Thomas Woodrow Wilson, nicknamed the “schoolmaster in politics,” was an academic, politician, and the 28th President of the United States. Born in 1856, Wilson spent nearly two decades of his professional career in academia, earning himself a reputation for being a dedicated scholar and enthusiastic orator. His growing national reputation led members of the Democratic Party to consider him White House material. A leader of the Progressive Movement, in 1913 Wilson was sworn into the country's highest office. Following the outbreak of World War I, Wilson shifted America's policy of neutrality and led the country into war in order to “make the world safe for democracy." Wilson also helped negotiate the Treaty of Versailles and craft the League of Nations, a forerunner to the United Nations. Domestically, his legacy includes sweeping reforms for the middle class and voting rights for women. For his years of high-minded idealism and international statesmanship, Wilson was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 1919.

Wilson enrolled at the recently established Johns Hopkins University in 1883. By then, Wilson was already a graduate of Princeton and the University of Virginia, but his disillusionment with the legal practice led him to JHU to pursue his interest in politics. As a graduate student, he studied numerous subjects, including history, political science, and German, among others. At Johns Hopkins, he wrote his doctoral thesis "Congressional Government," which compared the American and parliamentary governments and suggested reforms that would make the American system more efficient. Published in 1885, the book is still admired today as a study of U.S. lawmaking. Although Wilson never completed his PhD requirements, Johns Hopkins granted him the degree anyway in 1886.

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Today, Wilson is revered as a Johns Hopkins legend and his name can be seen in many places on campus, such as the Woodrow Wilson Fellowship, a prestigious annual $10,000 research grant awarded to incoming and current freshmen. A house in the Alumni Memorial Residence dormitory is also named after him, and there is a striking bust of Wilson in Mason Hall, which houses the Office of Undergraduate Admissions. Wilson's alma mater also maintains numerous Wilson-related documents in its Special Collections library. This includes his Johns Hopkins application for admission, in which Wilson expresses his wish not to become another useless ivory-tower specialist, but rather to grow into a political mover-and-shaker.