September 14, 2009
It’s official: Ronald J. Daniels is installed as the 14th president of Johns Hopkins
The formal ceremony capped off a busy inauguration weekend reintroducing the man who took office on March 2.
This weekend, friends and colleagues old and new dubbed Ronald J. Daniels a man of passion, a man of wisdom, a man of ideas, a man of compassion, a man of ideals and a man of boundless energy who brings results. Then, once depleted of superlatives, they all wished him well as he begins the challenge and adventure of a lifetime.
On Sunday, Sept.13, Johns Hopkins officially welcomed Daniels to its family as he was installed as the university’s 14th president. The formal ceremony, held in Shriver Hall on the Homewood campus, capped off a busy inauguration weekend jampacked with events that allowed the university and Baltimore to be reintroduced to the man who took office on March 2.
With the assistance of three former presidents, Daniels received from Pam Flaherty, chair of the board of trustees, the presidential insignia-a sterling silver ceremonial necklace engraved with the portraits and names of the presidents of the university and signifying the authority vested in the president by the board. Daniels’ wife, Joanne Rosen, and three of their four children looked on with the nearly 700 invited guests who came to witness a profound moment in the school’s history. Guests included U.S. Sen. Ben Cardin, Baltimore Mayor Sheila Dixon and Maryland Sen. Nathaniel McFadden, as well as 12 sitting university presidents and a host of other officials from peer institutions.
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After receiving the insignia, Daniels shook hands with and embraced Flaherty and former presidents William R. Brody, William C. Richardson and Steven Muller. He then launched into an inauguration address that broadcast his commitment to “one coherent Johns Hopkins University,” the betterment of Baltimore and the nurturing of an environment that supports and celebrates individual achievement. It was the first time that Daniels spoke publicly about his plans for the 133-year-old institution.
Before the investiture, the audience was offered good wishes, insight into Daniels’ character and some amusing personal anecdotes from former colleagues who were invited to present remarks.
Amy Gutmann, president of the University of Pennsylvania, spoke of an energetic academic leader who did Penn proud as its provost and chief academic officer. Gutmann applauded Johns Hopkins’ choice of a president and also its role in the founding of the modern research and teaching university, the prototype for America’s most powerful engine for creating knowledge and advancing society.
She said that Johns Hopkins is getting a leader with a gift for innovation.
Since 2005, in his role at Penn, Daniels had been responsible for, among other areas, undergraduate and graduate education, faculty affairs, global initiatives, student life, athletics and admissions. Prior to holding that post, he was dean of the Faculty of Law and James M. Tory Professor of Law at the University of Toronto.
“Ron is an ideal match for Johns Hopkins at this defining moment in history, a moment where our society and our world need great universities to keep elevating its games,” Gutmann said. “Today, I proudly commend my friend Ron Daniels as a president who will bring students and faculty, alumni and staff, university and city into even greater intellectual and civic sympathy with one another. With Ronald J. Daniels as your president, The Johns Hopkins University will reach ever greater heights of greatness to our mutual delight and the betterment of humanity.”
Longtime colleague Michael J. Trebilcock, chair in Law and Economics at the University of Toronto, said that Johns Hopkins is getting a tireless soul whose imagination knows no bounds-or personal boundaries. Trebilcock, in a refined and deadpan fashion, joked about the countless times Daniels would phone, text or visit his office to bounce off him ideas and the “six major initiatives that had occurred to him the previous weekend.”
“I was consulted to the brink of exhaustion,” he said, a line that drew a roar of laughter.
Trebilcock recalled a specific Sunday afternoon on his farm north of Toronto, where, while watching an NFL game in front of a roaring fire, Daniels called three or four times. Trebilcock joked how he had to resort to an incredible pretext, delivered by his wife, to hint to Daniels that he wasn’t available at the moment.
His parting words of advice were to get ready for a 24-7 presidency and permanent gale-force winds.
“And begin preparing a more credible pretext than mine for brief respites from the eye of the hurricane,” he said.
