Fri 23 Jan 2009
My section, the Report to the Faculty, Administration, Trustees, & the Students of Williams by an Evaluation Team representing the Commission on Institutions of Higher Education of the New England Association of Schools and Colleges Prepared after study of the institution’s self-evaluation report and a visit to the campus October 28-31, 2007 for decennial reaffirmation of accreditation…. I think you get the idea!
I am going to give you the “in compliance with NEASC’s Standards of Accreditation” as seen through the eyes of a townie who reads Ephblog, townie synopsis version.
The members of the team were: Chairperson: James Wright, President, Dartmouth College, Hanover, NH, Christina M. Bertoni, Professor, Rhode Island School of Design, Lincoln, RI, Gregory S. Call, Dean of the Faculty, Amherst College, Amherst, MA, Janet Smith Dickerson, Vice President for Campus Life, Princeton University, Princeton, NJ, Micheline E. Jedrey, Vice President for Information Services, Wellesley College, Wellesley, MA, Charles H. Long, Deputy Provost of the University, Yale University, New Haven, CT, Jeffrey S. Solomon, Vice President Finance & Operations, Worcester Polytechnic Institute, Worcester, MA, Elaine C. Wong, Senior Associate Dean of Arts and Sciences, Brandeis University
The report reviewed the self eval standards we have ben blogging about this CGCL.
Standard 1: Mission and Purposes, Standard 2: Planning and Evaluation, Standard 3: Organization and Governance, Standard 4: Academic Program, Standard 5: Faculty, Standard 6: Students, Standard 7: Library and Other Information Resources, Standard 8: Physical and Technological Resources, Standard 9: Financial Resources, Standard 10: Public Disclosure, Standard 11: Integrity
Introduction (What we already know because we blog here)
Williams has one of the strongest undergraduate programs in the country, according to this team, and of course, USA today.
Standard 1: Mission and Purposes:
The Williams College Board of Trustees adopted their most recent mission statement in April of 2007.
Townie Version: Someone drank the coolaid about vision and mission statements…
Ephblog version: What a waste of money.
Standard 2: Planning and Evaluation Planning
Through the self-study and our review, we found evidence that planning and evaluation at Williams is data-driven, appropriate, and used to improve institutional effectiveness and the teaching and learning mission of the institution. Faculty, students, and trustees are involved through participation in planning committees; faculty and trustees also receive frequent administrative reports. The Williams Campaign, a five-year $400 million effort that began its public phase in 2003. The campaign’s major initiatives included support for an expansion of the tutorial program, experiential learning, and interdisciplinary team teaching; thirty new faculty positions; new construction for Sawyer Library and Stetson Hall, humanities/social science offices and classrooms, a new center for theater and dance, etc. The team encourages Williams to consider the benefits that might be gained from the development of a master plan for campus facilities, which integrates planning for recent construction, the new residence neighborhoods, and new athletic and recreational facilities.
Townie version: No master plan for facilities? No shit Sherlock!
Ephblog version: Uncontrolled growth supports local jobs!
In addition, a review of the “peoples and cultures” general education requirement brought about the evolution to a new “Exploring Diversity” requirement to debut in 2008-09, with a full review of the new requirement planned for 2013.
The second major change is the creation of the position of Vice President for Strategic Planning and Institutional Diversity to coordinate the many initiatives on diversity.
Standard 3: Organization and governance.
The connections between senior administration and the staff of the institution are not as deep or as regular, but lines of communication are maintained thorough such devices as annual meetings between staff and key administrators and more formal mechanisms for staff discourse represented by the President’s Administrative Group and the Staff Council, which meets with the Director of Human Resources. Williams also participates in the Management Development Series, to which it sends eight to ten managers a year for staff development.
Townie Version: Rigging the boilers.
Standard 4: Academic Program
Exceptional in its breadth and excellence, the academic program of Williams College meets even the most stringent expectations and sets a standard of leadership for liberal arts colleges in the United States. The Peoples and Culture requirement, which was criticized by some students and faculty for being ambiguously defined, will be replaced by the Exploring Diversity Initiative (EDI) in 2008-09. Although cultural diversity remains a major focus, the EDI purposefully includes economic, religious, and political diversity among others.
