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The "S" is out: We're "John Hopkins" now
(Baltimore, April 1, 2010) The Johns Hopkins University announced today that it is bowing to the inevitable and officially changing its name to "John Hopkins."
"We give up," university President Ronald J. Daniel said. "We're fighting a losing battle here. And we strongly suspect the extra 's' was a typo in the first place."
Since its establishment in 1876 as America's first research university, Daniel said, anyone and everyone has stumbled over "Johns Hopkins," omitting the seemingly superfluous "s" altogether or dropping it randomly into the name anywhere but where it belonged.
"It's not just 'John Hopkins,'" Daniel said. "We've heard 'John Hopskins.' We've heard 'John Shopskins.' One flustered high school kid in an admissions interview the other day actually called us 'Bob Hoskins.'"
"We've had an entire team of psychiatrists doing nothing but treating our undergraduates for advanced identity crisis," Daniel said. "It just had to stop."
Squads of staff members fanned out early today over the university's campuses throughout the Baltimore-Washington area; in Bologna, Italy; and in Nanjing, China. They employed screwdrivers, chisels, spackle, spray paint - whatever it took to remove the annoying surplus sibilant from residence halls, lab buildings, buses and trucks.
"Thank heavens," a history of art/flute double major said as she joined a grounds crew trying to pry a particularly recalcitrant consonant from the East Gate at the Homewood campus. "It's bad enough trying to convince everyone that we're not all pre-meds. But correcting people's pronunciation 41 times a day? It's just exhausting."
The confusion began in 1873 when wealthy Maryland merchant Johns Hopkins died and left a then-record $7 million bequest to create the university and hospital that have - until now - borne his name. The long-told legend has been that the curmudgeonly Quaker - and wouldn't you get a little surly if people were calling you "Johns?" - was given his great-grandmother's maiden name as his first name.
Recently unearthed evidence suggests, however, that one of the most epic misspellings in the history of birth certificates really resulted from nothing more than a slip of the quill by a myopic, and perhaps slightly tipsy, hospital registrar.
"This was," Daniel noted, "long before The Johns Hopkins Hospital. Darn. I mean, John Hopkins Hospital."
It is unclear exactly how long it will take for the university to change all its signage, but campus bookstores are distributing huge vats of Wite-Out™ to allow faculty members to immediately amend their business cards and stationery.
The bulk of the switchover should be complete within 41 days, university spokesman Dennis O'Hea said. "This is April 1st," he said. "You do the math."
If you'd like to contact us about this announcement, please send us e-mail.
Postscript: Happy April 1, 2010!
All is as it was.
Everything is back to normal, The Johns Hopkins University is still advancing humanity, and it is still Johns Hopkins. No name change was ever considered nor will it ever be, it would seem too preposterous a notion for anyone to believe, especially on April 1st, but these are strange times. Some website passersby did momentarily fear that we at Johns Hopkins University had lost our minds. We have not. But now it is time to get back to work.
If you were one of the truly committed and sent us an e-mail damning us for our poor judgment, we appreciate it because we know you were playing along with us, and we thank you for participating in our zany jest.
See you next year.