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Winter Study 2019

Winter Study Registration

The first phase of Winter Study registration in PeopleSoft/Student Records will take place Wednesday, November 7, 9AM EST, through Sunday, November 11.

Some courses required early applications and are already closed; some may be open but require instructor consent. Browse through the Winter Study course offerings and, for courses that interest you, drill down to the Catalog Details to find the course enrollment and consent status. Or you can research courses of interest in the online catalog search or by drilling down to department Winter Study offerings.

Registration for this first phase is not on a first come/first choice basis—for overenrolled courses, instructors will select students after 11/11. Students who are dropped from courses will have a second chance to register 11/26 – 11/30 with open spaces on a first-come, first-served basis at that point.

Questions about Registration?

Check the Registrar’s website or contact the Registrar’s Office at registrar@williams.edu or x4286.

Mary L. Morrison

Associate Registrar

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Twitter Spat

I love this twitter spat between the official Williams and Amherst accounts. Hilarious! And, even better, it is hard to tell how serious it is . . .

You will know it is serious when the Williams twitter account mentions EphBlog being a much better blog than the now-defunct Am’erst blog . . .

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Register for 2nd Quarter PE Classes

Dear Students-

The registration window for 2nd quarter PE classes will open on Monday, October 15 at 12am.  The first 24 hours are reserved for students who still need to complete their PE credits.  The registration period will run through Friday, October 19 at noon.  Please take a moment to look at the offerings and set a reminder to register next week.  2nd quarter classes begin the week of October 22.
Carolyn Miles
PE Coordinator

To Register:

go to People Soft

under student self service click enrollment

click on PE class registration.

As a reminder the college PE requirement for graduation is 4 credits (2 must be earned in your first year) Students who do not complete the requirement by the end of their sophomore year may not be eligible to study abroad as juniors. For more information about physical education and the PE requirement please visit http://athletics.williams.edu/physical-education/

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Funding Opportunity: Towards Inclusion, Diversity, and Equity (TIDE)

Why can’t we just make these e-mails public? Future historians will thank you Maud Mandel!
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Committee on Priorities and Resources

Why can’t we just make these e-mails public? Future historians will thank you Maud Mandel!
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Verbal Warning

A former Williams professor (and Williams graduate) writes:

Doug in point (2) says that there is no strong trend about class year for students who are caught with honor code violations. I would like someone to run the same analysis for the length of time that the professor has been at Williams. I think that new professors are overburdened with these cases, and not because “senior faculty [are] less wise to the ways of the internet.”

In new faculty training, all new faculty learn about the honor code, and learn that if there is ANY suspicion whatsoever of an honor code violation, we are REQUIRED to report it. We are told that the chair of the honor committee will look into the case and if it has no merit will not pursue it, so there is no reason not to report something. So what do new faculty do? When we see anything that seems like cheating, we report it.

I went through this as a first-year Williams professor, because my students cheated. It was an extremely unpleasant experience that I would never desire to repeat. Everyone did their job well and was very professional, but it was time consuming and not fun: I had to carefully submit the evidence, explain my side of the story with the committee and the student in the room — oh, and teach the student during the week or two between the violation and the case. It was like a trial. It was stressful for me, even though I had done nothing wrong. I was shaking when I came out of there.

(Let me reiterate that I would not change anything about the process; I think it is done very well. It’s just stressful and unpleasant to take any part in a trial like that.)

What do older Williams professors do? They don’t put themselves through that, because they know that they don’t have to. They deal with the issue “in house.” They give the student a verbal warning. (Professors CANNOT impose any punishment, such as failure in the assignment or on the question, without going through the honor committee.)

I am huge fan, like Diana, of the current process and work of the Honor Committee. Kudos to all involved. I especially like that only students vote on the outcome and that only students/faculty are involved in the process. There is no (yet!) assistant dean for the honor code, no paid outside investigators.

We should do exactly the same thing for accusations of sexual assault as we do for accusations of academic dishonesty. Given the number of complaints, we need a new committee. It should be student-faculty, with only the students voting on the outcome. If such a process works well for academic violations of community standards, why wouldn’t it work well with for sexual violations of community standards? (Note that the Honor Committee is also involved in issues outside of academic disputes.)

The more that students and faculty run Williams, the better.

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How Much Cheating?

How much cheating is there at Williams? A student writes:

For those who have never read the honor code committee reports, especially current students, they’re a very worthwhile read. They alert you to the specific kinds of behaviors that actually get you the black-mark of academic dishonesty on your transcript. Some notes about them:

1.) Why are there so many typos in the honor committee reports? Even a cursory reading of these 4-6 page documents would correct for these rather glaring errors. If you’re publishing something that will have your committee’s name on it, and your committee is essential to the academic integrity of the college, you’d think the document would be a little more polished.

2.) There doesn’t seem to be a strong trend in what class years are accused/found guilty of plagiarism. If, as Shevchenko asserts above, academic dishonesty stems from different high school backgrounds, we’d expect for the influence of those differences in secondary education to diminish over the course of students’ time at Williams, leading to an overrepresentation of freshmen in honor committee hearings. There’s many other reasons we’d expect for freshmen to be overrepresented (e.g., students get better at cheating). I haven’t run the data, but there seems to be a pretty even mix of freshmen, sophomores, juniors, and seniors being tried for honor code violations.

3.) Professors have tremendous difficulties catching students who are cheating on take-home exams. During my time at Williams, take-home exams were incredibly common, especially in DIII courses, and it was common knowledge that students would cheat on these assignments. When you’re alone in your room taking these exams, there’s not a lot to stop you from opening your textbook or phone to look for answers on a surprisingly difficult question, and resisting this urge is difficult with up to 30% of your grade is on the line. I believe this is probably the most common source of cheating at Williams, and the most pernicious, since take-home exams are frequently major assignments and professors will be hard-pressed to catch students.
– Only 3 students in the 2016-2017 school year were accused of cheating on take-home exams (I would guess that over one-thousand take-home exams are administered each year and the incidence of cheating is much, much higher than 0.3%).
– These two students were caught due to incredibly flagrant violations of the honor code: one had verbatim copy/pasted material off of Wikipedia (laugh, then expel this student immediately for their sheer stupidity); the other two had identical portions of their assignments, obviously indicating collaboration. All failed the courses, no additional sanctions.
– The previous year also had two violations, one with obviously identical material between two students and the other with a student who turned herself in.
– Conclusion: Professors are not detecting/reporting who is using textbook or online sources during take-home exams. This should be a huge concern to professors and the college.

4.) Similar to #3, only one student in the past two years has been found guilty for cheating with the use of a smartphone in general. Once again, among students, it’s common knowledge that you can have your phone in your pocket and then go to the bathroom to use your phone to look up answers during a self-scheduled or even an in-class exam. One student being found guilty of this behavior is surely the result of a very low detection rate rather than a low prevalence rate among students. As with cheating on take-home exams, this should be a huge concern of the college.

