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President Adam Falk?

An anonymous tipster David Kane tells us that Adam Falk of Johns Hopkins will be the new President of Williams College. I have no idea whatsoever if this is true.
falk
From the JHU website:

Adam F. Falk became James B. Knapp Dean of the Krieger School of Arts and Sciences on Feb. 1, 2006. He had served in the position on an interim basis since January 2005.

Under his leadership, Falk said, the Krieger School’s goal remains what it has always been: “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.”

Falk, a member of the Johns Hopkins physics faculty since 1994, was promoted to associate professor after only three years at Johns Hopkins and to full professor just 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 those positions in the formulation of the school’s strategic plan and in a comprehensive reform of appointment, promotion and tenure policies in the Krieger School.

Falk is a high-energy physicist whose research focuses on elementary particle physics and quantum field theory, particularly the interactions and decay of heavy quarks. 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.

He graduated with highest distinction from the University of North Carolina in 1987 and earned his Ph.D. from Harvard University in 1991, winning six awards for excellence in undergraduate teaching while a graduate student. He held post-doctoral appointments at the Stanford Linear Accelerator Center and the University of California, San Diego, before coming to Johns Hopkins.

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#1 Comment By David On September 28, 2009 @ 5:08 pm

Anonynous? Credit where it is due, please.

:)

Add the pictureand the bio. This is the guy.

A shocking choice …

#2 Comment By JeffZ On September 28, 2009 @ 5:13 pm

Well if you are the source DK there must be ANOTHER anonymous source who dished to you :).

Definitely an surprise choice if he is the guy … a physicist from a research university … hmmmmm. Not to mention a white male, which would make some (cough cough) less than delighted. Obviously super-duper-duper smart, but theoretical physicists aren’t usually known for their people / management skills. Still, I imagine he must have impressed a lot of people if Williams selected him …

#3 Comment By Ronit On September 28, 2009 @ 5:18 pm

Yeah, if true, this is an odd choice on paper at least.

#4 Comment By hwc On September 28, 2009 @ 5:18 pm

Yeah. Another white dude. That really is shocking!

I must not have found the right bio. Looks like a hot young physics prof with a few years experience as a dean at a mid-size research university. No Williams connection. No liberal arts college connection.

That can’t be the guy.

#5 Comment By Ronit On September 28, 2009 @ 5:19 pm

This could all be an elaborate ruse by Kane to distract us from the real choice, which is… David Kane.

#6 Comment By hwc On September 28, 2009 @ 5:22 pm

Not to mention a white male, which would make some (cough cough) less than delighted.

I made peace a while back with the belief that Williams would probably appoint another white male. I just don’t believe there’s any pressure on the board by the alumni to do otherwise. I wouldn’t be happy about that, but it is what it is.

#7 Comment By Parent ’12 On September 28, 2009 @ 5:23 pm

I don’t know who it is.

But, I can confirm that right now the powers that be are preparing to make an announcement.

#8 Comment By JeffZ On September 28, 2009 @ 5:25 pm

If he is the guy, I certainly wouldn’t judge until I heard a little more about his personality, speaking style, ability to connect, vision for Williams, accomplishments as Dean, views, beliefs, all that sort of stuff. I don’t really consider Hopkins a “mid size” research university, as certainly when you consider prestige, research money, etc., it is one of the top research universities in the country. He is obviously a brilliant guy and I think four years as a Dean at Hopkins is experience enough to be qualified to move up, even if that is a thinner resume than many might have. The question is (again if he is the guy) will he bring a fresh / different / novel energy to Williams, does he have ideas to invigorate the institution and a track record in his tenure as Dean of bringing his ideas to fruition. That is impossible to judge either way based on this bio. And certainly not possible to judge by his gender and race, which in my mind just aren’t relevant. (Although I must admit a TAD of personal curiosity as to whether this would be the third straight Eph prez of a particularly demographic …).

#9 Comment By Ronit On September 28, 2009 @ 5:27 pm

@JeffZ: balding?

#10 Comment By JeffZ On September 28, 2009 @ 5:31 pm

I was thinking Jewish … could go either way, my Jewdar is having a tough time on this one … although were I a betting man, I’d choose yea.

