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Announcing our next dean of faculty

To the Williams community,

I am pleased to report that, after consulting with the Faculty Steering Committee, I have offered Professor of Psychology Safa Zaki the position of Dean of the Faculty, and she has accepted. Safa will assume her new role on July 1.

In her 18 years at Williams, Safa has earned broad respect as a collaborative educator and leader and as an advocate for both faculty and staff. She is chair of the Cognitive Science program, a position she has held since 2018, and teaches courses including Experimentation and Statistics; Concepts: Mind, Brain, and Culture; and Great Debates in Cognition. She has also mentored numerous students who have worked with her on her research into how the mind parses the visual world into categories. Her findings have been published in journals including Psychological Science, Psychonomic Bulletin and Review, and the Journal of Experimental Psychology: Learning, Memory and Cognition, and her studies have been funded by the National Institute of Mental Health.

Committed to enhancing the life of the college, as well as the life of the mind, Safa is a member of the Committee on Appointments and Promotions, and has chaired both the Committee on Priorities and Resources and the Faculty Steering Committee. She served on the most recent Presidential Search Committee and is currently a member of two strategic planning groups: the Working Group on Faculty Staff Development, and the Strategic Academic Initiative on Technology and the Liberal Arts. After earning her bachelor’s degree from the American University in Cairo and her Ph.D. in psychology from Arizona State, she joined the Williams faculty in 2002 and was promoted to associate professor in 2005 and then full professor in 2010.

In assuming the Dean of Faculty role, Safa succeeds Denise Buell, who last fall announced her plans to return to teaching and research at the end of this academic year. Over the five years of her deanship, Denise has helped diversify the Williams faculty, expand faculty orientation and professional development offerings, pilot new selection processes for faculty service roles, and create programs to support department and program chairs, among her many contributions. In my first days at Williams, Denise did so much to help me build relationships with our faculty, for which I’m deeply grateful.

I now look forward to working equally closely with Safa. We’re fortunate that someone of her abilities and experience will continue Williams’ tradition of filling senior administrative positions from within the faculty ranks. I want to thank the many faculty members who contributed suggestions to the FSC concerning the selection of the Dean of the Faculty, and to the members of the FSC themselves for their thoughtful counsel.I hope you will join me in congratulating Safa and welcoming her to her new role, in which capacity I know she will work tirelessly to support and advance Williams’ exceptional faculty.

Maud

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Summary of January 2020 Board of Trustees meeting

Dear faculty, staff and students,

The Williams Board of Trustees held their January meeting last Friday and Saturday. I’m pleased to summarize for you some of the topics and votes. Reports from past meetings are always available on the News from the Board website.

Last week’s agenda included the following:

