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Affirming our commitment to Title IX, inclusion, and each other

To the Williams community,

In recent weeks I’ve been asked whether possible changes in the government’s approach to Title IX will affect our work at Williams. Initially these questions focused on sexual assault prevention. In response to recent national news, people are now also asking about our commitment to inclusion of transgender students, faculty and staff.

Uncertainty can be worrying. So I want to reassure you on both points. We’re going to do everything we can to guarantee the wellbeing of everyone in our community. That’s because our efforts have always been and will continue to be motivated by respect for each other as people, not by the fear of government sanction.

With that in mind I want to start by reaffirming unambiguously that our trans students, faculty and staff are deeply valued members of the Williams community. It’s our job to make sure that everyone feels welcome here and enjoys the full benefits of that membership. That includes, but is hardly limited to, the absolute right of trans members of our community to use bathrooms and other facilities that accord with their identity.

And to all those concerned about the future of Title IX and sexual assault prevention, I assure you that we’re going to continue and intensify those efforts, not retreat from them.

Williams students, staff, faculty and alumni have made important progress in that regard. Much of their work was described in the spring 2015 issue of Williams Magazine, “Standing Strong Together.” Numerous resources and information are also available on our Title IX website, as well as through the Dean of the College and the Davis Center. If you’ve experienced assault or bias, or want help for any reason, please reach out in the way that feels right to you.

Our work cannot and will not stop. So I also want to make sure we consistently communicate about where we’re succeeding and where we’re running into challenges. With that in mind you’ll be receiving a steady stream of reports and updates starting this semester. They’ll include news about a grant to support prevention strategies around campus social events as well as Dean Sandstrom’s annual report on outcomes from the previous year’s sexual misconduct processes.

My goal in this message isn’t to pretend we’ve become perfectly inclusive or solved the problem of sexual violence—we haven’t. There’s always more to be done. And it needs to be done in an equitable, accessible and transparent manner. I’m profoundly grateful to Toya Camacho, Meg Bossong ’05, the Davis Center, RASAN, Men for Consent, our alumni advocates and everyone else who’s been involved in the work so far. If you’re not engaged in those efforts and would like to do more, please talk to Toya, Meg or our student leaders about how you can help. It’s going to take all of us to support our trans friends and colleagues and prevent sexual assault and violence at Williams.

As you know, policies often shift from one Washington administration to the next. Fortunately, we don’t have to passively wait for direction. Instead, we turn to our mission and values to guide us in times of uncertainty and change. This is an important moment to heed our conscience and to show the deep care and concern for each other that defines Williams.

Sincerely,

Adam Falk
President

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Renaming Horn Hall

Activist students want to rename Horn Hall:

Students are convening an emergency TOWN HALL MEETING at 8:30 PM on Thursday [March 2] to rename Horn Hall.

We will provide a brief 10 minute rundown of Joey Horn’s recent conviction of abuse of workers and the administration’s disturbing response. Then, the space will be opened up for suggestions about what to rename Horn Hall. Perhaps we should choose an amazing alum or professor who has committed their life to fighting for justice and a better world. At the end of the meeting, we will vote on a new name. Though this meeting is organized by students, we invite any staff, faculty, and members of the community to participate.

This a direct action in response to the fact that the College has decided to go through with naming the new dorm after Trustee Horn despite her recent conviction. This makes Horn Hall one of several Williams buildings named after problematic figures. Since the administration won’t engage with us or rename the building, we are taking matters into our own hands and finding a new name for the building for the present moment. This is not about choosing the perfect or permanent name for the building. We seek to fuel further interrogation of other problematic (including racist and slave-owning) figures memorialized on Williams campus and, most critically, address the oppressive systems which are the legacy of some of these figures, both within the institution and outside of it.

The town hall meeting will last one hour. Following the meeting, we will all march to the newly named building for a ribbon cutting ceremony and a pizza celebration. Join us for as long or short as you can, and spread the word! If you have questions, comments, or want to help plan this effort, email divestwilliamscollege@gmail.com.

1) “other problematic (including racist and slave-owning) figures memorialized on Williams campus”? Details, please. Williams, unlike Yale, seems remarkably bereft of problematic historical associations.

2) Who is paying for the “pizza celebration?” Nothing wrong with pizza, or celebrations, for that matter. But any good Record reporter should figure this out. If I were a trustee, I would have no issues with Williams students protesting my decisions, but I would ask Adam Falk if the college should really be subsidizing such activities.

3) It is interesting how connected these various causes are, even though there seems no obvious reason why someone involved with Divestment should care about Horn Hall or why someone involved with either should be working with CTA, whose main (praise-worthy!) issue is greater trustee transparency. Is there a common factor of sticking-it-to-the-Man which motivates all these campaigns?

4) If we are going to rename Horn Hall, then the best choice is Krissoff Hall.

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Student Letter on Horn

From our friends at the Coalition for Transparency and Accountability comes this letter (pdf) to Adam Falk and the trustees about Trustee Joey Horn ’87.

We are deeply disturbed by the recent conviction of Trustee Joey Shaista Horn and her husband by the Oslo District Court for violating the Immigration Act (of Norway). The couple had illegally hired two au pairs and subjected them to illegal and unjust working conditions from 2011 to 2014 , as reported by several Norwegian media outlets.

How about a shout out to EphBlog!? The CTA did not find that article on its own. [If anything, EphBlog owes CTA a shout out since it was CTA member Linda Worden ’19 who first found the article. Thanks to commentators for pointing this out.]

We have questions and demand answers:

● When was Williams College made aware of the investigation, the trial, and the conviction?
● Why did Williams College fail to notify the community about this pending investigation?
● If the College was aware of this investigation, why did the College feel it was appropriate to open Horn Hall with its current name?
● Will Trustee Joey Shaista Horn continue to serve on the Board of Trustees?

We demand that the College develop a clear plan for ensuring transparency and accountability from Trustees in the future.

The CTA deserves credit for highlighting the timing of the initial indictment in 2014. This scandal has been percolating for a long time. (And EphBlog is embarrassed to not have covered it until now.) However, CTA has also demonstrated a childish inability to accomplish anything of use and/or to work with its natural allies. (That is, it refuses to follow my excellent advice.) However, I am still happy to answer their questions:

1) Joey probably let the College know about this issue back when she was indicted. At least, I hope she did.

2) The College is not in the business of keeping “the community” updated on every imbroglio that its trustees (or its faculty or its major donors or its students) get involved in. That would be stupid! Would the CTA want Williams to send out a news release every time a student is arrested by the local cops, a news release with the students name? I hope not!

3) Donors get to name things. How naive are the students behind the CTA? Moreover, at the time of the naming, the Horns had not yet been found guilty. And they still might win on appeal. And, even in the worse case that they spend a few months in jail, I (and Williams?) do not see that conviction as such an egregious sin that a building renaming would be required.

4) Horn will continue to serve on the trustees. She is a good person who did one bad thing. I initially thought that Horn would stay on the Trustees. I was wrong. Did the CTAs letter play a role in her resignation? The Record should try and find out.

By the way, the politics of this situation are interesting. The CTA is, obviously, packed with social justice warriors. So, why were they trying to get rid of one of the few women of color on the Trustees? Why were they attacking Horn for, more or less, employing an illegal immigrant in Norway?

Is the CTA the Williams beachhead for Trump? Prosecute and shame the employers of illegal immigrants!

