The soul of Johns Hopkins.
That's what I committed myself to discovering 10 years ago when I started my presidency at this great university.
As I acknowledged in my installation address, learning the soul of this place would involve more than figuring out the rhythms of its schedules or how to keep our budgets on track. I would have to understand the history of this institution as well as the great city it calls home. I would need to learn the university's schools, departments, and programs, and the ethos of discovery and collaboration that coursed through its veins.
I have taken this assignment seriously, and here is what I have learned.
Hopkins is a place where faculty are as willing to sit down with first-year students as with Nobel Prize winners. It is a place where conversations span everything from the novels of James Baldwin to the first nanoseconds of the universe to the challenges faced by democracy at home and around the world. A place where people harness the human immune system to attack melanoma or devise new strategies to stem the opioid epidemic or show students that life is about so much more than yesterday's win or loss, as our late football coach Jim Margraff did so well.
This is a place where our students are launching startups at FastForward U, working with our neighbors in clinics and schools across Baltimore, and raising their voices in concert to change our institution—and the communities of which we are a part—for the better.
And this is a place whose soul continues to soar. Consider the past year alone.
Last fall, Johns Hopkins received the largest philanthropic gift in the history of higher education—$1.8 billion for our financial aid endowment from our alumnus and former mayor of New York, Michael Bloomberg. The gift allows Johns Hopkins to join the pantheon of great universities that are permanently need-blind and no-loan, and it is a stirring affirmation of our shared belief that the most meritorious students ought to be able to enjoy a Johns Hopkins education irrespective of their families' financial circumstances.
And in January, you might have seen that Johns Hopkins has agreed to acquire the iconic Newseum building located on Pennsylvania Avenue, in sight of Capitol Hill and coincidentally located next to the embassy of my home country, Canada. We are hoping that every part of the university will contribute to our new campus's educational and research offerings and bring their ideas and input directly into debates on the national stage.
Of course, these moments did not materialize out of thin air. They are the culmination of dedicated work—matched with fearless vision—by a remarkable cadre of faculty, students, staff, and supporters, who embody the imagination and daring that have, since our founding, defined the soul of our university.
One decade later, the soul of this institution stirs and inspires me as it did on my first day of service—March 2, 2009—as president. Not a day goes by when I don't thank my great fortune in finding my way to this magical community.
Ronald J. Daniels