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The newspaper of The Johns Hopkins University November 17, 2008 | Vol. 38 No. 12
Ron Daniels Named 14th President of Johns Hopkins

Ron Daniels, photographed here in his suburban Philadelphia home, assumes the top post at Johns Hopkins on March 2. He was unanimously elected by the board of trustees following an international search involving nearly 300 nominees.
Photo by Jay VanRensselaer / HIPS

University of Pennsylvania provost, noted legal scholar known as 'visionary' leader

Ronald J. Daniels, the provost and chief academic officer of the University of Pennsylvania, was elected last week as the 14th president of The Johns Hopkins University. In a special meeting on Nov. 11, the university's board of trustees accepted a unanimous recommendation from its Presidential Search Committee.

Daniels will take office March 2, succeeding William R. Brody, who is stepping down after nearly 12 years as leader of America's first — and in terms of research dollars, its largest — research-intensive university. Brody, who originally had planned to depart Dec. 31, will remain president through February.

Daniels, a distinguished scholar and academic administrator, emerged from an international search involving nearly 300 nominees and interviews with academic leaders from the nation's most important research universities.

Pamela P. Flaherty, chair of both the board of trustees and the search committee, said that Daniels "stood out in a truly remarkable field of highly qualified candidates for this senior leadership position."

"Ron is a strategic thinker, known for articulating and implementing bold and visionary academic ideas and initiatives," Flaherty said. "He impressed the committee with his passion for the academic enterprise, his record of academic entrepreneurship and his commitment to building excellence in both the basic sciences and multidisciplinary research centers and institutes.

"He has breadth and depth of experience with the oversight of academic programs for undergraduate, graduate and professional students at Penn," she said. "He's a great communicator and inspires those with whom he works to push constantly for greater achievement, both institutional and personal.

"He has a remarkable record as Penn's chief academic officer, helping to accelerate Penn's rise to pre-eminence among the nation's universities," Flaherty said. "With a vast portfolio of responsibilities, he focused in particular on the recruitment of an outstanding cadre of faculty across the disciplines; an increase in the diversity of faculty and students; the implementation of new and exciting programs to enrich the undergraduate experience at Penn; the development of new international programs, including programs in the medical sciences; a program to expand Penn's interdisciplinary collaboration; new modes of technology transfer; and many other areas."

Daniels said he was honored to have been recruited as a candidate for the committee's consideration and opted to consider the Johns Hopkins presidency, despite his deep affection for Penn, because of the university's "extraordinary academic reputation, its commitment to research excellence and the leadership role it plays in so many domains of scientific and social inquiry."

He said he became increasingly excited about Johns Hopkins as he learned more about the university, including its broad research program in the life and physical sciences, the faculty's new crossdisciplinary initiatives and its strengths in the humanities, social sciences, technology, music, international affairs, education, business and the health professions.

Daniels met several times with the members of the presidential search committee. He also made an unannounced visit to Baltimore during the summer, saying later that he was struck by the positive energy that pervaded its campuses, even between semesters, and by the beauty of the Homewood campus.

"The more I read about Johns Hopkins, about its research and about the quality of its undergraduate and graduate students," Daniels said, "and the more I learned about the passion and commitment of the university's trustees, alumni and friends around the globe, the more I was convinced that my own aspirations to serve as leader of one of the world's most great universities and the aspirations of Johns Hopkins were consistent.

"I was impressed, too," he said, "by the values and traditions that make Johns Hopkins unique. I was thrilled by the prospect of playing a role in its quest for ever-greater excellence. It will be a privilege to be a part of that and to lead an institution with that kind of aspiration and devotion."

Brody said he is deeply impressed by Daniels.

"Ron Daniels has the experience, drive and personality to take Johns Hopkins to the next level of excellence," he said. "He has a wonderfully relaxed and engaging personality. He's widely read, and he's a scholar on a broad range of issues, many of which relate to public policy on important issues in our society. With that background, he'll be an effective advocate for research universities and higher education in Washington."

Daniels also paid tribute to his predecessor, who during his tenure focused on undergraduate education, diversity, Johns Hopkins' role in the community and the importance of research.

"Bill Brody has, by any measure, been an extraordinary leader at Johns Hopkins and in higher education," Daniels said. "As strong as Johns Hopkins was before Bill started, it is so much stronger now. It's wonderful to be able to step into his very large shoes and to continue to take this institution forward and do so on such a strong foundation."

Daniels has been provost of the University of Pennsylvania since 2005. As Penn's chief academic officer, he has broad and comprehensive responsibility for undergraduate and graduate education, faculty affairs, research and technology transfer, global initiatives, student life, athletics, admissions, arts and culture, and libraries. The deans of Penn's 12 schools report to him on academic and budget matters.

"Ron Daniels is a gifted academic leader, a noted scholar and an energetic collaborator with a passion for excellence," Penn President Amy Gutmann said. "He has been a wonderful partner to me, an exceptional colleague to our faculty and staff and a cherished friend to the Penn community. Johns Hopkins is extremely fortunate to have Ron as its next president."

Arthur H. Rubenstein, executive vice president of Penn and dean of its School of Medicine, said, "Ron's enthusiasm for the work of Penn Medicine has known no bounds. His intellectual curiosity and rigor for research, his long-standing devotion to teaching and his appreciation for the challenges of running a large health system have created a strong and effective partnership between the university, the medical school and the health system."

