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.
ALONZO G. DECKER JR. was a university trustee for more than 30 years and served as national chairman for the Hopkins Hundreds Campaign in the 1970s, during which he gave generously, including the endowment for professorships in science and engineering. As chief executive officer of Black & Decker, Alonzo Decker Jr. helped lead the manufacturing company to international prominence, devising some of its most successful products including the electric hammer. He also was instrumental in the development of the cordless drill and the portable electric drill for home use. With his wife, VIRGINIA DECKER, Mr. Decker actively supported educational institutions throughout Maryland. He died in 2002.
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.
KEVIN J. HEMKER, the Alonzo G. Decker Professor of Mechanical Engineering, received his doctorate in materials science and engineering from Stanford University in 1990. After a postdoctoral fellowship at the Ecole Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne Switzerland, he joined the Johns Hopkins' Department of Mechanical Engineering in 1993. In 2001, he became the program chair of mechanical engineering in the Whiting School's Engineering Programs for Professionals (now Engineering for Professionals) and in 2007 was appointed chair of Mechanical Engineering. Hemker has secondary appointments in the departments of Materials Science and Engineering and Earth and Planetary Sciences, and is the former chair of the university's Faculty Budget Advisory Committee.
Externally, Hemker serves the Department of Defense as a member of the prestigious Defense Science Research Council, a think tank for the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA). He recently participated in an Energy Materials Blue Ribbon Panel convened to advise the Department of Energy on materials-related energy solutions. Dr. Hemker is a fellow of the American Society of Mechanical Engineers and the American Society for Materials and is currently on the board of directors for The Minerals, Metals & Materials Society.