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Administrative Matters

from: Adam Falk
to: WILLIAMS STUDENTS
date: Mon, Dec 21, 2009 at 2:08 PM
subject: Administrative Announcement

To the Williams Community,

Greetings from Baltimore. As the fall term winds down and April 1 approaches, I’m eager to be with you more regularly. As the next step, I’ll be focused on Williams matters generally one day a week, often in Williamstown, from January through March.

In other transition news, I’m pleased to update you on the terms of service of the faculty’s senior administrators.

Karen Merrill has decided that her term as Dean of the College should end as planned this June 30th. I’m impressed by the dedication and care that she’s brought to this position. She certainly can return to fulltime teaching and research with a deep sense of satisfaction. I’ll be consulting with the Faculty Steering Committee on selecting her successor.

Following consultation with the Committee, I’ve asked Bill Wagner and Bill Lenhart to serve as Dean of the Faculty and Provost, respectively, through the 2010-11 academic year, and they have agreed. I hope you’ll join me in thanking them for the distinguished service they’ll continue to provide to the Williams community in these roles, and in the case of Bill Wagner for his exceptional and ongoing responsibilities as Interim President.

Andrea Danyluk will remain Acting Dean of the Faculty until Bill Wagner resumes those duties April 1. To her, as well, we are all grateful.

Williams is fortunate to have faculty willing and able to fill these important and demanding roles. It’s one of the many reasons why I’m so looking forward to joining this remarkable community.

Regards,
Adam Falk
President-elect

(thanks to ’10 for posting)

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#1 Comment By hwc On December 21, 2009 @ 5:26 pm

Hmmmm. Interesting.

#2 Comment By Parent ’12 On December 21, 2009 @ 7:24 pm

What are the responsibilities of Williams Dean of the College?

What areas does the person oversee?

And, which department will Dean Merrill return to?

#3 Comment By Ronit On December 21, 2009 @ 7:33 pm

@Parent ’12: Merrill is a history prof.

The Dean of the College runs the college, pretty much.

#4 Comment By ’10 On December 21, 2009 @ 8:34 pm

Kind of interesting to think that, between Profs. Wagner and Merrill on one hand and Lenhart and Danyluk on the other, right now the College is being run entirely by historians and computer scientists. As far as disciplines go, we could probably do a lot worse.

#5 Comment By hwc On December 21, 2009 @ 9:05 pm

At Williams, the Dean of the College is the Dean of Students, responsible for student life, study abroad, writing programs, discipline, catching students falling thru the cracks, etc.

The Dean of Faculty is the Faculty, curriculum, departments side of things.

The Provost is the executive vice president position at Williams — finance, planning, etc.

#6 Comment By hwc On December 22, 2009 @ 12:13 pm

So the white male Pres keeps the white male Provost and the white male Dean of Faculty and sends the female Dean of the College packing from the inner sanctorum.

#7 Comment By Ronit On December 22, 2009 @ 12:20 pm

@hwc: Your comment reminds me of a conversation I had with some Jewish friends when we tried to determine when exactly American Jews became white.

#8 Comment By JeffZ On December 22, 2009 @ 12:51 pm

Wow, well done HWC … you actually beat the “over” on a gender related comment on this thread, I thought it would be within ten minutes. But if nothing else is clear about Williams, it is obvious that the insitution wants nothing to do with any minorities or women and will do whatever possible to make itself an enclave for white males. Thanks for helping us dense readers (not to mention the apparently dense female trustees, executive committe members, faculty members, students, prospectives, prominent alums, mothers of students, student leaders, and so on, all of whom are apparently blind to the gender-related bias that only you see as infecting the institution). I’m actually surprised Williams hasn’t just gone ahead and hire Larry Summers, because I am not sure Falk has displayed enough overt hostility to women to really fit in at this enclave of male domination.

I’m not sure which is more annoying, those on this blog who continuously bitch about anything and everything Williams does to promote diversity, or those who, on the other hand, read an individious motive into any occasion on which a female is not picked for a particular position at the college. I’ll just call it a tie.

#9 Comment By hwc On December 22, 2009 @ 1:01 pm

It is what it is.

#10 Comment By hwc On December 22, 2009 @ 1:06 pm

…because I am not sure Falk has displayed enough overt hostility to women to really fit in at this enclave of male domination

The jury is still out. We’ll have to see how he does. His comments on “diversity” at his welcome speech were a comprehensive fail. Now, his first personnel decision is to keep the two white dudes and send the woman back.