  • On Thursday evening, before the meeting, Trustees joined students for dinner in Mission Park Dining Hall, as part of their continuing efforts to learn about people’s experiences at Williams.
  • On Friday, I provided the board with an overview of the strategic planning process. This included a few early observations from the working groups, as they draft their reports. The completed drafts will be made available to our whole community for consideration in February. I also talked with the Board about key directions that will likely feature in the Strategic Plan itself, which I’ll be developing in the spring.
  • I also gave a routine update on campus matters, including a summary of the statement on inquiry and inclusion, the search for our next Dean of the Faculty, and the ongoing reorganization of offices prompted by Steve Klass’s planned retirement in the summer of 2020.
  • Provost Dukes Love and Vice President for Finance and Administration and Treasurer Fred Puddester discussed approaches for funding emerging ideas in the strategic planning process through the annual budget process and fundraising efforts.
  • Dukes, along with Class of ’56 Director of the Williams College Museum of Art Pam Franks and a team from architectural consultants Deborah Berke Partners talked with the Trustees about developing a plan for a potential new art museum, as well as the ways in which such an effort might intersect with other emerging arts initiatives. This conversation remains hypothetical for now, since the Board will only vote on whether and how to move forward with a building project once all the programming issues have been fully studied. These include questions about the range of opportunities in the arts, connections between a potential Williams arts project and our partners and arts organizations in the region, as well as about the relationship between such a potential project and our overall strategic planning priorities.
  • Associate Vice President for Finance Matt Sheehy and Chief Information Officer Barron Koralesky led an annual update on the college’s risk management efforts, including recent work on business continuity and regulatory compliance. Information Security Officer Andy Powell also presented about our efforts to improve the college’s information security program and better protect our data. Among other news, Barron and Andy reported that we have achieved 100% participation in dual-factor email authentication among students and staff, and 79% among faculty. Before this effort, we logged an average of four compromised accounts per month, whereas since then we haven’t seen anyone compromised. I want to thank everyone who took this important step to help protect yourselves and all of us.
  • Chief Communications Officer Jim Reische introduced Audrey Francis and Jesse Reed, partners from the firms Elastic Strategy and Order, who are helping us update the college’s identity and publications. Audrey and Jesse then described for the Trustees some of the considerations that emerged from their research at Williams last fall.
  • The board confirmed the promotion of six Williams faculty members to associate professor with tenure as of July 1, 2019. See the recent press release for details. Congratulations to our faculty colleagues on their promotions.
  • The board approved the proposal to rename the Center for Development Economics to the “Henry J. Bruton Center for Development Economics.” The naming honors the late Professor Henry Bruton, who served as John J. Gibson Professor of Economics from 1962 until his retirement in 2004.
  • The board approved the granting of honorary degrees during the June 2020 Commencement. As always, the honorees will be announced in March.
  • Chief Investment Officer Collette Chilton reported on our endowment value and returns for the fiscal year to date. She also reported on the college’s impact investing activities, and the Investment Office’s plans to meet the Board’s impact investment goals. The office’s 2019 and prior annual reports are available on their website.
  • Vice President for College Relations Megan Morey reported on fundraising results since the successful July 1 conclusion of our Teach It Forward campaign. One highlight of Megan’s report was news about our new Women’s Giving Society, which is demonstrating philanthropic leadership among Williams alumnae and others.
  • The Trustees also heard updates on college finances and capital projects from Fred Puddester, including early thinking about Davis Center renovations and his report that construction of the North Building of the Science Center remains on schedule and within budget. Fred and our Planning, Design and Construction team will continue carefully managing that project to completion.
Once again, the Board committees did much fine work, as well. You’ll find information about them on the Committees page of the Board website.
I look forward to reporting on our next Board meeting this spring. In the meantime, I hope you all enjoy Winter Study, and winter at Williams generally!
Sincerely,

Maud

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A Few Emails from Williams

A few emails I’ve been negligent in posting. If anyone want to know what day they were sent, comment and ask (they aren’t in any sort of order). Also, the last one is a Daily Message I thought was interesting.

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Updates from the Office of Institutional Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion

Dear college community,

I write to share recent developments from the Office of Institutional Diversity, Equity and Inclusion (OIDEI) and the Davis Center. I will follow this message up with more details early in the new year.

This fall, OIDEI and the Davis Center have continued working on updating our vision. To support our vision, the Davis Center will lead our campus efforts to build inclusive learning and living environments, where all students, staff and faculty can thrive and feel a strong sense of belonging. We have also begun implementing changes to help prepare the Center for this expanded role, in sync with the planning phase of our Davis Center building project; the Committee on Diversity and Community’s multi-year study of classroom climate; college-wide strategic planning efforts relating to DEI; and the appointment of two Assistant Vice Presidents to support this work.

We’re now searching for a new Davis Center director, a program coordinator, and a dialogue facilitator as part of our plan. The dialogue facilitator (a new position) will work with colleagues to introduce and integrate restorative practices on campus. The overall restructuring, along with the advent of new staff, also requires us to rethink how existing positions are defined. I’ve already met with the current OIDEI and Center staff to discuss the possibilities and will continue working with them throughout the process.

During this time of change for OIDEI and the Davis Center, as we work to make Williams as inclusive as it can be, we’re grateful for the deep investment many of you feel in OIDEI and the Davis Center. I hope you’ll take every available opportunity to meet with the Davis Center building project architects, to share our job postings with promising candidates, and to support our work and Williams. My door is always open, too. I welcome your continued partnership in these endeavors.

