A tribute to President Emeritus Steven Muller

Steven Muller served as president of The Johns Hopkins University from 1972–1990.

President Emeritus Muller, who led the university from 1972 to 1990 and also served for about a decade as president of The Johns Hopkins Hospital, died Saturday, Jan. 19, 2013, with his wife, Jill McGovern, at his side. He was 85. 

Dr. Muller joined Johns Hopkins as provost in 1971. He served in that position for just 10 months, however, before the Board of Trustees selected him in 1972 to lead the university. That same year, Dr. Muller was tapped to head the hospital, making him the first since Daniel Coit Gilman, the university’s first president, to hold both presidencies. Dr. Muller relinquished the hospital post in 1983.   

Johns Hopkins - the university where we teach, learn, work and engage in scholarly endeavors -simply would not exist in its current form had it not been for Steven Muller. A man of both substance and impeccable style, Dr. Muller is credited with moving the university into a new era while preserving its tradition of leadership among research institutions.

He created the affiliation with the Peabody Institute, shepherded the restoration and reopening of what are now Homewood Museum and Evergreen Museum and Library, established the Krieger Mind-Brain Institute, and was instrumental in bringing the Space Telescope Science Institute to Baltimore and the Homewood campus, ensuring that science operations for the Hubble Space Telescope would be controlled here

President Muller, with prescient insight into China's future as a global power, ensured that Johns Hopkins would be an instrumental part of the conversation between that nation and our own, establishing the Johns Hopkins-Nanjing University Center for Chinese and American Studies.

That foresight also led to the establishment -- as a standalone division of the university for the first time -- of the School of Nursing, now acknowledged a scant few decades later as the nation's best, and of the School of Engineering, which Dr. Muller broke out from the School of Arts and Sciences.

A gifted writer and speaker and passionate advocate of the humanities, Dr. Muller was a specialist in comparative government and international relations. His many writings include a textbook on these subjects and numerous professional articles. He will forever be remembered for musing that “nobody ever died of English" while arguing very seriously for the need to support the humanities as vigorously as medicine and the life sciences.

After his presidency, Dr. Muller maintained offices at Evergreen and at SAIS, remaining involved in the Johns Hopkins community. He was awarded an honorary doctorate of humane letters from a grateful university in 2000.

The Johns Hopkins community’s deepest sympathies are with Dr. Muller’s family and close friends. We have all lost someone quite remarkable.