Thursday, 9 December 2010

What is in a name?

Confused over our name? Don't worry, you are not the first.

Our graduate program is part of The Johns Hopkins University, which is based in Baltimore, Maryland. Johns Hopkins, or JHU, opened in 1876 as a research university and remains one of the world's top centers of learning.

(We are often asked: Why in the dickens is there an "s" at the end of "Johns"? The simple answer is that Mr. Johns Hopkins's first name started as a surname. The great-grandmother of the inventor and philanthropist was named Margaret Johns, and hence his first name. Hopkins arranged for the incorporation of both JHU and The Johns Hopkins Hospital, but he died three years before JHU opened its doors.)

The School of Advanced International Studies, widely known as SAIS, was founded in 1943 in Washington, DC, and became part of JHU in 1950. Paul Nitze, a prominent U.S. government official who helped to shape defense policy over the course of several administrations, was one of the founders of SAIS, and the graduate school is named in his honor. So SAIS's full name is a mouthful: The Paul H. Nitze School of Advanced International Studies.

The Bologna Center was founded in 1955 by a small group of scholars as the European component of SAIS. C. Grove Haines, a diplomatic historian at SAIS, came to Europe in the early 1950s determined to establish an American graduate school on the continent. He conceived of a school where students from Europe and the United States could learn from each other how to bring about a new Europe devastated by war.

Haines was able to open the doors of the Bologna Center in 1955 to 10 students who gathered in a borrowed building. He served as director until 1972, when he retired to a Tuscan farmhouse. The Center has since expanded considerably, extended its curriculum and greeted students from all continents. SAIS Bologna has graduated more than 6,000 alumni from more than 105 countries.

Today nearly 800 students study international relations at either SAIS Washington or SAIS Bologna. The easiest way to refer to to the two campuses is SAIS DC and SAIS Bologna. ("SAIS" is pronounced as "sigh-e-s".) But if you refer to us as the Bologna Center, we will understand. And in much of the city of Bologna, home to what is believed to be the oldest continually operating university in the world, SAIS Bologna is known as "la Johns Hopkins".

Tomorrow: SAIS DC and SAIS BC

Nelson Graves