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The newspaper of The Johns Hopkins University January 23, 2006 | Vol. 35 No. 18
Falk Named Dean of Krieger School

Adam Falk, who has been serving as interim dean since January 2005, will formally take office as the James B. Knapp Dean of the Krieger School on Feb. 1.

Theoretical physicist has served in interim post and as dean of faculty

By Dennis O'Shea

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 together.

"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 finalists.

"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."

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," Falk said.

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 Web site


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