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Office of the President records

 Record Group
Identifier: RG-02-001

  • Staff Only
  • No requestable containers

Scope and Contents

The records of the Office of the President span the years 1878 through 1997 and from 2018 - Ongoing for its website, although only scattered files contain items from the years prior to 1903. See the Scope and Content notes for each series for more information.


  • Creation: 1878-1997
  • Creation: 2017 - Ongoing


Conditions Governing Access

This collection is housed off-site and requires 48-hours' notice for retrieval. Please contact Special Collections for more information.

All collections are closed except to office of origin or original owner until processed. University records are closed for 25 years from the point of creation. Files in this collection that have additional restrictions are noted accordingly.

Conditions Governing Use

Single copies may be made for research purposes. Researchers are responsible for determining any copyright questions. It is not necessary to seek our permission as the owner of the physical work to publish or otherwise use public domain materials that we have made available for use, unless Johns Hopkins University holds the copyright.

Biographical/Historical note

List of University Presidents

February 1876 - August 1901
Daniel Coit Gilman
September 1901 - January 1913
Ira Remsen
October 1914 - June 1929
Frank Johnson Goodnow
July 1929 - June 1935
Joseph Sweetman Ames
July 1935 - December 1948
Isaiah Bowman
January 1949 - August 1953
Detlev Wulf Bronk
September 1953 - June 1956
Lowell Jacob Reed
July 1956 - June 1967
Milton Stover Eisenhower
July 1967 - March 1971
Lincoln Gordon
April 1971 - February 1972
Milton Stover Eisenhower
February 1972 - June 1990
Steven Muller
July 1990 - June 1995
William Chase Richardson
June 1995 - August 1996
Daniel Nathans [Interim President]
August 1996 - 2008
William R. Brody
2008 – present
Ronald Daniels

Biographical / Historical

The President serves as the chief administrative officer of Johns Hopkins University, reporting to the Board of Trustees. Various administrators report to the President, including the Provost and Vice Presidents. The office was established in 1876 at the founding of the University.

There have been only three brief periods when Hopkins was officially without a president. From January 1913 until October 1914, after Ira Remsen resigned prematurely due to ill health, the university was governed by an Administrative Committee made up of faculty members and other university officials. The minutes of this committee, which disbanded when Frank J. Goodnow assumed the presidency, are to be found in series 2.

The second period when Hopkins was without a president occurred in 1971. Lincoln Gordon resigned abruptly in March and left within a few days of his resignation. One month later Milton Eisenhower agreed to return and fill the void until a permanent successor could be found.

The third instance was in June of 1995 when William Chase Richardson resigned abruptly to become head of the Kellogg Foundation. Dr. Daniel Nathans, a nobel award winning faculty member of the medical school, was appointed interim president until a permanent president could be found. William R. Brody accepted the presidency in August of 1996.

Histories of the presidencies of, and biographical information on, Presidents Gilman, Remsen, Goodnow, Ames and Bowman may be found in John C. French's A History of the University Founded by Johns Hopkins (Baltimore: The Johns Hopkins Press, 1946).

Dr. Detlev W. Bronk, president from January 1949 to August 1953, was born in 1897 and raised in Manhattan, New York. He attended Swarthmore College as an undergraduate and earned his Ph.D. in physics and physiology at the University of Michigan in 1926. Before assuming the presidency of Johns Hopkins, Bronk taught at Swarthmore, the University of Pennsylvania, and Cornell University. Perhaps Bronk's major accomplishment while president of Hopkins was the formulation of what came to be known as the Hopkins Plan. This program was designed to lower the barriers between graduate and undergraduate education, thus allowing students to progress at their own pace into higher studies. Bronk was also committed to academic freedom and in 1950 he successfully resisted an attempt by Senator Joseph McCarthy to have Owen Lattimore dismissed from the faculty prior to any judicial finding of guilt. In 1953 Bronk resigned the presidency of Hopkins to become the first president of the Rockefeller University, formerly known as the Rockefeller Institute. He died in 1975.

Dr. Lowell J. Reed succeeded Bronk as president in 1953, after having taught at Hopkins since 1918. Born in New Hampshire in 1886, Reed attended the University of Maine, receiving his bachelor's degree in electrical engineering in 1907. He earned his Ph.D. at the University of Pennsylvania in 1915 and briefly headed the Bureau of Tabulations and Statistics in Washington prior to joining the Hopkins faculty. He served as Vice President of both the University and the Hospital until June 1953, when he retired. Called out of retirement just two months later to take over the Hopkins presidency, Reed considered himself a temporary president and urged the Trustees to search for someone to take over the post on a permanent basis. He remained committed to the Hopkins tradition of emphasizing graduate study and a small student body, thus promoting informal and intimate contacts between students and faculty. Another idea to which Reed was committed was raising senior faculty salaries to compare favorably with those of other similar institutions. To help accomplish this he sought and received grants from the Ford Foundation. In 1956 Reed retired permanently and returned to his home in New Hampshire, where he lived until his death in 1966.

