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The online edition of the magazine published by The Johns Hopkins University, Zanvyl Krieger School of Arts and Sciences


Falk Named James B. Knapp Dean

Dean Adam Falk photo

Adam Falk

In late January, the Johns Hopkins Board of Trustees voted to appoint Adam Falk as the Krieger School’s James B. Knapp Dean. Even before officially taking office on Feb. 1, Falk set out his vision for the school and a general sense of his priorities for the coming years. Chief among them is continuing to build a diverse community of learners and scholars who feel deep connections to the school.

“The purpose of a school is to bring people together around the work that they do,” Falk said when his appointment was announced. “It’s a very high priority for me—through programs, appointments, and architecture—to nurture and promote community and diversity in the Krieger School.”

Falk, a theoretical physicist and a member of the faculty since 1994, says his notion of community building is a broad one that involves nurturing relationships within the undergraduate student body, between faculty and students, among departments, and across divisions of the university.

“There are many communities that cut across generational and disciplinary and other lines—constituencies that we can bring together to make the Krieger School more than the sum of its excellent parts,” Falk said.

Falk, 40, was promoted to associate professor after just three years at Hopkins and to full professor three years later, in 2000. In 2002, then-Dean Daniel Weiss asked him to take on the role of vice dean of faculty, a title that was changed to dean of faculty in 2004. Before joining the administration, Falk played a significant role in developing the Krieger School’s strategic plan.
As dean of faculty, he saw to a comprehensive reform of the school’s appointment, promotion, and tenure policies.

In recommending Falk’s appointment to the board of trustees, President William R. Brody said Falk was the clear choice in a field of several strong finalists, yielded through an extensive national search.

“There is no question that Adam stood out, for the strength and clarity of his commitment to excellence, his firm grasp of the challenges and opportunities facing the school, and his proven ability to tackle important issues and to win the deep respect of all his colleagues,” Brody said. “I believe that Adam has the values, skills, and experience to help the Krieger School build on its considerable strengths and rise to an even higher level of national prominence.”

Indeed, Falk intends to see to that increased strength and prominence, not only by building community, but also by continuing to emphasize academic excellence and improving the undergraduate experience and campus infrastructure while making the best use of resources and meeting budgetary challenges.

“Almost a century and a half after its founding, we inherit a School of Arts and Sciences whose excellence hardly needs to be established, but which it is our task to broaden, strengthen, and maintain,” Falk wrote in his vision statement. “It is with great pleasure that I look forward to joining with the faculty, students, alumni, and staff of the school in this exciting and rewarding work.” (Read the entire statement online at

Falk is a fellow of the American Physical Society and a winner of the Johns Hopkins Alumni Association Excellence in Teaching Award. Early in his career, he won prestigious national young investigator awards from both the National Science Foundation and the U.S. Energy Department.

A 1987 graduate of the University of North Carolina, Falk was honored by his alma mater in 2004 as a Distinguished Young Alumnus. He earned a doctorate from Harvard University in 1991 and held postdoctoral appointments at the Stanford Linear Accelerator Center and the University of California, San Diego, before coming to Hopkins.

Falk and his wife, Karen, live in Towson with their three children: Briauna, 10; David, 5; and Alexander, 3.



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