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Records of the Office of the Dean of Arts and Sciences

 Record Group
Identifier: RG-04-001

  • Staff Only
  • No requestable containers

Scope and Contents

The records of the Office of the Dean of Arts and Sciences, ranging in date from 1933 to 1993, are those kept by the following Deans: Richard Cox, G. Heberton Evans, Allyn Kimball, George Benton, George Owen and Sigmund Suskind. While the records of the first six deans are missing, the record group is otherwise quite extensive. The records document the administrative operations of the School of Arts and Sciences. The records include departmental correspondence, committee files, subject files, memoranda, and policy statements. Topics dealt with in this record group include the student protest against military recruitment on campus in 1970, the breakup of the Education Department and the formal acquisition of Levering Hall from the YMCA.


  • Creation: 1933 - 1993
  • Creation: Majority of material found within 1951 - 1993
  • Creation: 2015 - Ongoing


Conditions Governing Access

This collection is housed off-site and requires 48-hours' notice for retrieval. Please contact Special Collections for more information.

All collections are closed except to office of origin or original owner until processed. University records are closed for 25 years from the point of creation. SOme folders in Box 72 contain personnel records, which are subject to further restrictions.

Conditions Governing Use

Single copies may be made for research purposes. Permission to publish materials from the collection must be requested from the Special Collections department. Researchers are responsible for determining any copyright questions.

Biographical / Historical

In its earliest years, Johns Hopkins University had no real need for a dean of undergraduate studies. Although there had been undergraduates at Hopkins since the University's inception, the University was able to incorporate them with the graduate students and, although the two were separated academically, oversight of all academic programs was performed by the same administration. As undergraduates increased in number, it became necessary to define more clearly their academic programs. To perform this task, the position of Dean of the College Board was established in 1886 and offered to John H. Wright of Dartmouth College. No sooner had Wright accepted the Hopkins position than he also accepted an offer from Harvard; thus, although he taught at Hopkins as a professor of Classical Philology during the 1886-1887 academic year, he never assumed the position of Dean.

The position was finally filled in 1889 when Rev. Edward H. Griffin (B.A., Williams College, 1862; D.D., Amherst College, 1880) was appointed Dean of the College Faculty. In his 1889 Annual Report, President Gilman describes the dean as "friend and counsellor . . . chief of the Advisers." Griffin's responsibilities, however, were much more extensive. In addition to overseeing undergraduate faculty and curriculum, the Dean had to handle discipline as well as improve student life. Dean Griffin also continued to teach Philosophy. In A History of the University Founded by Johns Hopkins, John C. French describes Griffin as "a clergyman-teacher who carried urbanely the best traditions of New England culture into other parts of the land." (p. 354) The new Dean gave an annual address to the incoming freshman class and quickly earned the respect and affection of all the students. He worked to improve student life by starting a committee to promote social activities. In 1913-1914, during the interim caused by Ira Remsen's resignation as President, and prior to the appointment of Frank J. Goodnow, Griffin took on many of the responsi-bilities of the President. When he retired in 1915 he was greatly missed by the students, having become known as "the gentle Dean."

Murray Peabody Brush succeeded Griffin in 1915. Brush earned a Ph.D. in Romance Languages from Hopkins in 1898 and had been a faculty member since 1899. As Dean during the First World War, he encouraged military training on the new Homewood campus. To improve student life, Dean Brush raised enough money from alumni to renovate the Homewood Barn and turn it into a student center with a soda fountain, gymnasium and assembly hall. Brush retired from Hopkins in 1919 to become Director of the Jacob Tome Institute in Point Deposit, Maryland.

The Board of Trustees next appointed another Hopkins alumnus, John Holladay Latane (B.A. 1892, Ph.D. 1895), Professor of American History. Under Latane's supervision, the Dean's office began to concentrate more on curriculum, discipline and recruitment. He was a strong force in the drive for a dormitory complex, asserting that it would attract students from other states. He also urged the University to provide a fully-equipped gymnasium, which finally came about in 1934. After he resigned in 1924, Latane remained on the Homewood faculty; in 1930 he began teaching at the Walter Hines Page School of International Relations, which he was instrumental in establishing.

