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Tracking Tenure

Forgive me if this is redundant, but I do not recall seeing anything here about it. A while back we were speculating on which assistant professors might have (and might not have) earned tenure. It struck me as irresponsible to speculate on something like a person’s career when the facts would eventually all be known.

And known they now are. Williams has announced that ten assistant professors received tenure. They are:

Leslie Brown, history; María Elena Cepeda, Latina/o Studies; Alexandra Garbarini, history; Bernhard Klingenberg, statistics; David Love, economics; Brian Martin, French; Christopher Nugent, Chinese; Mérida M. Rúa, Latina/o Studies and American Studies; Olga Shevchenko, sociology; and Christian Thorne, English.

Congratulations are in order on this career landmark. They all richly deserve it.


More Tenure Rumors

The latest tenure rumors I have heard are:

1) Cepeda, Martin, Rua, Brown and Garbarini got tenure.

2) At least one person in Economics was denied.

Previous discussion here. What have you heard?


Tenure Rumors?

Anyone heard rumors about who got tenure this year and who did not?

Background: Corrections welcome, but my understanding is that the standard timing is that new professors at Williams have an initial three year contract followed, if they are re-appointmented, by a 4 year contract. In the 3rd year of that, they are eligible for tenure. If they don’t get it, they spend the last year still at Williams (making those department meetings somewhat awkward) while they look for another job.

Decisions are made during the fall of that 3rd year (so their 6th at Williams). Professors are told the results in December, so the news is out there. But the results are not official (or made public by the College) until the Trustees approve them during their January meeting. (I have never heard of a case where the Trustees did not approve a decision made by the Administration.) The College makes public those that it has approved in a nice press release. Depending on the year, the College may also let the Record know who was denied. (See here and here for debate over this issue in past years.)

First, we need to figure out the list of faculty who might, conceivably be up for tenure this year. A good starting point is here:


Andrea Barrett, English
Derek Dean, Biology
Erina Duganne, Mellon Post-Doctoral Fellow in
History of Photography
Ali Garbarini, History
Robert Gazzale, Economics
Sarah Goh, Chemistry
Ruth Groff, Political Science
Bernhard Klingenberg, Statistics
Andrew Lieberman, Theatre
Brian Martin, French
Brenna Munro, Mellon Post-Doctoral Fellow in
Anglophone African Literature
Chris Nugent, Chinese
Michael Rolleigh, Economics
Merida Rua, Latino/a Studies and American Studies
Greg Stanczak, Sociology
Christian Thorne, English
Tara Watson, Economics

Some of these folks were never on the tenure track to begin with. Some have left Williams, either of their own volition or because they were not re-appointed. But, cross-referencing the course catalog, I think that the following were up for tenure this fall.

[1] “Alexandra Garbarini, Assistant Professor of History ”
[1] “Robert Gazzale, Assistant Professor of Economics ”
[2] “Sarah Goh, Assistant Professor of Chemistry ”
[1] “Bernhard Klingenberg, Assistant Professor of Statistics ”
[1] “Brian Martin, Assistant Professor of French Literature and French Language ”
[1] “Christopher M. B. Nugent, Assistant Professor of Chinese ”
[1] “Michael Rolleigh, Assistant Professor of Economics ”
[1] “Christian Thorne, Assistant Professor of English ”
[1] “Tara Watson, Assistant Professor of Economics ”

[Ignore the numbers in brackets. R code available on request. You need this raw data (txt) to start with.]

Are we missing anyone? Perhaps. Some people either accelerate or slow down the tenure clock, so there may be professors who are up for tenure but who are not on this list. However, I bet everyone on this list was up for tenure.

Second, we need to figure out who got tenure and who did not. I am not qualified to judge the academic work of most of these folks, but I would be very surprised if Gazzale, Watson or Klingenberg were denied tenure. (Watson, in particular, seems certain.)

Garbarini is class of 1994 and we always root for alumni up for tenure. One book published by Yale is probably enough . . .

What have you heard?

UPDATE: This post has been edited slightly.


