During my 30th reunion in June, I had the opportunity to sit on the ’62 Center stage and have a conversation with President Adam Falk about many issues of importance to both students and alumni. Now that Adam is leaving Williams at the end of December after serving for eight years, I would like to share a few things I have observed about the challenges he has faced and the impact he has had.
Both personally and professionally, I am proud of the work Williams is doing and grateful for the support President Adam Falk has given to these efforts.
Williams’ president has a complex and enormous responsibility as steward of the college and its 200-year history as well as its modern-day place as a leader in higher education. The range of expertise and skill required in this position is astounding—having a background in theoretical physics will only take you so far in this job. Adam possesses a profound understanding of matters ranging from federal higher education policy to financial aid to sustainable building techniques. While looking after the bricks and mortar of the institution, he also is committed to its academic reputation, its role as an employer and economic engine in Williamstown, and its sustainability into the future. In addition, Adam is accountable to the diaspora of the college community, including all of us—the alumni. And, most importantly, he is ultimately responsible for the well-being of 2,000 students every day, whether they are living in Mission Park or studying in Australia.
During Adam’s tenure, there has been increased discussion on college campuses across the nation about free speech, sexual assault and mental health, among other issues. As a pediatric nurse practitioner caring for high school students, many of whom will go on to become first-generation college students, I have a deep appreciation of the ways in which it has become more complicated to be an adolescent and the thoughtful strategies required to address their needs. Today’s students are placing different demands on the college and require new and innovative approaches and a steadfast commitment to them as individuals as well as scholars. Under Adam’s leadership, Williams is confronting these critical issues. The college has made concerted efforts to diversify not only its student body but also its faculty and staff. It has hired experts in many fields—including mental health, sexual assault prevention and education, and support of low-income and first-generation students—and is creating and cultivating a network of support and a culture of wellness across the campus. Both personally and professionally, I am proud of the work Williams is doing and grateful for the support Adam has given to these efforts.
There is always more work to do, of course, but Adam leaves Williams as a strong and healthy institution, prepared to move forward under the next president and over the next 200 years. Thank you, Adam, for your dedication and devotion to the students, faculty, staff and alumni of Williams College, and for taking care of this very special place in the Purple Valley.
—Jordan Hampton ’87, President, Society of Alumni