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Visionary IAUP president J Michael Adams dies

J Michael Adams, president of the International Association of University Presidents (IAUP), has died in the United States after being diagnosed last year with a rare blood disease and cancer. He was 64.

Adams, who had been president of Farleigh Dickinson University since 1999, came to the presidency of IAUP in 2011 with great energy and vision and with several bold new initiatives that he had already formulated and worked on for several years previously.

His intention was to use his IAUP term of office – which should have lasted until 2014 – to put sustained global partnerships in place so that IAUP reached out beyond the ivory tower into areas where universities and university leadership could make an impact on the world.

“Michael Adams believed that higher education institutions could help build bridges to a more peaceful and prosperous future, both for individuals and for the world. He also believed that university leaders needed to articulate this vision and lead this effort,” said Jason Scorza, IAUP deputy secretary-general and vice-provost for international education at Farleigh Dickinson.

“IAUP continues this work through unique programmes, including the WISE Education Leadership Programme, which provides leadership training and peer mentoring for newly appointed university presidents around the world, and the United Nations Academic Impact (UNAI) programme, which enlists the capacity of higher education institutions on behalf of critical issues on the UN agenda,” said Scorza.

Under Adams, Farleigh Dickinson University became the world’s first to earn ‘special consultative status’ with the United Nations Economic and Social Council and he ensured it was also the first to join UNAI, an alliance with the UN that he helped put in place.

A spokesperson for UN Secretary-general Ban Ki Moon described Adams as a strong UN champion and partner.

“He brought his wisdom and energy, and that of the institutions he led, to serve the greater global cause, in particular, through his meaningful contribution to the United Nations Academic Impact.

“The eloquence of Michael Adams’ scholarship and writing had a democratic, inter-generational appeal, which brought the power and promise of the United Nations home to so many in a world whose globalisation he saw as a resource of strength and possibility.

“He will be deeply missed.”

Adams also served as a governing council member of the United Nations University, a national council member of the US United Nations Association, a steering committee member of the World Bank’s Researchers Alliance for Development, and an editorial advisory board member for International Educator, the bimonthly magazine of NAFSA: Association of International Educators.

He also built up a partnership with Microsoft with which IAUP organised an academic summit on the effective use of technology to address institutional challenges.

Adams was very excited about this initiative, saying it would one day allow academics in different countries to communicate with each other in their own languages, while technology would facilitate mutual instant translation.

“He was, even before his presidency, really actively putting these things in place which he never really got to bring to fruition,” said Neal King, IAUP secretary-general who temporarily assumes the leadership of IAUP until its board of directors meets at the next regional meeting in Tblisi, Georgia, in October.

“With two years left in this presidency, the most immediate task is continuity and not skipping a beat. We have built membership of IAUP by a third since the triennial [last year] and we want to continue doing that. We would like to hand over a very strong membership to the next presidency,” Neal told University World News on Friday.

“Those of us who have now inherited the IAUP leadership upon his death are fully committed to continuing pursuit of his vision as we honour his rich legacy, so that IAUP increasingly becomes a force for cultural understanding, and for using higher education as a means for enhancing world peace and convening opinion-makers and policy-makers and using the collective power of university presidency in that way.”

“Michael Adams understood that higher education has the potential to be a transformative force for good in the world – but only when its leaders are able to make their case effectively. He was an inspiration and a mentor to many of us, who will deeply miss his dynamic leadership,” said King.

Among the many strategic partnerships Adams initiated was one between IAUP and University World News, forged in June 2011 at Farleigh Dickinson University’s UK campus, the ancient and tranquil 18th century Jacobean Campus at Wroxton Abbey, Oxfordshire.

* Donations are being accepted for the J Michael Adams Scholarships in Global Education at Fairleigh Dickinson University. Contact Executive Director of Development Susan McConville: Email: mcconvil@fdu or visit http://www.myfdu.net/jma.
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