Information on the life and presidency of Milton S. Eisenhower may be found in a book by Stephen E. Ambrose and Richard H. Immerman, entitled Milton S. Eisenhower: Educational Statesman (Baltimore: The Johns Hopkins University Press, 1983). When Dr. Eisenhower retired in 1967, Dr. Lincoln Gordon succeeded him as the ninth president of the university. Gordon was born in 1913 in Manhattan, New York. He graduated from Harvard University at age 19 and three years later was elected a Rhodes Scholar. He earned his doctorate at Oxford before returning to Harvard as an instructor. During World War II Gordon worked in Washington on the War Production Board, and after the war he was among the inner circle of directors of the Marshall Plan. In 1961 he was named Ambassador to Brazil, where he served until 1964, when he became the Assistant Secretary of State for Inter-American Affairs. During Gordon's presidency, the Johns Hopkins University and the Johns Hopkins Medical Institutions became more involved in community affairs. The Columbia Hospital and Clinics Foundation, providing low cost health care to residents of Columbia, Maryland, was initiated, as was a similar program for residents of low income East Baltimore neighborhoods. A new Center for Urban Affairs studied social issues of the cities, and many attempts were made to normalize relations between the medical institutions' staffs and the residents of the surrounding East Baltimore neighborhoods, which were predominantly minority and impoverished.

At the same time as Milton S. Eisenhower returned to occupy the presidency temporarily, a new provost was also named. Formerly an associate professor and vice president at Cornell University, Steven Muller became provost of the Johns Hopkins University in April 1971. Just nine months later, the Board of Trustees named Muller president, to be Eisenhower's permanent successor. Steven Muller was born in Hamburg, Germany, in 1927 and lived there until his family emigrated to the United States in 1940. Muller graduated from UCLA in 1948, and, a year later, was elected a Rhodes Scholar. After serving for two years in the Army, he received his Ph.D. in political science in 1958 from Cornell. Besides teaching government at Cornell, he also taught at Haverford College, in Pennsylvania. Steven Muller was the first president of Johns Hopkins University to serve as president of both the University and the Johns Hopkins Health System, until he stepped down as President of the Health Systems in 1982. During his years at Hopkins Muller led the successful Hopkins Hundreds fundraising campaign, which culminated in 1976 during the centennial of the university's founding. He was an active spokesman on behalf of higher education, writing numerous articles and participating in national organizations such as the American Council on Education and the National Association of Independent Colleges and Universities. The University expanded considerably during Muller's presidency. Among the more significant ventures were the reopening of the School of Nursing, the founding of the for-profit Dome Corporation, the establishment of a joint graduate center with Nanjing University in Nanjing, China, the establishment of the professional WJHU-FM radio station, and the opening of the School for Continuing Studies Downtown Center. Hopkins also added several buildings to the Homewood Campus including Mudd Hall, the Hopkins Union, the New Engineering Building, Olin Hall, and the Steven Muller Building (which became the home of the Space Telescope Science Institute). Muller retired from the presidency in 1990.

William Chase Richardson, formerly the Provost of Pennsylvania State University, became the 11th president of Johns Hopkins on February 22, 1991. An economist trained at the University of Chicago, one of Richardson's goals as president was to restore Hopkins to financial stability through both public and private funds. Richardson saw several major gifts to the University including $50 million dollars given to the School of Arts and Sciences by Zanvyl Krieger and $20 million from Debbie and Champ Sheridan to the Eisenhower Library, and in 1994 launched the Johns Hopkins Initiative to raise $900 million for endowment and facilities of the University and Hospital. President Richardson was also instrumental in negotiating with the federal government for a set of eight principles to preserve and reform the system of indirect costs recoveries. In June of 1995 he resigned as president to become the head of the W.K. Kellogg Foundation.

After Richardson's departure Daniel Nathans, University Professor of Molecular Biology and Genetics and a Nobel Laureate, became interim president. Nathans served as interim president until August of 1996 when William R. Brody was selected as Richardson's permanent successor. Brody was previously provost of the University of Minnesota's Academic Health Center, but also well acquainted with Hopkins having been chairman of the Department of radiology at the School of Medicine from 1987 to 1994. Brody obtained bachelors and master's degrees in electrical engineering from Massachusetts Institute of Technology, and a doctorate in electrical engineering from Stanford University. He also earned an M.D. from Stanford and trained in cardiovascular surgery and radiology at Stanford and the University of California San Francisco. In addition to his academic background, President Brody founded and served as president of Resonex, Inc., a manufacturer of magnetic resonance imaging devices.

