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New president installed at Johns Hopkins
'Our best days are yet to come,' Daniels tells 500 at investiture

Ronald J. Daniels (second from left) meets with former Johns Hopkins presidents (from left) William R. Brody, William C. Richardson and Steven Muller. Daniels had been provost of the University of Pennsylvania. (Baltimore Sun photo by Amy Davis / September 13, 2009)

By Andrea F. Siegel
Baltimore Sun reporter
September 14, 2009

Nurturing individual achievement for students and faculty, creating a more unified university, and strengthening its community role are among his top priorities, the Johns Hopkins University's 14th president, Ronald J. Daniels, told an audience of more than 500 people attending his formal installation.

"Proud as we are of our magnificent past, our best days are yet to come," he said, after speaking of the university's legacy and prominence.

As he offered insights into the direction the university might take under his leadership, Daniels, who has been Hopkins president since March, received lengthy applause when he spoke about financial aid. He said he hopes the 133-year-old institution "will join the pantheon of great universities whose undergraduate programs are need-blind, not need aware."

Noting that Hopkins is "truly and proudly of Baltimore" and has worked for the city and its neighborhoods, he challenged the university community to do even more – not only for the city but for the developing world.

Baltimore Mayor Sheila Dixon, a Hopkins alumna and one of several people to offer welcoming remarks, said Daniels had already asked her and other city officials how the university can help the city, offered its young people summer jobs and led a day of volunteer service on Saturday.

The talk, however, was not all serious, as the former dean of the University of Toronto School of Law's boundless energy and nonstop ideas were the subject of frequent jokes by speakers who had known him for years. But they all brought the subject away from the Toronto Blue Jays to the Hopkins Blue Jays.

"My friends, don't let that baby face fool you," said Harold Hongju Koh, legal adviser to Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and a friend of Daniels. He called Daniels a "leader of proven dynamism."

While praising each of the university's schools' strong individual identities, Daniels, formerly provost of the University of Pennsylvania, said Hopkins should have a greater identity as one university.

He challenged the university to provide a "fuller and even richer academic and extra-curricular experience that is commensurate with our commitment to providing our students with the opportunity to reach their full promise."

The same held for the faculty. "It means that we should expect our faculty not just to contribute to the great contemporary debates, but to define them," Daniels said.

Daniels' speech and the high praise for his dedication, energy and views of the university's roles seemed well-received.

"He does strike me as a great guy with a great vision," said Rene Vidal, a professor of biomedical engineering.

Matthew Roller, a professor of Latin and Roman history, said it was clear that Daniels put a lot of thought into his observations. The previous president, William R. Brody, made a mark by improving resources and infrastructure, he said. "It sounds like Ronald Daniels wants to work at a somewhat different level," he said.

Copyright © 2009, The Baltimore Sun