The good (?) news is that the Horn case is bringing together Ephs who normally disagree. Consider former Williams professor John Drew’s take:

From my perspective, the more pertinent issue is whether or not the U.S. and Williams College are ready for the globalist values of Joey Horn 87′. As a matter of integrity, Williams College should return their gift and allow someone else, someone with better and more humane values, have the honor of their name on that building. Simple as that. If Williams fails to take action, the students on campus should begin protesting this outrage.

If the CTA — social justice warriors (almost) all — and John Drew — perhaps the most outspoken member of the vast right wing conspiracy, Eph division — all agree that Horn Hall should be renamed then . . . well, I guess that I am not sure what follows from that . . . But is sure is nice to see CTA/Drew agree on something!

UPDATE: Today’s Record article is stunningly good. Kudos to reporters Nicholas Goldrosen and William Newton. Read the whole thing.

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Horn ’87 Resigns from Board of Trustees

From the Office of the President:

Resignation of Trustee Joey Shaista Horn ’87

Feb. 17, 2017: Joey Shaista Horn ’87 resigned from the Board of Trustees, effective Feb. 16, citing the need to focus on personal matters. Michael Eisenson ’77, Chairman of the Board, thanked Joey for her extensive and committed service to the college and said, “We are sad to lose Joey from the board and grateful for the many ways that she contributed to the work of the board and to the health of the college.”

1) Thanks to class of ’15 and WA for the tip.

2) Does EphBlog share some of the blame here? That is, would Horn have resigned if we had not published the story? I don’t know. The timing certainly suggests that this is true, since the resignation came the day after we published. Moreover, the underlying news — the guilty verdict — came out more than two weeks ago. Did Horn fail to inform the College? Or did she inform Williams, but Falk and the trustees hoped that the story would never come to light? Surely, someone knows the inside story . . .

3) How was the message distributed, if at all, to the Williams community? In particular, did an all-campus message come out? If not, how did WA and class of ’15 come across it?

4) Is the College doing its best to keep this news from spreading? For example, consider this search:

horn3

Normally, a search of the opening phrase of a Williams news release pulls up that release as its first hit. Is the College using some robots.txt-fu to keep this news hidden from the world? Should it?

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Williams Trustee Sentenced to Jail

When was the last time a Williams trustee was sentenced to jail? Two weeks ago!

The Oslo City Court has sentenced a wealthy Norwegian investor and his wife to five months in prison each, in a case that has highlighted abuse of Norway’s au pair program. It’s supposed to serve as a cultural exchange for young people from abroad but the couple, aided by two neighbours, was found guilty of fraudulently and illegally using two young women from the Philippines as au pairs at the same time, and putting them to work as their low-paid household help.

The couple are Ragnor Horn ’85 and Joey Shaista Horn ’87. Does the name “Horn” sound familiar? It should! Horn Hall, the College’s newest residential building is named after Ragnor and Joey, in thanks for their $10 million donation. Joey has been a Williams trustee since 2009. The Horns have been generous donors for more than a decade. Consider this snippet from 2008:

horn2

Back to the article:

The au pairs’ testimony was almost entirely at odds with the Horns’, according to media reports. The Horns claimed they considered the women members of their family and had tried to help them. They admitted to having surveillance cameras in their home but claimed they were not focused on the women while they worked. Mrs Horn, who was represented in court by one of Norway’s most famous defense attorneys, John Christian Elden, also confirmed the required use of face masks, but claimed that “was common in Asia” and was only required in the kitchen by one of the women who “coughed so much.”

Evidence prosecutors referred to in court, however, included a chatting exchange Mrs Horn had with a friend that revealed her referring to her household help in derogatory terms and accusing her of coughing on the food or while in the bathroom. Mrs Horn told her friend the au pair would have to use both a face mask and disposable gloves while in the home or with Horn’s children.

The conversation used as evidence in court also recorded Mrs Horn telling her friend that she had threatened to send the au pair back to her “straw mats in Manila.” Mrs Horn defended herself by saying it had been a “private conversation” with an old friend and that she actually “loved straw mats” and had one in her own home that she used for yoga.

1) Who among us does not love straw mats?

2) WA, who tipped us off about this case, wants me to spend a week going through the details. Should I? My last series on the lifestyles of the rich and the Eph involved Mayo Shattuck ’76 and his cheerleader wife.

3) When was the last time a Williams trustee was sentenced to jail? I can’t come up with a single example. Help us Eph historians!

4) The Horns have three children, including two at Williams. Spare a thought for what they must be going through.

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Carbon Tax

Best debates are the ones that feature Ephs on both sides. The latest proposal for a carbon tax cum dividend is an example. In favor, we have Trustee Mark Tercek ’79:

The plan has four pillars: tax the carbon in fossil fuels at $40 per ton of carbon dioxide for the emissions they will produce; rebate all of the revenue to American households in quarterly dividend payments; repeal federal regulations that will no longer be needed because carbon prices produce greater and more efficient investments in emissions reductions; and assure that the program does not damage U.S. trade by adjusting its impact on exports and imports that are energy intensive.

Against, Oren Cass ’05:

This week, a self-described “who’s-who of conservative elder statesmen” launched a new organization, the Climate Leadership Council (CLC), to make their “Conservative Case for Carbon Dividends.” Lest one be confused, the proposal is yet another carbon tax. Lest one be optimistic, it manages only to weaken an already flawed policy.

None of these objections or challenges is new. Yet, in the marketplace of ideas, the carbon tax behaves increasingly like a government-run utility. It doesn’t care about competition. It ignores complaint with impunity. Its business model depends on the strength of its political connections, not the quality of its product. Elder statesmen often sit on the boards of such entities. Rarely do they achieve positive change.

My take: The politics of this proposal don’t work, not least because of environmentalist who hate it, as you can see from all the progressive’s attacking Tercek from the left. A better plan needs to be more extreme, in order to bring along the right. I recommend a constitutional amendment that would repeal the federal income tax while simultaneously granting Congress the right to tax carbon. Conservatives would go for this because they hate the income tax. The Government’s need to spend would force a carbon tax higher than any other possible plan.

Let’s arrange for a debate at Williams between Tercek and Cass, ideally each paired with a student. Bring back the Williams College Debate Union!

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Dean of Admission and Financial Aid Announcement

To the Williams Community,

As provost and president, respectively, we’re delighted to announce, following a national search, the appointment of Liz Creighton ’01 as dean of admission and financial aid. Liz, who currently serves as deputy director of admission, will assume the new role May 15.

This is a new position, reporting directly to Dukes as provost. As dean, Liz will provide leadership to our efforts to attract and support talented students from across the country and around the world. She’ll use her leadership skills, vision, and creativity to further strengthen Williams’ position as a national leader in both admission and financial aid work, while breaking new ground in shaping how these two areas collaborate to deepen the socioeconomic diversity of our student body.

Liz joined the admission staff at Williams in 2006 and served in several roles before being named deputy director in 2011. As deputy director she has overseen the daily operations of the admission operation and guided work that enabled us to enroll the most ethnically and socioeconomically diverse student body in college history. She has overseen important initiatives including improving our use of data to aid in recruiting and enrolling exceptional students from low-income backgrounds; the expansion of Windows on Williams and Williams Previews, which provide funding for 350 talented students who couldn’t otherwise afford to visit campus; creation of a remote college counseling program for 200 high-achieving, low-income students; and partnering with our communications office to develop a comprehensive communications strategy and publications stream.