I judge the actions. Surely, Falk will move to keep at least some minimum diversity in the top-level administration at Williams.

#11 Comment By rory On December 22, 2009 @ 1:24 pm

@hwc: feels like the judgement should come after he announces a replacement (what happens when it’s another woman? or even a non-white woman!). We also don’t know if he canned her or she left the administrative post because she didn’t want to stay an administrator (which happens). Perhaps, if they all wanted to return to the classroom, he did her the favor of being the only one he let leave:)

#12 Comment By hwc On December 22, 2009 @ 6:03 pm

…feels like the judgement should come after he announces a replacement (what happens when it’s another woman?

If he appoints a woman, then Williams will have what it has always had, three white males in the three top positions and a token woman in the dean of students position.

It is what it is.

#13 Comment By Parent ’12 On December 22, 2009 @ 6:08 pm

First, thanks for clarification about the role of Dean of the College, who seems to oversee the other Deans, who in turn, are point people for study abroad, etc.

Second, I guess, per JeffZ’s description, I’m one of those “dense readers.” It might be my parent status or gender showing, but I took what was written at face value. If I were to speculate about behind the scenes, Falk might not have been able to persuade Merrill to extend her term. I read “end as planned” as just that. I don’t know how long she’s been Dean, but it sounds like a position vulnerable to burn-out.

#14 Comment By Ronit On December 22, 2009 @ 6:10 pm

I don’t know anyone else who would describe Nancy Roseman or Karen Merrill as tokens.

#15 Comment By hwc On December 22, 2009 @ 6:37 pm

Dean Merrill was in her first term as Dean. I haven’t found the exact date she took over from Roseman, but it was after the cluster housing implemnentation.

I take Falk’s announcement at face value, too. He writes that he asked the two while males to stay on in their positions. He does not say he asked Merrill to stay on.

#16 Comment By hwc On December 22, 2009 @ 7:21 pm

At many schools, the Dean of Students or Dean of the College is a full time position, filled by national searches from among the ranks of Deans who are deans for decades, often at different schools. Williams has a tradition of filling all three top admin posts (Provost, Dean of Faculty, Dean of College) from the Williams faculty.

Nancy Roseman was the previous Dean. She served seven years from 2000 to 2007. Dean Merrill took over in the summer of 2007. She is in her third year:

2007-08
2008-09
2009-10

#17 Comment By rory On December 22, 2009 @ 7:38 pm

@hwc: he also says Merrill decided not to stay. If we’re going to parse terminology, let’s parse it all.

#18 Comment By hwc On December 22, 2009 @ 8:46 pm

There’s no point in arguing wether she “quit” or “was fired”. I think we’ve all seen enough politely worded announcmenents to knwow that we will never know.

What we know is that, as of June 1st, the top three jobs at Wiliams College will be filled by white males, maintaining the status quo as it has been for over 200 years now.

I suspect that many in the Williams community will be watching Falk to see if he has any intention of walking the walk on diversity. Right now, he has to fill the Dean’s position with a woman just to get back to the status quo.

It is what it is.

#19 Comment By hwc On December 23, 2009 @ 1:52 pm

Since all we have to go on with Falk is a short tenure as Dean at Johns Hopkins, it is pretty easy to evaluate the sum total of his efforts in hiring a diverse high-level staff.

Here’s is the leadership of the School of Arts and Sciences at Hopkins:

Andrew Falk’s leadership team

Let’s get easy part out of the way first. I do not believe there is a single non-white minorty member of Falk’s manangement team. No African-American, no Asian American, no apparent Latino/a.

Now, let’s go down the list:

Dean of Faculty David Bell (white male) was appointed to the position by Falk in 2007.

Dean of Reasearch and Graduate Education Gregory Ball (white male) was appointed to the position by Falk in 2007.

Dean of Undergrad Education Paula Burger (white female) predates Falk, taking on the Dean’s responsibilities in 2002. She remains and has been a Vice-Provost of the entire university since 1993 — 16 years. She is currently Vice Provost for Academic Affairs for the University. I don’t think Falk had the power to get rid of her.