Behind closed doors

An anonymous senior leaves the following comment in our Tenure Decisions thread:

in case there was still a question:

nathan sanders was definitely considered for tenure this year and was denied it. unless he mounts a successful appeal, he will leave at the end of the next academic year.

from what i’ve heard and from what i can tell, the tenure decisions at williams are made behind closed doors, much more so than at other institutions. there seem to be no consistent criteria that are used. this makes it trickier to appeal a tenure decision once it’s been made.

at williams, the CAP — committee on appointments and promotions — makes the tenure decisions, and i’d like to point out that this is NOT a faculty committee — it consists of three faculty members, and THREE administration members, including the president and the dean of faculty. giving administration so much sway in tenure decisions is definitely not common protocol at institutions of higher education. most schools use committees that consist purely of faculty.

and regarding nathan sanders, he is truly an exceptional teacher and has no equal at williams in terms of the way he singlehandedly built up the linguistics program. there are a lot of unhappy people out there.

EDIT: See previous discussion of tenure denials here. Of the three denials EphBlog reported in that post, Mladenovic successfully appealed, while Bean ended up being not so lucky. Teresco appears to have moved on to Rensselaer Polytechnic. Whittaker was also denied tenure and moved on to Pomona.


Tenure Decisions

Congratulations to the following professors, each of whom have now secured one of the most desirable jobs on earth.

Lois M. Banta

Banta’s focus is on microbiology and her teaching interests extend to human genetics, agricultural technology, and public health. She has recently taught courses on integrative bioinformatics, genomics, and proteomics, as well as microbiology. Her research is centered on interactions between soil bacteria and their plant hosts, plant defense responses, and bacterial genomics.

Banta’s research has been published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, the Journal of Bacteriology, Molecular and Cellular Biology, and the Journal of Cell Biology, among others. She served as a member of the National Research Council committee charged with reviewing the National Plant Genome Initiatives, and is program director on a multi-college grant from the Teagle Foundation for genomics curriculum development. The National Science Foundation, National Bioethics Institute, and National Institutes of Health have supported her research; she was a Fulbright Fellow at Leiden University in 2000. Before coming to Williams, she taught at Haverford College.

Banta received her B.A. from Johns Hopkins University and her Ph.D. from California Institute of Technology.

Melissa J. Barry 

Barry’s research interests are in moral philosophy and its history (especially Hume), moral psychology, and practical reason. She has recently completed a book project, “The Normativity of Reason,” in which she develops a realist theory of ethics. Her work has appeared in the Oxford Studies in Metaethics, Ethical Theory and Moral Practice, and elsewhere.

At Williams, Barry teaches courses in contemporary ethical theory, free will and responsibility, metaethics, the philosophy of religion, and the ethics of Hume and Kant.  Before coming to Williams, Barry taught at Harvard, where she received both the Phi Beta Kappa Award for Excellence in Teaching and the Roslyn Abramson Award for Excellence in Teaching.  She recently spent a year back at Harvard on a Mellon Research Fellowship.

Barry received her B.A. from Wheaton College and her Ph.D. in philosophy from University of Notre Dame.

Christopher Bolton

Bolton’s research interests center on modern Japanese literature, particularly postwar and contemporary fiction, and animation. At Williams, his classes include Japanese Literature and the End of the World, Confession and Deception in Japanese Literature, and Love and Death in Modern Japanese Fiction. He has also teaches comparative literature courses, including a tutorial on postmodernism and a seminar titled Sublime Confusion: A Survey of Critical Theory.

His forthcoming book, “Sublime Voices: The Fictional Science and Scientific Fiction of Abe Kobo” focuses on the interplay of science and literature in the work of the Japanese avant-garde writer Abe Kobo. He co-edited “Robot Ghosts and Wired Dreams: Japanese Science Fiction from Origins to Anime,” a critical introduction to Japanese science fiction. He is also an associate editor of “Mechademia,” an annual series for academic work on Japanese animation, comics, and related arts. Before coming to Williams, he taught at the University of California, Riverside.  

Bolton received his A.B. from Harvard University and his Ph.D. in Japanese with a focus on modern fiction from Stanford University. 

Amy Gehring 

Gehring’s research focuses on the unusual and complicated life cycle of the streptomycetes, soil bacteria that manufacture the majority of known antibiotics. Her lab is working to understand the regulation of this developmental process. Currently, Gehring is investigating the biochemical function for a particular protein that is essential to the sporulation of the aerial filamentous cells. This protein may serve as a regulator of sporulation, controlling and coordinating other molecular events in this process. 