5.) Only incredibly sloppy and obvious instances of cheating are being detected. Take a scan of any of these documents; a large majority of cases involve verbatim similarities between two students’ work or between a students’ work and the internet. Virtually none of the students who are cheating in more careful ways are being caught; it’s all the low-hanging fruit of lazy or stupid students who make the egregious error of copying text verbatim.

So, if you’re planning to cheat at Williams, don’t verbatim copy text from an internet source or a friend. This is essentially the only reliable way you will be put in front of the honor committee; such violations constitute a large majority of honor committee hearings. With a little bit of cunning, you can *easily* use technology to get away with cheating. Until the college finds a better way to catch students who are cheating, possibly by banning take-home exams, it’s almost guaranteed some of your peers will be engaging in this behavior and will get away with it.

How much cheating is there on take-home exams?

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Pseudo-Judicial Process

An anonymous Williams professor writes:

1) My impression, informed by years of experience (and not just at Williams), is that more senior faculty, less wise to the ways of the internet, are far less likely to catch out cheating on term papers than their younger colleagues. So as Div I and Div II profs get younger in the years to come there will be more complaints of cheating in general.

2) Despite Honor Code histrionics, penalties for cheating at Williams are lenient compared to other institutions I’ve taught at. Even clearly guilty students are regularly acquitted by the committee, or treated with incredible indulgence. And the goals of the committee are often unclear. Frequently professors with incidents before the honor committee feel that they themselves have been subjected to trial and scrutiny. This is true even though professors are told over and over that they have no discretion in reporting suspicious incidents.

3) More on that lack of professorial discretion: Because profs are required to report all suspicious incidents, it is the committee chairs who decide whether to go forward in any given case. Incidents will fluctuate from year to year based upon the sensitivity and concerns of the committee chairs. Any increase in honors cases is just as likely to reflect the differing sentiments of the people running this show.

4) “Cheating is on the rise!” has been a refrain of the honor code crowd since I arrived at Williams and it has grown tiresome, particularly to the degree that it provides occasion for people like Shevchenko to pontificate about what I ought to be telling my students.

5) The pseudo-judicial process conducted by the Honor Committee is largely hidden, with all parties sworn to silence. The honor code hyperventilators thus participate in a system of sanctions that is for the most part out of view, and yet they wish their toy trials to have deterrent effects nevertheless. Thus faculty are enjoined to bang the plagiarism drum in their seminars so that the Honor Code people can have their cake and eat it too.

Would other Williams professors like to comment?

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Clery Report

Latest Clery Report is available (pdf):

To the Williams Community,

The College’s Annual Security and Fire Safety Report was published online in September 2018 and can be viewed at – https://security.williams.edu/files/2018/10/Clery-2018.pdf.

The Annual Security Report discloses information concerning campus safety and security policies and procedures, as well as statistics regarding certain types of crimes reported to the campus and local law enforcement during the calendar year 2017.

This report includes:

· Policies and procedures
· Security awareness programs
· Crime Prevention
· Security of and access to College facilities
· Campus Safety Authorities, CSA
· Possession, use, and sale of alcoholic beverages and illegal drugs
· Sex offenses and the sex offender registry
· Violence Against Women Act VAWA
· Reporting of crimes and emergencies
· Emergency notification systems
· Crime statistics for the years 2015, 2016, and 2017

The Annual Fire Safety Report includes:

· Fire safety policies
· Fire statistics for on-campus student residences 2015, 2016, and 2017
· Fire safety systems, alarm monitoring, and sprinkler systems
· Fire drills
· Policies relating to portable electrical appliances
· Evacuation procedures
· Fire safety training

Together, these reports provide students, prospective students, employees, and prospective employees with key information regarding the security of the campus and surrounding areas, and ultimately, create a safer, more secure campus environment. To request a paper copy of the current Annual Security and Fire Safety Report, please contact our Associate Director for Clery Compliance and Training, Alison Warner at 413-597-4444 or by email at awarner@williams.edu

Regards,

Alison Warner
Associate Director of Clery Compliance And Training

I will have some thoughts tomorrow.

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Faculty Essentials Fair

Wouldn’t Williams be a better college if an excellent teacher like Professor Pieprzak were in the classroom with students rather than writing e-mails?

From: Katarzyna Pieprzak
Date: Tue, Oct 2, 2018 at 11:30 AM
Subject: Faculty Essentials Fair and Fall Coffee Hours
To:

Dear Colleagues,

I write to you today on behalf of the Collaborative for Faculty Development (CFD). We would like to thank you for participating in the Faculty Essentials Fair last month and invite you to join us at the upcoming CFD Faculty Essentials Coffee Hours – a series of drop-in style opportunities to consult with representatives of offices that offer faculty-facing resources. A reminder that the CFD is a group comprised of faculty and staff from different “institutional branches” whose primary work is to interact with, program for, and support faculty at Williams College. Some of our primary goals are to streamline programming and cultivate sustained engagement with faculty members.

The Faculty Essentials Fair in September was a wonderful gathering of people. Around sixty people attended, and the feedback about the quality of interaction and access to information has been overwhelmingly positive. Here are just some examples of questions that faculty asked that started productive conversations:

* I would like to have my students respond with video instead of an essay, can you help?
* Can you help me study the relationship between spaces on campus and students’ emotional moods?
* How can art at WCMA relate to my course?
* How can I use design thinking in my class, when I do not teach with project-based methods?
* How can I get word out about a really interesting research project my students are working on?
* Who do I contact to find a culturally competent therapist?
* What kinds of grant support do you provide? What is the process?

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Report of the Honor Committee 2016 — 2017

Reports from the Honor Committee are always worth reading. Let’s save permanent copies for the last three years: 2014-2015, 2015-2016 and 2016-2017. Below the break, I have saved permanent copies going back 15 years. Comments:

1) The last three years have featured 19, 18 and 23 cases, similar to the 10 year average. Recall our discussion about the 34 cases in 2017-2018, for which we do not yet have a report. Are Williams students cheating more or is the College more diligent in catching them?

2) The Committee deserves praise for being so transparent in telling us what happened and why. Example from 2016-2017:

Transparency is wonderful, because it both discourages future cheating and helps build community consensus about unacceptable behavior and the appropriate punishments thereto.

3) But even more transparency would be better. In some reports (as above) they make clear the gender of the student. That is good! If cheating is more male than female (or vice versa) then we have a better idea about where to devote our educational efforts. Another location for increased transparency is reports like this one:

Besides gender and class year, it would be good to know the specific course, or at least the department. If cheating is more common in Chemistry or in Division III, then that is where we should focus our efforts.

What is your favorite case from 2016 — 2017?

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Pamela Franks, new Class of 1956 WCMA Director now in place.