Dean of Undergrad Education Paula Burger (white female) predates Falk, taking on the Dean’s responsibilities in 2002. She remains and has been a Vice-Provost of the entire university since 1993 — 16 years. She is currently Vice Provost for Academic Affairs for the University. I don’t think Falk had the power to get rid of her.

Dean of Student Life Susan Boswell (white female) She’s been Dean of Students or Dean of Student Life since 1988 — over 20 years. Predates Falk.

Dean of Admissions William Conley (white male) predates Falk, taking on the Dean’s responsibilities in 2002.

Dean of External Affairs Sylvia Eggleston Wehr
(white female) Falk’s only female hire, in 2007. She had been Director of Development at the School of Public Health since 1885 and is a prominent member of boards across the state such as Planned Parenthood, the Episcopal Archdiocese. She also She’s been Dean of Students or Dean of Student Life since 1988 — over 20 years. Predates Falk.

Dean of Finance Fred Puddster(white male) appointed by Falk in 2007, replacing a female dean who retired from the position after 18 years.

Taken as a whole. It is hard to argue that Falk has walked the walk on diversity hiring during his short tenure at Hopkins. Three of the four key positions he’s filled have been white males. The fourth was filled by a female with 22 years of clout in a similar position at another Hopkins school and may or may not have been Falk’s choice.

One woman. No minorities. It is what it is. So when I ask about his first personnel moves at Williams (two white males stay, one female leaves, no minorities), I think those are legitimate questions. There’s not a lot of “walk the walk” to see. Maybe this is why he stammered his way through the “commitment to diversity” bullet point during his welcome remarks at Williams?

#20 Comment By JeffZ On December 23, 2009 @ 2:16 pm

It’s true, it is what it is. And you are who you are, so any comment you make about gender I, and I imagine almost every Ephblog reader, takes with a grain of salt. Actually, make that a giant boulder of salt. Again, you are who you are, and you say what you say, so we’ll read what we read.

#21 Comment By hwc On December 23, 2009 @ 2:21 pm

Jeff:

Duly noted that you are not trying to argue that Falk had an immpressive track record on diversity hiring at Hopkins. Prove me wrong.

#22 Comment By JeffZ On December 23, 2009 @ 2:55 pm

Whenever someone working with Falk is a woman, she is according to you foisted upon him. Whenever someone working with Falk is a man, it is totally his choice. Whenever a woman working with Falk quits, it is by his choice alone, because God knows, women are incapable of making choices for themselves. Whenever a man is retained, it is likewise solely because of Falk’s will. This is the sum total of your “analysis.” And any future analysis by you on gender issues will proceed in exactly the same fashion. It is worthless and totally governed by your pre-existing bias, and not worth anyone’s time even to address. I am done addressing it, that is for sure. I’ll judge Falk by his actual track record at Williams, once he actually starts working there, and has been there long enough to make a reasoned commentary. And that is all.

#23 Comment By rory On December 23, 2009 @ 3:08 pm

so it seems like if anyone should be irritated at Falk’s hiring record, it’d be me as i’m the token advocate for racial diversity on this board (if you get to claim the mantle of gender nose-counting, i claim racial nose-counting) and not you. he hired a woman and his top staff is 3/7th female.

the sample size is still pretty damn small.

the line flubbing, honestly, is more telling than these small sample hiring rates.

#24 Comment By hwc On December 23, 2009 @ 4:36 pm

…the sample size is still pretty damn small.

I agree. His administrative experience is thin. I suppose that Avis and the search committee must have seen something else that led them to believe Falk would provide strong leadership on diversity at Williams.

#25 Comment By Derek On December 24, 2009 @ 6:59 pm

hwc –
I’m afraid your ax is grinding at a rate far faster than the evidence allows. The statement reads, quite clearly, “Karen Merrill has decided that her term as Dean of the College should end as planned this June 30th.” The decision to step down was hers and the expiration of her term antedates the new prez’s arrival. The gender makeup of the administration that Adam Falk inherits has nothing to do with Adam Falk. (And it seems rather bizarre, sexist even, to deny agency to Karen Merrill to imply that either the decision is not hers or that she could be talked out of it. Who’s anti-woman now?)

It’s all well and good to assert the utterly meaningless phrase “it is what it is” but not if you either are unclear about or simply have decided to misrepresent what “it” “is”.

dcat

#26 Comment By hwc On December 24, 2009 @ 9:33 pm

I make no judgement about why Merrill is stepping down. Maybe Falk encouraged her to. Maybe she hated being Dean. Maybe she is a horrible Dean. Maybe she can’t stand Falk. Maybe Falk can’t stand her. Maybe the commute from Amherst was just too much. I have no idea and nothing in the rather bland statement provides much clue.