Gehring’s research has appeared in a number of scientific journals, including the Journal of Bacteriology, Chemistry & Biology, and Biochemistry. She has received a number of awards and honors, including a National Institutes of Health Academic Research Enhancement Award. She is the co-inventor on U.S. Patent number 6,579,695: Phosphopantetheinyl transferases and uses thereof. 

Gehring received her B.A. from Williams in 1994 and her Ph.D. in biological chemistry and molecular pharmacology from Harvard in 1998. At Williams, she teaches courses in biochemistry and molecular biology.

Edward Gollin 

Gollin’s interests include the analysis of twentieth-century music, in particular, the music of Bela Bartok. His research, exploring the development of Bartok’s harmonic language in the early twentieth century, received the support of a fellowship from the National Endowment for the Humanities. His articles, on topics including Bartok studies, historical music theories, and mathematical models of musical structure, have appeared in numerous music theory journals. He is working on a book, “Bela Bartok and the Transformation of Tonality,” and is co-editor of the forthcoming “Oxford Handbook for Riemannian and Neo-Riemannian Music Theories.”

At Williams, he teaches courses in music theory and analysis. 

Gollin received his B.S. from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, his M.A. from Queens College, CUNY, and his Ph.D. in music theory from Harvard University.

Gretchen Long 

Long’s research interests include African American history, American women’s history, American medical history, African American literature, and emancipation. Her book, “Doctoring Freedom: The Politics of African American Medical Care” is under contract at University of North Carolina Press. She has written for the Journal of American History, and her review of “Intensely Human: The Health of the Black Soldier in the American Civil War” will be published in the forthcoming Journal of Southern History.

She was a fellow at Harvard University’s W.E.B. Dubois Center for African and African American Studies. At Williams, Long has taught courses on African American history from 1619 to the present, Washington and DuBois, American women’s history, and a tutorial on fictions of African American history.

She received her B.A. from Wesleyan University and her Ph.D. in history from the 
University of Chicago.

Nicole Mellow 

At Williams, Mellow teaches courses on American politics, including: The American Presidency, American Political Parties, Continuity and Change in American Politics, Interpretations of American Politics, The Politics of Place, and Power, Politics and Democracy in America.  

She is the author of the book, “The State of Disunion: Regional Sources of Modern American Partisanship.” She has also published numerous articles and book chapters on such topics as elections, bipartisanship, political loss, the presidency, education policy, and gender and politics. Mellow most recently completed a chapter on the 2008 election titled, “A Blue Nation?” in the forthcoming book “The Elections of 2008.” 

She received her B.A. from Vassar College and her Ph.D. in political science from The University of Texas at Austin.

Allison M. Pacelli 

Pacelli’s research interests include algebraic number theory, class groups and class numbers, and global function fields. Her work has appeared in the Journal of Number Theory, Proceedings of the American Mathematical Society, Journal of Pure and Applied Algebra, and Canadian Mathematical Bulletin.

At Williams, she has taught courses on algebraic number theory, abstract algebra, Galois theory, and a tutorial on mathematical proof and argumentation. She taught a course on algebraic number theory at the George Washington University Summer Program for Women in Mathematics in 2007 and 2008, and was a visiting faculty member at Brown University in 2003 and 2004, where she taught the course Number Theory and the Art of Mathematical Proof. 

She received her B.S. from Union College and her Ph.D. in Mathematics from Brown University.

Katarzyna Pieprzak 

Pieprzak’s interests encompass contemporary literature from North Africa, clandestine migration in literature and art, museums in Africa and the Middle East, contemporary art from North Africa, and postcolonial theory from the Francophone world. She teaches French language, and courses on contemporary fiction from North Africa, the writing of islands in French and Francophone literature, representations of Algeria, landscapes of migration in the Francophone world and museum studies. 