Before coming to Williams, Liz worked in Harvard University’s Development Office, where she managed the fundraising portfolios of the university provost and directors of the Harvard Stem Cell Institute, serving on a team that raised $40 million for the institute during its first two years.

Liz earned her bachelor’s degree in history from Williams in 2001 and a Master’s degree in education from the Massachusetts College of Liberal Arts in 2010.

We want to thank the members of the search committee—Danielle Gonzales, Bum Shik Kim ’19, Rhon Manigault-Bryant, Ngoni Munemo, Marlene Sandstrom and Chris Winters ’95—for their diligent work that has led to this wonderful outcome for Williams.

Please join us in congratulating Liz on her new role.

Regards,

Dukes Love, Provost and Professor of Economics

Adam Falk, President

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Williamstown Immigrant Trust Act Project

Dear friends:

In light of President Trump’s recent executive orders, and of the increasing interest within our community in the sanctuary movement, we – the undersigned – would like to share with you the status of our work on the Williamstown Immigrant Trust Act.

The Williamstown Immigrant Trust Act is a draft ordinance for the town of Williamstown. If passed, it will: ensure that the Williamstown Police Department (WPD) will not participate in the enforcement of federal immigration law; strictly limit the circumstances under which the WPD may comply with federal “civil immigration detainers”; prevent the WPD from surrendering sensitive personal information to federal immigration officers without a judicial warrant; bar the WPD from allowing federal immigration officers to question detained individuals solely for the purpose of immigration enforcement; and require the WPD to protect the due process rights of persons subject to federal immigration requests. The act will also limit the collection of immigration information by all town officers, and prohibit the use of town resources to create a registry based upon race, gender, sexual orientation, religion, ethnicity, or national origin.

Many of these policies are already held by various agencies of the town government, including the WPD. The practical effect of this ordinance will be to turn those policies into law, ensuring that federal action against undocumented members of our community is as expensive and difficult as possible. Because many of America’s largest cities – including New York, Los Angeles, and Chicago – already have sanctuary policies in effect, it is very unlikely that the passage of this ordinance will draw federal attention to Williamstown in particular.

This act is based closely upon a legal template developed by Eric Schneiderman, the Attorney General of New York, whose office has provided guidance with regard to the legality of the draft ordinance. In the course of our work on this project, which began in November, we have also been in communication with the National Immigration Project, the Latinx Caucus of the College Democrats of Massachusetts, and the Massachusetts Association of Chiefs of Police, and we are grateful for the support of the Coalition for Immigrant Student Advancement here at Williams.

For the last week, the latest draft of the act has been before Town Manager Jason Hoch and other members of the town government. They have thus far been very receptive to this proposal, and we will be meeting with them to decide on the act’s final wording as soon as possible. It is our hope that the Immigrant Trust Act will be passed as a warrant article at the 2017 Williamstown Town Meeting this May, which is the earliest occasion on which the town as a whole can act upon this issue.

If you have questions or concerns, or if you would like to be involved in the fight to protect all the members of our community, please contact Benjamin Williams at bdw2@williams.edu.

Thank you.

Benjamin Williams ‘17.5
Williams College Democrats

James Mahon
Williamstown Democratic Town Committee
Woodrow Wilson Professor of Political Science

Sherwood Guernsey
Attorney at Law
Four Freedoms Coalition

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Introducing our new Vice President for College Relations

To the Williams Community,

I’m pleased to write with the news that, after a national search, Megan Morey will join Williams as our next Vice President for College Relations. Her first day will be May 1.

Megan currently serves in an analogous role at Amherst College, as chief advancement officer. Many of you undoubtedly remember her from the seven years she worked at Williams, 2000–2007, first as senior development officer and then as director of leadership giving.

At Amherst, Megan earned the trust and appreciation of the entire Amherst community for her work to plan and carry out their Lives of Consequence campaign, which raised $500 million and achieved an impressive 72.5 percent alumni participation rate. Under her management, Amherst’s advancement program raised an average of $56 million a year in support of school priorities, including Amherst’s deservedly well-known commitment to financial access and diversity. She also collaborates closely with the college’s chief communications officer to integrate development communications with college-wide messaging, something that’s equally important here at Williams.

An experienced senior advancement professional, Megan will assume leadership of our Teach It Forward Campaign and all the work of the Office of College Relations, including development, alumni relations, advancement information services and career services. Among her early priorities will be working to enhance collaboration that maximizes the opportunities for alumni support in all its forms. Indeed, the search committee was impressed by her commitment to valuing the diverse ways in which our alumni can add value to the college and our students’ education.

Megan earned her B.A. from Ohio Wesleyan University in economics management and French. She began her career in development at her alma mater, then progressed through positions of increasing responsibility at Denison University, Barton College and the University of Redlands.

I’m grateful to the members of our search committee—Leticia S.E. Haynes ’99, Dukes Love, Collette Chilton, Rob Baker-White ’80, Liz Creighton ’01, Jamie Art, Martha Tetrault, and Keli Gail as chair—for their work in a process that produced such a superb outcome. Thanks, too, to the whole College Relations staff, both for their participation in the search and for maintaining such strong fundraising momentum throughout. As you may have heard, we recently crossed the $500 million mark with two years yet to go in our $650 million campaign. Finally, I especially want to express my sincere appreciation to Keli and to Lew Fisher ’89 for their efforts as interim OCR Vice President and Associate Vice President for Development, respectively.

I hope you’ll join me in warmly welcoming Megan back to Williams.

Regards,

Adam Falk
President

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Information about campus incident

This evening, Campus Security received a report from a college alum who had been walking on Spring Street at 9:30 when a pickup truck pulled alongside him. The truck’s occupants, whose faces were covered, yelled a racial slur at him and sped away.

Campus Safety immediately notified the Williamstown Police, who responded to the incident. Our alum is safe and is aiding authorities with their efforts to identify the perpetrators. This was a reprehensible attack: an assault on one of our own, and on our shared values.

We have no reason to believe the people in the truck were members of the college community. And we haven’t received reports of any other, similar incidents. Even so, Campus Safety has increased patrols and both CSS and Williamstown Police are on the lookout for vehicles matching the description.

Please use caution if moving around campus or town tonight. Travel in pairs or groups if possible, and be alert to your surroundings. If you see anything that makes you feel uncomfortable or suspicious, move to a safe location and call 597-4444 immediately. Our chances of catching the people responsible will be much greater if you communicate the information to Campus Safety right away. Do not engage with any person of concern.

If you’re alone and feel unsafe or want an escort to your destination, contact 597-4444.

Please be safe, and we’ll provide further updates if and when new information becomes available.

All best wishes,
Dean Sandstrom

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

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Creating Community: Welcome to the New Term

To the Williams Community,

On this first day of this new semester, I’m reflecting on the meaning of community, both the one here at Williams and the many communities, local and national, that we’re a part of. Recent events are testing that sense of community—of cohesiveness and mutual collegiality. Especially now, when faced with such challenges, we need to renew our commitment to the values that make us who we are.

We’ll start that work tomorrow, when, as we do every year at this time, we’ll devote the day to Claiming Williams and our efforts to make Williams a more inclusive community. This is one of my very favorite days of the year, and this year’s program on the theme of “Moral Courage” couldn’t be more timely. I urge you all to attend, listen, learn, and commit to making this campus the kind of community we want it to be. And that the world needs us to be.