Latane was succeeded by Joseph Sweetman Ames (B.A. 1886, Ph.D. 1890, Hopkins). Ames spent a year abroad after receiving his doctorate in Physics and then returned to Hopkins where he remained for the rest of his career. He joined the faculty in 1891 and, in 1901, became director of the Physics Laboratory. In 1924, he was appointed Dean of the College Faculty and, in 1926, was also named Provost (a position at the vice presidential level). In 1928, the Dean's title was changed to Dean of the College of Arts and Sciences. He held the positions of both Dean and Provost until he became President of the University in 1929. Ames retired in 1935 after forty-two years of service to the University. In recognition of his life-long service, Ames Hall, constructed in the 1950s, was named in his honor.

As Dean, Ames was concerned with the quality of the academic programs, and he conducted studies to determine which students were the best candidates for admission. In 1926, President Goodnow introduced the "Goodnow Plan" which was designed to phase out undergraduate study at Hopkins. Under this plan, the University would refuse to accept students at the freshman and sophomore levels and would only accept those students working towards a graduate degree. Controversy erupted when Dean Ames suggested that Hopkins alumni teaching at other schools encourage their upperclassmen to apply under the Goodnow Plan, advice widely regarded as being unethical. Combined with a potential loss of tuition income and lack of support for the program, this controversy spelled the end of the Goodnow Plan, and Hopkins resumed admitting undergraduates in the usual manner.

Edward Wilber Berry became Dean in 1929. He has the distinction of being the only Dean with no earned college degree, not even a bachelor's degree. This status resulted in the nickname "the Degreeless Dean." Dean Berry stressed the importance of academic freedom and was opposed to setting many restrictions and rules regarding curriculum requirements. Berry disliked intercollegiate athletics because he felt they detracted from a student's intellectual pursuits, and he was opposed to the Reserve Officers' Training Corps (ROTC) for the same reason. In 1935 he was appointed Provost as well as Dean and held both positions until he resigned in 1942.

Berry was succeeded by George Wilson Shaffer, who had earned two Hopkins degrees (B.A. 1924; Ph.D. 1928, Psychology) and had been a faculty member since 1934. Shaffer served as Dean of the College Faculty until 1948 and then became Dean of the Homewood Schools until 1967. During his tenure at Hopkins, he initiated the University's counseling and psychiatric services and also wrote Recreation and Athletics at Johns Hopkins: A One Hundred Year History, in 1977. He also served briefly as acting Chairman of the Departments of Mathematics, Chemistry and Romance Languages following sudden faculty deaths or resignations. In honor of his service to Hopkins, Shaffer Hall was dedicated to him in 1974, and he became the third recipient of the Eisenhower Medal for Distinguished Service.

In 1948, Richard Threlkeld Cox (B.A. 1920, Ph.D. 1924) became acting Dean. When Cox was a student at Hopkins, he was the advisee of Joseph S. Ames and his stepfather was Dean Latane. He became a professor of Physics in 1943, and, in 1951, he was formally appointed Dean of Arts and Sciences. The reason for the change in the title was President Bronk's "New Plan," which was quite similar to the Goodnow Plan. In order to achieve the goals of the New Plan, the University attempted to discourage undergraduate work and merge the College of Arts and Sciences with the School of Higher Studies. The New Plan failed for essentially the same reasons as the Goodnow Plan: a loss of tuition income and opposition among the students and the community at large. Cox remained Dean until 1959 when his position was eliminated and replaced by the Dean of the Faculty of Philosophy. He continued teaching until 1964.

Besides being a titular change, the new position of Dean of the Faculty of Philosophy included all the old duties of Dean in addition to some taken from the Provost, most notably the budget of the Faculty of Philosophy. George Heberton Evans, Jr. became the first Dean of the Faculty of Philosophy. He held a Hopkins B.A. (1920) and Ph.D. (1925, Political Economy) and had joined the faculty at Hopkins upon receiving his doctorate. As Dean, Evans concentrated on increasing the stature of the faculty. He was also instrumental in forming the Long Range Planning Committee and the Departments of Social Relations, Statistics and History of Science. More information about his deanship can be found in his book Recollections of the Johns Hopkins University, 1916-1970. Evans served as Dean until 1966 and became Professor Emeritus in 1970.

In 1966, the schools at the Homewood campus were reorganized. The Faculty of Philosophy and the School of Engineering merged to become the School of Arts and Sciences. When Robert H. Roy, Dean of the School of Engineering since 1954, retired in 1973, a new Dean of Engineering was not appointed. Allyn W. Kimball (B.S. University of Buffalo, 1943; Ph.D. North Carolina State, 1950) became the first Dean of the Faculty of Arts and Sciences in 1966. Since 1960, Kimball had served as a Professor of Statistics, Biological Statistics, and Biological Mathematics at Homewood, the School of Hygiene, and the School of Medicine, respectively.