Her forthcoming book, “Imagined Museums: Art and Modernity in Post-Colonial Morocco,” will be published by the University of Minnesota Press. She is the co-editor of “Land and Landscape in Francographic Literature: Remapping Uncertain Territories” and a special issue of the journal “Critical Interventions” on Africanity in North African visual culture.  Her research has appeared in the journals Research in African Literatures, Journal of North African Studies, Studies in Twentieth and Twenty-First Century Literatures, and in the collected volumes of “Land and Landscape in Francographic Literature” and “Nation, Society and Culture in North Africa: Essays on Contemporary History, Culture and Politics.”  In 2006, she received the Getty Foundation’s Summer Institute Fellowship in Istanbul, where she worked on the topic “Memory and the City in the Middle East.”

She received her B.A. from Rice University and her Ph.D. in comparative literature from the University of Michigan.

Ashok S. Rai 

Rai is a development economist. His research is on how microfinance programs can reduce poverty by extending loans to people traditionally excluded from the financial sector. He has conducted fieldwork in Bangladesh, India, and Kenya. His research has been published in the Journal of Development Economics and the Review of Economic Studies. Before coming to Williams, Rai taught at Yale and Harvard.

At Williams, Rai teaches courses on microeconomics, game theory, and microfinance. During 2006-07 he visited the Indian School of Business and the University of Frankfurt. His current research is funded in part by the Harry F. Guggenheim Foundation.

He received his B.A. from Stanford University and his Ph.D. in economics from the University of Chicago.

Eiko Maruko Siniawer

Siniawer’s research centers on the modern history of political violence, the history of organized crime and politics, and modern Japanese political and social history. She is the author of the recently published book, “Ruffians, Yakuza, Nationalists: the Violent Politics of Modern Japan, 1860-1960.” She has also written for Modern Asian Studies, the “Oxford Encyclopedia of the
Modern World,” and “Organized Crime and the Challenge to Democracy.” Among her many fellowship awards are those from the American Historical Association, National Endowment for the Humanities, Japan Foundation, and Social Science Research Council.

She was a visiting scholar at the Reischauer Institute of Japanese Studies at Harvard University in 2006-07 and is presently an associate in research there. At Williams, she teaches Early Modern Japan, Modern Japan, The Japanese Empire, Approaching the Past: Practices of Modern History, History of U.S.-Japan Relations, Comparative History of Organized Crime, and
Historical Memory of the Pacific War.

She received her B.A. from Williams College and her Ph.D. in history from Harvard University.

David Tucker-Smith

Tucker-Smith’s research interests probe the standard model of particle physics, which describes the electromagnetic, weak, and strong interactions of quarks and leptons, but remain an incomplete theory. He studies how various extensions of the standard model can be tested experimentally, for example at the Large Hadron Collider at CERN.

At Williams, he has taught courses on Newtonian mechanics, mathematical methods for scientists, general relativity, and quantum mechanics. His research has been published in Physical Review D, Physical Review Letters, the Annual Review of Nuclear and Particle Science, and Nuclear Physics B. He is the recipient of grants from the National Science Foundation and Research Corporation.

He received his B.A. from Amherst College and his Ph.D. in physics from University of California at Berkeley. 

Question for readers: stories or recollection about the professors above? How about surprise omissions? Discuss.


Abused By Her Politics

Professor Annemarie Bean taught at Williams for several years but was denied tenure in 2005. (And note that this denial was never reported by the Record.) Fun-filled EphBlog threads that mention Bean are here, here and here. What happens to professors in many/most of the humanities if they don’t get tenure at Williams? Little good. The New York Times provides an update.

A single mother, 42, with a 10-year-old daughter and an 8-year-old son, Bean found herself unemployed. When we met for health food in June, she was not sure what would come next. “I’m going on unemployment starting July 1,” she told me. “I am selling my house in West Hartford. I have an open house tomorrow, because I can’t afford the mortgage payments.” In July, she and her children moved to Bennington, Vt., where they now live with her boyfriend.

Of course, not every professor in the humanities who leaves Williams is forced into such dire straights. Most continue to teach, but at lesser schools and for lower pay. Most will never be as comfortable and prosperous as the tenured colleagues that they leave behind in Williamstown.

