by Rebecca Czaplewski

In a move he described as “bittersweet,” Thomas Etten announced he will step down in February from his post as the University’s director of federal relations to take a similar position at Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore.
For six years Etten served as the University’s liaison to Minnesota’s congressmen in Washington, D.C. He lobbied for the University’s interests at the federal level.
Etten said he helps the University community get interested and involved in Washington politics — one of the most enjoyable aspects of his job.
“What goes on in Washington is a part of what we think about on campus,” he said.
As executive director of government relations at Johns Hopkins, Etten will oversee representatives from both the university and John Hopkins Medicine in all levels of government. He will begin the job March 1.
Etten’s reputation as one of the best university liaisons in the country caught the attention of Jerome Schnydman. Secretary of Johns Hopkins and executive assistant to Johns Hopkins President William Brody, Schnydman was one of the primary people involved in hiring Etten.
“We wanted someone who’ll be great,” Schnydman said. “Everybody thought that he was absolutely terrific and a great person.”
University officials have already started looking for Etten’s replacement.
Sandra Gardebring, vice president for institutional relations, said a search committee has been formed, but has not yet begun interviewing candidates. Most candidates are expected to come from other schools and have experience on the federal congressional level — like Etten had when he came to the University.
“He had a good relationship in the University and Washington,” Gardebring said.
Richard Hemmingsen, associate director for state relations at the institutional relations office, said the University will miss Etten.
“I think that it’s a great loss,” Hemmingsen said. “He came to the University with a fair amount of experience and will leave a void to be filled.”
Although Etten looks forward to his new position, he said he feels sad to leave the University.
“I have really enjoyed working here,” Etten said. “I have a lot of good friends here and I’ll miss them very much.”