#11 Comment By hwc On September 28, 2009 @ 5:38 pm

Williams hired a new Prez who isn’t even in wikipedia?

#12 Comment By Parent ’12 On September 28, 2009 @ 5:39 pm

I just read his webpage-

http://www.pha.jhu.edu/~falk/

I hope for the physics dept that he was selected. He obviously likes to teach & continued to mentor Ph.D. students after he moved into the Dean’s office.

He must have more than decent people skills to get his doctoral dissertation done within 4 years. Then, get tenure in 3 years & a full professorship in 3 more.

I just hope he’s good a raising money.

#13 Comment By Ronit On September 28, 2009 @ 5:41 pm

Hmm… all may not be as it appears at first sight, folks.

The Krieger School appears to be a smallish liberal arts college embedded within JHU?

#14 Comment By JeffZ On September 28, 2009 @ 5:44 pm

What does that mean, Ronit, this is (a) based on faulty intelligence (wouldn’t be the first time), (b) this guy is not as he appears [if he were transgender, that might assuage the HWC’s of the world!], or (c) this is another one of DK’s “tricks” designed to teach us all a lesson of some sort?

#15 Comment By Ronit On September 28, 2009 @ 5:45 pm

@JeffZ: Ha, sorry, no, I was just making a completely platitudinous point that we shouldn’t judge the guy based on his brief bio. I have no real knowledge of the situation and until David spills his source or we get an official confirmation, I suggest taking this with a sizable grain of salt.

#16 Comment By Parent ’12 On September 28, 2009 @ 5:48 pm

As for Krieger School of A&S, it has about 3500 undergraduates.

Remember, JHU has a lot of schools or divisions, plus multiple campuses.

#17 Comment By hwc On September 28, 2009 @ 5:53 pm

Undergraduate Schools

Krieger School of Arts and Sciences
Whiting School of Engineering
Carey Business School
School of Education
School of Nursing
Peabody Institute

Graduate Schools

Nitze School of Advanced International Studies
Krieger School of Arts & Sciences
Carey Business School
School of Education
Whiting School of Engineering
School of Medicine
School of Nursing
Peabody Institute
Bloomberg School of Public Health

#18 Comment By Midprof On September 28, 2009 @ 6:11 pm

Robert Oden, who just resigned from Carleton?

#19 Comment By hwc On September 28, 2009 @ 6:25 pm

Oden is 63 years old.

#20 Comment By Parent ’12 On September 28, 2009 @ 6:27 pm

Not as funny as Dick’s Falk post, but it did make me laugh.

http://wso.williams.edu/discuss/comments.php?DiscussionID=2064&page=1#Item_0

#21 Comment By Midprof On September 28, 2009 @ 6:28 pm

Hmm. Falk’s academic rise appears downright meteoric, but the administrative history seems rather thin for ‘president’ to be the next step.

#22 Comment By Will Slack ’11 On September 28, 2009 @ 6:34 pm

@hwc: Morty didn’t have a Wikipedia bio until about a year ago, as I recall.

#23 Comment By Parent ’12 On September 28, 2009 @ 6:44 pm

What was Morty’s position at USC, just before he returned as President of the College.

#24 Comment By David On September 28, 2009 @ 6:49 pm

1) Not a trick. My source could be wrong but I highly doubt it. Look for the news to be public tonight.

2) Jewdar: Williams has done fairly well with Jewish presidents from the last 15 years. Why stop now?

3) Note (pdf)

Protik Kumar Majumder, Professor of Physics
B.S. (1982) Yale; Ph.D. (1989) Harvard

Did Majumder (member of the presidential search committee) and Falk know each other at Harvard? The Record ought to ask.

4) If you told me that Williams was going to pick someone who had neither attended nor taught at a liberal arts college, I never would have believed you . . . Shows what I know.

5) Also, I was wrong to predict Cappy Hill ’76 as the next President, as was Ronit’s source. Wonder what happened there . . .

#25 Comment By ’10 On September 28, 2009 @ 6:52 pm

Dewey defeats Truman!

