Best Brand Mismanagement

City Paper

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A little over a year ago America’s first research university launched a branding campaign to “reflect the excellence of this great university.” It’s a brand that’s taken a beating in the past year, especially when considered in conjunction with the Johns Hopkins Hospital, which for the first time since 1991 fell below the No. 2 spot in U.S. News and World Report’s rankings, took four months and a strike to agree to a modest pay bump for its lowest-paid union staff, and agreed to a $190 million settlement to the victims of Dr. Nikita Levy, the OB/GYN who photographed and videotaped his patients during pelvic examinations. Last fall university administration made assistant professor Matthew Green, a cryptography specialist and researcher, remove a blog post criticizing the encryption practices of the National Security Agency—before apologizing for such a censorious request. Finally, around the time the White House issued its task force report to protect students from sexual assault and invited three universities to help it, including Hopkins, the university came under investigation for mishandling a rape allegation made by one of its own students. The 21st-century’s corporatization of undergraduate higher education is the latest disappointment in the American Dream’s Ponzi scheme, and any corporate brand aspiring to maintain its “elite” status should be aiming much higher than this.

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