This semester, I took my first leadership class in the Entrepreneurship and Management department– Leading Change with Doctor Smedick. Throughout the course, we evaluated various theories of leadership, assessing individual leadership traits and institutional systems that affect change, and our in-class discussions often gravitated toward the challenges facing Johns Hopkins. Throughout the semester, we interviewed various leaders and reported our findings to the class, and for one such assignment, I teamed up with Simon Osipov and Chris Alvarez to interview President Daniels and Phil Spector, Vice President of Strategic Initiatives. In the interview, we focused on the Ten by Twenty vision for Johns Hopkins through 2020. The document synthesizes the aspirations of stakeholders from across the university into ten succinct goals to be accomplished by 2020, serving as a guiding post for the university’s initiatives and providing a benchmark to measure success over the rest of the decade. The ten goals are classified under four major themes: one university, individual excellence, commitment to our communities, and institution building.
The ten goals are:
1: Selectively invest in those programs and activities that will advance significantly our core academic mission
2: Strengthen our capacity for faculty-led interdisciplinary collaboration and launch a set of innovative cross-cutting initiatives that will contribute substantially to the world of ideas and action
3: Enhance the impact of Johns Hopkins Medicine, the Bloomberg School of Public Health and the School of Nursing, as the world’s preeminent academic health sciences enterprise by deepening collaboration among these entities and with disciplines in other parts of the university and across the globe.
4: Build Johns Hopkins’ undergraduate experience so it stands among the top ten in the nation.
5: Build on our legacy as America’s first research university by ensuring that at least two-thirds of our Ph.D. programs stand among the top twenty in their fields.
6: Attract the very best faculty and staff in the world through a welcoming and inclusive environment that values performance and celebrates professional achievement.
7: Enhance and enrich our ties to Baltimore, the nation and the world, so that Johns Hopkins becomes the exemplar of a globally engaged, urban university.
8: Strengthen the institutional, budgetary, technological and policy frameworks necessary to set priorities, allocate resources, and realize the highest standards of academic excellence.
9: Reinforce our position as the leading university recipient of competitively funded federal research support, while increasing the amount of annual research investment from other sources with appropriate cost recovery.
10: Develop the resource base necessary to support investments in key academic priorities.
In creating the Ten by Twenty document, President Daniels drew upon the university’s rich history to inform his vision for the future, as he emphasized, “The Ten by Twenty document brings together conversations we have been having about the university’s future for the past 137 years.” Three of the four major themes – one university, individual excellence, and commitment to our communities – were drawn from President Daniels’ inaugural address in 2009, as he has used these principles as the pillars of his leadership. Drafting the document itself was an enormous undertaking, as Phil Spector stressed, “Creating the document itself was just as complex as implementing strategies to realize those goals.” After writing an initial draft of the document, President Daniels and Phil Spector held over 35 consultative meetings, incorporating feedback into revisions of the document.
To successfully enact change, President Daniels engaged various stakeholders, ensuring that multiple views were reflected in the final document. Demonstrating the principles of systemic leadership, President Daniels’ effectiveness as a leader is largely derived from his ability to tap into and mobilize networks across Johns Hopkins. Before joining Johns Hopkins in 2012, Phil Spector worked in Washington DC for Senators Corzine and Clinton. In this position, Phil Spector gained invaluable experience in addressing multiple and often competing interests, as he related, “Issues often cut across the government, and to work effectively in this multi-dimensional environment, I had to harness power across the institution.” As the Vice President of Strategic Initiatives, Phil Spector has applied this knowledge to Johns Hopkins, recognizing the importance of pulling levers across the institution to tease out new ideas and create sustainable change.
Each year, President Daniels will publish a public annual report, which will use both qualitative and quantitative metrics to assess the university’s progress in achieving the ten goals. Not only will the reports increase the transparency of the university’s efforts to realize the vision by 2020, but it will also serve as a method to hold leadership at Johns Hopkins accountable to the university’s stakeholders, as President Daniels stressed, “I have staked my leadership upon it.” The annual report can also serve as a method of praising the accomplishments of Johns Hopkins.
In John Kotter’s eight step process for leading change, the sixth step was generating and celebrating short-term wins. Although the annual report will serve as a method of identifying improvements, the President often seizes other opportunities to interact with the community and celebrate the university’s endeavors. In October, President Daniels ran in my sorority’s Halloween themed 5K, which raised funds for the ‘Read, Lead, Achieve’ initiative. Dressing as superman and achieving the best time in his bracket, President Daniels brought enthusiasm and spirit to the event, supporting Pi Beta Phi’s contribution to the seventh goal of enhancing the university’s commitment to communities. This past week, President Daniels spoke at Lighting of the Quads, an incredible Hopkins tradition that brings together students, faculty, and staff together outside of Gilman Hall. Before the start of finals season, the stunning fireworks serve as a reminder of the success of the university, as our collective efforts for excellence will enable us to achieve the ten goals.
Ron Daniels and his wife, Joanne Rosen, at the Pi Beta Phi 5K
Gilman at the 6th annual Lighting of the Quads
The ten by twenty goals are ambitious yet realistic, setting high expectations that can be achieved by 2020. Rather than aiming to be ranked the number one university by 2020, the fourth goal is to be a top ten undergraduate university, and the fifth goal is to have two-thirds of Ph.D. programs be ranked in the top twenty in their fields. Progress has already been made on accomplishing the ten goals. Michael Bloomberg’s gift this past January will fund new professorships that link at least two schools together, with the aim of integrating multiple perspectives.
After reflecting on the interview with President Daniels and Phil Spector, Chris, Simon and I realized that the Center for Leadership Education acts as a bridge within the university, linking students from multiple departments and backgrounds. The students of our Leading Change class represent multiple majors, from English to Neuroscience, as well as a variety of student organizations and interests. In our time at Johns Hopkins and our pursuits after graduation, we all share a common goal to be effective leaders. Phil Spector emphasized that during the consultative meetings, the word “entrepreneurial” was often brought up to describe the spirit of Johns Hopkins, and I agree that this spirit pervades all aspects of the university’s culture. With our entrepreneurial and innovative spirit, I’m confident that we can accomplish the ten ambitious goals by 2020, and I am excited to see the progress that Johns Hopkins makes over the next seven years.
Which of the ten goals affects you the most as a stakeholder of Johns Hopkins? Would you add any goals or make any revisions to the document?