Stieff Silver investigation update

July 27, 2020

Dear Johns Hopkins Community: 

We have an update on the discovery of a rope tied into a noose at a construction site in the Stieff Silver building near the Homewood campus earlier this month. As President Daniels communicated on July 3, we take this despicable act very seriously and have referred the incident to federal law enforcement as a potential hate crime. The FBI accepted the case and has moved quickly to gather evidence. That investigation is ongoing, and the agency is working hard to find the person or persons responsible and bring them to justice. The university and the construction contractor are giving their full assistance to the effort, while JHU’s Office of Institutional Equity is moving forward with its own investigation. 

We recognize that this incident is more than just a matter for law enforcement. It also demands that we take all necessary steps to support the Black members of our community who have been traumatized by this and other racist acts, and work to ensure that something like this doesn’t happen again at a Johns Hopkins construction site or other university property.

After a three-week pause, work recommenced today on the Whiting School of Engineering lab renovation project where the incident occurred. That delay not only allowed for the investigations to progress but also provided time for the university to work with the contractor to enhance its policies, training, and reporting practices related to discrimination, harassment, acts of violence, and hate. The contractor, Plano-Coudon, a local construction firm, has approached this matter seriously and has taken meaningful steps with its subcontractors, suppliers, and vendors to help ensure that activity on the job is reflective of Johns Hopkins’ values, including our commitment to the community, our support for Minority/Women/Disadvantaged Business Enterprises, and the relationships that we have built with our HopkinsLocal and BLocal partners. 

However, we know that incidents like this one have occurred with increasing frequency on job sites across the country in recent months, and so we have begun a broader review of the standards to which we hold the wide variety of contractors the university employs in an effort to ensure a common set of policies and practices related to racial justice for all those working on Johns Hopkins premises. We wish to make clear that doing business with Johns Hopkins requires a strong commitment to these values and to tangible policies and procedures that give them meaning. As an institution, Johns Hopkins will continue to prioritize economic inclusion through contracts with Minority/Women/Disadvantaged Business Enterprises and key programs like HopkinsLocal and BLocal. We are grateful for those partnerships and very much look forward to strengthening them in future projects.

As stated previously, Johns Hopkins University unequivocally condemns this act of hate that traumatizes and dehumanizes our Black students, colleagues, neighbors, and fellow citizens. It directly contradicts the values of equity, justice, and humanity that are essential to our mission and purpose, and we are especially mindful of the toll it takes at a time when the struggle for racial justice is being felt so acutely in the wake of the killings of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, Ahmaud Arbery and so many more.

We continue to offer resources for support and healing through MySupport for faculty and staff and for students through and its dedicated resources on racial trauma. If anyone has information about this incident, or if you observe any discriminatory or unethical behavior, you may report it anonymously at 844-SPEAK2US (844-773-2528).  

Thank you for your continued commitment to our university.  


Daniel Ennis
Senior Vice President for Finance and Administration

Bob McLean
Vice President for Facilities and Real Estate

Connor Scott
Acting Vice President for Security

Shanon Shumpert
Vice Provost for Institutional Equity