Pamela Franks

Class of 1956 Director, Williams College Museum of Art (WCMA)

After earning her Ph.D. in the history of art from the University of Texas at Austin, Franks started her career as a postdoctoral curatorial fellow at Yale University Art Gallery (YUAG) and became its first curator of academic affairs in 2004. Throughout her 14-year career at YUAG, she played a central role in shaping and carrying out priorities for teaching, exhibitions, public programs, community engagement, technology, and collaborations with other academic art museums. As the Director of WCMA, she remains passionately committed to the role of the museum in higher education and the inspiration art can bring all audiences.

In addition to new Williams president Maude Mandel, Pamela Franks becomes the new director of the Williams College Museum of Art. Ms Franks brings a long list of accomplishments from her career experience at Yale, as you may read above and here. (both courtesy of WCMA).

It is always a pleasure for me, an old art history major and member of the Class of 1956, to see the continuing importance to Williams of this area of the Liberal Arts!

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A More Welcoming and Open Department

For more on pronouns, read this comment from S’18:

’m not going to wade into most of this because I think a lot of the arguing going on here is in bad faith based on some commenters thinking that the idea of someone identifying outside of the gender binary or using pronouns other than he/him or she/her is inherently ridiculous. That’s not an idea I know how to argue against because it’s simply an ad hominem based on a lack of empathy and respect for others.

I do, however, want to respond to the point Prof. Knibbs raised about gendered language, because I think this is a case where the email is poorly worded. The objection to referring to he/him pronouns as male or she/her pronouns as female is that male and female are nouns, and thus saying that someone uses male pronouns would imply that person is male. As an alternative, I (and literally every other trans person I know) describe he/him pronouns as masculine pronouns and she/her pronouns as feminine pronouns. Because masculine and feminine are adjectives rather than nouns, they simply describe the gender of the pronouns rather than label the person as being of a particular gender identity. As for the objection to referring to they/them pronouns as gender-neutral and instead saying they should be referred to nonbinary, I am a nonbinary person who uses they/them pronouns and have never heard that. Actually, I have some pretty strong objections to referring to them as nonbinary pronouns because that would imply that all nonbinary people need to use they/them pronouns (which they don’t), but the administration probably read a thinkpiece somewhere that made that point and decided to go with it…

This actually gets to the final point I’d like to make, which is that so much of this comment thread, and more generally discourse around trans issues, suffers from not talking to actual trans students about what changes we want and how we think about things. I know most of the trans students on campus (I was one myself until June), and none of us would want to harass or report people for making honest mistakes. Using pronouns different from the ones you are socially conditioned to assume, especially they/them pronouns, is really difficult for a lot of people, and we get that. I really can’t imagine any student going to the administration about being misgendered by a faculty or staff member unless it was something that happened chronically and with clear malice. What we want is to be able to just do our work and be respected by others in our community; to be referred to by the names and pronouns we feel comfortable with and not have it be the defining issue of our lives. When my department (in Division III, lest you think that all trans people are confined to the humanities) made the decision last year to have people introduce themselves with pronouns at the beginnings of classes, it was awkward at first and people were nervous about slipping up. Mistakes happened, apologies were awkwardly muttered, and then everyone moved on. By the end of the semester, it was second nature to everyone that the weekly department lunch started with everyone introducing themselves with their name, class year, and pronouns. The building did not burn down, and our academic work did not degrade. We simply became a more welcoming and open department, and it is my sincere hope that more of Williams can follow in that pursuit.

Good stuff. S’18 should join us as an author! Their perspective belongs on the front page of EphBlog, not buried at the bottom of an (interesting!) comment thread.

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Responsible employees and reporting responsibilities

From the Dean of the College to the Faculty:

Dear Faculty Colleagues,

We hope your summer has been a good one. We write to update you on some aspects of the college’s work on prevention of and response to sexual harassment and sexual assault, and in particular to share information on your reporting obligations if you become aware of such issues.

Williams College seeks to prevent sexual harassment and sexual violence of all kinds, and to act to redress any such incidents that do occur. That commitment requires that we know about incidents that happen on our campus, so that we can (1) ensure that those who experience sexual harassment or sexual violence receive immediate professional support and guidance as to their options for legal and campus processes and for counseling, no contact orders and other accommodations (2) act to address the behavior of alleged perpetrator, the safety of the individual affected and of the campus community (3) become aware of patterns of perpetration and intervene to stop them.

1) Seems like standard stuff, in this day and age.

2) What is the best way to make trouble on this topic? I still want answers about this accusation.

Entire letter below the break:
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34 Honor Code Violations

A letter to the faculty:

Dear Colleagues,

Most of you heard Nick Goldrosen, the student chair of the honor committee at yesterday’s faculty meeting.

More transparency, please. Were there slides? A printed report? Share it with the community. Faculty Meetings are, essentially, public events, with Record reporters generally (still?) in attendance.

As faculty chair, I’d like to add a few words as well. After all, the committee heard 34 cases in 2017-18 (!!! for comparison, ten years ago the number was 15), many of them resulting in sanctions of failure in the assignment or failure in the course.

There were also 34 incidents in 2012-2013. Shevchenko is being sloppy (misleading?) to pretend that there has been a steady increase over the last decade. If the latest number is exactly the same as the number 5 years ago, there probably isn’t a crisis . . .

We would love to do all we can to bring the number of violations (and thus, affected students) down this year.

Would we? (And I am not just referring to the poor writing suggested by the desire to bring down affected students.)

The easiest way to bring the number down is to stop enforcing/investigating incidents. See no evil! Of course, I am against this, but how do we know the increase this year is because the underlying rate of cheating has gone up as opposed to an increase in enforcement efficacy. Maybe cheating at Williams has been constant for 10 (or 100 years) but its detection has varied over time.

As you know, all Williams students sign the honor code before they can register for classes. They also likely read a statement about the honor code on your class syllabi. However, it appears that this is far from sufficient as a deterrent from honor code violations.

D’oh! Who ever thought it was? The fear of punishment is the deterrent that will work best on Williams students. Read excerpts from past Honor Committee Reports to your class. That will lower cheating.

If left at that, the honor code may inadvertently come across as a mere formality, which does an enormous injustice to the values it is designed to uphold, and to the students themselves.

Exactly. And this is the faculty’s fault! Contemporary syllabi are so jammed full of required junk that, almost by definition, the importance of any one bit has to decrease. If you spend more time on pronouns and diversity, then you have to spend less time on the honor code. There is no free lunch.

In order to make sure the honor code does what it is supposed to do, i.e. ensures academic integrity of the work done at the college, all of us need to take time in our classes to convey to students (a) how the specific parameters of our assignments relate to the honor code (that is, the details of our expectations regarding the use of outside sources, group work and citation format for each individual assignment), and (b) just how much is at stake, for them individually and for Williams as a community, in upholding these.

