A message from President Ronald J. Daniels

Ronald J. Daniels, president

Image caption: Ronald J. Daniels

The wait is over.

We are building a Johns Hopkins student center. As many of you know, Johns Hopkins students' quest for a social gathering space is almost as old as the university itself.

Just eight years after Hopkins opened, 25 undergraduates decided they needed a place to nurture nonacademic pursuits. Luckily, Baltimore banker Eugene Levering stepped in to donate the funds for what became the original Levering Hall.

In the decades since, generations of Hopkins students and administrations have continued the quest to create an ideal gathering space—from the soda fountain in Merrick Barn to the practice rooms of the Mattin Center. Yet pleas for a more perfect student union persisted.

Understandably so. As our student body has evolved, so has the vision for a dedicated student center.

This new center will be entirely social by design, replete with spaces that are flexible and open to all, inviting unexpected connections and serendipitous collaborations. In it, athletes and actors, step teams and SGA members can gather side by side to form new friendships, launch new projects, or simply trade tips about what classes to take next semester. This site will be a place to which everyone lays equal claim and from which everyone benefits.

We know that such places matter. Study after study has shown that students benefit from contact with peers whose experiences and attitudes differ from their own. Promoting such interactions requires structures capable of fostering not only the deeply personal relationships that undergird successful lives but also the fruitful encounters of different groups, including substantive—sometimes heated—disagreements over policy and politics that are essential for diverse communities and democratic societies to flourish and that are at the core of our educational mission.

Thanks to the efforts of so many across our university, as well as extraordinarily generous philanthropic support, we now begin the true test of this idea: to design and build it. Led by Alanna Shanahan, director of Athletics and Recreation, in collaboration with our Student Affairs and Facilities teams, this will be a multiyear effort to create a building that serves our community's needs and becomes an enduring and iconic addition to the Hopkins landscape.

We are grateful to generations of students, including many of you, who brought us to this point by advocating for such a space. And now we will need everyone—our students, faculty, staff, and friends of the university—to offer their best ideas and share their input as we work together to make real this dream we've all shared for so long.

Signed, Ronald J. Daniels

Ronald J. Daniels