Leticia Smith-Evans Haynes ’99
Vice President for Institutional Diversity, Equity and Inclusion

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We Need YOU!!

The anticipated makeup of the CC-established Task Force (to abolish CC):

Hi all!

Are you interested in a Winter Study course that includes no formalized assignments (except for a single collaborative document produced at the end of Winter Study), getting a stipend to spend on food and snacks for meetings, working mainly at your own pace with a group of your peers, and getting to be a part of an actual change making institution at Williams that will hopefully last long beyond your time here??
If so, then you should consider joining the TASK FORCE ON THE FUTURE OF STUDENT GOVERNMENT!!
We are looking for representatives specifically from a club sport, a performance based club, a faith based club, and a community service based club to serve as members of this body due to your unique and extremely valuable perspectives on this campus. The Task Force will spend Winter Study re-thinking what student government should look like here at Williams College. This group is incredibly important for student life, funding capacities, policy making potential, and much more, both for current AND future Williams students. If you’ve ever thought, “Student government at Williams should do x, y, and z…” then join the Task Force and make your voice heard!
 
We would love to hear from any and all of you that are interested in applying – fill out a self-nom for consideration at this link NOW! Spots close TOMORROW, so if you’re interested in coming aboard, don’t hesitate to reach out with questions or concerns to either Ellie Sherman (eas6) or Carlos Cabrera-Lomeli (cc15)!!
Best,
Ellie and Carlos :)
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IWS Scheduling Protocol Change

Dear Williams Students,

In January 2020, Integrative Wellbeing Services (IWS) will implement a modified scheduling protocol along with expanded student support resources. We’re taking this additional step to help close gaps in equitable access to our services as we explain below.

Because these changes will most immediately impact returning students who choose to continue treatment following the Winter Break, therapists were encouraged to let the students with whom they work know about this new model beginning last week. We’re now notifying all students in an effort to ensure everyone has accurate information about these changes, as inaccuracies can create unwarranted barriers to seeking care.

Rest of the email below the break.

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A statement on inquiry, expression and inclusion

To the Williams community,

For the last year, members of the Williams community have been discussing how best to live up to our obligation to ensure both free expression and inclusion. Today I’m sharing a statement developed by the Faculty Steering Committee with my input, and reviewed with the faculty as a whole, that affirms our commitment to those core principles.

The essence of the statement is this: Freedom of expression and inquiry matters. Inclusion matters. Both values are essential to the health of any community, and especially to a healthy learning community. For Williams to continue reaching its highest educational aspirations, we need to maximize our commitment to both values. We need to run toward the hard things.

I’ve been gratified by the intelligence and passion that many of you have shown in discussing, debating and sometimes protesting this most crucial issue. My job as president is to guide that energy into helping Williams excel: delivering the best liberal arts education imaginable, and preparing graduates to set the standard for civic virtue and engagement.

I want to thank Steering for their careful work, as well as the faculty members who offered their views on the drafts, the Ad Hoc Committee upon whose report the statement is based, the people who worked to ensure that our college policies reflect our values, and all of you—students, staff and faculty—who added your views to the discussion.

Maud

=============

MEMORANDUM

To: The Faculty
From: The Steering Committee and President Mandel
Date: November 13, 2019

Inquiry, Expression and Inclusion at Williams College

At Williams, our educational mission requires us to cultivate an inclusive environment in which each member of our community is equally respected and equally invited to speak and to be heard. This goal unites the college’s core commitments to freedom of expression and inquiry and to building a community in which everyone can live, learn and thrive, as enunciated in our codes of conduct for faculty, staff and students.

The college extends the same opportunities for expression and debate to anyone invited to speak or participate in a college event. Visitors are welcomed and expected to participate in open discussion and robust deliberation while they are on campus. We expect anyone inviting an outside speaker to create such opportunities as part of the visit.

The college publishes clear administrative procedures for event planning and rules for the use of college property. The college likewise retains the discretion to impose reasonable limitations on the time, place and manner of speech by visitors to our community as well as by its continuing members. The college exercises this authority sparingly, and never with the goal of suppressing a point of view.

