Early to Rise and Quick to Warm Up to FDU

After more than a year as the president of Fairleigh Dickinson University, J. Michael Adams says his life hasn’t changed that drastically, that is, of course, with the significant exception of learning to live with very, very little sleep. He rises at 4 a.m. to, among other things, respond to more than 40 e-mails daily and answer up to 8–10 inches of “snail” mail. But then, as one of Adams’ favorite thinkers once said, “Early to bed, early to rise ...”

Adams indeed would have it no other way. “My soul has quickly become linked to this institution. My wife, Susan, and I have been accepted into the FDU family with warmth and enthusiasm, and we feel like we’ve long been a part of Fairleigh Dickinson University.”

It actually hasn’t been that long at all. Adams joined FDU July 1, 1999, following 15 years as academic dean of the Nesbitt College of Design Arts at Drexel University in Philadelphia. There, he led the transformation of Nesbitt College into one of the premier design schools in the United States.

After one year, Adams says FDU is further along than Drexel was at a comparative stage. “In less than a year, this institution has approved a vision and adopted a new mission, which has been unanimously endorsed by the Academic Senate. This University is hungry for change, and it is prepared to move to a new level of distinction.”

Adams is quick to point out that “this is not just my vision. This vision reflects our history and spirit. I cannot do it alone. This is a partnership. There are so many good people here, and this institution’s future will be defined by the daily actions of the entire community.”

For Adams, the best part of being president is the “opportunity to help create a new adventure. We are redefining ourselves and reconfirming who we are and where we are going.”

Students and alumni have enthusiastically responded to the vision, Adams says. “The response from most students I’ve talked to has been, ‘Can you start this tomorrow for my degree program?’ They also have been eager to join any committees or activities that will help implement global initiatives. They are sure that this is the education they want and anxious to receive it.”

As for alumni, Adams says many of them have told him they are excited the University is building on its historic strengths and glad the University is “getting back to what we are known for.”

For Adams, the best part of being president is the “opportunity to help create a new adventure. We are redefining ourselves and reconfirming who we are and where we are going. It’s a very exciting time.”

Prior to serving at Drexel, Adams was chair of the department of industrial technology and professor of education at the State University of New York at Oswego. From 1975 to 1976, he was a U.S. Congressional Fellow.

The author of eight books, Adams’ publications and research cover a wide variety of topics including print, publishing, communication and career development as well as topics specific to the field of higher education.

Adams also has worked with many corporations and associations providing expertise in strategic and organizational development. He has spoken to numerous U.S. organizations as well as groups in China, Latin American, India and the United Kingdom.

Adams holds a BS from Illinois State University, Normal; an MS from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign; and a PhD from Southern Illinois University, Carbondale. In 1997, he attended Harvard University’s Institute for Educational Management and in 1999 Harvard’s Institute for New Presidents.

Adams and his wife, Susan, live in Morris Township, N.J.

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