In his speech, Daniels gave a glimpse of what lies ahead in the forecast.
Daniels said that he takes the helm of a university with a magnificent past whose best days are yet to come. We can do better, he said, and we will.
Johns Hopkins has made great strides in strengthening its undergraduate and graduate experience, he said, and must continue to do so.
Specifically, he wants Johns Hopkins to join the pantheon of great universities whose undergraduate programs are need-blind, not need-aware. He also wants to double and redouble the university’s commitment to financial aid.
Students, he said, must be given every opportunity to reach their full promise while at Johns Hopkins, a goal that means providing an even fuller and richer academic and extracurriculur experience.
For Baltimore, Daniels said, the university needs to play an even greater role in meeting the city’s pressing needs. “Our ideas, our energies, our passion and optimism can contribute so much to the community of which we are part,” he said. “How we galvanize our intellectual and moral strengths for the betterment of our community, and for the betterment of ourselves, stands as yet another compelling challenge that we must address.”
He also believes, he said, in a university that is greater than its constituent parts. “We must knit together a university identity, a shared vision of Johns Hopkins, that both draws upon and enriches the identity of each of our schools, the health system and the Applied Physics Laboratory.”
The convocation and installation were preceded by several events meant to recognize the official start of Daniels’ tenure.
On a rainy Friday, Sept. 11, morning, Daniels met with faculty and staff of the Homewood schools at a coffee and pastries reception held under a tent on the Wyman Quadrangle. He gave brief remarks at the event and presided over a moment of silence to honor those who lost their lives in the terrorist attacks eight years ago. A few hours later, at the same location, he met with hundreds of Homewood students who gathered for an ice cream social with the president. He chatted with many of the gathered students and then sampled a cherry Italian ice.
In the late afternoon he traveled to the Bloomberg School of Public Health for a welcome event with its staff, faculty and students in Sommer Hall, followed by a reception.
Daniels gave a short speech that offered a glimpse into his Sunday speech, lauding the interdisciplinary work and collaborative nature of the school and trumpeting how it helps fulfill his vision for one Johns Hopkins.
On Saturday morning, Daniels joined more than 300 students, faculty, staff and their families for the RD2.5K Presidential Fun Run, a noncompetitive jog through the Homewood campus. Daniels, wearing bib number 14, was joined in the run by his wife, three of his kids, and sister Cheryl Daniels and her husband, Neil Granmer. Other runners included Michael Strine, vice president for finance; Bill Conley, dean of enrollment and academic services; Stephanie Reel, chief information officer; Beverly Wendland, chair of the Biology Department; and Jerry Meyer, professor of chemistry. Large running groups hailed from the women’s lacrosse, men’s basketball and wrestling teams and from the ROTC Blue Jay Battalion.
Daniels was master of ceremonies for the post-race party, thanking all the runners who restrained themselves from passing him during the 2.5 kilometer jog and assuring those who had that the numbers on their race bibs had been recorded.
In the afternoon, Daniels, along with more than 1,000 members of the Johns Hopkins community, fanned out to 50 sites across the city to take part in the President’s Day of Service, a volunteer effort designed to help clean up and repair city neighborhoods and buildings.
Daniels volunteered at two service sites, a library painting project at the Academy for College and Career Exploration, a city high school; and an alley gating and greening project at a community garden in the Remington community.
The day’s event was the symbolic beginning of Daniels’ efforts to bolster the university community’s engagement efforts for the academic year.
Later on Saturday, the university hosted its annual block party, known as Convergence, for its Charles Village neighbors. Despite intermittent rain, about 400 people showed up for free popcorn, hot dogs and cotton candy, and to visit with 45 exhibitors from neighborhood, city, university and student groups. President Daniels, dressed casually in blue jeans and a gray polo shirt, visited with community members, city representatives and students.
An inaugural dinner at the Baltimore Marriott Waterfront hotel for invited guests concluded the day.
A number of the university’s major divisions have planned their own events for later this month and next to welcome Daniels and to give their students, faculty and staff a chance to meet the new president.