Townie Version: Drink at legion, you will find diversity.
A signature of the College’s commitment to small classes, the tutorial program has been a locus of growth since the faculty voted to expand tutorial offerings in 2001. From a low of 21 tutorials in 2000-01, the program nearly tripled to 62 offerings in 2006-07, and then declined slightly to 54 tutorials planned for 2007-08.
Student response to the tutorial program, as measured not only by enrollment increases butalso by student course surveys (SCS, which are administered at the conclusion of the semester in every course) is especially encouraging.
The College has identified creativity in student learning as a special challenge, a newerconcern on which Williams and most liberal arts institutions have not focused in a systematic or comprehensive way. While specific assessments of how well students have been “taught” creativity may remain elusive, there are numerous examples of creative student work at Williams supported by specific faculty efforts In only its fourth semester of operation, the Williams in New York program will be formally reviewed in 2007-08. These “learning-by-doing” opportunities may be described as both experiential and creative. The College also sponsors off-campus programs in Mystic and at Exeter College of the University of Oxford, each of which has been notably strengthened over the last five years. The Williams-Mystic Program is staffed by two Williams faculty members in residence, one of whom is the Program Director.
Summer programs: Summer Science (SS), established in 1987, and Summer Humanities and SocialScience (SHSS), created in 2000. Both programs last five weeks and are open to all matriculating African American, Latina/o, Native American, and first-generation-college students. Through course offerings designed to resemble the first-year courses that many entering students take and through introductions to key faculty, staff and upperclassmen, the programs seek to facilitate the academic transition to Williams. through a study to be undertaken by the Director of Institutional Research and the staffs of the SS and SHSS programs this year, will provide valuable data. Evidence oftangible success in improving academic performance through these pre-enrollment programs would be of great interest to many peer institutions. By sustaining a culture of critical review, together with the remarkable commitment of its faculty, Williams should maintain an academic program that continues to evolve while exemplifying the finest in liberal arts education.
Townie version: A culture of critical review?
Ephblog version: I want to punch you in the face!
Standard 5: Faculty
The pride that Williams College takes in its Faculty and the privileged position it holds was amply confirmed by this visit to the College, with faculty, and with administrators. All pre-tenure faculty have a year or more leave prior to their tenure review to devote to professional work. Funds are also available through departments and Deans for travel and research, although that amount has not increased in six years. We suggest that the College consider meaningful increases to the funds for professional activities. The members of the Williams faculty are professionally productive and win numerous fellowships and prizes as well as publish widely.
Townie Note: The visiting professor program, the most controversial program at Williams, was not mentioned?
Ephblog version: Faculty are overpaid. Plenty to cut, cut cut!
The College has identified diversity among students, faculty, and staff, as a major priority. This concern is widespread, shared, and focused and includes women, in addition to race and ethnicity, as under-represented groups. To that end they have undertaken many significant initiatives and programs such as a new position of Vice President for Strategic Planning and Institutional Diversity, a part-time Associate Dean for Institutional Diversity, as well as the creation and strengthening of programs such as Latino/Latina Studies, Africana Studies, and American Studies, and a number of professional development initiatives. The faculty identify and the College recognizes the unique location of the College as a continuing and serious factor in the attraction, hiring, and retention of faculty, many with professionally active spouses/partners who have considerable difficulty finding appropriate and satisfying employment locally.
Townie Version: Faculty does not cares if they teach French at MGRHS.
Ephlbog note: How come no mention of SAT scores and race?
c. Senior and Emeritus Faculty
The College has devoted serious attention to the senior and retiring faculty, seeking to find effective and meaningful ways to support, encourage, include, and recognize their ongoing professional and teaching interests. We commend this initiative.
Ephblog note: Cost analysis is needed, then cut this program.
Townie version: Use the money from cuts to increase the pay of B&G.
