Dedication of the Founders’ Wall Celebration Dinner
Remarks by President Ronald J. Daniels
May 2, 2009
[Introduction by Pam Flaherty]
Thank you, Pam, for your kind words, for your invaluable partnership and for the wonderful leadership you provide to Johns Hopkins through the Board of Trustees.
This has been a truly remarkable day and a profoundly inspiring evening. Under this tent are amassed the past, the present and the future of this magnificent university. Representatives of our visionary original founders are gathered here alongside the next generations of friends, patrons and benefactors. In turn, the passionate supporters of our past and present have broken bread tonight with those women and men who work every day to ensure the continued and future eminence of Johns Hopkins: our brilliant scholars, scientists, researchers and teachers. This is truly a rarefied evening.
Looking at the Founders Wall, it is impossible not to be reminded of the intricate connection between past, present and future. This is a wall that begins with the chiseled name of Johns Hopkins, that dances gracefully across the generations into the present, and that holds the tantalizing promise of our future in the pristine slabs still awaiting our imprimatur.
I am reminded of the connection between past, present and future each and every day when I walk into my office and sit down behind the president’s desk. Many of you have visited this office over the years. Some of you have sat opposite me across this desk, many of you have sat opposite Presidents Eisenhower, Muller, Richardson or Brody.
You will know this is no ordinary desk. In fact, I would venture to say that it is extraordinary. It measures some eight feet long – nearly the size of a pool table — and appears, oddly, to be double-sided. The side of the desk you face when you sit opposite me mirrors exactly the side of the desk behind which I work. Each side has 17 drawers, and each drawer is adorned with a simple brass knob. Sixteen of these drawers are private, opening only on one side of the desk. The 17th drawer, though, is shared and is accessible from either side of the desk.
This is what is called a partner’s desk. It was designed to allow two people to work opposite one another, comfortably and cooperatively, across the same space. It was a gift to the University from Merchants National Bank in 1928 and it is reputed to be the desk used by Johns Hopkins himself when he was president of the bank.
That I sit, each and every day, behind Johns Hopkins’ partnership desk is a poignant reminder of the spirit of collaboration that has shaped and defined our great university.
Although we pay appropriate homage to the vision and generosity of Mr. Hopkins, we know only too well that his aspiration for the University would not have been realized without the leadership of President Gilman. And, in turn, President Gilman’s vision for Johns Hopkins would not have been realized without the very generous benefaction of so many dedicated individuals that have touched the University at a number of critical moments over our last 132 years.
This partnership of ideas and investment is the lifeblood that has animated our institution. It has kindled our capacity to investigate and analyze, to challenge and inspire, to educate and to heal.
That so many of you who are here tonight have, time and again, demonstrated your abundant faith in our ideas, in our teaching and research, in our grand possibilities, touches me, touches all of us, who are privileged to work and dream in this magnificent place called Johns Hopkins.
We look forward with great anticipation to fulfilling the aspirations and expectations that so many of you have for our community, secure in the knowledge that the spirit of partnership that has brought us to tonight, will continue to fortify and enrich our university in the years to come. And for that, we can only say thank you.