Fiscal skills top Hopkins' list for leader

January 01, 1995|By Mike Bowler | Mike Bowler,The Johns Hopkins UniversitySun Staff Writer Sun staff writer David Folkenflik contributed to this article.

Johns Hopkins University President William C. Richardson is departing, and all the university needs is a successor capable of administering a $1.5 billion budget, supervising 18,000 employees and raising $900 million by the millennium.

The new president also should prevent warfare between the Homewood campus faculty and the medical faculty in East Baltimore, keep federal research dollars flowing and assure undergraduates, whose tuition is $18,900, that the university really does care about them.

Dr. Richardson announced last week that he will resign to head the W. K. Kellogg Foundation in Michigan, and close observers of higher education and of Hopkins say that the attributes above are what the university will look for in a replacement.

"We'll be getting in formation in the next couple of weeks," said Morris W. Offit, chairman of the Hopkins trustees, who headed the search committee that hired Dr. Richardson four years ago.

Dr. Richardson was executive vice president and provost of Pennsylvania State University.

"This is a world-class university. We'll be looking for a world-class talent," Mr. Offit said. "We'll find someone whose scholarship is well-respected by faculty, who has enormous interpersonal capabilities, the ability to work with people, to bring his staff and faculty along the path of collegiality."

And, oh, yes, complete the $900 million campaign launched in September to shore up a $747 million endowment. Meeting that challenge, Mr. Offit said, primarily requires "building relationships both within and outside of the university."

Mr. Offit said such a person might be found anywhere -- Dr. Richardson originally was recommended by "someone at the University of Washington," who called a former Hopkins provost, who called Mr. Offit -- but observers said the eligibility pool is relatively small.

No one is likely to vault from a much lower perch at another university to the Homewood president's office.

An internal promotion is unlikely; it usually isn't done at Hopkins' level.

Mr. Offit said there's "maybe a 5 percent chance" that the university will go outside academia to business or the foundation world.

"There's a possibility Hopkins could fill the position with a lateral move between research universities," said Robert H. Atwell, president of the American Council on Education, the umbrella organization representing public and private universities. "The trend now is from public to private, such as Hunter Rawlings' move [last year] from Iowa to Cornell.

"Hopkins also will cull the ranks of provost," a university's chief academic officer, Dr. Atwell said. "That's where it found Richardson."

In recent years, several other presidential moves have hinted at where Hopkins will cast its hook. Stanford picked University of Chicago Provost Gerhard Caspar. Columbia University chose Rice University President George Rupp. Rice, in turn, picked S. Malcolm Gillis, Duke University's dean of faculty. And Duke picked Wellesley College President Nan Keohane.

In a presidential search, Dr. Atwell said: "There's often a struggle between what the trustees want and what the faculty want. The trustees want someone who's good at fund-raising and management, the faculty are always looking for a world-class academic, someone who will keep the research dollars flowing and essentially leave them alone."

Matthew A. Crenson, who has been a professor and acting dean of arts and sciences at Hopkins, said being president of a research university "is much more difficult than being president of a big corporation. In business you get almost instant feedback. At a university, success is elusive.

"The university faces huge challenges in the next few years, particularly from the outside. Research overhead [the amount the government pays colleges and universities to compensate them for expenses related to research] is a clear target of Congress, and there are other threats. That was the part that Richardson handled so adroitly. What Hopkins needs really is another Bill Richardson," he said.

Students, by contrast, see the president in a different light.

"We want someone who will improve student services and improve the image of Johns Hopkins," said Jamie Eldridge, of Acton, Mass., president of the Student Council.

"The average high school graduate has a poor view of Hopkins; they think it has absolutely no social life. We need someone who will change the image of the school through force of character, who'll interact with students on a basic level."

Mr. Offit said the Hopkins search committee probably will use a consultant, or "headhunter."

Asked if the university would seek a black or woman for its top spot, the trustee chairman said, "I don't even know what a minority is these days. Everybody seems to be in the mainstream, so I don't even have a concept of a minority, vTC whether it's race or gender or whatever. The idea of merit is ingrained in me. I want the best person, and I'm not saying that gratuitously."

THE JOHNS HOPKINS UNIVERSITY

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