#26 Comment By Midprof On September 28, 2009 @ 6:55 pm

according to (ahem) wikipedia:
He joined the economics faculty at Williams College in 1980 and departed to become the chair of the economics department at the University of Southern California in 1991, rising to become the dean of the College of Letters, Arts, and Sciences in 1994, and the vice president for planning in 1998

Anyway, if this is all true I think it’s a very interesting pick. It suggests more daring and imagination than I would have thought likely to characterize any presidential search.

#27 Comment By David On September 28, 2009 @ 6:59 pm

1) Morty was the Dean of Arts and Sciences at USC.

2) Did Falk’s “vision” statement for Hopkins impress the search committee? Apparently so. Note that it includes all sorts of stuff, like the importance of fund-raising, that are directly relevant to a president’s role.

I suspect that Falk’s pitch was that 4 years of Dean (part of that interim) at the Krieger School was a lot like 4 years as president of a liberal arts college, in terms of responsibilities.

The more that I study Falk, the more pleased I am with this choice.

Kudos to the members of the search committee, especially Chair Greg Avis ’80, for all their hard work. Their thoroughness and transparency were simply outstanding. If every major decision at Williams were conducted in a similar fashion, we would be much better off.

#28 Comment By 1980 On September 28, 2009 @ 7:00 pm

I’m intrigued. I like the little I just learned via some random online research.

#29 Comment By ’10 On September 28, 2009 @ 7:01 pm

It’s official — David gets the scoop.

#30 Comment By Jeffz On September 28, 2009 @ 7:07 pm

Well done dk. Thanks for the jewdar confirmation as well.

#31 Comment By David On September 28, 2009 @ 7:10 pm

1) Always believe content from EphBlog!

2)I have no information on Falk’s faith, just commenting that it would not be surprising if Williams were to select a Jew. (Payne and Schapiro were both Jewish.) My guess would be Ashkenazi, but maybe that is just a stereotype based on the fact that he is a theoretical physicist. Not that there is anything wrong with that!

#32 Comment By Jr. Mom On September 28, 2009 @ 7:21 pm

Three kids! That brings a nice energy to the campus.

Congrats on the scoop, Dave.

I saw some genealogy somewhere on the internet. I seem to remember that his father was born in Berlin and got his PhD at Heidelberg.

#33 Comment By ’12 On September 28, 2009 @ 7:31 pm

I hope that young + energetic = interested in environmental issues. We need that here! Plus, someone who doesn’t have as much LAC experience might be better at stepping back and seeing what Williams REALLY needs. As for the “another white male” crowd, I was terrified that Williams would pick someone because (s)he was *not* a white male, not because (s)he was well-qualified. I’ll have to reserve judgment until actually seeing/meeting Falk.

#34 Comment By frank uible On September 28, 2009 @ 7:34 pm

In academia as in other walks of life, leadership comes from a wide variety of backgrounds – there ain’t no formula.

#35 Comment By kthomas On September 28, 2009 @ 7:38 pm

Bravo! My thanks to the committee and all for their hard work in selecting Mr. Falk.

#36 Comment By Ronit On September 28, 2009 @ 7:56 pm

Nice job, David.

#37 Comment By hwc On September 28, 2009 @ 8:03 pm

As for the “another white male” crowd, I was terrified that Williams would pick someone because (s)he was *not* a white male, not because (s)he was well-qualified.

Based on Falk’s thin resume, I think we can put that strawman argument to rest.

Cappy Hill has a stronger administrative resume and she would have only been so-so among the pool of candidates for a top liberal arts college. Williams had a profile in mind and they got what they wanted.

#38 Comment By hopkins phd On September 28, 2009 @ 8:09 pm

Thanks for taking him off our hands!!!

He’s a science man, and his entire time at Hopkins (which couldn’t have been more than 4 years) seems to have been dedicated to pumping up the Sciences at the expense of the Arts. So much for a school of Arts AND Sciences… Many of his “signature achievements” were disastrous for the humanities – selling the Villa Spelman in Florence, consolidating Germans and Romance Languages into one department (the aptly named Department of German and Romance Languages and Literatures), allowing stipends in the humanities to fall behind peer institutions while increasing stipends in the natural sciences.

I can’t wait to see what this guy does to Williams. He will find a way to establish a Space Telescope Institute while doing away with the WCMA.

