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A Presidential Visit

By Brian W. Simpson

In a whirlwind, first visit to the Bloomberg School on March 11, Ronald J. Daniels—the new president of The Johns Hopkins University—glimpsed the intensity of the School’s mission and met the people who make it happen.

His compressed morning visit took him up nine floors, through labs, classrooms, a Distance Educationrecording studio and the School’s common spaces. Daniels, who began his tenure as Hopkins’ 14th president on March 1, met with students, faculty, the School’s deans and department chairs, and others.

“I believe in interdisciplinary approaches to solving societal and world problems. Clearly, they are a trademark of the research and scholarship at the Bloomberg School,” says Daniels, JD, LLM. “The conversations I had at the School represent the best of what the academy can be.”

During the visit, Daniels met with a half-dozen Sommer Scholars who are doctoral candidates in four different departments. He was sufficiently wowed by the students to invite several of them to make presentations to the May 2 Board of Trustees meeting.

Later, he greeted colleagues from academic institutions in Ghana, Nigeria, Uganda, Malawi, Ethiopia, Egypt and China, who are partners with the Bill and Melinda Gates Institute for Population and Reproductive Health and were in Baltimore for a semi-annual meeting. With Gates Institute support, the partners have established graduate programs in population and reproductive health at their respective institutions and are collectively launching a multi-year Family Health and Wealth Study.

Peter Agre, Nobel laureate and director of the Johns Hopkins Malaria Research Institute, introduced Daniels to Malaria Institute faculty and gave him a tour of the School’s insectaries, which are among the world’s largest for keeping and breeding mosquitoes used in basic research. (No mosquito bites were reported.)

“It was an exhilarating morning,” says Dean Michael J. Klag, MD, MPH ’87, who led Daniels’ tour. “It’s clear that he grasped the breadth of our public health mission. The faculty and students were energized by his visit, and we all look forward to working closely with him in the future.”

A former law professor and dean of the University of Toronto law school, Daniels says his experience in development issues and his tenure as provost of the University of Pennsylvania have given him a sense of kinship with Bloomberg School researchers and students working in developing countries.

“I want to engage all of the Hopkins community, to harness the best of the University to help improve lives,” Daniels says. “And as we do this, we will certainly rely on the Bloomberg School’s innovative approaches and thoughtful commitment.”