Johns Hopkins Gazette: April 24, 1995

Dan Nathans Ready To Serve As President 'In Every Sense'

     Nobel Prize winner accepted role
     because of strong feelings for JHU

By Dennis O'Shea

     Don't expect Dan Nathans to be just a placeholder.

     "There are going to be real problems and real decisions to
be made even before a long-term president is on board," said Dr.
Nathans, appointed by the board of trustees last week to serve as
the first-ever interim president of the university.

     "I think an interim president ought to be the president in
every sense," he said, "providing he realizes he's not going to
be there very long and can't expect to make long-term changes in
such a short time."

     Dr. Nathans, 66, a Nobel Prize-winning physician and
molecular biologist and a member of the Johns Hopkins University
faculty for 33 years, will take office June 1. He will lead the
university during the search for a successor to President William
C. Richardson, who leaves June 15 and will assume the presidency
of the W.K. Kellogg Foundation on Aug. 1.

     Dr. Nathans said he is not a candidate to succeed Dr.

     "Dan is well known to many of us on the board, and among
members of the faculty and staff," said Morris W. Offit, chairman
of the board of trustees, who announced the appointment. "He is
an accomplished and internationally recognized scientist and
teacher. Clearly, he is one of the university's most engaged and
distinguished citizens. We are fortunate that he is willing and
able to accept this important assignment for the university."

     Dr. Nathans, one of three co-winners of the 1978 Nobel Prize
in Medicine or Physiology and a 1993 recipient of the National
Medal of Science, said he agreed to accept the interim presidency
"because I feel so strongly about Johns Hopkins University."

     "I've felt extraordinarily privileged to be a faculty member
here," said Dr. Nathans, who is University Professor of Molecular
Biology and Genetics and senior investigator of the Howard Hughes
Medical Institute at the School of Medicine.

     "I owe the university a great deal," he said. "I think it's
important to have a smooth transition to keep the momentum going.
I felt in a sense obligated to accept this.

     "And I regard it as an interesting challenge," he said. "I
really look forward to it."

     He said he expects to devote considerable time to university
finances and to the Johns Hopkins Initiative, the $900 million
joint campaign of the university and the Johns Hopkins Hospital
and Health System. That effort, launched in October and scheduled
to continue until 2000, has already raised commitments of more
than $331 million, or 37 percent of the overall goal. The
campaign has also recorded commitments of more than $235 million,
45 percent of its $525 million goal for endowment and facilities
needs, the primary focus of the campaign.    

     Dr. Nathans said he also expects to invest weeks before he
takes office learning more about other issues facing the

     "Certainly, finance is going to take a lot of time and
attention from me and the person who comes in for the long term,"
he said. "I want to find out also if there are pressing issues on
the academic side. I'll need to consult with the provost, the
deans, the faculty, the various vice presidents and the students,
which I intend to do."

     Dr. Nathans said that, while he will not be able to teach
classes while serving as interim president, he does intend to
remain an active researcher and to work frequently with the
postdoctoral fellows in his laboratory.

     Dr. Nathans, a native of Wilmington, Del., graduated from
the University of Delaware and, in 1954, received his M.D. degree
from Washington University in St. Louis. Following his residency
and a period as a researcher at Rockefeller University, he joined
the Johns Hopkins faculty in 1962.

     His research has focused on viruses that cause tumors in
animals and, more recently, on cellular responses to growth
factors. The work for which he was awarded the Nobel Prize--using
restriction enzymes to construct physical and functional maps of
the genome of viruses--laid the groundwork for the present
worldwide effort to map the human genome. His co-winners included
Hamilton O. Smith, a fellow faculty member at the School of

     He is a member of the National Academy of Sciences, the
American Academy of Arts and Sciences and the American
Philosophical Society. From 1990 to 1993, he served on the
President's Council of Advisers on Science and Technology. He
also served on the Committee for the 21st Century, the
university's recently completed strategic planning effort, and
chaired its study group on the faculty. 

     Dr. Nathans is married to Joanne Gomberg Nathans. They have
three children and four grandchildren.


Nathans Makes History As First Interim President

     Daniel Nathans is the first person officially designated by
the Johns Hopkins University board of trustees as an interim
president of the university.

     When Ira Remsen, the university's second president, was
forced to resign due to ill health in January 1913, an
Administrative Committee, headed by William Henry Welch, ran the
university until Frank J. Goodnow took office in October 1914.

     The university twice has appointed presidents for what were
understood, in advance, to be brief tenures, said archivist James
Stimpert of the university's Ferdinand Hamburger Jr. Archives.
Neither man, however, was elected as an interim president, he

     When Detlev Bronk, the sixth president, left in August 1953,
Lowell J. Reed, who had just retired as vice president for
medicine, was named president. Although Reed served nearly three
years, it was understood from the beginning that he wished to
resume his retirement as quickly as possible.

     The other occasion was in March 1971, when Lincoln Gordon,
the ninth president, resigned. The trustees persuaded Milton
Eisenhower to return as president in April 1971, but, again, he
made it clear that he wanted an expedited search for a successor. 

     Steven Muller, who had become provost just prior to Gordon's
leaving, took over as president less than a year later, in
February 1972.

     All other changes in administration at Hopkins have involved
a direct transition from the incumbent president to his


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