I’m sorry it had to be you, but I, for one, am glad he’s gone.

#39 Comment By wslack On September 28, 2009 @ 8:22 pm

@hopkins phd:
2006 – Present James B. Knapp Dean
2005 – 2006 Interim Dean
2004 – 2005 Dean of Faculty
2002 – 2004 Vice Dean of Faculty

2000 – Professor, Department of Physics & Astronomy
1997 – 2000 Associate Professor
1994 – 1997 Assistant Professor
More info on Villa Spelman: http://media.www.jhunewsletter.com/media/storage/paper932/news/2006/03/03/Opinions/Villa.Spelman.Is.Indispensible-2242247.shtml

I don’t see evidence that the three things listed by the commenter mean WCMA gets closed….

#40 Comment By David On September 28, 2009 @ 8:23 pm

Jeff: I am no expert on the jewdar issue, but perhaps this helps. Informed commentary from our Jewish readers is welcome!

Hopkins Ph.D.: Tell us more! We want to hear all these details. Can you provide some links to news stories relating to these issues? If you can give us more, we will certainly post your thoughts on the main page, guaranteeing that your insights will get a wide-reading in the Williams community.

#41 Comment By Ronit On September 28, 2009 @ 8:56 pm

@hopkins phd: if you’d like to make anonymous allegations about Falk on EphBlog, please at least try to back it up with some evidence. Thanks

#42 Comment By frank uible On September 28, 2009 @ 9:22 pm

Irrespective of good, bad or indifferent reviews from questionable sources, he is now one of us and an Eph. Welcome to Williams, Doc!

#43 Comment By Jr. Mom On September 28, 2009 @ 9:39 pm

@David:

Yup, that’s the genealogy site I saw. Scroll down to read his father’s story…really interesting stuff.

I am looking for something more on Falk’s wife. So far, can’t find much. Anyone else know anything about her?

#44 Comment By wslack On September 28, 2009 @ 9:51 pm

@Jr. Mom: Y’all creep me out sometimes.

#45 Comment By Jr. Mom On September 28, 2009 @ 10:09 pm

@wslack:

Say what, Will?

You misunderstand my intentions. They aren’t “creepy” in the least. I am so sorry you don’t at least know that much about me.

#46 Comment By aholden On September 28, 2009 @ 10:36 pm

@ Jr. Mom:

What then were your intentions in “looking for something more on Falk’s wife”? That seems pretty personal and unnecessarily in-depth information that will have little bearing on President-elect Falk’s upcoming term. I suppose a spouse exerts influence on decision-making, but somehow I agree with Will in finding the idea of doing research on her a little creepy.

#47 Comment By wslack On September 28, 2009 @ 11:18 pm

Jr. Mom: It stems from a class I had hear about technology and the modern society from Nolan, as well as knowledge of how much you can find out about someone (pipl.com). I also know that the internet is a limited data source.

I know your intentions aren’t to be creepy, but looking for information on a website about his wife still bothers me. I think we’ll have to agree to disagree.

Presidential genealogy is fair game, though.

#48 Comment By Jr. Mom On September 29, 2009 @ 12:17 am

@aholden:

I suppose I assume his wife is every bit as wonderful as Falk seems to be.

To tell you the truth, I am downright excited by the entire family. I really liked Morty, (and Mimi!) and was sorry to see them go, but Adam Falk seems like a great choice for Williams. And, I can’t wait to know more about his partner as well.

As for “research”…that is not what I meant by wanting to know more about her. Good God, I am sure plenty of that has been done already. Perhaps I just want to see her recognized and welcomed as well.

I regret if my curiosity came off as “creepy”. I marvel that anyone who knows my history here on EB, would think me capable of those kinds of intentions.

#49 Comment By kthomas On September 29, 2009 @ 12:22 am

Will, JM:

Hmmm.

I was about to post:

Falk, Werner: ¬Das¬ Werturteil : eine logische Grundfrage der Wirtschaftswissenschaft / eingereicht von Werner Falk, [1932]. – 180 S.
Signatur: WS/QB 100 F191

Which I hope I won’t have to make a day trip over to Heidelberg to read.

I think I’ll stop there.