Blah, blah, blah. If you want to reach college students where they live, if you actually want to change their behavior, then you need to avoid soporific tripe like this and focus on the concrete. Read them this:

A junior was brought to the Honor Committee due to concerns about plagiarism. The professor noted that sections of several papers appeared to come directly
from online sources. Following the Honor Committee’s hearing and deliberations, they determined that the student violated the honor code on multiple occasions by using ideas and direct quotations from other sources without citation. The committee recommended a sanction of failure in the course.

Read a couple of these and . . . pause . . . and say, “If you cheat in my class, I will catch you and you will fail the course.

Faculty who do this (certainly?) face less cheating than faculty who prattle on about “how much is at stake.” Most Williams faculty, sadly, are unwilling to confront students so directly.

Back to the letter.

Our students come from a range of academic backgrounds, and many are working on a steep learning curve as they develop the command of academic language and conventions.

This is strange. Does Shevchenko mean to suggest that many/most cheating cases result from different “backgrounds?” This is not implausible. Andover teaches you not to cheat because its faculty teach thoroughly. Perhaps, at a lousy high school, students don’t really learn how to use information from the internet correctly/honestly?

But Shevchenko never says this directly and, reading between the lines of the annual reports, it looks like the vast majority of cases are not caused by differing “academic backgrounds.” The cheaters know that they are cheating.

The attention you give to the code of academic integrity in your class helps them all to arrive at a shared understanding of the honor code’s purpose and of their role in upholding it.

This is a testable hypothesis! Randomly assign some professors to make a big deal about cheating and some to do whatever they normally do. Does giving the honor code more “attention” cause a decrease in cheating?

If Williams were an actual “leader” in undergraduate education, these are the sorts of questions that we would be exploring — carefully and rigorously — each semester.

Oftentimes, honor code violations occur because the students are caught in the trees so much that they fail to see the forest: they are freaking out about a grade, running out of time, or dealing with external stress.

Does this metaphor work? “Caught in the trees?” Anyway, this suggests that the problem is not differing backgrounds. The cheaters know. They just feel compelled to cheat because of these pressures. (By the way, it would be good to collect and distribute anonymous interviews with punished students.) Again, the best way to deter such “calculated” cheating is by demonstrating that it will fail.

To prevent these scenarios, it is our role as faculty to remind them of the larger purpose of the honor system. It’s also helpful to make sure the students know that consequences of cheating far outweigh the elusive gains they may be hoping to achieve by cutting corners. Speaking about academic integrity in class proactively and specifically, and giving them the tools to do the right thing early on sends the students a signal that you take academic honesty seriously, and ensures that they do too.

Shevchenko needs an editor. How is this any different than what she wrote above?

We wish you all a great semester of teaching and learning, and thank you for taking action to help your students uphold the values of academic integrity in your classes. Don’t hesitate to contact me if you come across something that looks like an honor case, or simply if you have any thoughts or concerns pertaining to the honor system.

Olga Shevchenko, on behalf of the Honor Committee.

More transparency, please.

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Integrative Global Studies

This seems fishy to me.

The Board of Supervisors accepted a bid on the Lucerne Hotel, also known as the Lucerne Castle, for $2.5 million from the Romero Institute at their Tuesday, Aug. 21 meeting.

The Romero Institute is a social justice-focused nonprofit law and public policy center based in Santa Cruz.

The Romero Institute proposal states that they intend to turn the Lucerne Hotel into a four-year educational institution which will offer a Bachelor of Arts degree in Integrative Global Studies and a University Extension Program.

The institution is a partnership with the support of the University of San Francisco, Williams College, Rice University, Kansas State University, Loyola Marymount and the University of Manitoba.

Either the folks at the Romero Institute are making a bs claim about our involvement (which would be illegal, especially in the context of a public bid) or someone at Williams, for silly or nefarious reasons, has gotten us involved with a boondoggle on the other side of the country. Let’s hope for the former!

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Gonzalez as Director of the Office of Human Resources

If we are going to hire more administrators, then I much prefer that they are promoted from within, as in this case, rather than brought in after pseudo “nationwide” searches. Congrats to Gonzalez!

From: Fred Puddester
Date: September 5, 2018 at 3:05:10 PM EDT
To: WILLIAMS-PERSONNEL@LISTSERV.WILLIAMS.EDU
Subject: Human Resources Director
Reply-To: Fred Puddester

Dear Williams Community,

It is my pleasure to announce that Danielle Gonzalez has accepted the offer to become the next director of the Office of Human Resources.

Danielle has been with the college for more than a decade and has served in many roles during her time here. She started at Williams as our Employment Manager and has been promoted into positions of increasing responsibility over her time here. She currently serves as Deputy Director of the office.

Shortly after arriving at the college, she was the staff administrator of the search committee that selected President Falk. That experience provided important insights into the entire Williams community, including trustees, faculty, students, staff and alumni.

Also, early in her career she co-facilitated workshops focused on building an inclusive and diverse community. More than 500 staff members attended these meetings and they provided an important foundational learning experience for staff about how they could foster a more inclusive community.

In 2013 and 2014 Danielle served as co-chair of the Committee on Diversity and Community. During her tenure, the committee made recommendations regarding improving performance evaluations and finding ways for the staff to have more influence in decisions on campus. More recently she has worked closely with colleagues in HR to establish a process for on-boarding individuals who identify as transgender or gender non-binary and currently serves on the Trans-Inclusion Working Group. She has a deep and abiding passion for supporting staff in every way, as well as recruiting and engaging historically underrepresented individuals.

Danielle’s influence extends beyond the Williams campus. She led a group to create the 1Berkshire Youth Leadership program, which engages high school juniors in career exploration and leadership skill development. She also served as a board member and scholar mentor for Greylock ABC, whose mission is to support young people of color through education opportunities. And Danielle currently serves on the Board of Directors for 1Berkshire, the primary advocacy group for the economic, civic, and social welfare of Berkshire County.

On a personal note, over the past seven years I have seen, first hand, Danielle’s dedication to staff, her deep commitment to diversity and inclusion and her passion for recruiting and developing the best people to come to Williams. She excels at developing strong strategic partnerships on campus and is someone department heads routinely seek out for advice. I’m delighted that she will continue her career here at the college in this important leadership role.

I want to thank the members of the search committee — Toya Camacho, Keli Gail, Barron Koralesky, Rhon Manigault-Bryant, Lisa Melendy, G.L. Wallace, Bob Wright and Bob Volpi — and all the faculty and staff that assisted in this search.

Please join me in congratulating Danielle and supporting her in this new role.

Fred

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A million dollars a year in textbooks

Just received this request for a donation to Williams:

Dear Diana,

Did you know that Williams provides a book grant to cover all required texts and course materials for students receiving financial aid?

Prior to 2010, financial aid students would queue up before dawn with the hopes of borrowing textbooks from the 1914 Library. For decades, the 1914 provided financial aid students access to textbooks without having to purchase them outright. […] All of that changed in the spring of 2010: no more standing in line, no more choosing courses or majors based on the availability of textbooks. Since 2010, the Alumni Fund has made it possible for the college to help purchase approximately $7.5 million in textbooks for financial aid students. […]

Perhaps you’d like your Alumni Fund gift to buy the books for students taking “MATH 150: Multivariable Calculus” this semester. (You can read more about the course here.)

