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Past Presidents

Compiled from material in the Ferdinand Hamburger Jr. Archives
and in
Johns Hopkins: Portrait of a University, by John C. Schmidt.
Photos are from
The Gazette archive files.
Published in the April 8, 1996 edition of
The Gazette.

Daniel Coit Gilman (May 1875 - August 1901)
A geographer, Gilman was lured from the presidency of the University of California at Berkeley by the trustees to become Johns Hopkins first president. He was a proven leader who could attract known scholars and identify promising young faculty. Gilman was interested in establishing a university to promote the highest standards of scholarship and research in the sciences and in the humanities. His formal inauguration, on Feb. 22, 1876, has become Commemoration Day, the day on which many university presidents have chosen to be installed in office.

Ira Remsen (September 1901 - January 1913)
Although he was still a young man, Ira Remsen's reputation as a chemist prompted President Gilman to appoint him as one of the university's five original faculty members. In 1879 he founded the American Chemical Journal, acknowledged as "the first really scientific journal of research chemistry in America." During his years as Hopkins president, several endowed chairs were established, the undergraduate program was expanded from three to four years, and a successful fundraising drive allowed building on the Homewood campus to begin.

Frank Goodnow (October 1914 - June 1929)
Frank Goodnow was a political scientist with a long record of public service to both U.S. and foreign governments. His tenure was marked by rapid university growth, including an increase in the university income from $500,000 to nearly $2.5 million annually. While he is credited with wisely managing university finances, he may be remembered best for his attempt to eliminate the undergraduate program and the bachelor's degree by cutting the first two years of undergraduate work. Although the "Goodnow Plan" was briefly instituted, it proved a failure.

Joseph Ames (July 1929 - June 1935)
Joseph Ames came to Johns Hopkins as a freshman in 1883 and remained affiliated with the university until his death 60 years later. A physicist, he published four textbooks in his field, became professor of physics and director of the Physics Laboratory and eventually served as head of the executive committee that would evolve into the National Aeronautics and Space Administration. His gift for administration led to his becoming dean in 1924, provost in 1926 and president in 1929. His six-year tenure was the most difficult for the young university as the Great Depression contributed to a fivefold increase of the university's deficit.

Isaiah Bowman (July 1935 - December 1948)
Isaiah Bowman assumed the presidency at the height of the Depression. Among his achievements was balancing the budget by raising an endowment fund of more than $1 million. When the United States entered the war, Bowman became a special adviser to the secretary of state and was later a member of the American delegation at the conference at which the United Nations was founded. At war's end, Bowman directed the restructuring of the university to accommodate returning servicemen.

Detlev Bronk (January 1949 - August 1953)
Detlev Bronk, credited with formulating the modern theory of the science of biophysics, picked up where President Bowman had left off reshaping the postwar university. Bronk believed firmly in academic freedom. He resisted vigorously an attempt by Wisconsin Sen. Joseph McCarthy to have Hopkins dismiss Professor Owen Lattimore prior to his trial on espionage charges. He tried unsuccessfully to revive the "Goodnow Plan" but succeeded in acquiring the School of Advanced International Studies in Washington.

Lowell Reed (September 1953 - June 1956)
Lowell Reed was 67 and had just retired from a distinguished 35-year career as a research scientist in biostatistics and public health administration at Hopkins when he was asked to serve as university president, having previously held posts as dean and director of the School of Hygiene nd Public Health and later as vice president in charge of medical activities. During his three-year administration, Reed continued Hopkins postwar growth, overseeing the construction of Shriver and Ames halls and adding a second set of Alumni Memorial Residences.

Milton S. Eisenhower (July 1956 - June 1967)
Milton S. Eisenhower, youngest brother of U.S. President Dwight Eisenhower, is the only Hopkins president to serve two non-consecutive terms. During his first term, the university income tripled, the endowment doubled and new construction included the athletic center and the library at Homewood that would bear his name. Eisenhower was well-liked by faculty and students, and upon his retirement in 1967, he was given the title president emeritus in recognition of his devoted service. He was coaxed out of retirement for 10 months in 1971-72 after Lincoln Gordon resigned.

Lincoln Gordon (July 1967 - March 1971)
Former ambassador to Brazil and assistant secretary of state for inter-American affairs, Lincoln Gordon served as president for four tumultuous years, not only for Hopkins but for the country. Students and faculty, critical of the country's involvement in Vietnam, for a brief time occupied the university's executive offices. Citing increasing criticism from faculty, Gordon resigned in March 1971, but not before introducing coeducation to the undergraduate program in 1970.

Steven Muller (February 1972 - June 1990)
Steven Muller had held the post of provost and vice president for only 10 months when the trustees named him to succeed Lincoln Gordon. He also was named president of Hopkins Hospital, a distinction held only by Daniel Coit Gilman. Muller guided the university as it assumed responsibility for the Peabody Conservatory, presided over the construction of the Bloomberg Center for Physics and Astronomy and the Space Telescope Science Institute and established or enlarged academic centers in downtown Baltimore, in Montgomery County, at the Applied Physics Laboratory and in Nanjing, China. He concluded a record $450 million fundraising drive one year early and was named president emeritus upon his retirement in 1990.

William C. Richardson (July 1990 - July 1995)
One of William C. Richardson's priorities upon becoming Hopkins 11th president was to restore confidence in the School of Arts and Sciences while pursuing the recommendations of the five-year scaling-down plan. Richardson's tenure was marked by the beginning of a period of close government scrutiny of higher education and a reduction in federal and state grants to private and research universities. During his term in office, alumnus Zanvyl Krieger pledged $50 million as part of a challenge aimed at increasing the Arts and Sciences endowment by $100 million.

Daniel Nathans (June 1995 - August 1996)
Nobel Prize winner Daniel Nathans considered it his obligation to accept the post of interim president (the first such designation in university history) while the trustees searched for President Richardson's replacement. Nathans, who had been a faculty member for 33 years, said, "I think it's important to have a smooth transition to keep the momentum going." And he did that. During his brief tenure, Nathans accepted for the university a $55 million gift from trustee and alumnus Michael Bloomberg, which kept the Hopkins Initiative on track toward its goal of $900 million by the year 2000.

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