The article covers the debate over the use of student evaluations in college promotion/retention decisions. Did Bean’s student evaluations play a big role in her tenure-denial at Williams? I don’t know. If the College wants to have more African-American faculty, then it makes little sense to have a white professor teach courses in Africana Studies. (See Evelyn Hu-DeHart’s discussion in conjunction with the Diversity Initiatives.) Would the College have tenured Bean if she were African-American? I don’t know. What about if she were an alum? (Note how three of the four tenures her year were alums. I can’t remember the last time an alum came up for tenure and was denied.) Again, I don’t know.

See below for excerpts from the article that mention Bean.
Read more


Mladenovic Tenured

The first edition of the Record came out this week in print and on the web. Kudos on a fine job. As a paying subscriber, I also appreciate getting the paper by Saturday. (If you aren’t a paying subscriber, you ought to be.)

Note that not everything in the print edition makes it to the web. For example, there was a note this week that Bojana Mladenovic‘s tenure appeal had been granted. Shocking news! How many tenure appeals have been granted in the last decade? I can’t think of any since Mark Reinhardt’s in the mid-90s. (Can anyone else?) Informed commentary welcome. EphBlog first reported Mladenovic’s tenure denial 2 years ago. The Record should dig into this one. There are many junior professors who would find this a fascinating topic! And, since Mladenovic is now tenured, she ought to be open to an interview on the topic.



What to make of this?

Congratulations on your upcoming graduation! We are writing from Wesleyan University, regarding the news that our president Douglas Bennett, who is currently completing his last months as Wesleyan President, will be receiving an honorary degree from Williams College during your Commencement ceremony. We are dissatisfied with President Bennett’s actions while in office given his role on the campus-wide tenure Advisory Committee, which has recently dealt a heavy blow to both Asian American Studies and innovative teaching at Wesleyan through its denial of tenure to acclaimed scholar and teacher, and Williams College graduate, Allan Punzalan Isaac.

Isaac was class of 1991. After looking for 10 minutes, I could not find a CV or anything more substantive than this. If you really want people to believe that you are an “acclaimed scholar,” you need to do a better job of publicizing your academic work. I suspect that Isaac was turned down because he was not viewed as a serious scholar by the powers-that-be at Wesleyan. Informed commentary welcome!

We feel it essential to inform you of recent events surrounding the tenure decision of Asian American Studies scholar and queer-identified Wesleyan professor, Allan Isaac. Despite being unanimously supported by his core department (English), Isaac was denied tenure by an Advisory Committee that oversees all tenure decisions. At Wesleyan, this committee may not include scholars in the candidate’s field. We also believe this decision to be part of a larger trend, as another queer faculty member in the English Department, John Emil Vincent (another Williams graduate), was also denied tenure, and a third queer faculty member in the same department, Bill Johnson Gonzalez, was not re-hired for next year (although he was not yet enlisted onto tenure track).

Vincent was class of 1991 also. There are few things more traumatic in the working world than being turned down for tenure at age 38 in a brutally competitive field like English. Vincent receives some good reviews here.

He’s a nice guy who wants to be friends. His class was extremely easy and I think that’s why all the DKE brothers were there…When I wasn’t being distracted by them I was often bored by the poetry. He knows a lot about most of the poets but doesn’t talk about race, class, or gender very much. But he will talk about sexuality.

Not talk about the Holy Trinity of race, class and gender?! No wonder Vincent didn’t get tenure at Wesleyan . . .

Prof. Vincent’s written responses to your poems, although brief and rather broad, will be incisive. The discussions in class will be more dependent on the knowledgeability of your classmates, who will be speaking a lot — Vincent is over-polite. The poetry reading assigns are what you make them. Vincent is the easiest grader ever.

DKE, for all you Philistines, are the initials of the Deke House, of which our own Frank Uible ’57 was president 50 years ago. The DKE brothers liked easy graders then (sorry, Dad!), and they like easy graders now.

Back to our would-be protesters.

Considering that Doug Bennett will be accepting an Honorary Degree from Williams College at its Commencement Ceremony this year, we find it imperative that the award bearers are well informed of his legacy at Wesleyan University. Since Doug Bennett sat on the Advisory Committee that denied both Isaac and Vincent tenure, and as both professors are notably Williams alumni, we consider it extremely important that the Williams community is aware that Bennett has directly contributed to decreasing the presence of faculty of color and queer faculty at Wesleyan, and that this has in turn affected the presence of academic courses on these issues.

