JHU's Daniels discusses challenges facing public U.S. universities in wide-ranging interview

In an exclusive interview with Times Higher Education, Johns Hopkins University President Ronald J. Daniels discussed barriers to research funding and why institutions of higher learning are often targets for criticism by politicians.

He spoke about the challenges young researchers and scientists face when applying for research funding—a barrier Daniels has spoken at length about in the past.

"[W]e're creating a system that is really undermining the capacity to get money to people that are in the prime of their creative and scientific careers," he told THE.

He suggested that scientists typically undertake "transformative" research—which can later lead to prestigious awards—early in their careers. And yet, he said, more scientists over the age of 65 receive research funding than those under 35.

Daniels also addressed what he called the "highly symbolic and sometimes deeply poisonous" public rhetoric against universities. He said that "castigating" school leadership and decision-making has become a "great foundation for politicians to get attention," and speculated that the critique could be inspired by "deep anxieties" over whether universities are succeeding in their role as "great engines of social mobility."

To prevent the politicizing of universities and colleges, he suggested adjusting the way institutions receive funding from the state, saying that multi-year funding would prevent schools from having to defend annual budget increases, which is "time-consuming, creates instability, and subverts long-term planning."

Read more from Times Higher Education