#50 Comment By David On September 29, 2009 @ 12:32 am

I regret if my curiosity came off as “creepy”. I marvel that anyone who knows my history here on EB, would think me capable of those kinds of intentions.

Welcome to my world.

On the internet, there is always someone who thinks you are creepy . . .

#51 Comment By hopkins phd On September 29, 2009 @ 4:36 am

http://media.www.jhunewsletter.com/media/storage/paper932/news/2006/02/17/News/University.Seeks.To.Sell.Villa.Spelman-2242511.shtml

http://savethevilla.blogspot.com/

http://media.www.jhunewsletter.com/media/storage/paper932/news/2006/03/03/Opinions/Villa.Spelman.Is.Indispensible-2242247.shtml

http://www.jhu.edu/~gazette/2008/15sep08/15spelman.html

http://www.jhunewsletter.com/home/index.cfm?event=displayArticlePrinterFriendly&uStory_id=7854a9de-4270-4617-b0cd-6a17e8fb403d

http://www.jhu.edu/jhumag/0205web/wholly.html
(scroll down toward the bottom, about 3 or 4 articles up from the end of the page… its also interesting that the page opens with a profile of the man who was dean of KSAS before Falk. He also left to become pres… I guess we’re a farm system).

Hopefully that is enough to mitigate talk of anonymous allegations.

I’ll be completely frank… my opinion of Falk may largely be dismissed by many as “sour grapes.” I don’t deny there may be some truth to that. Here I will try to give as honest an appraisal as I can of what happened.

When he first arrived as dean in February of 2006 he wasted no time getting to work. By mid February (before Valentines day) he had proposed the sale of the Villa Spelman (full disclosure: at the time I was a fellow at the Villa… sour grapes? you decide) and by early March the faculty and Grad Students of the German department were quaking because talk was going around about the merger.

Now… both of these moves are in some ways – at least in the abstract – defensible. On paper the Villa seemed to serve a very small selection of graduate students and faculty, while bringing German into Romance Language was largely done to try and counter-balance what was perceived by many as the uni-polar dynamics of the Romance Language – French had far more faculty, grad students, undergraduate enrollment and funding than any of the other sections could ever dream of having. Bringing German in, Falk thought, would help balance that out.

While defensible in the abstract, I think both moves were terribly short-sighted, ineffective and, most importantly, terribly managed. As you read in one of the articles on the Villa Spelman, in early February 2006 the director of the Villa resigned. This was done as a protest when Dean Falk proposed to him the sale of the Villa and then essentially said “lets keep this between you and me”. In his letter of resignation, Walter Stephens “outed” Falk, making public the hush-hush machination of it all (I took a quick look through my email archives and didn’t find his letter of resignation. If I find it, I will post it).

Falk was then caught totally unprepared for the response from the grad students and faculty. He had basically planned on finalizing the sale that summer while everyone was away and not really replacing it with anything (indeed, Hopkins still has not replaced its undergraduate study-abroad program in Italy). Finally, after more than two years of wrestling with Falk, this fall Hopkins “re-opened” the Charles Singleton Center (formerly for Italian Studies, now a center for Early Modern Studies). The problem is that the center has no… well, center. It is basically an organization run out of Baltimore that gives money to graduate students to conduct research abroad. The element of intellectual community that was so important to the Villa Spelman is gone. (do a key-word search in the WIlliams catalogue for Villa Spelman symposia – these publications, done out of Florence, were extremely important and had earned Hopkins a lot of prestige in Italian academia, something which was shared with perhaps only Harvard and Princeton- Yale has very little presence over there).

I think it is also important to note that Falk’s budgetary concerns about the Villa were a somewhat willful miscalculation. The Villa had never been allowed to engage in fundraising, thus it was entirely dependent on KSAS for support. Faculty and grad students fought for budgetary autonomy and the chance to fundraise and were denied. This was a very top-down move on his part.

Something similar happened with the merger of German and Romance. He tried to do it back room, when that failed all hell broke loose. The merger did not turn out to be as disastrous as many had feared, but i think the German section still (perhaps rightly) feels that they were nothing but a pawn in a much larger game of institutional politics. They rightly wondered why, if it was so important to balance out the power of the French section, the department of Romance Languages had had the same chair from some 20 years. It goes without saying that this chair represented the French section. Replace the chair and you have a whole new dynamic. Merging two departments that, intellectually and historically, have very little in common should be a last resort. Instead it seemed to have been the first thing that came to mind.