Therefore, I simply view diversity hiring at the top levels of the administration as a black box. I look at inputs and outputs and attempt to draw conclusions about the nature of the black box. The only conclusion I can draw is that Williams doesn’t walk the walk as energetically as it talks the talk in Ad Hoc Diversity Reports.

#27 Comment By hwc On December 24, 2009 @ 9:35 pm

BTW, the “evidence” is as follows:

President (white male)
Provost (white male)
Dean of Faculty (white male)

As far as I know, none of those three positions have ever been filled by someone other than a white male.

#28 Comment By Derek On December 25, 2009 @ 2:45 am

hwc —
So if this is how it always has been, how is this Falk’s fault? (What position did Professor/Dean Edwards, a woman, hold?)
And again: What sort of sexist denies agency to women in the administrative ranks in academia? The burden is on you to present countervailing evidence if you are not going to take the statement that Merrill is stepping down of her own choice and as per the terms of her contract at face value. No one is disputing the makeup of the Williams admin (or celebrating it — you’re not the hero you think you are, hwc, seriously) but you asserted that the white male President is keeping the white male administrators while getting rid of Merrill despite the only evidence we have being that this was Merrill’s decision to make. This is basic argumentation, hwc — if you have other evidence you should present it, but you don’t just get to disregard facts that we do have and substitute them with your own speculation as if all things are equal. YOU have asserted that Falk has done something untoward here, and yet you have shown not one scintilla of evidence that this is so. Pretty slimy.

dcat

#29 Comment By mich On December 25, 2009 @ 6:23 am

I happen to know that being Dean was shit job over the last few years and that that was a good enough reason to want to go. From what I have heard from the concerned parties, this was a purely personal decision. Give her some credit — not everyone wants to put their scholarship on hold for seven years.

Also, the provost was a white female in 2006 — Cappy Hill went on to become the President of Vassar. Nancy McIntyre was the vice-President for ages, and retired in 2005/06.

And yes hwc, you know you’re pushing it when rory thinks you’re going too far.

#30 Comment By sam On December 25, 2009 @ 11:51 am

Suzanne Graver has been Dean of Faculty. Cappy Hill was Provost…

#31 Comment By sam On December 25, 2009 @ 11:53 am

… and DL Smith was Dean of Faculty…

#32 Comment By hwc On December 25, 2009 @ 1:36 pm

How could I forget Cappy Hill (slapping forehead…). Duh. She should have been a candidate for the Williams presidency, IMO. I’m told that she was never seriously considered, although I have no idea if that was because Williams didn’t consider her or because she took her name out of the hat right away.

DCAT: you must have confused me with someone else. I never said that Merrill’s departure wasn’t at her urging. I specifically said that I don’t know how all that went down. I don’t particularly care. I’m interested in the results under Falk. Either Williams will have diversity at the top levels of his administration or it won’t.

#33 Comment By jeffz On December 25, 2009 @ 1:47 pm

HWC, you are only interested in results that confirm your preexisting disposition to believe that every action taken by Williams is sexist. You will point out any example of a white male getting a job, and ignore any example of a anyone else serving in a position, or find some tortured explanation that still fits into your biased viewpoint. As has been amply demonstrated by this thread, and the utter evisceration here by Sam, Dcat, Mich, Rory, Ronit, etc., a group of posters who rarely reach consensus on anything — but it’s not hard to reach consensus when calling out ridiculous misstatements.

#34 Comment By hwc On December 25, 2009 @ 2:35 pm

you are only interested in results that confirm your preexisting disposition to believe that every action taken by Williams is sexist.

Not really. I was eager for Williams College to hire its first female president and end any speculation that the College might be sexist in hiring 200+ years of white male Presidents. I won’t give the Williams Board credit for diversity in the President’s hiring because they have yet to earn that credit. They may or may not have had valid reasons, but the bottom-line is that the hired another white male and one with little administrative experience.

If Falk hires a woman or minority for the one of the four top positions in the administration, I will give him credit. If he doesn’t, I won’t. His track record on diveristy hiring at Hopkins couldn’t be described as stellar.