Williams College does not consider an invitation to campus an endorsement of the visitor’s views. Further, in our encouragement of vigorous dialogue and the free exchange of ideas, we acknowledge that discomforting encounters will occur. In that knowledge, we will continue expanding ways to offer support to all individuals and groups within our community, as part of our mission to equip every community member with the tools they need for effective discourse, debate and dissent. We also recognize that free expression has its limits: speech that threatens, incites violence, or constitutes harassment has no place in our community.

Our policies, which are intended to protect and promote the freedom of every community member to communicate, debate and peacefully protest, can be found here. We recognize that in the past these freedoms have not been equally available to all people and that inequity of access persists today. The college is committed to supporting equal access to these freedoms and pledges to continue working to realize this commitment fully.

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Open Letter to Suzanne Case

A student-authored email sent to the WILLIAMS-STUDENT email group, which has limited access (my short thoughts on the matter below):

Hello everyone,
Yesterday, October 20th was the 100th day of the stand for Mauna Kea, and we are circulating an open letter in solidarity with Kiaʻi Mauna, the protectors of Mauna Kea in Hawai’i. Please sign our letter to Williams College alumna Suzanne D. Case, Chairperson of Hawaiʻiʻs Board of Land and Natural Resources. Stand with us to protect Mauna Kea and all other sacred spaces.
WE ARE MAUNA KEA: PETITION TO SUZANNE D. CASE
Thank you for your support!
The use (some, including me, might call it abuse) of the all-student email group by individual students or unofficial/official student organizations has skyrocketed in the past couple of years. Without commenting on the subject matter at hand (another author can do so), I just don’t find this petition or many of the other emails sent to the student body by students relevant to the campus community or campus life at all. A few years ago, the emails we got were from ACE announcing Spring Fling or other all-campus events…now, we frequently get emails pertaining to petitions, talks, etc. Rumor has it the College Council (Co-)Presidents have access to and can give out this email group to students (i.e., to people and causes they deem worthy…). Now, I’m not saying there’s any (*cough* far-left *cough*) bias or subjectivity to these types of emails…but I have a bunch of them that may indicate otherwise.
Update: Last night, 371 people had signed the petition, and now it is up to 501. I don’t know if that increase has anything to do with circulating this petition to the student body, but I suspect it (at least in part) does.
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Funding Opportunity: Towards Inclusion, Diversity, and Equity (TIDE)

Another all-campus email from today:

Dear Members of the Community:

 

I write to share news of a grant, Towards Inclusion, Diversity, and Equity (TIDE), the Office of Institutional Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion will give out.  The purpose of the grant is to help facilitate the infusion of inclusion, diversity, and equity into all aspects of our campus by leveraging the creativity and passion of the members of our community.

 

All members of the community are encouraged to apply, as we look forward to supporting campus- and community-wide efforts.  Collaboration between and among faculty, students, and staff is strongly encouraged, as are projects designed to have a positive impact on multiple stakeholder groups on campus and in the surrounding community.

 

Information about applying for the grant, including the deadline, is available here.  We also invite you to learn more about it, including hearing from past recipients, at an information session in Hardy House at 4:00 on Wednesday, October 30.  Should you have additional questions, please don’t hesitate to send an email to diversity@williams.edu with the subject “TIDE Grant”.

 

We look forward to working and learning with you.

 

Best,

Leticia Smith-Evans Haynes, Ph.D.

Vice President

Office of Institutional Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion

Williams College | Williamstown, MA

(P) 413.597.4376

https://diversity.williams.edu

 

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Some Thoughts About Family Days This Coming Weekend, October 24-27

Also, an email about Family Days (this weekend):

Dear Students,

I hope this note finds you well.  As you may know, this coming weekend is Family Days.

If your own family plans to visit this weekend, we greatly look forward to having them here at Williams and expect it will be a great opportunity for them to gain a better sense of your own undergraduate experience.

