In Memoriam: J. Michael Adams
July 19, 2012 — Dr. J. Michael Adams, the former Dean of the Westphal College and President of Fairleigh Dickinson University from 1999 to 2012, passed away on June 21st. Those of you who had the privilege of working with him know he was a special man who did a great deal to advance our college. In 1984, Adams was appointed Dean of what was then Drexel University’s Nesbitt College of Design, Nutrition, Human Behavior and Home Economics. The college was a mix of programs – some strong and emerging, but others somewhat less so. Under Adams’ strong leadership, the College found focus and began it’s transformation into what we are today, the Antoinette Westphal College of Media Arts & Design. To the well-established programs in Fashion Design & Merchandising, Interior Design, and Visual Studies, we added new majors in Photography, Graphic Design, and Digital Media, and we invited Film & Video, Architecture and Performing Arts to join the college. Adams led the college for 15 years, and never stopped building, looking for opportunities, believing in the potential of his colleagues and securing resources so we could succeed. He hired great faculty and staff, started forward-thinking initiatives, and kept looking toward the future. The solid foundation, wonderful vision, and ambition begun during his tenure as Dean, have largely come to pass and our successes are part of Michael Adams’ legacy.
During his presidency at Fairleigh Dickinson University, the university created a new mission; raised enrollment; established a new campus in Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada; dedicated $135 million to new facilities and campus improvements; and successfully concluded the largest capital campaign in FDU’s history.
In addition to serving as FDU president, Adams earned an international reputation for his advocacy of global education and was the president of the International Association of University Presidents (IAUP). He dedicated his IAUP presidency to the goal of using higher education to build bridges to a more peaceful and prosperous future. He also served as a Governing Council member of the United Nations University, a National Council member of the United Nations Association of the United States of America and a Steering Committee member of the World Bank’s Researchers Alliance for Development. The author of nine books, Adams most recently wrote Coming of Age in a Globalized World: The Next Generation, which explores the impact of globalization on education.