On August 24, 1867, Johns Hopkins incorporated the two institutions which bear his name: Johns Hopkins University and Johns Hopkins Hospital. The original members of the Boards of Trustees for the two institutions were named in the Certificate of Incorporation, as follows: Francis T. King, Lewis N. Hopkins, Thomas M. Smith, William Hopkins, John W. Garrett, Francis White, Charles J. M. Gwinn, Galloway Cheston, George W. Dobbin, Dr. John Fonerden, Reverdy Johnson, Jr. (University Board only), George W. Brown, (University Board only), Richard M. Janney (Hospital Board only), and Dr. Alan P. Smith (Hospital Board only).
Dr. Fonerden died before the Board's first meeting in June 1870, and Dr. James C. Thomas took his place. This original Board, composed of seven businessmen, four lawyers, and one physician, was thus responsible for creating a university, beginning with the search for a president. In 1874 the Board of Trustees published a pamphlet containing the university's Certificate of Incorporation, Extracts of Mr. Hopkins's Will, and the By Laws to be followed by the Trustees. These original By Laws were rather brief, listing the duties of each officer of the Board, the responsibilities of the three committees set up, and the order of business at stated meetings. No mention was made of how to select Trustees to replace the original members, or of the duties of the President of the University. The officers of the Board consisted of a President (distinct from the President of the University), a Secretary, and a Treasurer. The President was responsible for presiding at meetings, calling special meetings, bringing matters to the attention of the Board, and overseeing in general the affairs of the university. The Secretary was to keep the minutes, conduct the correspondence, and give notice of meetings and of appointments. The Treasurer's duties were to collect, keep, and disburse all funds of the university, reporting his actions to the Board regularly. The original By Laws authorized three standing committees of the Board: an Executive Committee of five members, a Finance Committee of two members, and a Building Committee of four members. The Executive Committee was given responsibility for all matters of general interest to the institution not otherwise appropriated to the Finance and Building Committees. The first revision of the By Laws was made in 1901, when the number of Trustees on the Finance Committee was increased from two to four. First mention was also made of the election procedure for filling vacancies on the Board. Minor revisions of the By Laws were also made in 1902 and 1911.
In 1926, the number of Trustees on the Board was increased for the first time, from twelve to nineteen. The Executive Committee was expanded to eight members, and the Finance and Building Committees set at five members each. The Executive Committee was further increased to nine members in 1927, at which time the Finance Committee membership was increased to seven. The Board of Trustees was expanded again in 1937, from nineteen to twenty three members, while membership on the standing committees remained fixed. One year later two more Trustees were added to the Board, for a total of twenty five. Revisions in the language of the By Laws were made in 1941. One additional Trustee was added in 1948, when the Executive Committee and Finance Committee were increased to nine and ten members, respectively. Another major revision took place in 1959, when the number of Trustees was expanded to thirty four. Four of these new Trustees were to be nominated by Johns Hopkins alumni, each to serve a single four year term with all the powers of the other Trustees. For the first time, it was stated that a Trustee must retire and assume emeritus status in the month of June following his seventy second birthday.
With the increase in membership on the Board came the addition of three new standing committees, the first such addition since the founding of the University. A Budget Committee of five members was appointed, with a corresponding decrease in the Finance Committee membership. An Academic Program Committee and a Committee on Sponsored Research, both with five members, were set up. In addition, the name of the Building Committee was expanded to Building and Grounds Committee. Another revision made in 1959 was to change the titles of President and Vice President of the Board to Chairman and Vice Chairman. The President of the University was also given many of the administrative duties once held by the President of the Board of Trustees. Revisions in the By Laws were also made in 1961, 1971, 1974 and 1982, though of a minor nature. The number of Trustees was expanded to thirty seven in 1961, to fifty one in 1974, and to fifty nine in 1982. The Alumni Trustees were also increased in number, from four to six, and given a six year term each in 1961. In 1971, the Board amended the By Laws to include one recent graduate of Hopkins to be elected annually to a four year term. The Young Trustee, with the same powers and responsibilities as all other trustees, is chosen jointly by the undergraduate student body and by the Board itself. In 1974, six more Alumni Trustees were added, although the total number was not raised.
The following is a list of the individuals who have served as Chairmen (or Presidents) of the Board of Trustees, followed by their years in that office, through 2002: Cheston, Galloway, 1870-1881; Dobbin, George W., 1881-1891; Stewart, C. Morton, 1891-1900; McLane, James Latimer, 1900-1901; White, Francis (Acting), 1902; Keyser, R. Brent, 1903-1926; Willard, Daniel, 1926-1941; Barton, Carlyle, 1941-1958; Garland, Charles S., 1958-1968; Harvey, Robert D. H., 1968-1984; Radcliffe, George G., 1984-1990; Offit, Morris W.,1990-1996; Bloomberg, Michael R., 1996-2002; Mason, Raymond A., 2002. More information about a current list of Board of Trustees can be found on the Board of Trustees website.