William R. Brody was appointed Johns Hopkins University's next president in 1996, serving until 2009. Brody led the University to a deepened commitment to undergraduate education, diversity, the community, and research. He also led the $3.741 billion "Knowledge for the World" campaign, which created 92 professorships, generated 550 new scholarships and graduate fellowships, and created more than 4.2 million square feet in new or modernized space in 24 Johns Hopkins buildings around the world. During Brody's presidency, the university established the Carey Business School, the School of Education and numerous interdisciplinary research centers. Brody departed the University in 2009 to lead the Jonas Salk Institute.

Ronald J. Daniels became the 14th president of Johns Hopkins University and a professor in the Department of Political Science in 2009. Daniels earned an LLM from Yale University in 1988 and a JD in 1986 from the University of Toronto, where he also received a BA in 1982. Daniels has focused his leadership on three overarching themes – enhanced interdisciplinary collaboration, individual excellence, and community engagement. These themes underscore the priorities of Rising to the Challenge, Johns Hopkins’ largest-ever fundraising campaign, a $4.5 billion effort.


328.93 Cubic Feet (148 record center cartons, 373 letter size document boxes, 4 letter half-size document boxes, 2 legal size document boxes, 1 flat box (19 x 14.75 x 3 inches))

2 Website(s)

174.71 Gigabytes (Disk RG-02-001_001)

Language of Materials



The records of the Office of the President span the years 1878 through 1997 and from 2018 - Ongoing for its website, although only scattered files contain items from the years prior to 1903.


Arranged into 19 series.

Immediate Source of Acquisition

Most of the records were transferred by the Office of the President. The Administrative Committee Minutes in series 2 were transferred by Mary Fetsch, Assistant Secretary of the Board of Trustees. The remainder of series 2 was transferred by the Department of Special Collections, Milton S. Eisenhower Library. The records in series 3 and 4 were found in the biographical files of Alumni [Development] Information Services. Series 5 was transferred by Ross Jones, formerly Assistant to the President. Some of series 7 was transferred to the Archives by the John F. Kennedy Library in Boston, Massachusetts, where they were inadvertently sent with Lincoln Gordon's personal papers. Series 8 was found in the attic of Homewood House. Series 16 was transferred by Gertrude Holland, Milton Eisenhower's secretary.

Accruals note

Accession Numbers: 78.32, 79.6, 79.32, 79.81, 79.116, 80.10, 80.46, 81.25, 81.44, 82.12, 82.26, 84.28, 85.20, 85.28, 86.36, 87.37, 88.30, 90.05, 90.25, 91.12, 91.20, 92.32, 93.21, 94.21, 95.18, 97.10, 97.15


  • "A Proven Ability to Administer a Complex University." The Johns Hopkins Magazine XXII (Winter 1971):6 7.
  • "AIBS Founder Detlev Bronk Dies." BioScience 26 (January 1976):65.
  • Ambrose, Stephen E., and Immerman, Richard H. Milton S. Eisenhower: Educational Statesman. Baltimore: The Johns Hopkins University Press, 1983.
  • "Dr. L. J. Reed, Ex Hopkins Head, Dies." The (Baltimore) Evening Sun. April 29, 1966, p. B30.
  • Flexner, Abraham. Daniel Coit Gilman: Creator of the American Type of University. New York: Harcourt, Brace and Co., 1946.
  • Franklin, Fabian. The Life of Daniel Coit Gilman. New York: Dodd, Mead and Co., 1910.
  • French, John C. A History of the University Founded by Johns Hopkins. Baltimore: The Johns Hopkins Press, 1946.
  • Hancock, Elise. Benchmark 1990-1995: A Report Prepared by the Office of Morris W. Offit, chairman of the University Board of Trustees, 1995.
  • Hawkins, Hugh. Pioneer: A History of the Johns Hopkins University, 1874-1889. Ithaca, N.Y.: Cornell University Press, 1960.
  • Martin, Geoffrey. The Life and Thought of Isaiah Bowman. Hamden, Conn.: Archon Books, 1980.
  • Novack, Janet. "Who Says Lucre is Filthy?" Forbes Magazine, November 30, 1987
  • "Persistent Negotiator: Lincoln Gordon." The New York Times. April 12,
  • Webster, Bayard. "Dr. Detlev Bronk of Rockefeller U. Dies." The New York Times. November 18, 1975, p. 38M.

Processing Information

Processed by Jennifer Allain Rallo, James K. Stimpert, Anne Johnson, Anne Daugherty, Susan Wertheimer David. Additional description about the President's office was written by Jennifer Allain Rallo, James K. Stimpert, Anne Johnson, and Jordon Steele.

Office of the President records
Language of description
Script of description

Repository Details

Part of the Special Collections Repository

The Sheridan Libraries
Special Collections
3400 N Charles St
Baltimore MD 21218 USA