The College is currently undergoing searches to fill the openings of vice president for strategic planning and institutional diversity at the College and assistant director of the Davis Center, following the respective departures of Mike Reed ’75 and Taj Smith in the 2013-14 academic year.
President Falk announced in a campus-wide email last May that Reed would be leaving his position at the College to become vice president for Institutional Initiatives at Dickinson College. Falk also mentioned Reed’s long-standing and wide-reaching presence at the College. “At Williams he’s served in admission and in alumni relations; as a volunteer, including on the Board of Trustees; and as a senior administrator,” he said.
His position as vice president for strategic planning and institutional diversity was created in 2006 “to create institutional structures that would help the College further its goals to attract and retain a more diverse community through long-term strategies and a coordination of efforts,” Associate Dean for Institutional Diversity and Morris Professor of Rhetoric Karen Swann said.
As such, Reed oversaw a wide range of projects and initiatives, including the Davis Center and the Office of Special Academic Programs, which administers the Mellon-Mays and Davis Fellowships as well as the Summer Science and Humanities programs. One of the many important initiatives he headed was the Diversity Action Research Team (DART) program, which quantitatively and “periodically surveys the whole community to gather ‘thriving’ data and target areas where we need to improve,” Swann said. Reed was also highly involved in the faculty hiring process, particularly in keeping tabs on the diversity of the applicant pool.
The search to hire Reed’s replacement is still in its beginning stages. The College will soon announce the search committee, and hopes to find a new Vice President for Strategic Planning and Institutional Diversity by the middle of the year.
The search committee for a new assistant director of the Davis Center has already been formed and consists of Director of the Davis Center Ferentz Lafargue, Assistant Director for Gender, Sexuality and Activism of the Davis Center justin adkins, one faculty member and one student. By mid-August, a national search for the new assistant director had yielded a total of 77 applicants, which the search committee is currently in the process of narrowing down. A much smaller selection from this pool of candidates will eventually be interviewed on-campus, a process that will likely include two student sessions. While there is no specific target date for the final hire, the committee hopes to complete the process by the beginning of spring semester.
“Our goal is to hire the right person for the job. We would like it to happen sooner than later … but our focus is on bringing the right person here,” adkins said.
Smith joined the staff of the Davis Center, then called the Multicultural Center (MCC), in 2011 as assistant director of transformative education and leadership. Alongside co-Assistant Director adkins, Smith worked closely with students and faculty in many different facets of campus life.
Smith taught a course called “The Cycle of Socialization” in the Latino/a studies department for the first time in 2013 with former Director of the Davis Center Lili Rodriguez ’01, and again this past spring semester. Smith also worked closely with students through the Minority Coalition (MinCo), advising groups about administrative necessities such as managing respective heritage months and group budgeting. The beginning of this school year saw the launch of Root, a new EphVenture program focused on identity and sustainability and a joint effort between the Zilkha and Davis Centers, which Smith played a major part in developing. Additionally, Smith ran the Social Change Film Series at Images Cinema and was the main point person for Insight/Incite, a magazine that aims to reflect the evolving mission of the Davis Center.
The departures of two such prominent members of the College community known especially for their work in promoting campus diversity happened almost at the same time. “It’s a real blow that in one year we have lost Mike, Taj and Bilal Ansari, three men of color who have been such valued, visible and critically important members of our community. It brings home how important it is for Williams to continue to intensify its efforts to attract a staff, faculty and student body that is truly diverse and representative,” Swann said.
In an interview, Smith reminisced about his time at the College, but mentioned that he is excited about his new job at Xavier University in Ohio.
“It was a pleasure to spend three years of my life at Williams College working with committed colleagues and super smart and outspoken students,” Smith said. “While I wish I could have said my goodbyes in person, I am very excited about my current position as director of the Multicultural, Gender & Women’s Center at Xavier University.”