Advisory committee sets campus goals for year 2020

Its vision may not be a perfect 20/20, but the 2020 Committee is looking ahead and setting a course for the College for the next 13 years. Formed at the end of last year by President Schapiro, the committee brings faculty members and trustees together to figure out what issues the College will need to address before the year 2020.

The committee was formed to determine how the College can best prepare for its future and began meeting last June. It is divided into six sub-groups, which are focused on the face of the student body, the sociology and background of the students, changing environmental needs and technologies, a more globalized world, faculty concerns and the financial factors that will make all of the proposed projects possible.

In 2001, Schapiro and other faculty members designed a similar set of goals, some of which included implementing writing intensive courses and founding Williams in New York. “We have the luxury of thinking about the next 10-15 years,” Schapiro said, which is exactly what he plans to do in regard to his own demographic, he added.

“When I joined the faculty in 1980, 86 percent of the students were white Americans,” Schapiro said. “Now it’s 64 percent.” Based on demographic projections, he predicts that that number will be as low as 49 percent by the year 2020. The committee is to use projections like these to plan for the future, increasingly diverse Williams.

“We created a much more diverse campus without fully thinking through the ramifications,” said Schapiro. He explained that with the influx of international students over the past couple of years, the College has found itself unprepared to meet the needs of the changing student body, something it hopes to avoid in the future. Wendy Raymond, professor of biology, is also involved in the 2020 Committee and echoed Schapiro’s sentiments. “There has been no formal training, that I know of, for faculty and staff that has prepared us for increasing diversity,” she said. Raymond, chair of the Williams Committee on Diversity and Community, was tapped to help the 2020 Committee prepare for coming changes.

To ensure that all voices are heard, two sub-groups at a time will share their ideas at the monthly faculty meetings. “The idea [is] that faculty now will feel absolutely free to tell us what suggestions they have and what ideas they think are important,” said Leyla Rouhi, member of the globalization sub-group and professor of romance languages. On Oct. 4, Rouhi’s group presented its findings to the faculty. The group focused specifically on what the College can do to strengthen its global presence. “We want to create a mission that isn’t just domestic and U.S. centered, but really . . . globally centered,” Rouhi said.

Over the course of the next couple of months, the faculty will hear from the rest of the sub-groups to discuss each of their proposals.