Successful communities reflect on and live their values, and our year of inquiry, Confronting Climate Change, is a wonderful opportunity to consider more deeply our commitments to the sustainability of the way we humans live on Earth. Thanks to great work by the C3 committee and the Center for Environmental Sciences, we’ve got an impressive roster of events and speakers this spring. It includes visits by two leading figures: Columbia professor Jim Hansen, the scientist and former NASA Director who risked his government career by giving frank testimony to Congress about climate change; and writer and activist Bill McKibben, founder of 350.org and author of The End of Nature—considered the book that introduced the idea of climate change to a general audience. I hope we’ll all participate in this and other Confronting Climate Change programming. This is the only planet we have to call home, and we must all learn to care for it.

Our community is always growing and changing, and it’s a special pleasure to welcome two recent arrivals: Shawna Patterson-Stephens, director of the Davis Center; and Wendy Adam, director of Psychological Counseling Services. Given how important holistic diversity and support for mental health are to a flourishing Williams community, I’m thrilled that we’ve attracted to Williamstown such wonderful leaders as Shawna and Wendy.

Continuing with happy news, we’re celebrating the award of tenure to four members of the faculty: Rashida Braggs in Africana studies, Nick Howe in environmental studies, Tim Lebestky in biology, and Kate Stroud in psychology. All four are committed teachers and scholars with a talent for introducing students to interdisciplinary ways of thinking, and we’re fortunate that they’ll enrich our community for many years to come.

We’re also continuing to see an outpouring of support from our alumni and friends for the Teach It Forward campaign. Focused on the college’s most important core priorities—students and faculty—the campaign speaks to enduring Williams values that continue to resonate deeply with those who know and love the college. Financial aid, of course, is the most important priority of Teach It Forward; and to cite just one example of the impact of enhancing our financial aid endowment, last week Williams was featured on the PBS NewsHour website for our national leadership in building and supporting socioeconomic diversity in our student body.

Finally, the board of trustees held their annual winter meeting in late January, and we’ll post a summary report on the revamped Board website shortly. The highlight of their weekend was an open reception for students, held Friday evening at the Faculty House. The trustees were grateful that so many students took time on a Friday evening to get to know them and share their thoughts on Williams. Our trustees are college and national leaders who’ve successfully applied their Williams education to their lives, careers, and causes, and they’re a rich source of advice and ideas. We’re looking forward to making this reception, as well as the open meeting held in October, an annual event.

I hope you’re all energized and ready, as I am, for a new semester. Let’s get off to a strong start with Claiming Williams. I’ll see you there tomorrow.

Sincerely,

Adam Falk
President

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Welcome to add-drop period! Make the most of Your 32!

FALK YES, IT’S ADD-DROP PERIOD!
 
In the words of Maria from The Sound of Music
“Course exploration is one of my favorite things!”
 
In the words of Alexander Hamilton from Hamilton
“I’m not throwing away my shot … to explore courses!”
 
In the words of Yoda from Star Wars
“May course exploration be with you.”
 
It’s time to be like Dora the Course Explorer!
 
~ ~ ~ ~ ~
 
The start of the semester is your chance to explore courses and try something new. You have 32 courses at Williams; make the most of all of them! You just might learn the most when you take a course outside of your comfort zone. Take a risk. Try something new.Use the first two days of the semester (Wednesday and Friday of this week) to explore all the curriculum has to offer!Do not limit yourself to the courses you pre-registered for. Go to the first class meetings of courses that look interesting –– this is a great way for you to test out a class and see if you like it. Professors welcome students in the first class meeting of open courses (so long as you contact them ahead of time –– see the email guide sent out a couple of days ago!). During the first two days of the semester, you may want to go to five or six (or more) first class meetings! Exploring courses can be a fun!

If you need some inspiration, check out stories and words of wisdom from some of your fellow Ephs in this video! And, check out the Your 32 series on the Humans of Williams Facebook page to read stories of course exploration!

This advice, we hope, is as true for first-years as it is for seniors. It is never too late to try something new.

 

These are “Your 32.”
They are “Your Chance to Explore.”
Make the most of them!
 
~ ~ ~ ~ ~

If you have any questions, comments, or ideas, please contact Jeffrey Rubel (jnr2@williams.edu). We love hearing from you!

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Response to Executive Order on Immigration

To the Williams community,

On Friday President Trump signed an executive order entitled “Protecting the Nation from Foreign Terrorist Entry into the United States.” It declared numerous changes in American immigration policy, including an immediate 90-day ban on entry into the U.S. by citizens of Iraq, Syria, Iran, Libya, Somalia, Sudan and Yemen. It also sharply restricts the admission of refugees and imposes a religious test for refugees from certain countries. The full text of the order can be found many places online, including here.

The news is still fresh, and events are unfolding quickly. But it’s already clear that this action has great potential to harm students, faculty, staff and their families, both at Williams and around the world. We’re doing everything we can to support those in our community who’ve been placed at risk.

Our staff worked quickly to ascertain whether any members of the campus community, including students from the Center for Development Economics, were outside the country when the order went into effect. I’m relieved to report that our students are all accounted for. We’re still working to confirm the same for faculty and staff, and will keep you informed. A special thank you to Assistant Dean Ninah Pretto for advising international students to be cautious about traveling abroad during this time. Even so, the order places great stress on international students, faculty, and staff; those who are immigrants or children of immigrants; many Muslim members of our community, and others. We’ll continue to assess the situation as it develops and take appropriate action to support those affected. If you need or want support we have many resources available: please contact the dean’s office, our chaplains, the Davis Center or Counseling Services for help.

The president’s order is inconsistent with Williams’ essential values. It conflicts with our non-discrimination policy, which forbids discrimination on the basis of national origin, religion, and other identity attributes. On Saturday night a federal judge issued a stay on deportations under the order, and a number of organizations and individuals have announced plans to challenge the order’s constitutionality in the courts.

This is a distressing time, but Williams prepares us for moments when moral courage is required. We can—and must—show the world we’re capable of something greater and nobler than fear.

 

Sincerely,

Adam Falk

President

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Time to Register- 3rd Quarter Physical Education

Dear Students,

Attached please find a schedule for third quarter physical education offerings. Registration will begin on People Soft January 30 and run through February 2. (Please note only students who still need credit can register during the first 24 hours)

For more information about PE including details about the PE requirement please visit: http://athletics.williams.edu/physical-education/. Classes begin the week of Monday, February 6, 2017.

As a reminder the college requirement for graduation is 4 credits of physical education. Students who do not complete the requirement by the end of their sophomore year may not be eligible to study abroad as juniors. If you have any questions I am happy to help,

Carolyn Miles

To Register
Go to People Soft
Under student self service
click enrollment
Click on PE class registration

PE SCHEDULE 3rd 2017

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IMPORTANT: Regarding the Executive Order Travel Ban

Dear International Students,

We have received many messages from the international student body concerned about the executive order signed late Friday evening that bans the entry of immigrants and non-immigrants (including dual citizens and green card holders) from Iraq, Syria, Iran, Libya, Somalia, Sudan and Yemen. Already we have seen individuals being detained by authorities at airports. The current timeline for the ban is 90 days, however it is uncertain what will happen after this period.

Prior to Winter Study, we sent a travel advisory asking all F-1 international students reenter the U.S. prior to 1/20/17, which students followed. I have reached out to F-1 international students directly impacted by the ban and they are currently in the U.S. and safe. I know many of you may be feeling great anxiety not only for yourselves, but for your family and friends. I want you to know that we are here to support each and every one of you and will be available for meetings Monday and throughout the week. We are also in ongoing communication with an immigration attorney.