I apologize for the rambling, but my graduate school formation has been forever marked by Adam Falk (for better or worse). I will admit, he is not all bad. If he learned from the mistakes and is more congenial in his dealings with the humanities, there may be the possibility for some serious good to come out of the move.

At heart, though, he is a physicist. I’ve never had the feeling that he really appreciates the mission of the humanities. His methods are totally different, as are his means of evaluating a programs “utility.” While something like the Villa Spelman seemed to him to be a continual source of budgetary strain, it also provided a unique opportunity to graduate students. For some 20 years Hopkins was the only university that had an institution in Italy where graduate students could conduct research. This was a unique selling point and allowed Hopkins to get the best graduate students even when stipends didn’t match Harvard, Princeton and Yale. He didn’t calculate that he was losing this. No move has been made to up stipends.

I sincerely hope that it works for the best. Williams is a unique institution, perhaps the highest-profile liberal art college in the US. Perhaps it is a bit naive on my part, but I always imagined liberal-arts colleges to be run by people in tweed jackets who recite Shakespeare and Homer on command. I’m not sure if you’ve ever had a physicist as president before. If so, that would allay some of my concerns. If not, be ready for an interesting experiment.

the one thing I would say as a piece of advice is to be prepared for there to be a fast-paced rollout of reforms the moment he gets there, as was the case at JHU.

#52 Comment By kthomas On September 29, 2009 @ 4:55 am

And, of course, I had a better view of myself than I had up till then. You see, it told me one thing. I had been mistaken about myself. One can be better than one thinks one is.

— Werner Falk (ob 1932)

#53 Comment By kthomas On September 29, 2009 @ 5:01 am

Das Werturteilsproblem selbst wird von der phaenomenologischen Position her, insbesondere Heidegger behandelt, wie die Arbeit ueberhaupt das Methodenproblem unserer Wissenschaft ganz aus philosophischen Grundlagen aufwirft. Ob damit die Problematik von Werten ueberwunden werden kann – wie es der Verfasser anzustreben scheint – ist mir zweifelhaft, denn selbst wenn man voellige Uebersehbarkeit und Zwangslaeufigkeit desWirtschaftsprozesses annimmt, so bleibt dennoch Aufgabe der wissenschaftlichen Wirtschaftspolitik, Urteilsgrundlagen dafuer zu liefern, ob und welche Mittel ausreichen, um bestimmte Ziele zu realisieren, ueber deren Anerkennung auch die groesste und strengste Zwangslaeufigkeit noch nicht entscheiden kann – es muesste denn sein, man begibt sich auf eine ganz andere Position, von der aus die Zielsetzungen selbst sich aus dem Seinszusammenhang aufdraengen. – Die Arbeit ist als grosse Leistung anzuerkennen, erfasst das Methodenproblem in seiner tiefsten Verankerung, ist sich auch der Verknuepfung mit der Entwicklung des Wirtschaftssystems bewusst, und beruht ausserdem auf einigermassen genauer Kenntnis von Theorie selbst – einer genaueren als man bei Methodologen gemeinhin erwarten kann. Wegen des wissenschaftlichen Niveaus zoegere ich nicht, die Arbeit mit der Note I zur Annahme zu empfehlen, wenngleich zu wuenschen waere, dass sich der begabte Autor bald anderen Problemen zuwenden moege.

(1932)

#54 Comment By ’87er On September 29, 2009 @ 11:06 am

I wanted another WASP male like Oakley. He was the best president in my lifetime. (Anonymous AA male williams grad).

#55 Comment By David On September 29, 2009 @ 12:06 pm

hopkins phd: Thanks for the links and the discussion. Much appreciated! If you find that resignation letter, we would love to post it.

The more I hear about Falk, the more that I like him.

If I were a Division I professor at Williams, I would be, just maybe, starting to wonder, especially after glancing at the search committee and noting that it had two hard scientists and a psychologist among its 4 faculty members. I would also be calling Steve Fix and hoping that he could allay my concerns . . .

