Johns Hopkins Gazette | March 2, 2009
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The newspaper of The Johns Hopkins University March 2, 2009 | Vol. 38 No. 24
Daniels assumes JHU helm

University's 14th president aims to hit the ground running

By Greg Rienzi
The Gazette

Ronald J. Daniels will assume his new post today, primed and ready to begin his tenure as the university's 14th president. In many ways, his work has already begun.

Since his election to office on Nov. 11, 2008, Daniels has in essence enrolled in Johns Hopkins 101 in an effort to familiarize himself with the culture and mechanisms of the university and all its divisions.

During the past three months, Daniels has met with university officials once or twice each week. He's traveled to Baltimore frequently to meet with deans, directors and senior vice presidents. He has also met with a large number of university trustees and plans to have met with all of them by June.

Following the board of trustees' Nov. 11 vote, Daniels barnstormed the university on a whirlwind tour that took him from the Homewood campus to Washington, D.C., with several stops in between. He will return to each campus this month to receive a full orientation.

Jerry Schnydman, executive assistant to the president and secretary of the board of trustees, said that Daniels' aim has been to hit the ground running on day one.

Daniels succeeds William R. Brody, who guided Johns Hopkins for the past 12 years. Prior to becoming president, Daniels most recently served as provost and chief academic officer of the University of Pennsylvania. The Canadian-born 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.

Schnydman said that Daniels has conferred regularly with Brody on issues pertinent to the university, in particular, pressing economic concerns.

"They have developed a wonderful relationship ever since Ron was named president," said Schnydman, who has met with Daniels regularly both in Baltimore and at Daniels' office in Philadelphia. "We've all been very active in trying to bring Ron up to speed."

Michael Eicher, vice president for development and alumni relations, said that Daniels has spent the past three months learning about Johns Hopkins in a deep and intimate way.

Eicher said that Daniels has met with many major donors in person and reached out to many others over the phone. He has also contacted several alumni.

"He's been asking a lot of straightforward and basic questions, like 'What should I know about Baltimore?' He also wanted the alums to tell him about their passion for Johns Hopkins and their current connection to the university," Eicher said. "I sensed early on that he wanted to get a clear understanding of this institution before he begins his active day-to-day duties as president. I can tell you, he's a quick study. He's extremely personable and smart, and has been terrific to work with."

Daniels also wanted to get a sense of his new home. To help him literally get a taste of Baltimore, university administration and staff have taken him to dinner at restaurants in various city neighborhoods including Federal Hill, Little Italy, Fells Point and the Inner Harbor.

As for this new president's first 100 days, Schnydman said that Daniels will try to meet with as many people as possible, as quickly as possible. His calendar already includes meetings with a variety of student, faculty and community groups. He's also going to meet with the mayor, the governor and other elected officials on the city, state and federal levels.

Later this year, Daniels will meet with alumni groups throughout the country and might visit the Hopkins-Nanjing Center in China.

"We're going to run him ragged until June," Schnydman jokes. "He'll need to decompress after graduation."

Daniels will be officially installed as president in a ceremony to be held on Sept. 13 on the Homewood campus. Specific details about the event will be announced at a later date.

Daniels will not be the only new face in Garland Hall this month. Lois Chiang, Daniels' chief of staff at the University of Pennsylvania and previously assistant dean of students at the University of Toronto Law School, will join the university on March 9 to serve as senior adviser to the president.

Daniels moved into Nichols House, the president's residence on the Homewood campus, on Sunday. He and his wife, human rights attorney Joanne Rosen, have four teenage children.

For more information on Daniels, go to the president's Web site at


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