It deeply saddens me that I must send you this email, especially as the daughter of immigrants, who sacrificed much, so that I could have a better life. It infuriates me that individuals are being targeted and discriminated against because of their religion. I chose to be an International Advisor, because I believe that this country is made greater with immigrants. I believe this country should always be a place where all people can seek refuge and safety.

We encourage you to reach out to the Dean’s Office, the Chaplains, the Davis Center, Counseling Services for any support you may need during this troubling time. If you have questions and concerns, do not hesitate to contact me.

Best regards,

Ninah

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A Guide to Emailing Professors

Dear fellow Ephs:

The beginning of the spring semester is a few days away! I hope you are looking forward to a wonderful spring 2017 and all the learning that will come with it!

More than likely, over the next few months of the spring, you’ll be emailing your professors. They love to hear from you!

Sometimes though, emailing a professor can be a bit scary (even though it shouldn’t be!). How formal should I be? What should I say? How should I even begin? You are not the only one asking these questions.

Good news! We have some answers for you.

Last fall, the Committee on Educational Affairs assembled a resource: A Guide to Emailing Professors. And it’s only one (double-sided) page! With two free sample emails! The guide is a collection of email-related tips from professors and students. (You can find it attached to this email.)

Your professors teach at Williams because they care about you! They want to hear from you, and they want to connect with you. Don’t be afraid to send them an email with a question, or to set up a meeting, or to find a time to just chat!
Your professors an important part of the Williams community and your experience at the College, so we hope you connect with them this semester. They love hearing from you! And we hope this guide is useful for all students––from first-years to seniors.
Please be in touch with any questions or comments. We, like your professors, love hearing from you!

Yours in a love of sending emails,
Jeffrey Rubel ’17
Student Chair, Committee on Educational Affairs

–––

Contact the CEA: Feel free to reach out with any questions about your own academic experience or with suggestions/ideas about how to improve the overall Williams curriculum. We love hearing from you! Your idea could shape how we learn and teach at Williams. (Send questions, thoughts, reflections, and ideas to Jeffrey Rubel at jnr2@williams.edu)

–––

Thank you to the following people for their submissions to the guide: Professor Ralph Bradburd (ECON), Professor Phoebe Cohen (GEOS), Professor Susan Dunn (HIST), Professor Stephen Fix (ENGL), Professor Paul Karabinos (GEOS), Professor Anthony Nicastro (RLIT), Professor Lee Park (CHEM), Professor Greg Phelan (ECON), Professor Leyla Rouhi (RLSP), Professor Tom Smith (CHEM), Professor Janneke van de Stadt (RUSS), Jackie Lane ’16, Luis Urrea ’16, Em Nuckols ’16, Stephanie Caridad ’18, Gary Chen ’18, Jack Greenberg ’18, Alexandra Griffin ’18, and Allegra Simon ’18.

Also, thank you to Stephanie Caridad ’18 (CEA) and to Celeste Pepitone-Nahas ’17 and Chris Lyons ’17, co-chairs of the Mental Health Committee, for editing earlier drafts for the guide.

Supported by the Deans Office and the Committee on Educational Affairs.

Guide to Emailing Professors PDF
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Winter Study Workshops

Hello Williams,

This is another email to encourage all students to come out and participate in this year’s Winter Study Workshops. This week has even more opportunities to participate in, including movie screenings with Men For Consent, military presentations from the Student-Veteran Association and screen printing with Williams Vista. Also newly added to the calendar is the Sustainable Investing Symposium, organized by TL Guest ‘17 and Don Carlson ’83, which will have interesting panels and events all day Thursday and Friday.

If you are interested in joining a class, please email the organization to find out time and location info.

If you have any questions about the program or are still interested in hosting a workshop, feel free to contact me. If you have questions about a specific workshop, feel free to reach out to the club unix.

Best,
Alex Besser
Vice President for Academic Affairs

 

WinterStudyWorkshops2017

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Several Thefts on Campus

Dear Williams Community Members,

Over the last three days, Campus Safety and Security has responded to several thefts in public spaces on campus, as well an incident in an academic building.

These thefts have involved bags and backbacks that have been left unattended. Please make sure you are securing and attending your items.

If you have information about these incidents or see something suspicious, please contact Campus Safety and Security at 413-597-4444.

Best wishes for a safe and enjoyable weekend,

Dean Sandstrom

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

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2016 Investment Report V

Let’s spend five days reviewing the latest annual report (pdf) from the Investment Office. Greatest hits commentary on related topics include here, here, here and here. Today is Day 5.

I have praised the Investment Office (and Collette Chilton) for their successes and criticized them for their pay and for the lack of transparency over performance and process. What is left to say? My (forlorn?) hope is that, over the next few years, the College can improve on the dimensions that it ought to improve on. We can be as transparent about our managers as Grinnell and about our benchmark as Amherst. We would then be in a better position to discuss more substantive issues with regard to endowment management. In the meantime, here are some final thoughts:

1) New Chief Communications Officer Jim Reische was kind enough to investigate whether or not the College’s policy with regard to transparency in the calculation of the performance of the benchmark portfolio has changed. It hasn’t. Thanks to Jim for asking!

2) Unless others object, I will probably make this series an annual lecture, a topic worth revisiting each year. Although we have regular readers at EphBlog who have been with us for more than a decade (Hi Frank!), many of our readers (mainly students and their parents) are new each year, so it makes sense to revisit these important topics, updating them with any changes in College policy.

3) What other topics would readers like to see a similar deep dive into? The latest Common Data Set (pdf) is available. And we haven’t gone through recent Form 990s or the College’s financial statements in a couple of years.

4) Kudos to Managing Director Abigail Wattley ’05 for offering this excellent Winter Study class:

POEC 23 Endowment Investment Management
This class is designed to provide students with an overview of endowment and investment management and is taught by members of the Williams College Investment Office. The Investment Office is responsible for overseeing Williams’ $2.4 billion endowment. Through presentations, discussion, readings, and project work, Winter Study students will gain a better understanding of the various components of an institutional investment portfolio, how it is managed, and how investment managers are selected and monitored. Students will learn about portfolio theory as well as specific asset classes such as global equities, hedge funds, venture capital, buyouts, real estate, and fixed income. Students are expected to attend all on-campus classes (approx. 6 hours/week) and complete a set of relevant readings, a case study exercise, journal entries, and a final project. Students will also be required to complete an introductory excel course.

Does this mean that the Investment Office is no longer offering its usual Winter Study internship? I think that that would be an OK trade-off. Do we have any readers in the class? If I can get permission to share a copy of the syllabus, I will.

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2016 Investment Report IV: Pay

Let’s spend five days reviewing the latest annual report (pdf) from the Investment Office. Greatest hits commentary on related topics include here, here, here and here. Today is Day 4.

We dramatically overpay the folks who work in the Investment Office, primarily Collette Chilton but also Bradford Wakeman. The Record ought to write an article about this. Here are the questions they should ask along with my commentary.

The latest Form 990 (pdf) reports that:

bonus

Q: How many people in the Investment Office are eligible for bonuses? What is the formula used to award those bonuses? How much money, if any, in total bonuses was paid out last year? [See here for more background. The College will try to claim that releasing this information would violate the privacy rights of College employees. But note that the questions do not ask for the specific amounts given to named individuals. We just want to know how many and how much in total. Privacy concerns do not prevent Williams from releasing this data.]

