CAP recommends eight assistant professors for tenure

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

The following were promoted to positions of associate professor with tenure: Amie Ashley Hane, psychology; Brent Heeringa, computer science; Morgan McGuire, computer science; Steven J. Miller, mathematics and statistics; Steven E. Nafziger, economics; Anne Reinhardt, history; Dorothy J. Wang, American studies; and Li Yu, Asian studies.

Assistant Professor of Theater Omar Sangare was not recommended for tenure. “The decision was quite surprising for me and for numerous students and faculty members I have spoken to,” Sangare said when asked to comment. “There is a reconsideration procedure; however, I still have some time to think about my decision concerning the next step.”

Peter Murphy, dean of the faculty and professor of English, described the tenure process. “The recommendation concerning tenure is almost always made in the untenured faculty member’s sixth year at the College,” he said. “The decision itself is made by the CAP, which is the final decision-making body on such matters at the College.”

Murphy added that at the time of the decision, each faculty member has a long and detailed record, and the CAP has reviewed the faculty member’s work numerous times over the previous years. “The recommendation for or against tenure is the final decision point in a long process of evaluation,” he said.

According to Wagner, while the final decision rests with the CAP, almost all of the evaluation of untenured faculty members is conducted by tenured members of the same department, who then issue a report to the CAP.

 Amie Ashley Hane

Hane’s interests lie in developmental psychology, described as tracking human development from early infancy through adolescence. Her specific areas of focus are the relationship between early maternal caregiving and stress physiology and the importance of caregiver-child interactions and child temperament in influencing the development of risk. “I am fascinated by the magnificent capacity of the infant brain and how the quality of early [child]-rearing environments shape the brain and behavior of infants,” she said. Hane added that she is looking forward to developing a class next year that focuses on the psychobiology of temperament. Her research includes samples from children and families living in Williamstown. Hane has been published in The Journal of Family Psychology, Developmental Psychology and Psychological Science. She received her B.A. and Ph.D. from the University of Maryland.


Brent Heeringa


Heeringa specializes in approximation algorithms, computational complexity, data structures and computability. Heeringa’s work has been published in the academic journal Algorithmica. He has also presented at numerous peer-reviewed conferences, and the National Science Foundation supports his research financially. As a graduate student, he worked with several other computer scientists to start the company Adverplex, which works with pay-per-click advertising. His plans for future research include an expansion on his current area of work and expertise. “I will continue to work on problems squarely in the algorithms and data structures community, but I’m also hoping to devote some time to collaborative work outside my traditional research area. [Professor of Psychology] Nate Kornell and I have started working on a project about which I’m pretty excited,” Heeringa said. Heeringa graduated with a B.A. from the University of Minnesota and a Ph.D. from the University of Massachusetts-Amherst.

Morgan McGuire

McGuire’s research focuses on computer graphics and high-throughput computing. He uses the methodology of mathematics to study problems in the humanities, including how people make difficult decisions, how artists communicate depth using flat media, why most people find some games more engaging than others and what the most efficient algorithms for games on tablet computers are. McGuire is the editor-in-chief of The Journal of Graphics Tools and the lead author of Creating Games: Mechanics, Content, and Technology. He has also contributed to the development of a multitude of commercial products. Regarding his time at the College, McGuire said, “Williams’ great strength is putting some of the best students and teachers in the world face-to-face and giving them the focus and personal attention to make a difference.” He added that in the future he would like to experiment more with co-teaching and interdisciplinary courses. McGuire received his B.S. from MIT and his Ph.D. from Brown.

Steven J. Miller

Miller is a professor in the math department and teaches courses in mathematics at varying levels. Outside the classroom, he focuses his research on analytic number theory, random matrix theory, probability theory, sabermetrics and Benford’s Law. His personal research and class curriculum are often intertwined. “I try to work my research into my classes, often getting students involved,” he said. Miller has also been published extensively: His work includes the book An Invitation to Modern Number Theory as well as various papers in mathematics and statistics. His plans for future research include an expansion on current themes. “I’m looking at a variety of pure and applied problems; the theme I’m most interested in pursuing is understanding a field called random matrix theory, which predicts behavior in diverse systems,” Miller said. Miller earned his B.S. from Yale University and his Ph.D. from Princeton University.

Steven E. Nafziger

Nafziger’s specialties include economic history, economic development and the intersection of the two fields. “I consider the role played by factors shaping market development, education, institutions and political economy of policy formation, especially at the local level,” he said. Most of Nafziger’s research focuses on Tsarist Russia, particularly how serfdom ended in the mid-19th century and affected subsequent economic development. He is currently undertaking a project on pre-Communist China. Nafziger has been published in journals such as Explorations in Economic History and The Journal of Economic History. He said he is currently working on two book-length projects, “both of which will investigate the economic history of late-Tsarist Russia as a case study of the economic development process.” Nafziger received his B.A. from Northwestern and his Ph.D. from Yale.

Anne Reinhardt

Reinhardt is currently a professor in the history department. She focuses her research on imperialism, technology and social change in 19th- and 20th-century China. Reinhardt ’s book Navigating Semi-Colonialism: Shipping, Sovereignty, and Nation-Building in China, 1860-1911 will be published by the Harvard University Asia Center in 2013. “I’m a historian of modern China, and I’m particularly interested in the social and cultural changes that can be viewed through economic phenomena,” she said. In addition to her just-completed work, Reinhardt is “[also] working on a second that compares 20th-century capitalist elites in China and India.” At the College, she teaches courses in Chinese history, such as “Clash of Empires: China and the West, 1800-1900” and “Gender and the Family in Chinese History.” She received her B.A. from Harvard University and her Ph.D. from Princeton University.

Dorothy J. Wang

As a professor of American studies, Wang’s academic interests include contemporary poetry and poetics, specifically avant-garde minority poetry; 20th-century English-language poetry; Asian American literature; and Anglophone Chinese diasporic literature. Wang’s book, Thinking Its Presence: Form, Race, and Subjectivity in Contemporary Asian American Poetry, will be published by Stanford University Press in early 2013. “My hope for American studies is that the program at Williams will grow,” Wang said when asked about her plans for the future. “I am currently the sole full faculty line in the program.” She added that she also hopes to see the faculty at the College become as varied as the student body has become. Wang received her B.A. from Duke and her Ph.D. from the University of California-Berkeley.

Li Yu

Yu specializes in Chinese language pedagogy and the history of reading in late imperial China. Specifically, she is interested in examining the evolution of the techniques employed in teaching children how to read and punctuate sentences. Yu teaches mostly language courses in the Chinese department, but has also taught courses in Chinese pop culture and ethnic minority cultures. “The best part of my job is that I have a really, really good program that I am working with. We all teach language and care about improving our instruction quality,” she said. Yu has published in several journals, including The Journal of the Chinese Language Teachers Association and Studies on Asia. She is also the book review editor for The Journal of the Chinese Language Teachers Association. Yu received a fellowship from a subdivision of the Excellence Initiative by the German federal and state governments. The University of Heidelberg in Germany awarded Yu the fellowship during the 2009-10 academic year. She received her B.A. from East China Normal University in Shanghai, China, and earned her Ph.D. at Ohio State University.

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