Johns Hopkins University President Ronald J. Daniels was a guest this morning on MSNBC's Morning Joe where he spoke about the institution's ongoing efforts to strengthen Baltimore and to promote economic growth in the city.
Co-host Mika Brzezinski, whose daughter is a sophomore at Johns Hopkins, asked Daniels what steps JHU has taken to increase its commitment to Baltimore in the wake of the protests and unrest that took place in the spring.
"It's a challenge," Daniels said, "but I think the first thing that we recognize is that as goes Baltimore, so goes Johns Hopkins. So we're very mindful of the importance of being engaged and very active in assisting in the growth and the strengthening of Baltimore.
"We really understand that it's not enough to share our ideas and health care with the people of Baltimore—we have to be an active agent for economic development."
In particular, Daniels highlighted some of the actions that are part of the HopkinsLocal initiative, which launched in September—increasing design and construction contracts with local minority- and women-owned businesses, expanding the number of new hires that come from city neighborhoods where employment opportunities are needed, and building relationships with more city-based vendors.
He also spoke about the evolving role of universities in their communities, particularly in cities like Baltimore.
"There was a time that it was understood that universities' greatest strength and contribution came from their distance from their communities, that they had the capacity to stand apart, to bring principal data and analytics to bear on issues and then just write a paper," Daniels said. "And that was the way we had impact.
"But I think there's increasingly a recognition that we are large and important actors in our communities, and we have a set of benefits beyond our traditional scholarship that we can bestow on the community."