Q (for Collette Chilton): If the College decided to stop paying performance bonuses, would you work less hard? Would anyone on your staff? [The College worries that Chilton and other (how many?) investment professionals won’t work hard enough even though Williams is paying them hundreds of thousands of dollars per year. So, in addition to all that guaranteed money, we need to pay them extra bonuses or else they’ll —- what exactly? Spend all day at the movies?]

I think that this is the sleaziest arrangement at Williams today and have been complaining about it for years. How did this happen? Tough to know. I am still trying to get the inside story. My guesses/speculation:

a) Both previous president Morty Schapiro and key trustees were in favor of starting an Investment Office and other steps for turning Williams into Yale.

b) No one worried too much about Chilton’s compensation. The Trustees, of course, see their role as more supervisory. They don’t set salaries. There may have been a head-hunter or compensation consultant involved. Morty, while in theory worried about the College’s overall budget, had no real incentive to pay Chilton less.

Never forget that Morty, for all his many wonderful qualities, is not — How to put this politely? — immune to the siren song of worldly wealth. It is not out of the goodness of his heart that he serves on the board of MMC. It was not an accident that he failed to take a pay-cut, unlike presidents at some other schools, during the budget crisis. It is not irrelevant to him that the Northwestern job pays around twice as much. It was not via random motion that his annual salary increased by hundreds of thousands of dollars during his time at Williams.

So, subconsciously or not, Morty would realize that a proposal to pay the new Chief Investment Officer substantially more money than he was then making would only provide a (dramatic?) upward push to his own compensation.

c) This deal was made in the bubble years. There is no way that Chilton could find a comparable job paying this much money today. Even for 2006 (when Chilton was first hired), the compensation was excessive. Professionals I quizzed felt that someone with Chilton’s resume — modest compared to others in the field — would be somewhere in the $300,000 to $500,000 range.

Consider how the actual numbers have changed from 2009 (pdf) through 2015 (pdf):

pay2009

pay2015

Collette Chilton’s pay has almost doubled in 6 years. She now makes $1.3 million dollars! Bradford Wakeman’s total compensation has gone from $360,000 to $639,000. And it is not like Wakeman is some sort of financial genius. Recall our discussion from when he was hired:

Consider a presentation by Wakeman to a risk meeting. His content seems sensible enough, but the topic (making a better 401(k) plan for Lucent) has almost nothing to do with running a major endowment.

That’s fine, perhaps Wakeman knows about other stuff as well. But I laughed out loud when reading the last slide.

Outside experts have noted, and applauded the changes Lucent made to its 401(k) plans.

Nobel laureate William Sharpe notes the changes Lucent made to its 401(k) plan: “better aligns their DB and DC plan methodologies.”

James Palermo, Vice Chairman of Mellon Financial Corporation, observed that: “Lucent is on the cutting edge of our client base with respect totreating their 401(k) plan in the same manner as their defined benefit pension plan.”

Stanford Law School Professor and co-founder of Financial Engines, Joseph Grundfest, commented that: “Lucent has made an important step in fiduciary oversight by implementing consistent management practices from plan to plan.”

Fidelity Investments recognized that: “Lucent was early in this initiative.”

Wakeman is quoting a bunch of vendors who sold things to Lucent, for whom Lucent is a customer, people who will say nice things about Lucent even if (especially if!) they think that the people in charge of the Lucent pension fund are the dumbest of the dumb.

And, as best as I can tell, Wakemen is using these quotes without a bullet point of irony. He really thinks (?!) that William Sharpe’s complimentary testimony about Lucent is meaningful information to his audience even though his audience knows that Lucent is paying thousands of dollars to Sharpe’s company: Financial Engines. My hope is that Wakeman is not this clueless, that he showed the slide but made a joke about the reliability of the testimony cited. That, anyway, is the best case scenario.

The Record should do an article about Chilton’s (and Wakeman’s and the entire investment staff’s) compensation. Don’t the editors believe in muckraking anymore? I bet that some of the more left-wing Williams professors would provide good quotes, either on or off the record.

What should be done? The College ought to close the Boston Investment Office. (Read the whole comment thread for details and background.) Most/all of the senior investment professionals (like Chilton) would decline to move to Williamstown. Problem solved, without any nasty firings or salary cuts.

In the meantime, it is hard to take seriously any of the mewlings about the problems of increased income inequality in the US — which is, sadly, a real problem — from our progressives friends on the Williams faculty if they can’t even be bothered to ask questions about the out-of-control salaries/bonuses that Williams itself pays out to some particularly undeserving members of the 1%.

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2016-2017 Yearbook On Sale Now!

Class of 2017,

The 2016-2017 yearbook is on sale now! This is a great way to remember your time at Williams. You’ll be able to look back at classmates, clubs, sports, profs, and events (including graduation!). This year we’re also including a “Senior Look-Back” section for your memories from freshman through junior year. Send in pix documenting your entry life, sophomore slump, junior year and/or study away to jl12 by January 20th. Make sure to let us know which year your pictures are from!
Order your copy before March 1st for $75 plus shipping — prices go up on this date and supplies may be limited.
Order the yearbook:
http://www.jostens.com/apps/shop/yrbk.asp?REF=A03582300
Like our facebook page:
https://www.facebook.com/Williams-College-Yearbook-957881904226813/
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Announcing: Winter Study Workshops!

Hello Williams,

 

Happy second week of Winter Study. Thanks to all who have signed up to participate with Free University. If you still are interested, feel free to sign up here.
 
This year College Council is introducing a new program: Winter Study Workshops. Every evening Monday through Thursday during Winter Study, teams and student organizations will be hosting events open to the whole student body. Check out the calendar below to see which workshops you would like to attend!
 
If you are interested in joining a class, please shoot an email to the organization so they can have an idea of workshop size. They can also share with you location info and if you need to bring anything.
 
If you have any questions about the program or are still interested in hosting a workshop, feel free to contact me. If you have questions about a specific workshop, feel free to reach out to the club unix.

 

Best,
Alex Besser
Vice President for Academic Affairs
FreeUniversity2017CourseCatalog WinterStudyWorkshops2017
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2016 Investment Report I

Let’s spend five days reviewing the latest annual report (pdf) from the Investment Office. Greatest hits commentary on related topics include here, here, here and here. Today is Day 1.

Let’s begin with the good news. First, the Williams Investment Office, led by CIO Collette Chilton, has done a solid job over the last decade, as EphBlog predicted in 2007.

How competent is Chilton herself? Informed commentary welcome! I have spoken with people who have run money for her and the consensus opinion is that she is a solid professional. She has experience selecting and monitoring investment managers

More importantly, she avoided the temptation of the Harvard model and has not tried to manage any of the money directly. Returns have been solid:

endowment

As long as the College’s endowment is somewhere in the middle of the pack when it comes to trailing 10 year returns, alumni should not complain about performance. (We will have many other things to complain about over the next four days.)