Thank you so much for all you do for Williams!

Lisa Russell-Mina ‘79
Co-Chair, Alumni Fund

Thoughts:

  • It’s 2018, and 50% of Williams students (so, about 1000 per year) receive financial aid. By my calculations, that means Williams is spending about $1000 per student per year on textbooks. Wow! That seems like a lot.
  • I appreciate their suggestion to check out Math 150, since I was the one teaching it three semesters ago. In fact, I wrote my own materials and printed them out for the students for free. I wish more people would do the same.
  • Knowing that my hundred dollars might go towards half of a $200 textbook actually makes me less likely to send a hundred dollars to Williams. Financial aid, wholeheartedly yes! Textbooks, hard no.

Some problems I wrote about Mount Greylock, the Mountain Day T-shirt, Cricket Creek farm, and the Williams Outing Club are below the break. The whole textbook is here.

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Two New Administrators

From a faculty friend:

From: Marlene Sandstrom
Date: Thu, Aug 30, 2018 at 10:39 PM
Subject: A hearty introduction
To: WILLIAMS-FACULTY@listserv.williams.edu

Dear Williams Community,

I am excited to announce two new members of the Williams Community.

Hannah Lipstein joins the Dean’s Office in her new role as Violence Prevention Coordinator. Hannah will be working closely with Meg Bossong, Director of Sexual Assault Response and Prevention, to extend our long-term preventative education work on campus. Hannah comes to us from a domestic violence direct service organization in Boston specifically serving the LGBTQ+ community. She also brings a wealth of expertise from her recent undergraduate experience as a student anti-violence organizer and peer advocate at Wellesley College.. We are very excited to welcome Hannah to our team.

Ivy Krofta joins us as a Peer Tutor Coordinator. Ivy will be working closely with Laura Muller, Director of Quantitative Skills Programs and Peer Support, to manage the day to day operations of our Peer Academic Support Network. Ivy is a 2013 graduate of MCLA with a degree in degree in English/Communications. She studied Spanish at the International Language Institute in Northampton, and is certified as an ESL educator. Some of you may know Ivy from her long time work at Bonnie Lea Farm. Ivy’s home base will be in in the Academic Resource Center (2nd floor of Paresky)

Please join me in welcoming Hannah and Ivy to Williams.

All best wishes,

Marlene

Marlene J. Sandstrom
Dean of the College and Hales Professor of Psychology
Williams College
Phone: (413) 597-4261
Fax: (413) 597-3507

Is there any amount of hiring that would make the trustees, ask: “How many people do you really need to run Williams?”

My recommendation is the same as always: Fewer administrators and more faculty involvement in administration.

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student pronouns

Are my “friends” on the faculty punking me, sending me absurd parodies of Administration e-mails which make me seem stupidly naive for publishing them? Latest example:

From: “Buell, Denise”
Date: August 28, 2018 at 5:57:17 PM GMT+2
To: WILLIAMS-FACULTY@LISTSERV.WILLIAMS.EDU
Subject: student pronouns
Reply-To: “Buell, Denise”

Dear Colleagues,

Williams College is committed to building a community where everyone is a full member. Part of this commitment involves acknowledging gender diversity on campus and respectfully addressing our students and peers. How we practice language matters, and being attentive to what pronouns we use allows us to respect the multi-faceted identities of our community members. Everyone has the right to be addressed as they should be, and we leave that to each individual to determine.

With this in mind, we are pleased to announce that the Office of Institutional Technology and the Registrar’s Office are working to facilitate appropriate pronoun identification for faculty, students and staff. The first step in this process has been to give students the option to submit their pronouns in PeopleSoft, and to make student pronouns available to faculty on class rosters in PeopleSoft as well as to academic advisors in their Advisor Center/My Advisee section. (Please note that at this time, they will not be available via GLOW.)

The process for students is simple. Students will select pronouns per instructions provided to them by the Registrar’s Office. A student’s pronoun will be indicated on the class roster in PeopleSoft under a “pronoun” column. When or if a student changes pronouns at any point during the term (even after add/drop), faculty instructors and academic advisors will receive an email notification from PeopleSoft indicating that one or more students submitted a pronoun update, and they will be directed to their roster.

For now, this change will take place at the student level. The Office of Institutional Technology, Human Resources, and the Registrar’s Office are working diligently to ensure that the pronoun identification process can be made available for faculty and staff. This is an effort that will take some time, and that is greatly impacted by the technological limitations of our current systems. Faculty and staff will be notified of these forthcoming changes as they occur.

As Faculty, one of our key teaching responsibilities is to create inclusive learning communities. In our classrooms, we set examples for students everyday for how to engage each other with respect. As you know, the way we speak to others matter and can make a profound difference in someone’s life. As you consider strategies for pronoun use, you may find the accompanying list of resources below helpful.

If you have any additional questions or need additional information, please contact any member of the Offices of the Dean of the Faculty, Institutional Diversity and Equity, and the Registrar.

best,

Denise K. Buell

Office of the Dean of the Faculty

You may find the following resources helpful:

A guide to pronoun practices at Williams, which includes lists of existing pronoun choices, as well as strategies for pronoun use.

See also Some helpful information about Name Change Policies on the Registrar’s website.

And, many have found the “‘Ask Me’: What LGBTQ Students Want Their Professors to Know” to be an especially handy resource.

We would also like to share below the following information that the Office of the Registrar has provided to students to help guide them in their practices.

Why should I select a pronoun?

Informing the community of your pronouns helps everyone address you appropriately and respects everyone’s right to be addressed as they should be.

What are the pronoun choices?

The following list is not exhaustive.

she/her/hers
he/him/his
they/them/theirs
ze/zir/zirs
zhe/zher/zhers
name/name/name (e.g. Kris would like Kris’ things for Kris)

other (fill in the blank with your pronoun choice.)

Some pronouns dos and don’ts:

Do!

DO-If you would like to ask someone’s pronoun, start by offering your pronoun first, “Hi, I’m ____. I use the pronouns ____. What about you?” It is good practice to ask which pronouns a person uses, instead of assuming.

DO-Understand that some people are not comfortable sharing their pronouns. Some people would prefer that you call them by their name. This is particularly true for some people who may feel they are being asked to share information that they are not ready to share.

DO-Be patient with yourself and others. If you make a mistake, apologize, make the correction and move on.

Don’t!

DON’T-Refer to pronouns such as “they/them/their” or “ze/zir/zirs” as “gender-neutral pronouns.” While some people identify as gender-neutral, many don’t see themselves as gendered, but as gender nonconforming. Better language is “non-binary pronouns.”

