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The newspaper of The Johns Hopkins University November 17, 2008 | Vol. 38 No. 12
First Official Visit Is a Whirlwind Tour

Applause greets Daniels as he enters Shriver Hall Auditorium on Tuesday.
Photo by Jay VanRensselaer / HIPS

By Greg Rienzi
The Gazette

November, apparently, was the unofficial month of new, 40-something presidents.

Exactly one week after the nation chose a new leader, the university's board of trustees elected Ronald J. Daniels to be Johns Hopkins' 14th president and the successor to William R. Brody.

Following the board's Nov. 11 vote, Daniels, currently the provost of the University of Pennsylvania, barnstormed the university on a whirlwind tour that took him from the Homewood campus to Washington, D.C., with several stops in between.

Daniels, a youthful-looking 49, arrived at Homewood early in the morning with his wife, Joanne Rosen.

The first stop was Garland Hall, where Daniels met with President Brody's staff and checked out his new office, while his family received a quick campus tour. His wife and children would later get a personal tour of their new home, Nichols House, from President Brody's wife, Wendy.

Daniels was next led to Hodson Hall and the trustees boardroom, where he had just been unanimously elected. The trustees loudly applauded as Daniels and his family were ushered in by board chair Pamela P. Flaherty.

In her introduction, Flaherty, also chair of the presidential search committee, remarked how Daniels stood out as the clear and ideal choice in a "remarkable" field of 300 nominees. She noted Daniels' "commitment to excellence," visionary leadership and "warm and engaging personality" that would allow him to fit right into the Johns Hopkins community.

Daniels, as he did throughout the day, took time in his comments to laud the tenure of President Brody, whom he referred to as the "gold standard" of university presidents.

"Today, as a result of Bill's unstinting leadership, Johns Hopkins is stronger in education, research and community service," Daniels said. "But more than that, because of Bill and his willingness to assume the mantle of leadership nationally and internationally, the whole system of higher education is stronger."

President-elect Daniels leaves Garland Hall, accompanied by wife Joanne Rosen and children Drew, Ryan and Alexandra, on his way to meet the board of trustees.
Photo by Jay VanRensselaer / HIPS

The Canadian-born Daniels took advantage of several opportunities to display his charm and good humor, like when he told reporters at the subsequent press conference in Mason Hall how he planned to familiarize himself with Charm City by watching filmmaker Barry Levinson's Baltimore trilogy and all of John Waters' movies. "I've been warned to stand clear of The Wire, however," he quipped.

He also soberly addressed the economic challenges that lie ahead for Johns Hopkins and all of higher education.

"But I'm confident that the university will, as it always has, confront and surmount these challenges and become even stronger," he said. "I want to register publicly, proudly and without equivocation my firm determination to devote every ounce of my passion and energy to the bright and promising future that stretches out before Johns Hopkins."

In his next stop, Shriver Hall, Daniels alluded again to his predecessor, who sat on stage with Flaherty; Provost Kristina Johnson; deans Nick Jones of Engineering, Adam Falk of Arts and Sciences and Yash Gupta of Business; and APL Director Rich Roca. "Someone asked me as I was walking over here why I was looking down at my feet," he told the large crowd of students, staff and faculty who had assembled for the early-afternoon event. "I think I was focusing on the big shoes I have to now fill [laughs]. Bill, you have big feet. Figuratively, of course."

Following the event at Shriver, Daniels was shuttled to the Peabody campus in Mount Vernon. There he met briefly with a group of its leaders in the Peabody Institute's Bank of America lounge. He also had a moment to spare for a quick tour, his first look at the campus. Daniels said he knew of Peabody's lofty reputation in the music world but appeared taken aback by the grandeur of its facilities.

The Daniels entourage next traveled to East Baltimore to be introduced to the Johns Hopkins medical institutions community at the School of Medicine's Turner Auditorium.

Perhaps feeling more comfortable in his new shoes, Daniels veered off script and spoke of the fulfillment of a dream to be the president of an elite university system with a medical school at its heart.

"Now, here I am, of all places, at Johns Hopkins," he said. "What an incredible honor."

Daniels later hopped in a car for his last stop of the day, the Applied Physics Laboratory. He would afterward spend the evening in Washington, D.C., so that he could meet with members of the SAIS community the following morning.

Then it was back to Philadelphia to resume his role as Penn's provost.

He did promise, however, that his family would soon be trading in their cheese steaks for crab cakes.

Daniels at Peabody with Director Jeffrey Sharkey and Conservatory Dean Mellasenah Morris.
Photo by Jay VanRensselaer / HIPS

In East Baltimore with Ron Peterson, president of The Johns Hopkins Hospital, and Ed Miller, CEO of Johns Hopkins Medicine.
Photo by Jay VanRensselaer / HIPS

Daniels at Homewood with Pamela Flaherty, chair of the board of trustees and the search committee.
Photo by Jay VanRensselaer / HIPS


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