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Johns Hopkins UniversityArts and Sciences Magazine

Adam Falk Elected President
of Williams College

On Sept. 28, President Ronald J. Daniels announced in a broadcast message to the university community that Adam Falk, the James B. Knapp Dean of the Zanvyl Krieger School of Arts and Sciences, had been named the 17th president of Williams College.

The college's board of trustees made the decision after an approximately nine-month national search to find a successor to Morton Owen Shapiro, who left Williams in July to assume the presidency at Northwestern University.

The day after the official announcement, Falk and his family—wife Karen and children Briauna (14), David (8), and Alex (7)—were introduced to the Williams community at a public gathering in Chapin Hall, attended by several hundred students, faculty, and staff members.

"He embodies, in the highest degree, the talents Williams prizes in its faculty and senior leaders: He is an eminent scholar, a superb teacher, and an institutional leader who enjoys the warm respect and confidence of his community," said Williams' Steve Fix, Robert G. Scott '68 Professor of English and a member of the search committee. "He will be an extraordinary president."

Falk, a high-energy theoretical physicist, has spent his entire academic career at Hopkins, coming here in 1994 as an assistant professor in the Department of Physics and Astronomy. He advanced through the ranks to full professor in just six years, became vice dean of the school's faculty two years later and interim dean three years after that. He assumed the permanent deanship in 2006.

He has won both the Alumni Association's Excellence in Teaching Award and National Young Investigator recognition from the National Science Foundation. He graduated with highest distinction from the University of North Carolina in 1987 and earned his PhD from Harvard University in 1991, winning six awards for excellence in undergraduate teaching while a graduate student. He held postdoctoral appointments at the Stanford Linear Accelerator Center and the University of California, San Diego, before coming to Johns Hopkins.

President Daniels called Williams' decision "an inspired choice," and in his message to the community highlighted some of Falk's many accomplishments:

"Dean Falk is an extraordinary leader, teacher, and scholar who has done a spectacular job in the Krieger School. He has added, thoughtfully and strategically, to the excellence of the school's faculty and academic programs. He has sharpened significantly our focus on the undergraduate experience, inside the classroom and out. He has provided important new opportunities for lifelong learning and career development to non-traditional students in the school's Advanced Academic Programs. He has imagined, planned, and executed important capital projects, not least the stunning renovation of Gilman Hall now under way. And he has worked tirelessly with faculty, staff, alumni volunteers, and others to attract to the school the resources that have made possible all these advances."

In a personal message to the Arts and Sciences community, Falk said he and his family were excited about this next chapter in their lives. But, he wrote, "I will find it very difficult to tear myself away from this remarkable community that I have come to treasure so deeply.

"The five years I have spent as interim dean and dean of the School of Arts and Sciences have been the most rewarding of my professional life. I have never worked with finer people--faculty, students, professional and support staff--people who hold themselves to the highest standards and simultaneously form a community that is remarkably supportive, honest, and caring," he wrote.

Falk will remain at Johns Hopkins until April 1. The university was expected to launch a national search for the next James B. Knapp Dean (look for details in a future issue of Arts & Sciences Magazine, and online at

More information on Falk's election can be found at


photoThe Williams College community welcomed new president Adam Falk in a schoolwide gathering Sept. 29. Photo Courtesy of Williams College