Johns Hopkins University President William C. Richardson shocked his campus yesterday by announcing that he would leave the university after five years to lead one of the nation's largest philanthropies.
On Aug. 1, Dr. Richardson will become president and chief executive officer of the W. K. Kellogg Foundation in Battle Creek, Mich., with assets from the cereal fortune exceeding $5 billion. It is the nation's second-largest foundation and awarded grants of $264 million last year.
The move took Hopkins by surprise: Dr. Richardson flew to New York City on Wednesday to tell trustee Chairman Morris W. Offit the news, and he spent much of yesterday morning informing campus officials.
Dr. Richardson, 54, said he was first contacted by foundation trustees early this month. He said the philanthropy's interests -- health care, education and community development -- meshed too closely with his own for him to pass up the job.
"I would rather it have come some future summer, because we love it here," Dr. Richardson said yesterday. "What I've learned in the last few weeks is that you don't get to pick your time. The Kellogg Foundation has only had two directors in the past 50 years."
Mr. Offit said odds were 50-50 on whether the university would be able to find a replacement by July or name an interim president until a successor is found.
Typically, a search takes about a year, said former Williams College President John Chandler, a former Duke University trustee chairman. For Hopkins to have a new leader on board in seven months, "would be a pretty rushed search," said Dr. Chandler, a professional consultant for universities seeking new presidents.
For the year ending June 30, 1993, current Kellogg Foundation President Russell G. Mawby received $400,000 in compensation, not including $92,759 in contributions to the employee benefits pension plan and $15,587 in a personal expense account. For the year ending June 30, 1994, Dr. Richardson received $330,543, including a housing allotment of $90,053.
News of Dr. Richardson's resignation was the last thing anyone expected while Hopkins was closed for Christmas vacation.
"I'm just totally surprised," said Peter Dolkart, senior class representative to the Hopkins Student Council. "It certainly seemed like he had plans for the university and where he wanted to go. Now somebody else will have to lead us there."
Dr. Richardson's departure could slow Hopkins' efforts both in raising private contributions and in seeking federal grants.
The university announced a five-year $900 million fund-raising drive in September to shore up its $725 million endowment. The trustees expected Dr. Richardson to lead the effort personally. While Mr. Offit put the best face on the situation, saying Vice President Robert Lindgren is more than up to the task, others suggested that Dr. Richardson's absence will hamper Hopkins' efforts.
Dr. Richardson is considered a fund-raising alchemist, able to convert alumni memories into gold.
"I assume that the drive will have to be put somewhat on hold," Dr. Chandler said. "Usually the big gifts require cultivation on the part of the president for the major donors."
Dr. Richardson personally landed two anchor gifts for the campaign: $50 million in 1992 from Zanvyl and Isabelle Krieger, and $20 million in September from R. Champlin and Debbie Sheridan.
Hopkins is unusually dependent on government funding: In the fiscal year ending June 30, 1993, Johns Hopkins ranked first in research and development grants, with $735.5 million, and had the most Defense Department contracts in the nation, with $405.4 million.
The new Republican majority in Congress has pledged to crack down on research spending, and Dr. Richardson's loss as an ambassador to Capitol Hill will be keenly felt, education officials said. They praised him for his role in promoting government funding of university research.
Dr. Richardson said he considered his push for curriculum reform -- an effort that led to a complete redesign of the curriculum at the vaunted medical school -- one of his proudest achievements since his arrival in the summer of 1990.
Matthew A. Crenson, political science professor and acting dean of arts and sciences during Dr. Richardson's tenure, praised the president's role as a "masterful representative of the university to the people and institutions beyond the campus. He's been an extremely effective academic ambassador, which is so important these days for a university."
A similar theme was sounded by Baltimore civic leaders, who said the Hopkins president has been engaged actively in community affairs. Robert C. Embry Jr., president of the Abell Foundation, for example, noted that Dr. Richardson worked with city officials in a successful effort to win a federal empowerment-zone grant for the neighborhoods around Hopkins' East Baltimore complex.