Board of Trustees approves tenure for seven professors

The Committee on Appointments and Promotions (CAP) recently recommended seven assistant professors for tenure at the College. The Board of Trustees approved all recommendations.

Those promoted to the positions of associate professor with tenure are: Edan Dekel, assistant professor of classics; Sarah Goh, assistant professor of chemistry; Sarah Hammerschlag, assistant professor of religion; Gage McWeeny, assistant professor of English; Bernard Rhie, assistant professor of English; Mihai Stoiciu, assistant professor of mathematics; and Tara Watson, assistant professor of economics.

Bill Wagner, dean of faculty and professor of history, explained the tenure process. “Typically, a new faculty member is appointed to a three-year term,” he said. “In the fall of the third year, [he or she] is reviewed for reappointment and, if successful, is reappointed to a four-year term. The review for promotion with tenure normally takes place in the fall of the third year of the second appointment, that is, during the sixth year at the College.”

Evaluations for professors eligible for tenure are extremely thorough. “In tenure cases, departments and programs base their evaluations and recommendations on a range of evidence, including teaching, SCS results, class visits, interviews with students, course syllabi, in some cases departmental questionnaires and so on,” Wagner said. The CAP, which includes the president, provost, dean of faculty and one tenured professor from each department, reviews all of the aforementioned material before making recommendations to the Board of Trustees.

Edan Dekel

Dekel’s research interests are varied: He focuses on Greek and Roman poetry, comparative epic, Biblical studies, ancient Judaism and medieval literature. He is the author of the upcoming Virgil’s Homeric Lens, and he’s currently working on two book projects “that examine the transformation of Jewish legends in the European literature of the 18th and 19th centuries,” he said. Dekel added that he “would like to see the classics department continue to serve as a model for critical engagement with a wide range of intellectual disciplines including language, literature, history, archaeology and art.” He received his B.A. from Brown and his Ph.D. from the University of California-Berkeley.

Sarah Goh

Goh specializes in biochemistry, focusing on self-assembling polymers synthesized through mimetic proteins. Goh has most recently taught introductory and intermediate organic chemistry in addition to a course in physical organic chemistry. Goh’s most recent publication, titled “Crosslinked Microparticles as Carriers for the Delivery of Plasmid DNA for Vaccine Development,” describes the synthesis of insertion vectors. She is currently working on a paper titled “Solid-Phase Synthesis of Functionalized DNA-Dendron Conjugates as Building Blocks for Self-Assembled Dendrimers.” Goh received her B.S. from the University of Michigan, her M.S. from the University of Massachusetts and her Ph.D. from the University of California-Berkeley.

Sarah Hammerschlag

Currently a visiting professor at the University of Chicago through July 2012, Hammerschlag teaches courses pertaining primarily to Judaism in the 20th century. Hammerschlag is the author of The Figural Jew: Politics and Identity in Postwar French Thought (University of Chicago Press, 2010), and is currently authoring the book Sowers and Sages: The Renaissance of Judaism in Postwar Paris, which examines French efforts to revitalize Judaism post-World War II and how French notions of Judaism relate to the formation of a Jewish state. Hammerschlag received her B.A. from Wesleyan, master’s degrees from Hollins and University of Chicago and a Ph.D. from the University of Chicago.

Gage McWeeny

McWeeny’s career has focused specifically on Victorian literature and culture as well as 20th century fiction and contemporary experimental writing. Over the course of his career, the English professor has contributed to a number of journals and literary magazines as well as BBC radio programs. The professor held an Oakley Center Fellowship in 2008-09 for his book The Comfort of Strangers: Social Intimacy and Victorian Literature, which will be released by Oxford University Press later this year. “My experience has been great,” McWeeny said. “It’s been really positive … This is a happy place to teach and write for me.” McWeeny is working on pursuing a number of personal research projects, and is also “looking forward to developing new classes,” including a tutorial and a Winter Study course for next year. McWeeny earned his B.A. at Columbia before moving to Princeton for his Ph.D.

Bernie Rhie

Rhie’s teaching and interests have focused on the connections between philosophy and literature, with an emphasis on 20th century literature and ordinary language philosophy. “I am lucky to have wonderful colleagues in the English and philosophy departments, and I very much look forward to working even more closely with them in the coming years: to organize interdisciplinary events, to develop new courses and hopefully even to co-teach with some of them,” he said. His future plans also include working with the faculty in the art and psychology departments, with whom he has collaborated with in the past. “I can’t imagine teaching better students, or having better colleagues, than I do at Williams, so I’m thrilled to be able to stay on,” Rhie said. Next year, the professor will be teaching a course entitled “The Face: Image, Theory, Politics” for the graduate program in art history, and has begun to organize a conference on the human face that will that will take place in 2013, involving faculty members in both the art and psychology departments as well as members from other institutions. Rhie received his B.A from the University of California-Berkeley, and his Ph.D. from the University of Pennsylvania.

Mihai Stoiciu

Stoiciu’s area of research is mathematical physics, specifically spectral theory for random and deterministic Hamiltonians. The math professor has been published in Proceedings of the American Mathematical Society, Journal of Approximation Theory and Duke Mathematical Journal. “I’ve greatly enjoyed being a faculty member at Williams in the last six years,” Stoiciu said. “I work in a fantastic department, mathematics and statistics, and I absolutely love teaching and interacting with the Williams students.” One of Stoiciu’s fondest memories at Williams thus far was teaching a Winter Study class last year on the Rubik’s cube. As for the future, Stoiciu said he has “several research projects under way with collaborators from England and Germany.” He is also working on book project on eigenvalue distribution for random operators and hopes to teach new courses in his department. Stoiciu earned his B.S. from the University of Bucharest and his Ph.D. from the California Institute of Technology.

Tara Watson

Watson’s fields of interest are in health economics, urban economics and economic demography. “My ongoing research is focused on immigrant Medicaid participation,” said Watson. One of her current projects examines the link between federal immigration enforcement and participation in the Medicaid program by children of immigrants. Another project is a field experiment aimed at identifying barriers to Medicaid participation among eligible immigrants. Watson has been published in several journals and publications including Public Finance Review, Journal of Human Resources, Review of Income and Wealth and Journal of Health Economics. Watson currently teaches public finance, poverty, health disparities and econometrics at the College. She completed her B.A at Wesleyan and received her Ph.D from Harvard.

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