Faculty granted tenure

The Board of Trustees approved the recommendations submitted by the Committee on Appointments and Promotions (CAP) to grant tenure to nine of 12 assistant professors.

The six-member CAP is chaired by the dean of the faculty and is comprised of the president of the College, the provost and one elected senior faculty member from each of the three academic divisions.

The Trustees granted tenure to Elizabeth Brainerd, Douglas Gollin and Anand Swamy of the economics department; Michael Glier ’76 of the art department; Matthew Kraus of the classics department; Susan Loepp of the mathematics and statistics department; James Nolan of the sociology department; W. Anthony Sheppard of the music department and Steven Swoap of the biology department.

The Trustees did not grant tenure to Kristin Carter-Sanborn of the English department, Jonathan Conning of the economics department and Marta Laskowski of the biology department.

The Board of Trustees makes the final decision on tenure each year at its January meeting, although in the past the board has almost always adhered to the recommendations of the CAP.

The nine professors who were granted tenure will be promoted to the rank of associate professor as of July 1, 2002 and are all but guaranteed a lifetime of employment at Williams. Only an egregious violation of the law or scholarly ethics warrants review.

Those professors who were denied tenure may elect to remain at Williams for one more year while searching for a position elsewhere, and have the opportunity to appeal the decision. The faculty Steering Committee (SC) has the final say in the appeals process.

“The possibility of tenure is essential for attracting the best students to a career that requires more education and offers far less pay than other professions,” Sheppard remarked.

Assistant professors are ordinarily evaluated for tenure during the fall semester of their sixth year at Williams. Junior faculty who come to Williams from tenure-track positions at other institutions may start farther along in the process than their peers who arrive directly from graduate school or professional work outside of academia.

Although the CAP makes the final decision on what recommendation is passed along to the Trustees, a candidate’s department plays a significant role in the process as well. Each year, departments evaluate their assistant professors in the areas of teaching, scholarship and service to the College.

When an assistant professor is up for consideration for tenure, the senior faculty in the department submits all past annual reports to the CAP along with an overall assessment and a recommendation. The professor must prepare a compilation of his or her published works and scholarly activities before July in the year he or she is a candidate for tenure.

The department evaluates a candidate’s teaching on the basis of Student Course Survey (SCS) results, student interviews and classroom observation by senior colleagues. Published works are reviewed by members of the candidate’s department and at least four experts in the field from outside the Williams community.

“Confidentiality is really big,” said Kraus. “I submitted a list of potential outside readers, from which one person was picked, but other than that I could not know who my outside readers were.”

While teaching and scholarship are the two primary criteria by which the CAP makes its decision, the committee also considers time spent in service to the College on departmental or College committees, self-assessments and letters from students.

Conning said that his denial came as a “big surprise,” and indicated that he would appeal the CAP’s decision.

“From the communication I’d had with the department I had been led to expect a different outcome,” said Conning, citing very positive departmental reports in the last few years and a significant improvement in SCS scores.

“I think I’ve had as much success and influence in my own field at this stage in my career as anyone else in [the economics] department has had in their own,” he said.

Conning said that the reason given to him for the denial was that, “while [the CAP] recognized that [his] teaching had improved recently, they did not think it had risen to a sufficient level.”

Professors can only appeal a denial of tenure on procedural grounds; they can not, in Conning’s words, “question [the CAP’s] judgment.” Conning expressed optimism that he could “put together a well-reasoned case” and said that he “has faith in the methods put into place for an appeal.”

Laskowski and Carter-Sanborn declined to comment on the CAP’s decision.

Elizabeth Brainerd

Associate Professor of Economics

Brainerd’s research focuses on “labor markets and health in transition economies, specifically how the economic reforms in these countries have affected the wage distribution, the gender wage gap, living conditions and life expectancy,” she said.

“I am currently working on a project collecting data from the Soviet archives in Moscow on living conditions in the USSR in the 1950s and 1960s,” said Brainerd.

Brainerd came to Williams immediately after her Ph.D. studies at Harvard, although she took a year off from graduate school to work as an adviser to the Russian government in Moscow.

At Williams, Brainerd has taught “Labor Economics,” “Economic Reform in Eastern Europe and the Former Soviet Union” and introductory core courses.

Michael Glier ’76

Associate Professor of Art

Glier, a graduate of the Williams class of 1976, was “very happy” to hear the news about his promotion. He taught at Rutgers University and The School of Visual Arts in New York City before returning to his alma mater to teach.

Glier describes himself as “a draftsperson and painter with an interest in contemporary theories about making art.” His work has been exhibited throughout the United States and Europe, and his wall drawing “Full Moon on the Hoosick” was recently displayed at the Massachusetts Museum of Contemporary Art (Mass MoCA) in North Adams.

Glier has been awarded fellowships from the National Endowment for the Arts and the John Simon Guggenheim Memorial Foundation. His recent course offerings include “Drawing” and “Advanced Drawing,” a junior seminar in art studio and “I Love My Time: A Survey of Contemporary Art.”

Douglas Gollin

Associate Professor of Economics

Gollin said that he was “pleased and honored” with the CAP’s decision. Gollin arrived at Williams just after completing his Ph.D. at the University of Minnesota. Prior to his doctoral studies, he worked at Winrock International, a nongovernmental organization that is involved in international agricultural development.

