Deans worry about dollars. They worry about
infrastructure. They worry about labs and libraries and
classrooms and committees.
But mostly, Adam Falk says, they need to worry about
people. Especially, he says, about bringing people
"The difference between a university and a group of
students with a bookstore — or people sitting at
their computers — is the interactions that
people have," said Falk, the next dean of the
Krieger School of
Arts and Sciences.
"The purpose of a school is to bring people together
around the work that they do," he said. "It's a very high
priority for me to — through programs, appointments
and architecture — nurture and promote community and
diversity in the Krieger School."
Falk, appointed last week by the board of trustees on
the recommendation of President
William Brody, will formally take office as the Krieger
School's James B. Knapp Dean on Feb. 1. He has been interim
dean since January 2005.
Brody said that Falk was the clear class of the field
in a national search that yielded several very strong
"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
Falk, a theoretical physicist and a member of the
Johns Hopkins faculty since 1994, says that his notion of
community building is a broad one. By it, he means building
relationships within the undergraduate student body,
between faculty and students, among departments and across
different 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,"
The school's overall goal is what it has always been,
he said: "to be and remain the best small
research-intensive school of arts and sciences in the
country; faculty member for faculty member and student for
student, to be second to no other."
The dean's role in pursuit of that goal, Falk said,
includes a relentless pursuit of academic excellence,
continued focus on enhancing the undergraduate experience,
execution of a plan for building and renovating critical
facilities and, needless to say, fund raising.
"We're in the middle of the most ambitious campaign in
the history of the school," Falk said. "As successful as it
has been, there are very important unmet — or
incompletely met — needs." Chief among those, he
said, are endowment for undergraduate student aid and
faculty chairs, support for graduate education and funds
for the renovation of Gilman Hall as well as science and
social science facilities.
Falk, 40, was promoted to associate professor after
only three years at Johns Hopkins and to full professor
three years later, in 2000. In 2002, he was appointed the
Krieger School's vice dean of faculty, a title that was
changed to dean of faculty in 2004. He was instrumental in
formulation of the school's strategic plan and in a
comprehensive reform of appointment, promotion and tenure
policies in the Krieger School.
He 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 Energy Department.
Falk graduated with highest distinction from the
University of North Carolina in 1987 and earned his
doctorate from Harvard University four years later. He held
postdoctoral appointments at the Stanford Linear
Accelerator Center and the University of California, San
Diego, before coming to Johns Hopkins.
A statement of Falk's view of the Krieger School's top
priorities in the coming years is available on the school's