Remarks prepared for delivery by Johns Hopkins University President Ronald J. Daniels at the dedication of the Johns Hopkins University Bloomberg Center at 555 Pennsylvania Ave. NW in Washington, D.C., on Oct. 19, 2023.
Today, we have the great good fortune of dedicating a new building.
A magisterial new building in the heart—truly—of our nation's capital.
One composed of 10 stories of soaring staircases and walkways ... literal avenues of possibility connecting people, ideas, and disciplines.
Of floating, glass-walled classrooms where our students and faculty will engage not only with one another but with international leaders, diplomats, and national policymakers who are putting those ideas into action.
Of illuminated gathering and performing spaces that will catalyze countless convenings, conversations, and serendipitous encounters.
And of artwork designed to challenge, to inspire, to lift the human spirit.
The Johns Hopkins University Bloomberg Center at 555 Pennsylvania Avenue is the physical embodiment of our aspirations for our university in this moment, in this time.
But this building represents more than bricks and mortar masterfully assembled. Far more.
It is also the physical manifestation of an idea born almost 150 years ago with the brave founding of our university.
Johns Hopkins was not America's first college. But we are the nation's first research university, founded with a visionary act of philanthropy that birthed in our nation a new form of higher education which has since become the envy of the world.
Thanks to that vision, we were the first institution of higher education in America to weave together undergraduate teaching, postgraduate training, and faculty production of new knowledge.
We were the first in America to build university research laboratories, to launch academic journals, and to enlist students in our creative scholarly endeavors.
And we were the first to insist that our knowledge ought not be shared with a privileged few, but offered up as a genuine public good even—and perhaps especially—when our knowledge, our analysis, challenged entrenched orthodoxies.
As our first president Daniel Coit Gilman once said, Johns Hopkins was, from its conception, free from the constraints of either church or state. It was built solely to promote "the discovery and promulgation of the truth."
That was our university's declaration of independence—and its realization coincided with the centennial of this nation's Declaration of Independence when we opened our doors in Baltimore in 1876.
Today, we stand together, in a spirit of soaring hope and optimism, to dedicate the manifestation of another visionary act of philanthropy. One that brings our university and our nation even closer together, bound by proximity and purpose to advance reasoned debate and to foster evidence-based solutions for our democratic society.
And in doing so, we acknowledge and celebrate the continuation of an enduring and extraordinary partnership between universities and our national government that has fueled our mission and nurtured some of our greatest achievements.
Together, we have tackled once-incurable diseases.
Together, we have fortified our national security.
And together, we have built world-changing technologies, birthing industries that have created jobs, products, and services, and advanced human welfare.
To see this new building stand among the U.S. Capitol Building, the White House, and the Supreme Court, the three branches of our democratic government, is both humbling and awe-inspiring.
It is also a challenge. It calls upon us to consider, deeply, not only what our faculty, staff, and students can contribute to good governance and sound policy but also how we can learn from and engage with leaders and policymakers across Washington and the world as we promote the flourishing of our fellow citizens and our society.
So, as we dedicate this building, we also rededicate ourselves to the founding idea of the modern research university.
To the university as an institution resolutely devoted to the promise of discovery and knowledge to impact our world.
To the power of reason and fact as the foundation for progress.
To the spirit of convening and collaboration, of exploration and inquiry, even across lines that threaten to divide and diminish us.
And to an unyielding belief in the fundamental dignity and boundless potential of all people.
This is our charge.
Thank you all for joining us today as we officially dedicate the Johns Hopkins University Bloomberg Center.