WILLIAMSTOWN, Mass. — Williams College President Adam Falk will be stepping down from his post at the end of the year to become president of the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation in New York.
The announcement was made on Thursday in a joint release from Falk and Williams College Board of Trustees Chairman Michael R. Eisenson, a 1977 graduate.
A search committee chaired by Eisenson will be announced at a later date.
Falk was was welcomed as the college's 17th president — and only the second scientist to lead the liberal arts college in its 217-year history — in 2010. He replaced Morton O. Schapiro, who left to head Northwestern University in 2008 after a decade at Williams.
"I arrived in the Purple Valley in 2010 and the ensuing years have been among the most gratifying of my career," Falk said in a message to the campus community and alumni. "It makes me genuinely happy, looking back, to see what together we've achieved. Williams is attracting even greater numbers of passionate, insightful and diverse students. We're making this place accessible to people who couldn't consider coming here otherwise.
"We are renewing our campus and making major investments in its sustainability. We're hiring and supporting the deeply committed faculty and staff who define this college. And our loyal alumni are giving and volunteering in ways that help students thrive at Williams and build successful and rewarding lives after graduation."
Falk will step down effective Dec. 31 and take up the presidency of the Sloan Foundation in January 2018. The foundation makes grants primarily to support original research and education related to science, technology, engineering, mathematics and economics.
"Adam has been an exceptionally fine president for Williams," Eisenson said in a message to the college community. "He has demonstrated a keen ability to appreciate and retain the best of Williams traditions, while encouraging the college to grow through a genuine openness to innovation, always with the education and well-being of our students foremost in mind. His departure will be a loss for the college and the community, and I will personally miss his wisdom, friendship, and his deeply thoughtful and principled leadership."
Under Falk, Williams has flourished, Eisenson said, pointing to Falk's efforts enhancing the college's national leadership in liberal arts education, maintaining and growing its commitment to access, recruiting accomplished and sought-after scholars to join the faculty, building highly effective leadership teams, opening the award-winning Sawyer Library, launching work on a major new center for the sciences, and inspiring record-breaking alumni support for the Teach It Forward campaign.
From 2006 to 2010, Falk was the James B. Knapp Dean of the Zanvyl Krieger School of Arts and Sciences at Johns Hopkins, following four years as dean of the faculty and interim dean. A high-energy physicist and award-winning teacher whose research focuses on elementary particle physics and quantum field theory, Falk is a fellow of the American Physical Society and a winner of awards from the National Science Foundation, Department of Energy, the Research Corporation, and the Sloan Foundation.
He was a Morehead-Cain Scholar from the University of North Carolina, graduating with a bachelor of science in 1987, and he earned his doctorate in 1991 from Harvard University. He held postdoctoral appointments at the Stanford Linear Accelerator Center and the University of California at San Diego, before joining the faculty at Johns Hopkins in 1994.
Marta Tienda, chair of the board of trustees of the Sloan Foundation and Maurice P. During Professor of Demographic Studies and Sociology at Princeton University, said Falk was selected after a nationwide search.
"Throughout his career, Adam has shown a deep commitment to the advancement of research, to education and the development of a diverse workforce in scientific and technological fields, and to the broad communication of the research enterprise – a perfect mix for leading the Sloan Foundation," she said.
The foundation was founded in 1934 by the longtime chairman, chief executive officer, and president of General Motors with the goal of promoting public understanding of, and research on, topics in economics, technology, and science. The foundation has an endowment of about $1.9 billion and annual grant-making of about $80 million.
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