WILLIAMSTOWN — Williams College President Adam Falk will step down at the end of the year, according to an announcement released on Thursday by the college.
Falk, who led the college for eight years, has accepted the presidency of the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation in New York. The foundation makes grants primarily to support original research and education related to science, technology, engineering, mathematics and economics.
He will assume that post in January, according to the release.
"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," he said in the release. "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."
Michael R. Eisenson, chairman of the college board of trustees, lauded Falk for his service.
"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."
Under President 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.
Falk became the college's 17th president in April 2010 following five years as the James B. Knapp Dean of the Zanvyl Krieger School of Arts and Sciences at Johns Hopkins, where he had served the prior four years as dean of the faculty and interim dean.
According to town officials, Falk and his administration have been proactive about maintaining and nurturing a close relationship with the municipal government, which has a wide variety of connections to the school, including the need to conduct inspections and approve permits for the many construction projects the school has undertaken.
"The staff tells me there has never been such a strong spirit of collaboration between the town and the college as there has been under Adam Falk," said Jason Hoch, town manager. "I am thrilled for him and his next opportunity, but I'll be sorry to lose somebody who has been such an important part of the team and a good friend."
He noted that under a new president, the lines of communication, teams of collaboration and the spirit of cooperation "that have been assembled under Adam's tenure — that stuff is not going anywhere."
Hugh Daley, chairman of the Williamstown Select Board, said the college and the town have worked well with each other in the last few years.
"The town's relationship with Williams College has really flourished under Adam Falk's presidency," he said. "It's been especially good working with Adam and his administration."
Daley said the town is very interested in who will be selected to take the leadership role next.
"What we've had under Adam, we hope that will continue," he said.
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, according to the release.
A search committee chaired by Eisenson will be announced at a later date.