Second, the future of the endowment seems assured in that Managing Director Abigail Wattley ’05 will make a wonderful successor to Chilton someday (hopefully) soon. Recall my advice from 10 years ago:

The biggest risk issue in any asset management situation is the option value to the asset manager. Will Chilton take on the appropriate amount of risk, consist with her guidance from Morty and the trustees? I hope so. But doing so might not be in her best financial interest. Imagine, instead, that she “shoots for the moon,” that she levers up the endowment and invests in the riskiest stuff available. If she is lucky, she (and the College) will win big. Then the fawning profiles from the New York Times will roll in and she will have the option of starting her own hedge fund and (trying to) generate serious personal wealth. Heads, she wins.

And, if it’s tails — if those risky bets don’t pay off, if our endowment performs poorly — Williams loses. Chilton, probably, keeps her job. She blames factors beyond her control. And, it will be hard for anyone to know what really happened.

Yale, smartly, hedges this risk by hiring someone like David Swensen, someone whose commitment to the success of the institution is beyond question. Williams could have followed suit, could have selected an Eph Swensen, a younger graduate with finance experience and a deep connection to the College, someone already living in the Williamstown area or eager to move there. Someone committed to Williams for life, and not just until a better job comes along, until the commute to Williamstown becomes too annoying. Such candidates were available. Instead, the College chose Chilton. I hope it works out.

It has worked out. I may have overplayed the risk of Chilton pulling a Meyer. And, certainly, given Meyer’s implosion at Convexity among other changes, there are many fewer opportunities for successful endowment CIOs outside of the CIO market. But there is no doubt that Chilton has done a wonderful job of selecting and then mentoring Wattley, someone who is universally praised by the Investment Committee Ephs I have talked to. Wattley is married to Kevin Kingman ’05 and is as committed to the long term success of Williams as anyone. With luck, she will be managing the endowment for decades to come.

Third, although I would still prefer that the Investment Office were located in Williamstown, Chilton (and Wattley?) have done a great job in involving students and recent graduates in the office via (at least) three mechanisms.

  1. Full-Time Investment Analyst Program: A two-year position open to graduating seniors
  2. Summer Analyst Program: Summer positions open to rising juniors and seniors
  3. Winter Study Program: A winter study class open to sophomores and juniors

I have spoken to Ephs in all three programs, all of which are well-done. (One suggested improvement is that Chilton/Wattley ought to encourage younger Ephs to network more in the Boston financial community.) If Williams (like Middlebury or Smith) were to outsource the management of its endowment to a place like Investure, these programs would not be possible.

See! EphBlog can praise the praiseworthy! Relative to its peers, the Williams Investment Office in general and Collette Chilton specifically is just as competent and professional as, for example, the Wiliams English Department or Career Center. Kudos to Chilton and to the Trustees who selected her. Stand by for four days of (constructive!) criticism starting tomorrow.

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Announcement: Director of The Davis Center

Dear Members of the Williams Community,

I am pleased to announce that Shawna Patterson, Ph.D. has been appointed Director of The Davis Center. She will assume the role on January 9, 2017. Shawna brings a wealth of experience to the role, as she focuses on approaches that enhance the academic, social and civic experiences of community members, especially students, in a manner that involves collaborative partnerships and innovation. We are excited to leverage her experience working on issues of diversity, equity and social justice and collaborating with and in support of students, faculty and staff.

Most recently, Shawna served as a House Dean at the University of Pennsylvania; she also worked at Michigan State University, Penn State University, and Florida State University. Over the years, Shawna worked on the implementation of intercultural programming, advised students, responded to critical incidents on campuses, facilitated diversity trainings and collaborated with community stakeholders to co-sponsor discussions around social justice issues. At Michigan State University, she supported diverse student populations, developed inclusive residential curricula for residence halls and advised student organizations. She also worked in collaboration with stakeholders across campus to respond to critical incidents of bias, prejudice and sexual assault and harassment. At Penn State University, she oversaw the safety and security functions for the residential housing system, and worked to foster an environment that valued diversity and demonstrated a commitment to social justice. While there, she also helped develop a curriculum around global citizenship and reflective praxis.

Shawna has also been a lecturer and instructor at Florida State University, Michigan State University and the University of Pennsylvania. She received a doctorate from Florida State University where her dissertation was titled, Love and hip hop: The meaning of urban reality television in the lives of Black college Women. Her published articles appear in the International Journal of Doctoral Studies, Alabama Civil Rights and Civil Liberties Law Review and Journal of Student Affairs at New York University.

Please help me welcome Shawna to the Williams community and support her as she collaborates with students, faculty and staff to contribute to the intellectual life of The Davis Center.

I thank the search committee, Vice President Steve Klass (chair), Michael Ding ’18, Raquel Douglas ’19, Katie Kent, Molly Magavern, James Manigault-Bryant, Ngoni Munemo, Claudia Reyes ’18, D. L. Smith, and G. L. Wallace, for their diligence and commitment to the process. In addition, I thank the dozens of students, staff and faculty who took the time to participate in this incredibly important search.

Best,

Leticia Smith-Evans Haynes, Ph.D.
Vice President
Office of Institutional Diversity and Equity
Williams College | Williamstown, MA
(P) 413.597.4376

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Free University 2017 Course Catalog!

Hello Williams,

 

Hopefully everyone is settling into their Winter Study routines. College Council is excited to announce the course listing for Free University 2017! This is your chance to learn a new skill or activity, taught by fellow Williams students. Now is your chance to sign up and see what there is to learn.
Below are the classes for this year’s Free University. If you are interested in joining a class, please contact the instructor directly at their listed unix. They will organize with you and other interested students to arrange meeting times and locations. Class size is up to their discretion and many do have limits, so please only contact an instructor if you are serious about being active in the class.
 
If you have any questions about the program, feel free to contact me. If you have questions about a specific class, you may direct them to the appropriate instructor.

 

Best,
Alex Besser
Vice President for Academic Affairs
Free University 2017 Courses
Ballroom Dance
Instructor: David Vascones (djv1@williams.edu)
Ever wanted to learn how to dance the foxtrot, waltz, salsa, and tango?  Learn these and MORE ballroom dances in a fun, casual atmosphere this Winter Study.  Beginners are especially welcome!

Read more

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College Policy Regarding Marijuana

To the Williams Community,

As you may know, voters in Massachusetts approved a ballot question in November that changes state law to legalize the recreational use of marijuana for those 21 and over. That new law is due to take effect December 15, and it permits the possession, use, distribution, and cultivation of marijuana in limited amounts by people 21 and over and removes criminal penalties for such activities.

That ballot measure, however, doesn’t change federal law and doesn’t mean that Williams will now permit marijuana.

One might assume that with the new law the college would, in its policies and practices, treat marijuana much the same as alcohol. But we have a long-standing policy against illicit drug use on campus and within the college community, and the federal government still considers marijuana to be an illicit drug. The college must abide by federal laws, including the Drug-Free Workplace Act and the Drug-Free Schools and Communities Act. If we fail to comply, the college could become ineligible for federal funding and financial aid programs for students.

Given the scope of those federal laws, the college’s policies must therefore continue to disallow marijuana in our community.

That marijuana is still considered an illegal drug federally means it is prohibited for students entirely by our code of conduct, both on and off campus. That applies to students in off-campus housing, and it applies when students are engaged in college-sponsored activity away from campus. Also, it remains illegal—and against college policy—to send or receive marijuana through the mail.

College policy also prohibits faculty, staff, guests, and visitors from using, possessing, distributing, or being under the influence of marijuana while on campus or during college activities.

