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FDU President Diagnosed with Cancer, Announces Retirement

J. Michael Adams has been on medical leave since October.

President J. Michael Adams announced Wednesday he would step down in June after ongoing medical issues have made it impossible for him to lead the school.

Adams, 64, , which impacts bone marrow and impairs blood production. In a message to the university, Adams said he was later diagnosed with a cancer known as acute myeloid leukemia.

“Since I was named president 13 years ago, I have done everything I could to serve our amazing students. The opportunity to work with all of you has been the greatest joy of my professional life. However, I have reluctantly concluded that my continuing medical issues make it impossible for me to provide the leadership that you and our students deserve,” a message from Adams said.

Adams will retire June 30 and the University's Board of Trustees will begin a national search for a new president, the message said. Shelley Drucker, who has served as acting president since Adams went on leave, will become interim president during the search. 

“I will always be grateful for the opportunity to have served as Fairleigh Dickinson’s sixth president. It was a dream come true,” the message said.

During Adams' tenure, FDU has seen increased enrollment, a new mission and the development of a new campus in Vancouver, according to a university statement.

“J. Michael Adams has transformed Fairleigh Dickinson University, and the entire University community expresses its appreciation and gratitude for his extraordinary leadership,” Board of Trustees Chairman Patrick J. Zenner said in the statement.

Adams became president of FDU in 1999 after serving as dean of Drexel University’s College of Design Arts in Philadelphia. He oversaw the opening of FDU’s campus in Vancouver, British Colombia, and has led the development of the school’s international mission. He also serves as president of the International Association of University Presidents and has authored several books.

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