Kimball was succeeded as Dean in 1970 by George Stock Benton (B.S. and Ph.D., University of Chicago), who had come to Hopkins as a faculty member in 1948. In 1958, he was appointed acting Chairman of the Department of Civil Engineering and in 1960 he assumed the chair of the newly-created Department of Mechanics. He took a leave of absence in 1966 to serve as Director of Research Laboratories for the Environmental Science Services Administration of the Department of Commerce. He became Dean upon his return in 1970 and served until 1972, when he was appointed Vice President of Homewood.

George Ernest Owen (B.S. 1943 and Ph.D. 1950, Washington University) came to Hopkins in 1951 as faculty member in Physics and became Chairman of the Department in 1968. In 1972, he succeeded Dean Benton as Dean of the Faculty of Arts and Sciences.

In 1978, after the School of Engineering was re-established, Owen became Dean of the Homewood Faculties, a sort of "super dean" who oversaw the Deans of the Faculties of Arts and Sciences and Engineering. He served in this position until 1982, when he retired due to ill health; the position of Dean of the Homewood Faculties was eliminated upon his retirement. Owen died in 1984.

Sigmund R. Suskind succeeded Owen as Dean of the Faculty of Arts and Sciences in 1978. Suskind had come to Hopkins in 1956, as a faculty member in the McCollum-Pratt Institute. In 1971, he became Dean of Academic Programs.

George W. Fisher (B.A. 1959, Dartmouth; Ph.D. Hopkins, 1963) succeeded Suskind as Dean in 1983. Fisher had joined the Hopkins faculty in Geology in 1966 and became Chairman of the Department in 1978. In 1987, Fisher resigned as Dean to return to teaching. He was replaced by Lloyd Armstrong, Jr. (B.S., Massachusetts Institute of Technology; Ph.D., Berkeley), who came to the University as a Physics faculty member in 1968.


41.79 Cubic Feet (59 letter size document boxes, 15 record center cartons, 1 legal half-size document box, 1 legal half-size document box)

1 Website(s)

Language of Materials



The records of the Office of the Dean of Arts and Sciences cover the administrative functions of the department from 1933 to 1993 (bulk of the files from 1951-1993). The records include departmental correspondence, committee files, subject files, memoranda, and policy statements.

Immediate Source of Acquisition

Transferred by C. Norman Krueger, Associate Dean for Administration: (1) Records of students enrolled in the Master of Arts in Teaching Program, 1957-1971; (2) Alphabetical Subject Files of Deans G. Heberton Evans (1959-1966), Allyn Kimball (1966-1970), George Benton (1970-1971), and George Owen (1972-1977); (4) Files of Deans Evans, Kimball, and Owen on outside funding, granting agencies, and sponsored projects (c. 1965-1972); (5) Dean Sigmund Suskind's files on committees and undergraduate programs and activities.

Transferred by Sharon Jennings, Administrative Assistant, Office of the Dean of Arts and Sciences: Records of the Office of the Dean, 1948- 1972.

Transferred by Thelma H. Hunter, Secretary to the Dean of Arts and Sciences: (1) Memoranda to Departmental Chairmen from Deans Kimball, Benton and Owen (1966-1978); (2) Memoranda from Dean Owen (1979-1982); (3) Dean Owen's files on University policies; (4) Appointment files for postdoctoral fellows, junior and senior fellows, and associate research scientists (1960s-1976); (5) Correspondence Files of Deans Kimball and Evans (1961-1969).

Transferred by Rita Braun, Secretary, Office of the Dean of Arts and Sciences: Records of the Office of the Dean, School of Arts and Sciences, 1957-1982.

Accession 1997.UA.018 transferred by the office in 1997.


Student records and student employment records were deaccessioned in January 2019 because they duplicated materials located in other record groups, including the records of the Registrar's Office and Human Resources.

Processing Information

This collection was processed by Margaret Watkins, Jay Shepherd, Sean DiGiovanna, and Anthony Freeman. Additional work was performed by Ye Ji Choi in 2019.

The box numbers for this collection were standardized in 2019; the former box numbers reflected a legacy system that numbered boxes according to the series level, restarting the box numbers at 1 for each series.

Guide to the Records of the Office of the Dean of Arts and Sciences
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
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Repository Details

Part of the Special Collections Repository

The Sheridan Libraries
Special Collections
3400 N Charles St
Baltimore MD 21218 USA