News & Events

News & Events

Skip navigation
A | A | A

Full announcement at
Media contact: Jim Kolesar, or (413) 597-4277

Adam F. Falk Named 17th President of Williams

Adam FalkWILLIAMSTOWN, Mass. Sept. 28, 2009 -- Williams College announced today the appointment as its 17th president of Adam F. Falk, dean of the Krieger School of Arts and Sciences at Johns Hopkins University. He will succeed on April 1, 2010, William Wagner, who has served as interim president since July 1, following the move, after nine years, of Morton Owen Schapiro to the presidency of Northwestern University.

The announcement was made in a Web letter to the college community from Gregory M. Avis, Chair of both the Williams Board of Trustees and Presidential Search Committee.

“Adam captivated the board with his intelligence, passion, warmth, and outstanding record of leadership” Avis said. “We marveled at the depth and range of his accomplishments as a topflight teacher, scholar, and administrator and at the strength of his character and values. He’ll be an outstanding president for Williams.”

Falk, 44 years old, has won teaching awards at Johns Hopkins and at Harvard, where he earned his Ph.D.

As a prolific scholar of theoretical physics, he has won support from the National Science Foundation and early in his career earned prestigious young investigator awards from the Department of Energy and NSF. His research focuses on elementary particle physics and quantum field theory, particularly the interactions and decay of heavy quarks.

As dean at Johns Hopkins he has overseen steady increases in admissions selectivity and in students’ self-reported satisfaction, the establishment of a new Office of Multicultural Affairs, renovation of the university’s flagship building, and the launching of new minors in theatre and museum studies.

“Adam Falk sparkles with intellectual and imaginative energy, and lively, carefully considered views on the future of higher education,” Search Committee Member Stephen Fix, Professor of English, said. “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.”

Falk was a Morehead-Cain Scholar at the University of North Carolina, where he earned his bachelor of science degree in physics with highest distinction in 1987. After completing his Ph.D. in physics at Harvard in 1991, he held post-doctoral appointments at the Stanford Linear Accelerator Center and the University of California at San Diego before joining the Johns Hopkins faculty as an assistant professor in 1994.

Three years later he earned tenure and three years after that was made full professor. In two years he became vice dean of the faculty, a title later changed to dean of faculty. After three years in that position, he became interim dean and then dean of the School of Arts and Sciences.

“What draws me to Williams, above all else, is the remarkable community of faculty, students, staff and alumni that define the college,” Falk said. “It's a community both supportive and warm, and yet clearly committed to honest self-examination and progressive evolution as times change. I'm honored and privileged to be joining it.

“Williams and Johns Hopkins share some fundamentally common DNA -- an understanding that excellence does not depend on size, but rather on an individual commitment to the highest standards. Both institutions capitalize on their intimate scale to foster interdisciplinary and collaborative work at every turn, and are so much the stronger for that.”

His wife and three school-age children will join him in the Presidents House next summer.

“My family and I are excited to begin our new lives on campus and in the Berkshires,” he said.  “We're all attracted to the natural beauty, the cultural richness, and the historical resonance of this marvelous region.”

When President Schapiro announced last December his plan to leave the position, the college formed a 16-member Presidential Search Committee of trustees, faculty, staff, students, and alumni. They sought input from the college community and local residents on the challenges and opportunities facing Williams and the attributes its next president would need. The committee then wrote a position prospectus to solicit applications and nominations and to use as a framework to evaluate candidates. From the hundreds of names considered, members of the committee traveled the country to give first interviews to more than 40. Through successive rounds of interviews and reference checks, they eventually chose a small number of finalists to give the Board of Trustees, whose role it was to select the next president.

- END -

To arrange a phone interview contact Jim Kolesar at, or (413) 597-4277.
To download press photos:

Williamstown, Massachusetts 01267 USA   ||   413-597-3131   ||   © Williams College 2015