Standard 6: Students
Williams College has established Admissions and Financial Aid processes that assure the identification, recruitment, admission, and matriculation of students of extraordinary talent and ability. The vast majority of Williams College undergraduates reside on campus. Residential life is organized around entryways with upper-class students, Junior Advisors or “JAs”, serving as the primary peer advisors for first-year students. The JAs have traditionally been an autonomous, self-selecting group who receive no compensation (neither stipend nor housing) for their volunteer efforts. As described by administrators and students, they are primarily responsible for the transition of freshmen into “the Williams culture.” A primary goal of Orientation is to develop a strong bond among the students in each entryway. Each entryway includes about 20 students who are randomly assigned. Students note that Williams is small enough for intimate interactions, too small to be anonymous. Students are actively involved in governance, and take special pride in their opportunities for leadership and influence over College policy. They work collaboratively with the deans on most issues of interest, including such perennial concerns as alcohol policy. They lead the Honor System Committee and share leadership of the Discipline Committee. In the past five years, Williams has made numerous improvements to the quality of campus life. Several residence halls have been renovated or restored. The new Paresky Center, opened last year, is a popular gathering place for students from across the community. The reorganization of upper-class housing into four ‘neighborhoods’, in its second year of implementation, is intended to reduce the balkanization among groups that was an undesirable consequence of the room selection process in the previous housing system. Resources have been added—most notably additional staff in the recently established
Campus Life department and additional program funding for campus-based events.Significant intentional efforts are underway to maximize the benefits of the growingdiversity within the student body: new cultural groups have been recognized and nurtured, faith communities are receiving expanded institutional support, and the College’s diversity initiatives have been centralized under a new Vice President for Strategic Planning and Institutional Diversity. That office’s strategic plan has identified areas for improvement in the recruitment and retention of faculty, staff, coaches, and students from underrepresented backgrounds.
Townie Question: Can anyone give me a two paragraph brief on why ‘neighborhoods’ suck? I mean, almost everyone who blogs here seems to think neighborhoods suck… but I have never gotten the brief skinny on exactly why and how badly … thanks.
The evaluation team recognizes what others may not. Tips are important for the diverse diversity that diversity initiatives demand within the diverse world and diverse culture at Williams. Every intense cultural diversity initiative and hyper charged fantasm of fantastic diversity that serves to diversify the intense multicultural diversity of race, religion, sexual orientation and/ or all of the previously mentioned including class and yes, even athletic affiliation or “townie ism” needs that jock or a townie for the good of the academic curve in order to serve diversity for the newly created Presidential Initiative on Diversity (PID) and the “Standard Test for Diversity” or STD.
Townie Version: I can get into Williams? Not a chance in hell!
Standard 7: Library and Other Information
The institution demonstrates sufficient and appropriate information resources and service sand instructional and information technology and utilizes them to support its mission. The College has made significant progress towards addressing the identified deficiencies of the Sawyer Library facility. Cramped study spaces and confusing collections sequencing in the current building will be replaced by a more open and inviting Library building.
Townie Note: I used to play dungeons and dragons as a teen in the old library…
Standard 8: Physical and Technological Resources
Williams College maintains a large and well-maintained rural campus with more than 170 buildings aggregating approximately 2.5 million square feet of space. Buildings range from academic and administrative to athletic, residential, and support space The College has made significant investments in its facilities over the past 10 years and has aggressive plans to continue to add buildings in accordance with its strategic plan. The College added a new theatre and dance facility, a student center, affordable housing for junior faculty, renovated science and laboratory facilities and student residence and dining facilities and upgraded core support infrastructure. Over the next four years the College expects to add several new facilities including academic classroom and office buildings, renovated athletics and fitness facilities, and a new library in furtherance of its strategic plan. The College is now considering sustainable design as an important consideration and objective of new major building projects. All of these activities have been planned through an inclusive process focusing on long-term strategic goals and objectives. Williams College’s financial condition is strong, anchored by its significant endowment resources.
Townie note: Rentals and other Investment properties were not mentioned.