Yeah, yeah. Tenure is a zero-sum game. There are only so many spots, at Wesleyan or Williams. If you think that Isaac and Vincent should have been tenured, please specify who you would fire in their stead.

Moreover, the whole notion that schools like Wesleyan (and Williams!) don’t have enough “faculty of color” or “queer-identified” faculty or queer-identified faculty-of-color with-a-cherry-on-top is absurd. Worse is the idea that we need more classes on such topics. Williams, at least, already provides more than enough poorly attended classes on queer theory. And, some helpful advice: Although studying what you love is highly recommended, a watchful eye toward you future employers is a wise policy. An expertise in queer theory seems most helpful for those seeking a career as Starbucks barrista. Not that there is anything wrong with that!

We ask that you join us in our efforts to disseminate more information surrounding Doug Bennett’s lack of support for communities of color and queer communities at Wesleyan, and in particular the denial of tenure to Wesleyan Professor Allan Punzalan Isaac. We realize that this is short notice; however if at all possible we would encourage you and any other interested parties to distribute informational fliers (attached as a pdf file) or similar protest patches to be worn at the Williams’ commencement ceremony this Sunday. You may also consider turning your backs to the stage when President Bennett receives his degree and makes his speech.

Good luck with that. If anyone has access to the handout(s), please post. Details are always welcome. Also, I do not think that Bennett is giving a speech, so, if you want to turn your back, do it quickly.


Tenure Denial

A disturbing report from the Record regarding tenure denial:

Mladenovic, Whitaker appeal tenure calls
Amanda Korman – News Editor


Whitaker claims that the reasons he was denied tenure were inadequate. “Bill [Wagner] cited that my publication rate for physics was low, but that’s only half of my work,” as Whitaker’s research is two-pronged. While he does do traditional experimental physics research, he has started to collaborate with Joan Edwards, professor of biology, on biophysics experiments.

Since Whitaker came to the College, he has published five papers in both fields, one in the major publication Nature. “Only two professors [in the physics department] have published more than I have in the past six years,” he said.

He claimed that his dual interests hurt his chances because he was not prolific enough in the physics department. “Of course both publication rates were lower than average, of course [the CAP] was able to use this [against me]. They said I didn’t reach their mark of excellence,” he said.

Link to the published Nature article (PDF) and accompanying videos, which garnered a fair amount of media coverage for Whitaker and Edwards last year.

Does the CAS really want to be discouraging such inter-disciplinary collaboration?


All The (Tenure) News That’s Fit To Print

Sometimes the Record, for all its many strengths, is almost a parody of a rah-rah, go-Williams paper. I sometimes think that the typical high school paper is harder-hitting. Consider this article on recent tenure decisions.

The Committee of Appointments and Promotions (CAP) made its 2006 recommendations for tenure: Laylah Ali, assistant professor of art; Joseph Cruz, assistant professor of philosophy; Liza Johnson, assistant professor of art; and Ileana Perez Velazquez, assistant professor of music.

Fine. Just as we reported last month (with the added detail that Johnson is an alum).

But the Record fails to report anything on the topic of the professors who were denied tenure! Pathetic. Why? I can’t think of a good reason. Surely many of the Record‘s readers would be interested. Previous criticisms of Record coverage here and here.

Best part:

Tenured professors are guaranteed lifetime job security as long as he or she abides by College policy.

Nigaleian! Tenure protects you even if, like Professor Aida Laleian, you violate all sorts of College policies. Has any tenured Williams professor in the last 50 years been dismissed? Not that I know of.


Tenure News

One of the reasons that you read EphBlog is that we bring you the news before anyone else. Want to know who got (and didn’t get) tenure a few weeks ago?

Laylah Ali ’90 (Studio Art)
Joe Cruz ’91 (Philosophy)
Liza Johnson ’92 (Art History)
Ileana Velazquez (Music)

Bojana Mladenovic (Philosophy)
James Teresco (Computer Science)
Annemarie Bean (Theater)

Not sure when the College will post a news release on this (and there is, as always, some chance that our sources are misinformed). Corrections and comments are welcome. I would be most interested to hear if any of the denied were excellent teachers (or any of the accepted were not). Williams has many great teachers. It still needs more.

UPDATES: Johnson’s class year added.


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