College names Roseman, Kohut as deans

President Morty Schapiro is only one of a whole new set of leaders scheduled to assume control of the College in July. Associate professor of biology Nancy Roseman will become dean of the College and Sue and Edgar Wachenheim III Professor of History Tom Kohut will become dean of the faculty, President Vogt announced last week.

Current Deans Peter Murphy and D.L. Smith will return to the English Department full-time, and neither Roseman nor Kohut will teach next year.

President Vogt notified Roseman and Kohut of their appointments two weeks ago, after consulting with, among others, the Faculty Steering Committee and the Committee on Appointments and Promotions.

The two Deanships have been always filled from within the ranks of the current faculty, who then hold the positions for 3-4 years.

President Vogt highlighted the credentials of Roseman and Kohut in a letter to the community.

Roseman joined the Williams faculty in 1991. She has served on the Faculty Steering Committee, the Committee on Educational Policy, the advisory committees for Biochemistry and Women’s Studies and chaired the Lecture Committee.

“When you work on a committee at Williams, it gives you insight into how the college works beyond your department and your division,” Roseman said.

Kohut has been a member of the Williams faculty for 15 years. He has chaired the Committee on Educational Policy, the Faculty Steering Committee, and the Lecture Committee.

During his two stints on the CEP, the committee conducted reviews of the entire college curriculum. As a result, “I do know the curriculum pretty well and have a sense of what goes on in other parts of the college,” Kohut said.

Murphy expressed great confidence in his successor. “I think that Nancy is simply the best person for the job,” Murphy said. “She is smart and decisive and is genuinely interested in student lives in all their many dimensions,”

But both Roseman and Kohut said that they have a lot to learn. “I think nothing can compare or really prepare you for being dean of the College, because it’s so broad,” Roseman said.

Both are attempting to get a head start. Roseman said she has been meeting with Murphy and will speak with everyone involved with the Deans’ Office. She described herself as a “proto-dean.”

Kohut said he has spoken with Smith and expects to work closely with and to learn from him and other members of the administration over the coming weeks and months.

While still new at the game, Roseman and Kohut identified some issues they would like to address in their coming tenure.

Roseman said she will consider the residential housing system and “how to maintain and continue to build this place and its community spirit.” Kohut said he will work “to make being a member of the faculty at Williams College a rewarding experience.”

He added that the public intellectual life of the college concerns him, and could be improved by encouraging faculty to expose their students and the wider community to their research and scholarship.

“Although we talk a lot about interdisciplinary at Williams, more interdisciplinary teaching and even research could go on here,” he said.

In fact, despite their new responsibilities, both Roseman and Kohut plan to continue their own research. Roseman has a National Science Foundation grant for the next two years, and she said that she is committed to maintaining her biology laboratory. “It may kill me, but I’m going to do it,” she said.

Kohut said he will devote time to an ongoing book project. But he said he is most excited about the challenges of his new job. “This is kind of a neat time,” Kohut said. “With a new president coming in, this is a time of transition—and of opportunity.”

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