Gollin’s research focuses on “the economics of growth and development, with particular interests in agriculture and agricultural technology.”

He has taught graduate courses at the College’s Center for De
velopment Economics (CDE), a graduate program that draws students from Africa, Latin America and Asia.

This fall, Gollin pioneered an undergraduate course entitled “The Economics of Natural Resource Management,” and has co-taught the senior seminar in political economy for four of the past five years.

Matthew Kraus

Associate Professor of Jewish Studies

Kraus said that he was “honored and grateful” for the CAP’s decision and “very pleased with the [tenure evaluation] process.”

“Personally, I am very fortunate to be in such a great department,” said Kraus. “My senior colleagues have been incredibly supportive, and have helped me become a much better teacher and scholar.”

Kraus said that his promotion as a tenured Jewish studies professor is an “important statement about the commitment of the College to Jewish studies and to a broader understanding of the classical world.”

Kraus’ scholarly interests lie in Judaism in the Greek and Roman literature, and his current work is on St. Jerome and his relationship to Jewish and classical tradition.

Kraus is an ordained rabbi and holds a Masters of Hebrew Letters from Hebrew Union College in addition to a Ph.D. from the University of Michigan.

Kraus has recently taught Greek and Latin language courses as well as several translation courses, including “Myth and Biography in Late Antiquity,” “Introduction to Judaism” and “Biblical Interpretation in the Greco-Roman World.”

Susan Loepp

Associate Professor of Mathematics

Loepp credited her colleagues in the department of mathematics and statistics and a busy fall semester with helping to ease the stress of the tenure evaluation process.

“It’s a tough process to go through in theory because it’s hard for the College to tell junior faculty specifically what they expect,” said Loepp. “For example, there is no minimum SCS score and no minimum number of published articles.”

“For me, it was really important to be in a department that was supportive, straightforward and honest,” Loepp said. She joked that the first thing the department chair told her after she heard the news was “how much more work I have to do now.”

Loepp’s research focuses on rings, which are algebraic structures comparable to the vector spaces studied in linear algebra courses. This fall, she taught a senior seminar on error correcting codes, which are an important application of rings.

Loepp has also collaborated with William Wootters, a professor of physics, in a course entitled “Protecting Information: Applications of Abstract Algebra and Quantum Physics” and regularly teaches more traditional courses in calculus and algebra.

James Nolan

Associate Professor of Sociology

Nolan said that he is “pleased to be a part of the Williams community in the years ahead.”

Nolan’s recent scholarly work has focused on the drug court movement, and he spent the 1999-2000 academic year at Loughborough University in England as a Fulbright scholar to study the emergence of drug courts in the U.K.

He is the author of The Therapeutic State: Justifying Government at Century’s End and Reinventing Justice: The American Drug Court Movement, the editor of The American Culture Wars: Current Contests and Future Prospects and is editing a forthcoming book entitled Drug Courts in Theory and in Practice, which will incorporate his findings from his research in the U.K.

Nolan’s recent course offerings include “Law and Modern Society,” “Drugs and Society,” and “Modern and Postmodern Culture.”

W. Anthony Sheppard

Associate Professor of Music

“The tenure news hasn’t quite hit me yet,” said Sheppard excitedly. “My son Ethan was born a few days [after I was notified] and has had a much greater impact on my life at this point. Obviously, I’m thrilled.”

Sheppard’s research is primarily on “issues of cross-cultural influence and on music’s interaction with other arts during the modernist period.” His most recent work has focused on film studies and he is writing his second book, entitled Extreme Exoticism: Japan in the American Musical Imagination.

Sheppard added, “I doubt that being tenured will alter my teaching or my research, but it certainly allows me to make longer range plans and to voice my opinions with a greater sense of security.”

A few of the courses that Sheppard has taught at Williams are “Introduction to Japanese Music and Theatre,” “Opera” and “Popular Music: Revolutions in the History of Rock.”

Anand Swamy

Associate Professor of Economics

Swamy followed a somewhat different route to tenure than most of his colleagues, having arrived at Williams in 1999 after six years at the University of Maryland. He has also served as a consultant for the World Bank.

Swamy’s research interests include the economies of Southeast Asia, which encompasses his native India; the economics of institutions in the developing world and land, labor and credit markets in developing countries. Some of his most recent work focuses on the relationship between the role of women and the level of governmental corruption in developing countries.

Swamy has taught courses at the CDE as well as courses at the undergraduate level, which include “Economic Development in Poor Countries,” “Empirical Economic Methods” and a tutorial entitled “Colonialism and Underdevelopment in Southeast Asia.” Swamy was not available for comment.

Steven Swoap

Associate Professor of Biology

Swoap found the tenure evaluation process to be “pretty straightforward.”

“I turned my tenure package in by July 1, and they let me know in December,” he said. Swoap’s research interests are in “understanding how calorie restriction lowers blood pressure, and understanding the mechanisms of how muscle fibers convert from fast twitch to slow twitch, and vice versa.” Before coming to Williams, he completed a postdoctoral fellowship in the department of molecular cardiology at the Southwestern Medical Center at the University of Texas, Dallas.

Swoap’s recent course offerings include “Animal Physiology,” “Molecular Mammalian Physiology” and the popular “Biology of Exercise and Nutrition,” a 100-level course designed for non-biology majors. In the future, Swoap hopes to “create an advanced exercise physiology course with a human laboratory component.”

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