In many ways, University President Ronald J. Daniels brings back monarchy to campus. We like to post statuses about seeing him dancing the twist or talking to the ghost of Johnny Hopkins — alright, alright, these rumors may be slightly exaggerated. We send Snapchats when he disregards his royal bloodline to dine with students, and we often assign to him the burden of responsibility for all University decisions.
I would love to describe President Daniels in the best journalistic traditions, with too many adjectives and a special emphasis on his drink of choice, but given that we are both quite busy with ruling over Hopkins or finishing up a Doctor Who season, an email interview was conducted instead.
Here it is: (almost) everything you wanted to know about Mr. Daniels but were too afraid to ask.
Favorite campus spot?
Ron Daniels: The O’Connor Center. Any day of the week but not at 5 p.m. I hate waiting for machines.
Favorite dish/food on campus?
RD: Almost anything from One Bowl in Levering. Sterling Brunch.
Favorite Hopkins season?
RD: Spring — Lacrosse, Spring Fair, Students on the Beach, the campus in full bloom.
The coolest/most important book you’ve read?
RD: Rohinton Mistry’s A Fine Balance — a novel set in India in 1975 that chronicles the hope, the despair, the humanity and the cruelty of life in the developing world.
Your Hopkins in three words?
RD: Restless. Humane. Ambitious. Uncompromising. (Oops, that’s four.)
A favorite/interesting quote?
RD: “A man who fights for his ideals is alive.” — [Miguel de] Cervantes.
Favorite place(s) in Baltimore?
RD: The stacks at the Peabody Library. Watching a movie at the Charles Theater in Station North. Breakfast at Pete’s Grille on a Saturday morning. Parts and Labor for dinner. Ice cream at the Charmery in Hampden. Working off the effects of Pete’s, Parts and Labor and the Charmery on the Stony Run running path.
A message to those suffering in academic desperation at night in the library?
RD: Go home to sleep. At a certain point in the wee hours of the morning, the gains from further studying are more than offset by the costs of sleep deprivation. And remember, the result of no single test or paper ever defines a career.
Your definition of success?
RD: A Shake Shack (or equivalent) in the new student housing development we are starting to build this year at the corner of 33rd and St Paul. We are currently a “hamburger challenged” community. I am determined to rectify that.
The perfect Hopkins soundtrack?
RD: When it is selected, our new University song. I am betting that I will be able to hit the notes on this one.
Your biggest regret/achievement?
RD: Regret: Not living on campus as an undergraduate.
Achievement: Living on campus as an adult.
Everyone learns something here, but in your opinion what is The Ultimate Hopkins Lesson?
RD: Ideas matter. Good ideas can change the world.
Favorite place on Earth and why?
RD: For over a decade, we have spent part of each summer in an isolated and very basic farmhouse in the hills outside of Florence. It is the place where Joanne and I can shut off the world and focus on our family.
Have you had time to read/look up “JHU Snaps,” “What to Fix Hopkins” or “John Hopkin Newletter” on Facebook? There are rumors that you are the hip hop artist “Ronnie D.” Can you confirm/deny them?
RD: If I had a Facebook account, would I know what you are talking about?
Any funny/interesting stories about your undergrad life?
RD: No. I am a university president. I never had any fun. I was completely uninteresting.