Throughout his career, Daniels has been deeply committed to the role of universities in promoting global understanding. He has expanded Penn's global relationships, especially with the government and university of Botswana in their efforts to fight HIV and AIDS; initiated programs that draw global leaders, writers and activists to Penn's campus; and developed the Penn World Scholars Program, which enables some of the most outstanding applicants from the developing world to attend Penn as undergraduates.

Ron Daniels and his wife, Joanne Rosen, a human rights lawyer.
Photo by Jay VanRensselaer / HIPS

Daniels has also increased Penn's engagement with local and national issues, through such initiatives as a monthlong Summer Mentorship Program, in which high school students from the Philadelphia school system work directly with Penn faculty members. He spearheaded a national research conference on Capitol Hill focused on the policy dimensions of Hurricane Katrina, which took place within three months of the disaster and resulted in the published volume On Risk and Disaster: Lessons from Hurricane Katrina.

For Penn undergraduates, he has worked with the president and the executive vice president to implement a comprehensive new financial aid program that eliminates loans for students with financial need. He has introduced innovative programs to enhance the quality of the undergraduate experience, including Undergraduate Research Mentorships, in which students collaborate directly with faculty members on research projects; Ideas in Action, in which students work with policy-makers to solve concrete policy problems; Distinguished International Scholars, which brings to Penn 10 leading international figures to teach undergraduates for two weeks; and Civic Scholars, which combines community service and social advocacy with close faculty supervision and specially designed courses.

"Although the principal responsibility of a university is to provide a rigorous undergraduate academic experience," Daniels said, "we know that expectation is matched by expectations for experience that goes beyond the classroom and reflects an interest in moral development, development of understanding of the broader needs of the community and development of opportunities for leadership."

For graduate students, Daniels significantly strengthened financial aid, particularly in the School of Arts and Sciences; promoted "family-friendly" initiatives that include dependent care leaves for doctoral students; introduced new measures to help students progress toward their degrees and receive timely feedback from their committees; and, in concert with graduate student leaders, created a new award program to provide grants to graduate students engaged in interdisciplinary scholarship.

For faculty, Daniels established universitywide faculty mentoring and leadership development programs, strengthened appointment and promotion standards, and enriched strategies to recruit and retain outstanding faculty, with particular attention to women and underrepresented minorities.

Daniels came to Penn from the University of Toronto, where he was dean of the Faculty of Law and James M. Tory Professor of Law.

"Ron Daniels ranks with the most gifted academic leaders I know," said J. Robert S. Prichard, president emeritus of the University of Toronto. "For a university of the distinction, strength and ambition of Johns Hopkins, Ron will be a magnificent president, leading Hopkins to even higher standing among the world's finest universities. He is a superb choice."

"I think it's a brilliant choice on Johns Hopkins' part," said Robert J. Birgeneau, who also was president at the University of Toronto during Daniels' time as dean and is now chancellor of the University of California, Berkeley. "He's a visionary. He will be very ambitious for the university. He will be unrelenting in terms of applying the highest standards. I'm confident that the faculty will find him to be an inspiring leader. I think he's a very worthy successor to Bill Brody, who has been one of Hopkins' greatest presidents."

During his 10 years as dean, Daniels doubled the size of the Toronto law faculty, recruited global scholars and cut the student-faculty ratio from 18-to-1 to 10-to-1; dramatically enlarged the endowment; increased financial aid; implemented comprehensive reforms of curricula, student services and faculty research standards; and spearheaded initiatives to strengthen international recruitment, social engagement and interdisciplinary programs.

He initiated a program to teach law and justice at two inner-city high schools, co-founded International Lawyers and Economists Against Poverty and founded and chaired Pro Bono Students Canada, which places more than 2,000 law students each year in community-based organizations across Canada.

Daniels' research focuses on law, economics and public policy, in such areas as corporate and securities law, social and economic regulation, and the role of law and legal institutions in promoting Third World development. He is author or editor of seven books, most recently Rule of Law Reform and Development (2008), on the role of legal institutions in the economies of Third World countries, and Rethinking the Welfare State (2005), an analysis of global social welfare policies, especially the effectiveness of government vouchers (both books co-authored with Michael Trebilcock). He is also the author or co-author of numerous scholarly articles.

Daniels earned an LLM in 1988 from Yale University and a JD in 1986 from the University of Toronto, where he served as co-editor in chief of the law review and earned several academic honors. He received a BA in 1982 from the University of Toronto, with high distinction as a political science and economics major.

He has been visiting professor and Coca-Cola World Fellow at Yale Law School and John M. Olin Visiting Fellow at Cornell Law School.

Daniels was born on July 16, 1959, in Toronto, Canada. He and his wife, Joanne Rosen, a human rights lawyer, are the parents of four teenagers. He will be the fourth Johns Hopkins president to live in Nichols House on the Homewood campus.

Rosen is currently a lecturer at the Annenberg School for Communication at the University of Pennsylvania, where she teaches courses on communications law and on the right to privacy. She served as counsel to the Ontario Human Rights Commission in Toronto for 17 years, from 1988 to 2005, and litigated human rights claims at all levels of the Canadian courts, including the Supreme Court of Canada. She also served as an adjunct faculty member at the University of Toronto Faculty of Law, teaching human rights law, and as an instructor in the Bar Admission Course.


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