Schmoke, Dean of the Howard University School of Law, succeeds Hanna H. Gray as Chairman of the Trustees of the Howard Hughes Medical Institute.
Kurt L. Schmoke, Dean of the Howard University School of Law, has been elected Chairman of the Trustees of the Howard Hughes Medical Institute. He succeeds Hanna H. Gray, President Emeritus of The University of Chicago.
Schmoke, 60, is an attorney who has dedicated much of his life to public service at all levels of government, including three terms as mayor of Baltimore. He is one of 11 Trustees of the Institute, a medical research organization dedicated to the discovery and dissemination of new knowledge in the life sciences. Schmoke, who was elected as a Trustee in 2005, has served as a member of the executive committee and as chair of the Audit and Compensation Committee.
The Delaware Court of Chancery named Gray, who is also Harry Pratt Judson Distinguished Service Professor of History at The University of Chicago, a Trustee of the Institute in 1984. She succeeded the late Irving S. Shapiro as Chairman in 1997 and will continue to serve as a Trustee.
A 1971 graduate of Yale University, Schmoke attended Oxford University as a Rhodes Scholar and received his law degree in 1976 from Harvard University. After spending a year in private practice, he joined President Jimmy Carter's White House domestic policy staff in 1977 and then returned to his native city of Baltimore to become an assistant U.S. Attorney in 1978. Schmoke was elected State's Attorney for Baltimore City in 1982.
Schmoke came to national prominence in 1987 when he became the first African American to be elected mayor of Baltimore. During three terms in office, Schmoke focused on improving the city's school system and on broad economic development programs, with a particular emphasis on expanding home ownership and job opportunities.
Schmoke joined the law firm of Wilmer, Cutler & Pickering in 1999 after declining to seek a fourth term as mayor. He became Dean of the Howard University School of Law in Washington, D.C., in 2002. A respected and thoughtful advisor to a number of educational and other organizations, Schmoke recently served as a mediator between the District of Columbia school system and the Washington Teachers’ Union. He is a trustee of the Carnegie Corporation of New York, a Director of the Children’s Health Forum, and a member of the Council on Foreign Relations. He is also a director of Legg Mason, and The McGraw-Hill Companies.
Schmoke has previously served as senior fellow of the Yale Corporation, the university's governing body, and as a Trustee of Tuskegee University.
The Howard Hughes Medical Institute is dedicated to discovering and disseminating new knowledge in the basic life sciences. HHMI grounds its research programs on the conviction that scientists of exceptional talent and imagination will make fundamental contributions of lasting scientific value and benefit to mankind when given the resources, time, and freedom to pursue challenging questions. The Institute prizes intellectual daring and seeks to preserve the autonomy of its scientists as they pursue their research. In addition, through its grants program and other activities, HHMI is helping to enhance science education at all levels and maintain the vigor of biomedical science worldwide.
A nonprofit medical research organization, HHMI was established in 1953 by aviator-industrialist Howard R. Hughes. The Institute, headquartered in Chevy Chase, Maryland, is one of the largest philanthropies in the world with an endowment of $14 billion at the close of its 2009 fiscal year. HHMI spent $831 million in support of biomedical research and science education programs in fiscal 2009.