DON’T- Describe the pronouns someone uses as “preferred pronouns.” It is not a preference. The pronouns that a person uses are their pronouns and the only ones that should be used for them.

DON’T-Say “male pronouns” and “female pronouns.” Pronouns are not necessarily tied to someone’s gender identity: some people use “he/him/his” or “she/her/hers,” but do not identify as male or female, respectively.

If Denise Buell is sending e-mails like this today, what sort of e-mails will she be sending in 15 years?

Also, what does President Mandel think about this topic?

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Bossong on Berkshire DA Candidate Forum

Meg Bossong ’05, director of Sexual Assault Prevention and Response, writes:

During the Berkshire County district attorney forum on July 31, the candidates for DA were asked about two campus sexual assault bills pending in the Legislature.

In his response, Paul Caccaviello chose to describe the complex problem of campus sexual assault by pointing to Williams College, specifically, for failing to report incidents of sexual violence to the criminal legal system and to advocate for the legal rights of student survivors of intimate violence.

Mr. Caccaviello’s assertions are patently and categorically false. His own predecessor, David Capeless, refuted this point in a lengthy interview with iBerkshires in 2014, saying “My understanding from talking to [Williamstown Police] Chief [Kyle] Johnson is that when [Williams] gets incidents, they report it to the police. Even when the victim doesn’t want to talk to the police, they tell the police just so they know. Unfortunately, there’s been a misunderstanding of what colleges are doing. It’s too easy to think that they have every reason to suppress the idea that there are assaults on their campus. But they’re not suppressing the information.”

To be effective in advocating on behalf of crime victims, advocates — whether on campus, in community-based agencies like the Elizabeth Freeman Center, or in the DA’s own victim-witness advocacy program — have to help victims understand their options, and the benefits and barriers to accessing them. Williams presents students with all their legal and disciplinary options, and supports them in accessing those, either directly or via connection with off-campus resources.

Survivors of violence often weigh whether they can endure the publicity and pain of a criminal proceeding. That self-searching, at the same time they are reacting to and trying to begin their recovery from trauma, has to include a consideration of whether a criminal complaint is likely to lead to a conviction.

The DA’s office makes the final choice about whether to pursue prosecution in cases of sexual violence that occur in Berkshire County. This includes cases affecting students of the four colleges located here. Mr. Caccaviello needs to tell the voters of our county how many cases of peer-to-peer, alcohol-involved sexual assault and rape his office has chosen to bring to trial, and how many cases they have pleaded out to lesser, non-sexual offenses or agreed to continue without a finding.

With that information, the voters of Berkshire County can decide on Sept. 4 whose advocacy has come up short.

Hmmm. I confess to not following the politics of this closely. Thoughts:

1) Caccaviello does not strike me as the prettiest flower in the bouquet. Should we root against him?

2) Bossong is a friend (?) of EphBlog, so we are on her side in general despite (or because?!) she blocks me on social media.

3) Internal party politics are confusing. (Berkshire County is now a democratic stronghold, so whoever wins the primary will be the next DA.) Caccaviello may be smart to cast Williams College as the villain.

4) Who does Bossong favor? Who does Williams, as an institution, favor? Hard to know! The Berkshire DA has had very little to do with Williams, at least over the last few years (decades?). But a more activist DA, especially one who aspired to higher office and who wanted the (free) press associated with taking on the local giant, could be a giant headache for President Maud Mandel. Imagine a trial like Gensheimer/Foster every year . . .

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“Take a relaxing stroll through town,” they said. “It’s carbon neutral,” they said. Williamstown this day in 2018.

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Not Being Welcomed, Included, or Accepted

Latest all-faculty e-mail:

From: Marlene Sandstrom
Date: Mon, Aug 13, 2018 at 2:59 PM
Subject: syllabus planning and student support
To: WILLIAMS-FACULTY@listserv.williams.edu

Dear Colleagues,

I hope this note finds you well. As we hit mid-August, many of you will begin the process of creating or updating your course syllabi. I’d like to take this opportunity to suggest a few topics for inclusion: (1) the honor code, (2) access to health/accessibility resources, and (3) inclusivity and classroom culture.


The honor code
:
Please consider including a statement about how the honor code (and academic integrity) applies to your coursework. The syllabus is a great place to introduce students to any specific requirements you have about citation, collaboration, use of resource materials, or other issues particular to your work. Even if you plan to provide specific instructions on individual assignments, including information about the honor code in the syllabus sends an important signal about the importance of academic integrity in your classroom.

In addition to outlining general expectations, consider including a statement that encourages students to ask questions if they are unsure about a particular practice or rule (e.g., “If you have any questions about how the honor code applies to your work, please come talk with me. I am always happy to have those conversations.”

One issue that has become increasing thorny for the Honor Committee over the past few years involves the nature of collaborative work. In many instances, faculty allow (and strongly encourage) students to collaborate in some ways and for some assignments, but not in others. The Honor Committee has been hearing a large number of cases in which students seem confused about what sorts of collaborative work are being encouraged, even when faculty believe they had been clear. The syllabus provides a good opportunity for clarity. Rather than providing students with a general principle (e.g., “Students may consult with other students as long as the work they turn in is their own”) you might want to consider being more specific about your expectations around collaboration. What you choose to write will vary depending on the nature of your assignments and expectations, but one example of more detailed language around collaborative work might be: “Students can exchange broad ideas or general approaches toward problem sets with other students, but may not engage in any joint writing or step-by-step problem solving. One way to be sure you are not violating the honor code is to refrain from writing/typing/crafting your response to the assignment with others. Rather, save the writing until you are on your own and working independently.”

Health/Accessibility resources:
Both students and faculty have asked about ways to ensure that students know the resources they can turn to for disabilities and other health issues that affect their academic work. We are continuing to work on improving outreach from our office directly to students regarding these resources. You may wish to include a brief pointer to appropriate resources in your syllabus. Some sample language to consider: “Students with disabilities of any kind who may need accommodations for this course are encouraged to contact Dr. GL Wallace (Director of Accessible Education) at 597-4672. Also, students experiencing mental or physical health challenges that are significantly affecting their academic work or well-being are encouraged to contact me and to speak with a dean so we can help you find the right resources. The deans can be reached at 597-4171.”

Inclusivity and classroom culture
:
You might want to consider including a statement in your syllabus that underscores your commitment to a respectful and inclusive classroom climate. Some sample language to consider: The Williams community embraces diversity of age, background, beliefs, ethnicity, gender, gender identity, gender expression, national origin, religious affiliation, sexual orientation, and other visible and nonvisible categories. I welcome all students in this course and expect that all students contribute to a respectful, welcoming and inclusive environment. If you feel that you are not being welcomed, included, or accepted in this class, please come to me or a college administrator to share your concern.

Many thanks to the faculty members who have contributed to the suggested language provided here. Please use whatever you find helpful, and feel free to share additional ideas with me, so that I can pass them along to others.. Also, feel free to get in touch if you’d like to discuss any of these issues further. Meanwhile, I hope you enjoy the rest of your summer. May time slow down for these last few weeks, and may late August be restorative!

