College reveals tenure decisions

The Board of Trustees officially approved tenure for eight Williams faculty members over the weekend.

The Board’s decision finalized the recommendations made earlier in the year by the Committee on Appointments and Promotions (CAP) to grant tenure to Daniel Aalberts, Denise Buell, Ronadh Cox, Antonia Foias, Katie Kent ’88, James McAllister, Rob Savage and Ken Savitsky.

The committee chose not to recommend tenure for Cathy Silber, assistant professor ofAsian studies or Elliot Friedman, assistant professor of psychology.

The eight professors awarded tenure are now ensured employment for life and can only be removed from their positions in extraordinary circumstances. In theory, tenure is supposed to promote intellectual liberty for faculty who can express their opinions without fear of losing their positions.

Candidates who are denied tenure are allowed to stay at Williams for an additional year; many then move on to positions at other institutions.

The six-member CAP – made up of the president of the College, the dean of the faculty, the provost and a representative professor from each of the three academic divisions – awards tenure to professors who show “exceptional strength” in their teaching and contribution to scholarship in their fields of study. Contributions to the Williams community are also weighed in tenure decisions.

Aalberts, a member of the physics department, was a Fellow at the Center for Studies in Physics and Biology at Rockefeller University before coming to Williams in 1997. He received a B.S. in 1989 and a Ph.D. in 1994 in physics both from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

In 2000, Aalberts received a $37, 500 prize to support his research on quantum coherent dynamics of photoactive molecules. He has worked with a number of students on research while at Williams, writing four papers with student co-authors. Aalberts also serves on the Committee on Educational Policy and the Faculty Review Panel.

“He’s definitely one of the hardest working people I’ve ever worked with,” said Mike Baiocchi ’03, who worked with Aalberts two summers ago on designing a program for a statistical physics class. “He’s enthusiastic about his research and that’s very much communicated when you work with him.”

Buell, a member of the religion department, came to Williams in 1997 from Miami University in Ohio. She received her A.B. in 1987 from Princeton, her M.Div. in 1990 from Harvard Divinity School and her Ph.D. in religion in 1995 from Harvard University.

Buell specializes in the New Testament, early Christian history and feminist biblical interpretation. She is also a member of the Faculty Steering Committee and the Women & Gender Studies Committee.

Cox, a member of the geosciences department, arrived at Williams in 1996. She was awarded a B.S. with honors in Geology from University College in Dublin, Ireland in 1985 and a Ph.D. from Stanford in 1993.

Her primary research interests include sedimentology, sedimentary petrology, geochemistry and tectonics. Cox is also a member of the Faculty Steering Committee and the Experimental & Cross Disciplinary Studies Committee.

She delivered a two part 2000 Sigma Xi Lecture at Williams in 2000 aimed at fostering interaction between science, technology and the societies in which they play a role.

Foias, a member of Anthropology and Sociology, received her A.B. from Harvard and Ph.D. from Vanderbilt. Among her fields of interest are Mesoamerica & South America, especially Mayan civilization.

In 1999, she received a $126,194 grant from the National Science Foundation for her study of economic models in classic Mayan civilization.

Foias is a member of the Faculty Review Panel and the Environmental Studies Committee. She was on leave during the fall of 2002.

Prior to becoming an assistant professor at Williams in 1997, Kent, of the English department, taught at Arizona State University, Sarah Lawrence College and Williams. After completing her undergraduate education at Williams, Kent received a Ph.D. from Duke University in 1996.

For her part, Kent said she’s excited to be working at her alma mater. “Although I knew I wanted to be an English professor, I never imagined I would return to Williams as a faculty member,” Kent said. “The job never gets boring: teaching Williams students is both challenging and rewarding.”

Kent’s primary fields of interest are U.S. fiction & poetry, literary theory and cultural studies. Her latest work, “Making Girls into Women: American Women’s Writing and the Rise of Lesbian Identity,” is scheduled to be published in February by Duke University Press. Kent serves on the Faculty Steering Committee, American Studies Committee and Women & Gender Studies Committee.

McAllister, a member of the political science department, received his B.A. in history and political science from S.U.N.Y.-Buffalo in 1986 and his Ph.D. from Columbia University in 1997. His fields of interest include the Cold War and American involvement in Vietnam.

McAllister’s most recent work, “No Exit: America and the German Problem, 1943-1954,” was published last year by Columbia University Press. He is a member of the Lecture Committee.

“Prof. McAllister’s enthusiasm for intellectual debate is indefatigable and contagious,” Tim Patterson ’04 said. “His students must be prepared to go into his class with minds wide open, ready to think for themselves and fire challenges and ideas back and forth across the log.”

Savage, a member of the biology department, received a B.A. in 1987 from Bowdoin College, a Ph.D. in 1993 from Wesleyan University and did his post-doctorate work at Harvard Medical School. He has received two grants for his work on annelids including a $288,889 grant from the National Science Foundation and a $108,693 grant from the National Institutes of Health.

Since coming to Williams, Savage has spent part of each summer working with Berkshire Country high school students in the HHMI Summer Program. This program awards local high school juniors with fellowships to study biological science at Williams. Savage is a member of the Biochemistry Committee.

Savitsky, a member of the psychology department, earned his B.A. in psychology from Indiana University in 1993 and his Ph.D. in 1997 from Cornell University. He specializes in social and personality psychology.

His research has primarily focused on the “causes and consequences of egocentrism in social judgment, especially egocentrism in ‘impression detection,’or individuals’ beliefs about how they appear in the eyes of others.” He is a member of the Div. III Research Funding Committee.

“I’m delighted at the thought of spending my career here at Williams,” Savitsky said. “Between the daily opportunity to have interesting and rewarding interactions with students and colleagues, and the fact that Williamstown is such an ideal place to live and raise a family, there is simply nowhere else I’d rather be.”