Adam Falk
Doctor of Science

Last year, Adam Falk became the 17th president of Williams College in Williamstown, Mass. In his inauguration speech on Sept. 25, 2010, Falk spoke of the history and evolution of Williams College and of the challenges it faces in remaining a leader in the liberal arts; being an institution both local in character and global in scope; and educating the minds and spirits of a diverse population of students, so that they can engage the world around them. Clearly, these are challenges that Amherst College faces as well. Falk also spoke of “the defection of [Williams] President Zephaniah Moore that led to the founding of Amherst College” in 1821. He noted, “Our two institutions have been siblings, and rivals, and great friends for almost 200 years.” It is in this spirit that Amherst is proud to present President Falk with an honorary degree.

As a high-energy physicist, Falk’s research concerns elementary particle physics and quantum field theory, primarily the interactions and decay of heavy quarks. He earned a bachelor’s degree with highest distinction from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill in 1987 and a Ph.D. from Harvard just four years later. He did postdoctoral research at the Stanford Linear Accelerator Center and the University of California, San Diego, before joining the faculty of the Johns Hopkins University in 1994. There, he rose to the position of dean of faculty and then, in 2006, became the James B. Knapp Dean in the Zanvyl Krieger School of Arts and Sciences, helping to formulate the school’s strategic plan and to reform its policies on appointment, promotion and tenure.

Falk’s many awards and honors include an Alfred P. Sloan Foundation Fellowship, a fellowship in the American Physical Society, a Johns Hopkins Alumni Association Excellence in Teaching Award and a University of North Carolina Distinguished Young Alumnus Award, as well as awards from the National Science Foundation, the U.S. Department of Energy and the Research Corporation for Science Advancement.

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