All best wishes,

Marlene

Marlene J. Sandstrom
Dean of the College and Hales Professor of Psychology

1) Isn’t it pretty stupid for every single syllabus to include the exact same language about these issues? Don’t we have a student handbook or some other common means to cover these topics?

2) Put yourself in the shoes of a junior faculty member. The Dean of the College asks you to “consider” using this in your syllabus:

If you feel that you are not being welcomed, included, or accepted in this class, please come to me or a college administrator to share your concern.

Emphasis added. What choice do you have but to include this sniveling invitation to every trouble-making snitch?

3) We have some faculty readers. Will you be including this (newish?) language in your syllabi? Do you think your junior colleagues feel compelled to?

4) What are the standards by which we might determine if a student is, objectively, being “accepted” in a class? Is it possible to be welcomed and included, but not accepted?

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Information for Returning Upperclass Students – Fall 2018

Dear Students,
I hope you are having a wonderful summer.  We are busy planning for fall – just a few more weeks until the Class of 2022 arrives – and I’m very much looking forward to your return to campus and to our community.
There are many questions you may have brewing at this point – about keys and cars and transportation and room openings and many other things.  We have a website which we hope will offer most of the answers, here.  Of course, if none of these links answer your questions, we are here and happy to talk and figure things out.
I’m wishing you a joyful remainder of your summer and safe travel back to Williamstown.
All best,
Dean Sandstrom
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In Solidarity and in Community

From a faculty source:

> From: “Patterson-Stephens, Shawna”
> Date: July 13, 2018 at 6:21:12 PM GMT+2
> To: WILLIAMS-PERSONNEL@LISTSERV.WILLIAMS.EDU
> Subject: Community Space in Response to Incident at Sawyer Library
> Reply-To: “Patterson-Stephens, Shawna”
>
> Williams Students, Faculty, and Staff,
>
> Recently, printed materials expressing anti-Islamic, anti-Semitic, anti-Black, and anti-LGBTQIA sentiment were placed in the library stacks of the Sawyer Library.
>
> The Davis Center will host a community space this afternoon (Friday, July 13th) in the Jenness Conference Room from 2:00 pm-5:00 pm in response to these harmful sentiments. We invite you to join us for as long or as little as you’d like, in solidarity and in community.
>
> The DC Staff also invites you to join us in reclaiming our space with messages of affirmation we intend to post throughout campus. These messages, in the form of posters, will be available on the conference room table–feel free to drop by and take one or some for your offices, classrooms, and residential spaces.
>
> ​Yours,
> The Davis Center Staff​

Here are some photos of the students (?) who disrupted (?) the Williamstown July 4th parade and the annual reading of the Founding Documents in Sawyer.

001-070418_williamstown_parade--001

002-070418_williamstown_parade--003

003-070418_williamstown_parade--004

1) I bet that there is some overlap/connection between these protestors and the Davis Center folks organizing this “Response.” In particular, who paid for those nicely printed posters?

2) What would happen to a student/professor who organized “messages of affirmation” to counteract ideas of the July 4th protestors? There are many trolling opportunities available.

3) Please post photos of these “messages of affirmation.” Future historians will thank you!

4) Non-violent protest/speech is at the heart of a free society. I want more messages from both the July 4th protestors and the anonymous white nationalists. Indeed, if Robert Gaudino were still with us, he would be trying to arrange a debate between the two groups. Uncomfortable Learning indeed!

5) Am I wrong to suspect that the Davis Center folks want to silence voices on campus that disagree with them (e.g., Trump supporters suspicious of Muslim immigration) while insisting on their right to disrupt events like the July 4th parade and reading of the Founding Documents?

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How Wealthy is Williams?

From our friends at Dartblog comes this report (pdf) about college/university wealth. Key table:

Screen Shot 2018-05-21 at 7.33.30 AM

Interesting stuff!

1) Pomona, Amherst and Swarthmore have the wealth to compete more effectively with us, mainly by hiring more faculty. Will they?

2) Does this data fully reflect the fact that Amherst has been increasing its student body? I don’t think so. Latest first year class at Amherst was 470, which which generates a four year student body of 1880. This number would bring down the endowment per student down a bit.

3) I seem to recall that we used to be further ahead of Amherst/Swarthmore. True? What happened?

4) The meaning of “student” — undergraduate, Ph.D., business, law, etc — varies significantly across institutions, so it is hard to compare liberal arts colleges with places like Princeton and Harvard.

Should I spend a week on this topic?

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Garfield House is gone.

Our friends over at ‘Eph Construction Boom’ are reporting the Garfield has been torn down. Will check it out tomorrow and throw up some after pics of the debris…

36259860_699302187071568_8965334168397414400_n

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How Faculty Can Change Williams

A conversation with professor at reunion leads to this post about how faculty — even a single faculty member — can create significant change at Williams. Most of this advice applies to any topic, but, for concreteness, let’s assume a professor who is concerned about the decline of faculty governance at Williams and the rise of administrator numbers/power/salaries.

First, educate yourself on the topic. The Provost’s Office produced this wonderful report (pdf) on college staffing. Read it more than once. See EphBlog’s 9 (!) part series of faculty governance: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8 and 9. Talk to some retired faculty members (e.g., Frank Oakley) about how the College used to be run. If you want to change policy about topic X, then you need to be as well-informed about X as anyone at Williams.

One tidbit on the history of faculty governance: Just 25 years ago, there were two assistant provosts, both members of the faculty. They assisted the provost in all her duties. (One of those assistants was Morty Schapiro!) There is no reason why the faculty could not be much more powerful than they are, no reason why Williams could not revert back to arrangements of that era.

Second, schedule an appointment with Maud Mandel. She starts in two weeks and will be eager to chat with faculty. The goal for this meeting is not to harangue her with your views. Instead, find out what she thinks! Is she concerned with the growth of administrative power? Did she witness similar trends at Brown? What does she think the correct ratio is of faculty to administrator hiring? And so on. At some point, ask her: “Interesting point, Maud! Would you mind if I followed up with Dukes Love and his folks in the Provost’s Office to gather more information?” She will probably encourage you to do so. And getting that permission/encourage was your goal from this meeting.

Third, meet with Dukes Love or Chris Winters ’95 or someone else in the Provost’s Office, ideally whoever was the lead person on the Staffing Report. Again, your goal is not to harangue them with your views. Be realistic! They don’t really care what you think. You are just one of the 250+ faculty members they have to deal with. Instead, your goal is to get access to their data on staffing, or at least as much of it as they will share. It is one thing to read their report. It is another to have a copy of their Excel spreadsheets, to be able to work with the raw data that they work with. The rules are such that they can’t share with you the salaries of individuals, obviously, but they can share anything else. And since you seem so reasonable — and since Maud Mandel encouraged your efforts, as you casually mentioned to them — they might be quite accommodating. Data is power and, the more you have, the more likely to are to accomplish something.

