Spectral Talent (who seems to be a faculty member and who ought to join us as an (anonymous) author) writes:

It does appear that he [Adam Falk] has not appointed an independent committee. However, from his lengthy discussions about his plans at two faculty meetings, one of which was devoted entirely to this topic, it is clear that he has spent a great deal of time hammering out these ideas with present and past senior staff (with the present senior staff appearing to be strongly in favor of the plan). It is also clear that he and others have looked closely at what other institutions are doing and that that has informed his own ideas here. Finally, he is not “just announcing the decisions that he has already made.” Rather, he is spending hours of time getting input from the full faculty on those plans before presenting them to the trustees. Will he change his plans based on these discussions? Who knows? But at least he is having them.

1) Alas, my descriptions of Falk’s actions are coming across more critically than I intended. I simply wanted to note that, unlike Morty with athletic admissions and student housing, there has been no independent committee or formal survey of peer institutions. And that might be a very good thing! Perhaps it is about time that a Williams president exercised more executive energy. I just wanted to point out how surprising I, and others, found it. I have no doubt that Falk and others have thought long and hard about this topic and that they have excellent reasons.

2) Now that we have solved the Form 990 issue, the next step in my endless transparency crusade is to make faculty meetings more transparent. How to do so? Simple:

  • Post on the Dean of the Faculty’s webpage any material (handouts, Powerpoint slides, et cetera) that are distributed/shown at (or before) the meeting.
  • Post the notes from faculty meetings. (These are currently (corrections welcome) distributed to department/program chairs and are also available to any faculty member for review.)

Related thread here. Within the context of this greater transparency, it would be fine to withhold some sensitive material (perhaps about compensation, perhaps in reference to a specific student). My proposal is for 95%, not that 100%, of the handouts/slides/notes. If this were done now, then it would be easier for the larger Williams community (especially students, staff and alumni) who are not (and can not be) at the faculty meeting to appreciate the work that Falk (and others) have put into this proposal. Thanks to spectraltalent for bringing this to our attention.

On the larger point of the need for more transparency, who can argue with Professor Frank Morgan?

Our mission and purpose (which can be found online at www.williams.edu/home/mission) not only justify our best decisions but also mandate a more open decision process, in which we can practice what we preach about the free exchange of ideas leading to better understanding, more ideas and better solutions. Such open exchange of ideas, one of our core values, however inconvenient, deserves and requires our commitment, especially because it is sometimes inconvenient.

Exactly correct.

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