J. Michael Adams, A Visionary Leader

President of Fairleigh Dickinson University, 1999 – 2012

J. Michael Adams became the sixth president of Fairleigh Dickinson University and served until he passed away in 2012. He was the University's longest-serving president since its founder, Peter Sammartino.

His major accomplishments in more than a decade leading the University included:

• Inspired a new vision and mission dedicated to preparing world citizens through global education;

• Increased overall enrollment from 9,091 in fall 1999 to 12,247 in fall 2011 (first-time, full-time freshmen rose from 831 in fall 1999 to 1,042 in fall 2011);

• Founded a new campus in Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada;

• Established new identities for the New Jersey campuses, with the Metropolitan Campus in Teaneck and the College at Florham in Madison;

• Dedicated $135 million to new facilities and capital improvements;

• Successfully managed the largest capital campaign in FDU’s history (raising nearly $59 million);

• Led the creation of a nationally recognized distance-learning program and established a new category of Global Virtual Faculty — scholars and professionals from around the world who contribute to the online-learning environment;

• Sparked new and close links with the United Nations — FDU gained nongovernmental organization (NGO) status with the United Nations Department of Public Information; became the first university in the world to earn “Special Consultative Status” with the United Nations Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC); created the U.N. Pathways program, which has brought approximately 100 ambassadors and diplomats to campus and also features a videoconference series broadcast from U.N. headquarters; became the first university to join the U.N. Academic Impact, an alliance of universities committed to supporting U.N. projects and goals;

• Spearheaded numerous innovative offerings including the Spanish-to-English degree program Puerta al Futuro, community college partnerships and a national model support program for veterans. Also led the creation of a new pharmacy school.

Global Education

As the University gained prominence in the field of global education, Adams’ international reputation likewise grew. He served as:

• President (2011–12) of the International Association of University Presidents (IAUP);

• A Governing Council member of the United Nations University;

• A National Council member of the United Nations Association of the United States of America;

• A Steering Committee member of the World Bank’s Researchers Alliance for Development;

• Editorial Advisory Board member for International Educator, the flagship bimonthly magazine of NAFSA: Association of International Educators.

A widely accomplished author, Adams published nine books and many articles and chapters covering a wide variety of topics including print, publishing, communication and career development, as well as subjects specific to the field of higher education. His last book, Coming of Age in a Globalized World: The Next Generation, explored the impact of globalization and examined the case for world citizenship through global education.

Prior Academic Roles

Prior to joining FDU, Adams served as:

• Academic Dean of the Nesbitt College of Design Arts at Drexel University, in Philadelphia, where during a 15-year tenure he led the transformation of the college into one of the premier design schools in the United States.

• Professor at the State University of New York at Oswego, where he earned the Chancellor’s Award for Teaching Excellence and also served as department head, director of research development, dean of the Alumni College and a U.S. Congressional Fellow under Representative Carl Perkins.

Awards and Honors

Adams’ numerous honors and awards included:

• Election as a Danforth Foundation Associate, for commitment to the liberal arts;

• The Soderstrom Society of Fellows, for lifetime contributions to print and publishing;

• The New York State Award for Leadership in Sex Equity;

• A Fellow of the Royal Society for the Encouragement of Arts, Manufactures and Commerce, which was founded in 1754 in London, England;

• An honorary doctor of humane letters from Kyungnam University, Korea, in recognition of his international leadership in higher education.


B.S. (1969), Illinois State University, Normal

M.S. (1972), University of Illinois, Urbana

Ph.D. (1976), Southern Illinois University, Carbondale.

Institute for Educational Management (1997), Harvard University