Throughout Massachusetts, officials at both the state and local levels are currently wrestling with many questions concerning the implementation of the ballot initiative and the conflict between state and federal laws concerning the legality of marijuana. In addition, we don’t yet know what the incoming administration in Washington might do with respect to federal enforcement policies concerning marijuana. We will keep you informed should any decisions or changes in policies by government agencies have implications for the college. In the meantime, if you have specific questions, I encourage you to reach out to any number of relevant offices, including the Dean’s Office, Campus Safety and Security, and Human Resources.

Regards,

Adam Falk
President

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[Williams College] Honor the Retirement of Prof. Bill Wootters

Greetings from Williamstown!

Saul Kassin with his memory book

I write to invite you to take part in a Williams initiative that we hope will be of interest to you. This is the second year we’ve invited alumni to share a memory of a retiring faculty member who impacted their Williams experience. Introduced as an important component of a broad engagement initiative calledPurple with Purpose, response to this program has been powerful in all the ways you might expect. Last year, the six retiring members of the Williams faculty each received a hardbound book of well-wishes and memories from alumni (more than 250 submissions to be exact).

This year, twelve Williams faculty members will retire, including William Wootters who has taught Physics at Williams since 1982.  As a former student of Professor Wootters or the Physics department, we invite you to share a specific memory or story of Professor Wootters’s impact on you. You can contribute your memory by submitting this form. Samples from last year are provided below.

Thanks in advance for considering a contribution; it will mean the world to Professor Wootters and your college.

Best wishes,


Brooks Foehl ‘88
Director of Alumni Relations


Here are a few selections from last year’s submissions:

“I still hold Professor Kassin as one of the best, most challenging mentors I’ve had in my life. He pushed me to deliver my very best work, in ways that I hadn’t experienced before (or since). I had so much respect for him… and I am so thankful for the time I got to work with him.” Katharine (Kami Neumann) Reagan ’96

“Professor Morgan was the first mathematics professor that really made me feel mathematics was a major I was capable of pursuing. Professor Morgan made teaching CONFIDENCE, not just mathematical CONTENT, a hallmark of his courses. In effect, he taught me more than my major; he helped mold my life. I’ll forever be grateful that he believed I could be successful and helped me believe in myself.” Kristin Grippi ’00

“I remember fondly [Professor Beaver’s] broad and deep intellect, passion for knowledge, and commitment to teaching. One could discern, behind the glimmer in his eye and barely concealed smirk on his face, that the history of ideas were for him a wellspring that continued to bring contentment and inspiration.” Gilles Heno-Coe ’10


We value your feedback!
Submit your comments here to let us know what you think about this and other Purple with Purpose initiatives.

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Standing with Standing Rock

Dear Ephs,

I hope this email finds you well, in the last weeks before winter break. For many of us, this semester has been an especially long one—I write to both offer encouragement and a last word of solidarity.

As many of you know, the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe and their allies are currently engaged in a struggle for water rights at Standing Rock, North Dakota. While many of us prepare for impending celebrations of heart and hearth, hundreds of water protectors persist in sub-zero temperatures and waning physical wellbeing, to ask the federal government and the corporate sponsors of the Dakota Access Pipeline to leave Sioux lands alone. This is a fight about water rights and sacred lands near Standing Rock, North Dakota, but more so, this is continuation of a centuries-old indigenous struggle for human rights. The Dakota Access Pipeline was rerouted through Standing Rock because Bismarck’s residents, who are 90% white, feared it would poison their drinking water. Indigenous people are being forced at gunpoint to accept ecological risks that North Dakota’s white residents refused. Furthermore, the pipeline cuts through Standing Rock sacred lands and passes over indigenous graves.

Last week, 167 water protectors were injured, including Sophia Wilansky ‘16, a Williams graduate, who is facing potential amputation. The United Nations is currently investigating North Dakota law enforcement for human rights abuses.

Williams students, past and present, have already travelled to Standing Rock to stand in solidarity with water protectors. Here on campus, Divest, the Davis Center, and the Zilkha Center (to name just a few) have organized donation drives and made phone calls to elected officials. They—and we—are working to educate each other about the violence occurring in North Dakota right now, as well as the centuries-long history of colonial violence against indigenous people in this country. We cannot forget that our very own Williams College was built on land stolen from the Mohican people.

Now I am asking you to take a stand. The Standing Rock Sioux Tribe is calling for influential organizations and individuals to stand with the water protectors, and we want to hear your voices. Please fill out this single question survey to let us know what you think: should Williams stand with the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe in their fight to stop the Dakota Access Pipeline?

Your voices matter. These responses will help us better understand the desires of the student body, and serve you accordingly. As the Williams College mission statement reminds us, “an education at Williams should not be regarded as a privilege destined to create further privilege, but as a privilege that creates opportunities to serve society at large, and imposes the responsibility to do so.” The engagement and collective care demonstrated by the Williams student body, faculty, and staff in response to recent events have been vital to our continued thriving together. I hope I speak for many when I say that I am both humbled and grateful to share in this community with you.

Yours truly,

Suiyi Tang

VP of Community and Diversity, 2015-16

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Announcing Free University 2017!

Hello Williams,

College Council is happy to announce the Free University 2017 Winter Study Program!
Free University was founded in the 1980s to promote the diversity of interests and ideas at Williams by organizing classes taught by students, for students. For the only time in your Williams career, grades don’t matter; there are no papers to write or tests to take. Free University gives you the chance to do something truly unique with your peers.
Past courses have included “A Smashing Time: Advanced Super Smash Bros. Theory, Strategy, and Technique”, “Bake It Till You Make It”, and “Twerk”.

This year we are also encouraging any clubs, teams, and student organizations to sign up. You can do either a full Free University program or a 2-hour evening workshop. This is a great way to get exposure for your organization for potentially interested students and a way to share what you’re passionate about with the general college body.

If you have any idea at all, teach a course! Free University is a great, no pressure space to share your talents and interests with the student body. If you are interested in teaching a course, please contact me (ajb7) with your idea by Monday (December 5th) at 11:59pm. Please include a course title and a short description. Funding and logistical support will be provided by College Council, if needed. Soon after, I will email the campus with a course listing and sign up information.
Please join in on a great Williams tradition!

Best,
Alex Besser
Vice President for Academic Affairs

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Gaudino Scholar Appointment

To the Williams Community,

I am pleased to report that Susan Engel, senior lecturer in psychology and the Class of 1959 Director of the Program in Teaching, has agreed to serve as the college’s next Gaudino Scholar. Her two and a half year appointment to this post will begin January 1, 2018. Susan will be the 16th faculty member to hold this title. The position has been active since 1982 and is named for former political science professor Robert Gaudino. The Gaudino Scholar creates and promotes opportunities for experiential education and uncomfortable learning.

Susan will bring to this role her considerable expertise as a scholar of developmental psychology and education. Her areas of specialty include teaching and learning, the development of narrative and autobiographical memory, and the development of curiosity. Her most recent book, co-authored with her son, is titled A School of Our Own: The Story of the First Student-Run High School and a New Vision for American Education.

For her Gaudino project Susan intends to explore the processes that lead to deep intellectual change, particularly among college students. She is especially interested in exploring how engaged conversations in the classroom and beyond promote the consideration of unfamiliar and perhaps uncomfortable points of view and, ultimately, influence how students form opinions and change their minds.

Susan will succeed Lois Banta, professor of biology, who has served in this role since July 2014. My thanks go to Susan and Lois for their willingness to serve the college in this capacity.

Regards,

Adam Falk
President

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