Four, write a 5 page report, expressing your concerns. Again, your goal is not to harangue readers with your views, much less with your proposed solutions. Instead, you are highlighting key facts. Of the 20 highest paid people at Williams, 18 used to be faculty, now only 10 are. The ratio of spending on faculty versus administrator salaries used to be 5:1 now it is only 2:1. There used to be 7 faculty for every administrator, and now there are only 3. Much of this information is already in the staffing report, but much is not. (And the staffing report pulls a few fast ones as well. Should I spend a week going through it?) The goal of the report is to highlight that things have changed dramatically in the last 20 years and that this topic merits further exploration.

Five, gather faculty support. Most faculty agree with you that the Administration has grown too big and too powerful. Show them your report. Get their feedback. Ask them if they would be willing to join you in working on this problem. Present the report to various committees, perhaps all the way up to a full faculty meeting. Key at this stage is to identify your core supporters, the 5 (10? 30?) faculty members who are willing to work hard on this topic, even if it means going against the College Administration.

Six, start thinking about goals. What, precisely, do you want to accomplish? What policy change would make Williams better off 10 or 50 years from now? This is not about an individual administrator or even a class of positions. My recommendation is that you want a non-faculty net-hiring pause of 10 years. You certainly don’t want anyone to be fired. Current Williams administrators are, overwhelmingly, good people, working hard to make the College better. You just want to bring Williams back “in balance,” to where it was 20 years ago. Since many people leave the College each year, the Administration would still have a great deal of flexibility in terms of shifting resources around. But, right now, Williams has 200 (?) administrators. That is enough. Other plausible policy changes include a (more draconian) hiring freeze which would, over time, decrease the administrative bloat at Williams. Or a freeze on total spending on administrators.

Seven, lobby to create a committee. Major changes at Williams come via two mechanisms — presidential fiat (Falk’s alignment) or major committees (the end of fraternities, the decrease in admission preferences for athletes, neighborhood housing). You want President Mandel to form a committee — preferably faculty only, but maybe to also include students and alumni — charged with examining administration growth at Williams. You would not presume to demand that this committee come to a specific conclusion. Instead, your only point is that there are few more important issues to Williams over the next 100 years than the role of faculty in college governance. Therefore, we need a committee to examine this topic.

Eight, keep Mandel/Love/Buell informed as you proceed. Perhaps one or more of them might be an ally! You never know. At the very least, keeping them informed is probably politically wise since only they can create the committee. You just want to maneuver them into situation in which, from their point of view, giving you your committee is the best option.

That is enough for today! More advice available, as requested.

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Proven Correct

Funny Record article:

From Saturday through Monday, the Office of Student Life (OSL) held its annual general room draw for upperclass students. The lottery underwent several changes this year, including a move to the new, fully online Williams Housing Portal, the removal of Garfield House from the lottery for planned renovation and a new provision allowing students to pick into one half of a double room before all singles had been filled.

Despite the platform’s success, however, many students have expressed discontent with the outcome of the room draw, largely due to the change allowing students to pick into half of a double early in the process. In past years, students could not pick into doubles alone until all singles on campus had been filled.

Specifically, some students were frustrated with the way in which some students appear to have manipulated the system by way of the gender cap to ensure that doubles picked into early on would remain solo rooms. In some houses, such as Agard House and East College, many groups of doubles were selected early on in the process by large single-gender groups. The house would then hit the gender cap, ensuring that only students of a different gender could pick into it. Because consent is required from the first occupant for a person of another gender to pick into the second half of a double, some of the earlier occupants denied consent, thus keeping large doubles for themselves as singles.

Schiazza explained that he had feared this would occur if OSL allowed students to pick into half of doubles but made the change anyway due to increased pressure from students. “For the 15 years that I’ve been at Williams, rising seniors and juniors have expressed frustration to me about not having the option to take half of a double to keep their pick groups together, and then seeing rising sophomores with less seniority have that option later in the lottery after all the singles have been taken,” he said. “I’ve explained each time that my understanding of the reason for the rule was that rising seniors and juniors in the past would take a half-double, then put pressure on other students who would select or try to select the other half of the room later in the lottery not to take the room or to move afterward. The last few years, students have expressed to me that they thought today’s students wouldn’t do something like that and urged that we give it a try. So, we tried it this year – and I’d really hoped to be proven wrong in this experiment. Sadly, I’m disappointed to have instead been proven correct.”

As a result of discontent among both students and OSL over what occurred with these double rooms, OSL will likely be returning to its previous policy of not allowing half of a double to be picked into early on in the room draw. “We have been hearing of more situations than we’d want where students are putting pressure on each other about sharing rooms,” Schiazza said. “So it’s very likely that we’ll be returning to the ‘can’t take a half-double until all singles are gone’ rule for next year.”

Doug Schiazza knows what he is doing. If he is suspicious that students will behave selfishly, the rest of us should heed his warnings.

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Administrative Bloat

Williams is hiring an assistant general counsel.

We seek a collaborative, strategic, and intellectually agile attorney to serve as Assistant General Counsel (AGC), reporting to the General Counsel. The AGC will provide legal support involving myriad legal issues to a wide array of college offices and constituencies and will help manage and operate the college’s residential mortgage benefit program. Over time the AGC will develop the ability to represent college before local boards, commissions, and agencies in a variety of permitting, regulatory, and policy matters.

1) Every administrator hired is another faculty member not hired. We need to understand not just the seen — a nice new administrator who is doing her best to make Williams better — but also what is not seen — the junior professor not hired because her salary has gone to the administrator instead.

2) If we must hire a new administrator, we should do everything possible to make it the spouse of a current faculty member. You don’t need a law degree to do (almost) any aspect of the job outlined above. None if it is rocket science. A smart spouse could learn what he needed to learn over time. Some of the best administrators at Williams — Associate Provost Chris Winters ’95, Director of Institutional Research Courtney Wade — got their first job at the College with no relevant experience. By hiring them, Williams has made it much less likely that their spouses — Professors Amy Gehring ’94 and Brent Heeringa — will ever consider leaving.

3) Why not allow current faculty to take on this work? We have lamented, for years, the continuing decrease in faculty governance at Williams. There are a dozen or more faculty members who would like to be considered for senior administrator positions when they next open up. How are those professors to demonstrate their talent and industriousness? How are they to discover, before they get tapped as Provost, that they really want to get into administration?

The best plan is to give them part time work doing administrative type stuff, like representing the “college before local boards, commissions, and agencies.” They will learn whether or not they like administration. President Mandel will discover if they are any good at it. And it would not cost Williams a penny. Professors would still be responsible for their full teaching loads.

Ancient readers will recall that Williams used to have two “assistant provosts,” both drawn from the faculty. Now we have zero. The old way was better.

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