Townie version: Why none of my friends can no longer afford no house in town.
Ephlbog version: Don’t mess with the Donald!
Standard 9: Financial Resources
Townie Version: Williams is richer than god!
Ephblog version: Williams is bankrupt!
Standard 10: Public Disclosure
In presenting itself to students, prospective students, and other members of the interested public, Williams College provides information that is complete, accurate, accessible, clear, and sufficient for intended audiences to make informed decisions. The College provides both print publications and online resources to inform the campus community, prospective students, and the public. The primary print resources are the Williams College Bulletin, the Student Handbook, and the Prospectus…..
Townie version: Williams is city hall.
Standard 11: Integrity
Williams College has articulated its commitment to integrity and fairness in many places, including the College Bulletin, the Student Handbook, the Faculty, Administrative Staff and Support Staff Handbooks, in several places on the College website, and in the published Guidelines for Contractors. The Self-Study describes the ways in which the College has codified its principles and policies in all of the important areas: grievance procedures are in place; the College’s commitment to free speech is well advertised and has been upheld when challenged; the academic honor system and codes of conduct are published in the Student Handbook and are regularly reviewed and fully endorsed by the academic community.
Townie Note: The creepy boyfriends, students building bombs, Wile e N word super penis, the poop on walls, hitler weed leaf posters and townies acting weird on campus were noticibly absent from the report.
Institutional Effectiveness Summary
1. Williams College seeks to provide one of the best liberal arts educations in the world and….. we are the world!
1. The team was pleased with the greater coordination around the planning effort especially as President Schapiro moves forward with the planning for 2020. The team would encourage the president and his senior staff to move from modeling to conversations with the faculty, and indeed the whole community, about WilliamsCollege’s strategic goals in a changing environment.
2. As Williams continues to build and develop its campus, the development of a campus master plan with a more detailed assessment of the life cycles of different types of buildings and their replacement costs would be a valuable exercise. The College is to be praised for its current practice of putting aside 2 percent of the value of buildings, but the replacement costs of some buildings will likely be considerably more than this.
3. The team was encouraged by the movement toward a more transparent and formal budgeting system. The College could be still more rigorous in establishing the truecost of the various new initiatives, which will in turn require more careful prioritization.
Ha! Maybe David is right after all!
4. The team was impressed with the faculty and the support they receive including agenerous teaching load and strong benefits and compensation packages. Faculty generally expressed appreciation of the support they received, but the team has some concerns about the need for more resources for individual research, professional development, and other professional activities. The team would also urge the administration and faculty to review the number of faculty committees and the time commitment required of faculty on these committees.
5. The committee hopes that the administration will also continue to pursue the development of a diverse faculty and staff. Williams has the resources to be able to attract and support the very best faculty from diverse backgrounds.
6. The College also needs to develop a more robust spousal and partner hiring policy, although the team recognized that Williams’ size and location will make this difficult to accomplish.
Wow. This was a dry read… I wanted to bang my head against the wall several times… but it brought back a lot of memories of Ephblog. I have to say, I thought the final “concerns” were a bit watered down. The team was very careful to avoid controversy. The good old multicultural boys evaluated the good old multicultural boys.
Let me preface what I am about to write by stating that Williams is not the evil empire. In many ways, the town and the college are joined as one entity. Overall, Williams has had a positive impact on Williamstown. Having said that…
A sociological minority is not necessarily a numerical minority — it may include any group that is subnormal with respect to a dominant group in terms of social status, education, employment, wealth and political power.
The college and its evaluator’s concentration kept issues within the purple bubble. There is an underprivileged class that surrounds the ivory towers of Williams college. This minority is seldom if ever the subject of exploring diversity initiatives and diversity forums. The working poor sink into the shadows, invisible as they serve food, mow lawns, shovel sidewalks and clean dorms.
Those that have the capacity and the ability to receive a Williams’s education are the privileged elite. The minority currently struggles to exist in Williamstown, because of the socio economic gentrification pushed by that dominant group.
The report is self absorbed.
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