And if your family won’t be attending, please know that you’re in good company with the vast majority of your fellow students. While many families enjoy family days, a great many more don’t attend. For some, the time and expense to travel to Williamstown are too great. (And let’s face it: though Williams is a beautiful place, it’s far away from where most people live!) For others, there are other points in their students four years at Williams—from a special sports event or musical performance to Commencement—when a visit make more sense.

In any case, it’s a great weekend packed with lots of things to do, with family members or just with fellow students. View the entire weekend program here and enjoy!

All best,
Dean Sandstrom

 

Marlene J. Sandstrom
Dean of the College and Hales Professor of Psychology
Williams College
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The retirement of Steve Klass, and news about Campus Life

From President Mandel:

To the Williams community,

I’m writing to share two pieces of news. The two are related, so I appreciate your patience with a longer message than I’d usually write.

First is the bittersweet announcement that Vice President for Campus Life Steve Klass has informed me of his plans to retire in June.

When Steve came to Williams in 2006 from the University of Chicago, initially as our first-ever Vice President of Operations, he brought with him a transformative approach to leadership and management; an enlivening, compassionate spirit; and a wonderfully off-kilter sense of humor. For evidence of the latter, see the student-produced “Between Two Slabs” video. For evidence of the rest, there are Steve’s many contributions to Williams, which include, for starters: leading the reorganization and expansion of our health and mental health services; overseeing major construction projects, including Stetson/Sawyer, Hollander, Schapiro and Paresky; helping launch CLiA, the Zilkha Center and the college-managed Children’s Center; and, following retirements of long-time campus leaders, hiring Director of Student Health Services Deb Flynn, Director of Integrative Wellbeing Services Wendy Adam, College Chaplain Rev. Valerie Bailey Fischer and Director of Dining Services Temesgen Araya.

On top of that are the many years’ worth of board and committee service Steve has devoted to local schools, healthcare providers, financial institutions, town government and churches.

Steve is somewhat famous among my senior staff for his unconventional career path. He started his post-college life playing in bands at CBGB’s and managing restaurants in New York City. Few of his professional peers could match his breadth of experience, or the level of empathy and organizational insight he gained from his adventures. Williams has been a grateful beneficiary of Steve’s talents, and I look forward to announcing a campus thank you event next spring.

Steve isn’t the only member of Senior Staff to whom we’ll say farewell. As you may know, Dean of Faculty Denise Buell recently announced to the faculty that she plans to end her term as dean next June and return to her teaching and scholarship as Cluett Professor of Religion. Denise has been a wonderful partner, and I’ll send a separate message honoring her later this week.

In the meantime, today’s second piece of news has to do with our plans for Campus Life. As part of the Strategic Planning process I’ve begun looking at the organization of peer institutions and thinking about how our administrative structures can best help us with our goal of realizing residence life as a central component of a Williams education. With that goal in mind, after Steve’s retirement we’ll shift some of his offices to report to the Dean of the College, and others to report to the Vice President for Finance and Administration.

Steve, Marlene, Fred and I have already begun conversations with those whose direct reporting lines will change, and we’ll be meeting with people from all the relevant areas in the coming weeks. In case you’re asked, I want you to know that all positions are being retained, and all staff will continue in their roles. The change is solely in reporting lines.

Meanwhile, here’s a simple description of the new reporting arrangement, which will go into effect on July 1, 2020:

  • The offices of OSL that oversee residence life, student leadership and student orgs; Health Services and Integrative Wellbeing Services; the Chaplain’s Office; and CLiA will become part of the Dean of the College’s team.
  • Dining, Campus Safety and Security, Mail Services, and the Conferences office will become part of the group managed by the Vice President for Finance & Administration and Treasurer, also as of July 1, 2020.

More details will be available as we work on implementation with the staff. The changes will support collaboration among colleagues who work with students in various ways and help college operations run as smoothly and efficiently as possible.

We’re in a position to pursue these opportunities because of the outstanding work Steve and his team have done over many years. Indeed, when I asked Steve what he was proudest of from his time at Williams, he instantly said “the amazing people I’ve worked with since day one.”

Please join me in thanking and congratulating Steve for his contributions to Williams, and in supporting our colleagues during the months ahead.

Maud

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