#56 Comment By ce On September 29, 2009 @ 1:26 pm

If the worst thing about Falk is that he doesn’t treat grad students especially well…well…bring him here!

#57 Comment By hwc On September 29, 2009 @ 1:47 pm

hopkins phd:

When he was reorganizing the language departments, why didn’t Falk address the Arabic and Chinese offerings? JHU doen’t have a single tenure-track professor in either Arabic or Chinese. It’s all lecturers. They have one Adjunct Associate Professor in Russian.

I would have thought that any strategic initiative in the languages would have addressed these faculty issues in key areas of the curriculum.

Was there any discussion of the bigger picture?

#58 Comment By hopkins phd On September 29, 2009 @ 2:05 pm

HWC,

You’re completely correct.

Again, I speak as someone who is not involved in closed-door meetings, but as someone who saw the consequences of his decisions and one of my major criticisms would be that he tends to micro-manage and fails to spell out how his decisions fit into a larger strategic vision.

He saw a certain amount of budgetary funds going to Florence and decided to take action. Similarly, he noted that there were major problems in the dynamics of Romance Languages (part of that, by the way, was a result of the sale of the Villa, which left the Italian section feeling very alienated), and he moved to solve that problem by combining Romance and German.

As I said above… these are both defensible decisions if seen from the proper angle. From my point of view, however, he was more concerned with cutting the operating budget and balancing out the French Section than he was invested in any long term strategy.

Had either move been made as a part of some larger plan to develop the humanities at JHU that would have been fine. As it stands, both were short-sighted.

As far as developing Arabic and Chinese… I find it strange too, especially since Hopkins has a strong program in Near Eastern Studies. I really don’t know what to tell you other than the obvious: it is much cheaper to have adjuncts and lecturers than it is to have tenured faculty.

#59 Comment By frank uible On September 29, 2009 @ 2:17 pm

Budgetary decisions are part of long term strategy.

#60 Comment By Larry George On September 29, 2009 @ 2:18 pm

Re: Jr. Mom’s wondering about our First-Lady-to-be:
Remembering Flo Chandler and others who have had an important, and welcomed, impact on Williams over the years, curiosity was not at all out of line.

It is Hank Payne who has been so on my mind since I heard the news last night, may he rest in peace.

We are on the “outsider” leg of the perennial Williams shift between insiders and outsiders for President. Perhaps that is what happened to President Hill ’76 (not ANOTHER connection from the Eph Economics Department…) — I had thought at the beginning that she would be the Favorite Daughter, but the timing seemed poor for her (it was an outsider slot, Morty was from the same department, and she has not been at Vasser very long — regardless, she can be a strong colleague for Dr. Falk).

I guess what gives me a bit of a pause is that this is the second time in fairly recent years that Williams has gone to the outside, presumably for fresh ideas, and come back with someone very young (and thus perhaps with rather little administrative experience) and someone who has been a fast-tracked Golden Boy. But Dr. Falk breaks the mold of what we might have expected sufficiently that I have to say that the Selection Committee saw some very appealing traits. It will go well, and aren’t we blessed that he has some breathing room and will not be starting (as far as I can tell) in the terrible financial pickle we had dreaded?

As Frank says, “Welcome, Doc!”

#61 Comment By frank uible On September 29, 2009 @ 2:27 pm

Of course, “welcome to Williams, Doc” in due time will be followed with the obligatory, “what’s up, Doc”.

#62 Comment By Jr. Mom On September 29, 2009 @ 2:27 pm

@Larry George:

Much appreciated.

And excellent to see you here!

#63 Comment By hopkins phd On September 29, 2009 @ 6:34 pm

@ frank uible,

unless you articulate the goals of your long-term budget strategy it remains open to serious criticism.

It is just like the government tailoring in entitlements. It is probably necessary, and everyone should deal with it. However, if there is a lack of transparency and the upshot of the cuts are not clearly explained the constituencies have little reason to coalesce.

#64 Comment By frank uible On September 29, 2009 @ 6:57 pm

Politicalspeak. Money is fungible. What is not spent today may have become available for the long term.