Thursday, February 9, 2017

JHU Proposes Renaming San Martin Drive after Alumnus and Donor

Johns Hopkins University is asking the City Council to rename San Martin Drive, which runs along the western border of the Homewood Campus, "Hackerman Way" in honor of Willard Hackerman, a graduate of JHU and a donor to the school.

Hackerman was the long-time President and CEO of Whiting-Turner Contracting Company. He passed in 2014 and one of his last financial gifts was to support the $15 million San Martin Drive Improvement Project, which is nearing completion.

Renaming the road would require a City Council ordinance, which Mary Pat Clarke has indicated to JHU that she will introduce if the surrounding communities are on board with the change. The campus is entirely in Clarke's council district.

JHU representatives reached out to the Tuscany-Canterbury, Wyman Park, and Wyman Park South community associations. Shannon Dawkins Wrenn, President of the Hampden Community Council, found out and passed word to GRIA and to this Newsletter. JHU says it is the sole property owner on both sides of the street for its entire length.

JHU researched the current name and found that "San Martin Drive was named in the 1950s in honor of an Argentine General, José Francisco de San Martín y Matorras (1778-1850), in then-Baltimore-Mayor D’Alessandro’s interest in creating affinity with South American countries who were major customers of the Port of Baltimore."

A biography of Hackerman, provided by JHU, is copied below.

People interested in voicing an opinion about the proposed name change can contact GRIA at or Mary Pat Clarke directly at If you contact Clarke directly, please specify that you are a Remington resident.

**Update 4/4/2017: This proposal is currently suspended.**

The Life and Legacy of Mr. Willard Hackerman

“If you give back to a worthy cause, God will give back to you ten times over.”

A true son of Baltimore, Mr. Willard Hackerman was born in 1918 and spent his early years living on East Baltimore Street close to Patterson Park. He then lived in the Garrison and Liberty Heights neighborhoods. When Mr. Hackerman was 14 years old and in his second year at the Baltimore Polytechnic Institute (Poly), his parents moved to Hanover, Pennsylvania, for work in a clothing factory. He wanted to complete high school at Poly, so he lived first with a relative and then in two different boarding houses for his junior and senior years. Mr. Hackerman entered Johns Hopkins University at the age of 16 and graduated in 1938 at the age of 19 with a bachelor’s degree in civil engineering. After a brief stint as a surveyor, the Whiting-Turner Contracting Company hired him immediately as a as a field engineer – he was the company’s third employee. Mr. Hackerman’s subsequent achievements resulted in his promotion to president of the company in 1955, a position he would hold for the next 59 years.

Throughout his professional career and especially in his role as president of Whiting-Turner, Mr. Hackerman worked to strengthen and unify the Baltimore metropolitan region. The efforts of Mr. Hackerman and his company quite literally changed the face of Baltimore, and helped to shift its reputation from a manufacturing city on the Patapsco River to an East Coast destination city with a burgeoning tourism trade. In fact, during the intense revitalization efforts of the downtown area, clients would seek out Whiting-Turner as construction manager and builder, citing the company’s quality and energy (and also its leader). The company’s many successful projects include several well-known and striking city landmarks such as the National Aquarium, M&T Bank Stadium, the Joseph P. Meyerhoff Symphony Hall, the Mercy Medical Center, and the John and Frances Angelos Law Center at the University of Baltimore Law School. Mr. Hackerman’s business acumen allowed Whiting-Turner to expand its horizons, becoming the fourth-largest domestic general builder in the United States with 35 regional offices across the country. Mr. Hackerman was always a champion of inclusion in all endeavors. Continuing in that legacy, Whiting-Turner is a major partner in the Hopkins-led BLocal initiative that is increasing spending dramatically with Baltimore-area MBE/WBE companies.

Mr. Hackerman’s extraordinary commitment to the community matched his success as a businessman. Mr. Hackerman was known as a creative, civically minded problem-solver who was particularly concerned about the plight of homeless women and children. He established three transitional housing developments for women and their children and homeless families. His many civic roles included service on the state’s first Commission on Economic Development and on the Maryland Higher Education Commission. He was a member of the Mayor’s Advisory Council and served on the boards of the University of Maryland School of Medicine, the Maryland Science Center, the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra (BSO), BGE, and the Maryland Health and Higher Education Facilities Authority. Mr. Hackerman is credited with saving the BSO when it was experiencing labor unrest and funded an endowed chair in the orchestra.

Mr. Hackerman’s philanthropy, personally and through Whiting-Turner, benefitted the arts and educational, healthcare, and cultural institutions in Baltimore and the surrounding region. He was deeply interested in helping to prepare the next generation of leaders and created scholarship programs at several local universities for Poly graduates. Mr. Hackerman and his wife, Lillian, established Hackerman-Patz houses at six Baltimore hospitals to accommodate orthopedic or cancer patients requiring long-term stays. They funded the Hackerman House for Asian Art at the Walters Art Museum. Mr. Hackerman received honorary degrees from the University of Maryland, Baltimore County; Loyola University Maryland; and Johns Hopkins University.

Through the years, Johns Hopkins was the recipient of Mr. Hackerman’s generosity, insights, and expertise. Mr. Hackerman and his wife Lillian gave of their time and talents to the university in ways too numerous to mention. He was as a university trustee for many years and advised many university leaders, including Ron Daniels, the current president. Perhaps his signature accomplishment at Johns Hopkins was acting as the driving force behind the re-establishment in 1979 of a formal engineering school at the university as the G.W.C. Whiting School of Engineering. It was the university’s first named school, and his efforts guided the creation of a strong and vibrant engineering school within the city.

Just as Mr. Hackerman’s influence is evident across Baltimore, so do his good works span the campuses of Johns Hopkins. On the East Baltimore medical campus, he was particularly proud of the Hackerman-Patz Patient and Family Pavilion at the Sidney Kimmel Comprehensive Cancer Center. Mr. and Mrs. Hackerman also established the Willard and Lillian Hackerman Professorship in Radiation Oncology. At the Homewood campus, Whiting-Turner constructed numerous buildings, including the Steven Muller Building of the Space Telescope Science Institute, and the Bloomberg Center for Physics and Astronomy, located on San Martin Drive, and the Computational Science and Engineering Building that was named in Mr. Hackerman’s honor in 2010.

One of Mr. Hackerman’s final philanthropic acts was to approve the funding to “reinvent” San Martin Drive, an important north-south thoroughfare on the west side of the Johns Hopkins Homewood campus. He saw the urgent need to make the roadway safer for pedestrians, runners, cyclists, and drivers, and wholeheartedly supported the university’s plans. Work on the project – made possible through Mr. Hackerman’s generosity – commenced last year and will be completed by April 2017.