A new leader for Johns Hopkins William R. Brody: Engineer, M.D., takes on challenges of university and medicine.

April 09, 1996

TRUSTEES fantasizing credentials for a new president of the Johns Hopkins University might require someone who was simultaneously a physician, engineer, entrepreneur, university medical administrator, university trustee and amateur musician. One might assume there is no such person, but the trustees have just chosen Dr. William R. Brody, with exactly that resume, to be the 13th president of the university.

He has been there before, with a foot in medicine and engineering, and knows what he is getting into. The task is immense. William C. Richardson's resignation at the end of 1994 to head the W. K. Kellog Foundation left the university leaderless in the middle of a capital campaign and wrenching leadership issues. Dr. Brody, even before taking over by Sept. 1, must put his stamp on the search for a provost, a dean of the Medical School and a first chief executive officer of the Medical Institutions.

Many of the recent tensions at the Johns Hopkins University have reflected the insecurity of academic medicine at a time of radically changing health care economics. The university president cannot avoid dealing with this, while trying to insure that it does not damage the entire university, which is Baltimore's most important institution in every respect.

Dr. Brody will step into a capital fund-raising campaign seeking $900 million by the year 2000. Miraculous to relate, that goal is 61 percent met, with $551 million pledged by yesterday, but he may find the last 39 percent the hardest.

Dr. Brody will encounter a space shortage at the Homewood arts and sciences campus, where a field house and arts center are on order and pressures may arise for yet more dormitories. No privately endowed university's reputation is greater than that of its undergraduate college. Johns Hopkins finds itself competing with the likes of Princeton, University of Pennsylvania and Swarthmore College in what it offers undergraduates, at a time of resistance to tuition inflation.

The new president will inherit a commitment for the university to take over the Eastern High School property on 33d Street and pressure to acquire the Memorial Stadium site as well, which calls for creative thinking.

Dr. Brody clearly impressed people during his seven years on the Hopkins faculty. He seems wonderfully qualified to become its president, to the extent that anyone can be. Now that the suspense is over, there will be impatience for his arrival.

Pub Date: 4/09/96

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