Established in 1973 by Fannie Fox Decker

Image Credit: Black & Decker FANNIE FOX DECKER, a longtime supporter of the university, made several generous gifts in honor of her son, ALONZO G. DECKER JR., her husband, ALONZO G. DECKER SR. (pictured below), and the Decker family. Mrs. Decker, who died in 1981, established the Decker Chair in the Humanities during her lifetime and, through her estate, provided support for the Peabody Institute and for a chair in mechanical engineering at the Whiting School of Engineering.

The family's relationship with Hopkins began when Alonzo G. Decker Sr. and his future business partner, S. Duncan Black, worked at the Rowland Telegraph Company owned by Henry A. Rowland, professor of physics at Hopkins from 1876 to 1901 and one of the 19th century's most important physicists.


Image Credit: Black & Decker The senior Mr. Decker's formal education reached only the seventh grade, and he believed that working with Professor Rowland was his most significant educational experience. Al Decker Jr. succeeded his father as chief executive officer of Black & Decker Corporation and helped lead the manufacturing firm to international prominence. He headed a successful Hopkins fundraising campaign in the 1970s and made generous gifts, including the endowment of professorships in science and engineering.


JOHN T. IRWIN, the Decker Professor of the Humanities and past chairman of the Writing Seminars, has been honored with a Guggenheim Fellowship, the Christian Gauss Prize from Phi Beta Kappa, and the Scaglione Prize for Comparative Literary Studies from the Modern Language Association. In 2005, he was elected a fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences. Under his pen name, John Bricuth, Dr. Irwin has published three books of poetry, the most recent being a 4,500-line narrative poem set in divorce court, entitled As Long As It's Big. He has also published three books of literary criticism, with a fourth book on hard-boiled fiction and film noir published in 2006. Serving as general editor of the Johns Hopkins Press Short Fiction and Poetry Series since its founding in 1979, Dr. Irwin is currently working on a verse play and in 2012 delivered the Turnbull Lecture on the subject of his new book, Hart Crane’s Poetry: Appollinaire lived in Paris, I live in Cleveland, Ohio, recently published by the Johns Hopkins University Press.