the Carey school will have the kind of impact on Baltimore's business community that the university's top-ranked school of medicine has had on the city.

"You have the best medical school, in my view, in the world there. And so what's happened to Baltimore medicine?" he said. "There are more top doctors in Baltimore than in any other city in the world, on a per capita basis.

"People who come to the MBA program will also love it in Baltimore," he said. "They'll learn to love it. And they'll seek employment. And I think there will be a lot more talented people looking for jobs in Baltimore."

In conversation, Carey speaks about Baltimore as though he still lives in the city, though the Homeland native left Roland Park's Gilman School to go to the Pomfret college preparatory school in Connecticut, then attended Princeton and the University of Pennsylvania, before establishing himself in New York City.

Carey said his deep familial roots in Baltimore are the reason for his philanthropy here, particularly for education.

His great-great-great-grandfather James Carey was chairman of the Bank of Maryland and a relative of Johns Hopkins. His grandmother, Anne Galbraith Carey, conceived of the Gilman School for boys in Roland Park.

In 2003, Carey gave Gilman $10 million, one of the largest gifts in its history.

A $2.5 million gift by Carey to Hopkins in 1998 establishing a popular minor in entrepreneurship and management helped pave the way for the business school, Brody said.

In 1998, 10 students graduated with the business-related minor; in May this year, 110 students, about a 10th of the class, graduated with the minor.

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