Williams held a faculty/staff townhall on May 26. Kudos to the college for its transparency in making a replay (and transcript) of the event available, including (on purpose?) to the public. The Record, which has been excellent throughout 2020, did not provide coverage. Let’s discuss for a week.

This, being EphBlog, let’s start with the snark.

1) Funniest line, repeated twice!

“Fred, you’re muted.”

Does it give you warm feelings of confidence in Williams’ finances that, 10 weeks into working remotely, Fred Puddester does not know how to use Zoom?

2) Do the social media folks at Williams not like senior staff? This photo from the Zoom session is not . . . uh . . . overly complementary.

3) How long will Jim Kolesar keep feeding at the Williams trough? There is not better example of administrative bloat than Jim Reische being hired to replace Kolesar, and then, three years later, Kolesar is still collecting a salary. This is the sort of stuff that drives faculty nuts.

4) We should add thought bubbles! Above Collette Chilton: “If sitting through this nonsense will get me another $1.2 million from Williams this year, then sit through it I will!” Above Steve Klass: “Only 35 days until July 1.”

5) Darel Paul has made the point that Williams is becoming a matriarchy. Once Klass retires, the ratio of women to men among senior staff will be 6:3, with a 3:1 ratio in the key academic appointments of president/college-dean/faculty-dean/provost. Not that there is anything wrong with that!

Now, on to the substance. From Dean of the College Marlene Sandstrom:

Good stuff. Every elite college is wrestling with these issues.

1) I hope that Sandstrom shares what she discovers through this process. Transparency is good and, if Williams has found some useful techniques, the rest of us would be interested to read about them.

2) The single best change to make in most (large) classes is greater use of Zoom breakout rooms. As soon as the set of students does not fit in a single screen (which happens around 20, depending on monitor size), engagement drops dramatically. But, if you place students in small groups and give them work to do, you can begin to recapture some of the magic of an in-person class.

3) Williams has enough faculty that it ought to just have small in-person classes, regardless of CV-19. No more lectures.

What advice do readers have for Sandstrom?

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