Board grants five faculty members tenure

Following the recommendation of the Committee on Appointments and Promotions, the Williams College Board of Trustees Executive Committee voted to promote five members of the faculty to the position of associate professor with tenure.

The vote will be ratified by the full board in January, and the promotions will take effect July 1, 2015, for Quamrul Ashraf of the economics department, Mea Cook from the geoscience department, Justin Crowe in the political science department, David Gürçay-Morris of the theatre department and Nate Kornell from the psychology department.

Quamrul Ashraf

Ashraf’s research and teaching fields include economic growth and development, macroeconomics, economic demography and agent-based computational economics. He graduated with honors from Trinity College and went on to earn his Ph.D. from Brown. Funded by the Hellman Fellows Program and the National Science Foundation, his work has been published or is forthcoming in several well-known journals, including Review of Economics and Statistics, Population and Development Review and American Economic Review.

Ashraf said, “I am delighted to have been granted tenure at [the College], as it affords me the opportunity for continued growth as a scholar and an educator, by way of exploiting the unparalleled synergies between teaching and research that the unique intellectual environment at Williams has to offer; one that I have come to cherish during my time here thus far. Moving ahead, I am particularly excited about advancing my research program on exploring the ‘deep’ historically rooted geographical, cultural, and institutional determinants of the remarkable inequality in the standard of living across the globe. I am also looking forward to the possibility of designing new courses in the areas of economic growth and development, especially on the topic of ‘growth diagnostics’ – an emerging framework of great relevance to policy-making in the developing world, permitting the identification of the ‘binding constraints’ to economic growth in a country-specific context.”

A prominent member in the economics department and also in the master’s program at the Center for Development Economics, Ashraf teaches mainly macroeconomics and economic growth and development. He also works as technology coordinator for the economics department as well as serving as a member of the Honor and Discipline Committee.

Mea Cook

Cook, after completing her B.A. from Princeton, went on to earn her Ph.D. from the M.I.T./Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution Joint Program in Oceanography. She studies marine geology and paleoceanography, meaning she studies the ocean as it relates to natural climate variability. Funded by the National Science Foundation, her work has been published in the journals Paleoceanography and Deep-Sea Research II.

At Williams, Cook teaches courses on oceanography, climate changes, and the relationship between the oceans and climate. She also serves on the Faculty Steering Committee and the committee overseeing the Environmental Studies Program.

“This is a job that I love,” Cook said. “It’s a really difficult job, but it’s also really rewarding for me to do all the parts of it, from teaching to doing research with students. So [getting tenure is] a nice affirmation that I’m a good fit for this job.”

Justin Crowe

An alumnus of the College, Justin Crowe ’03 went on to earn his Ph.D. in political science from Princeton. His research in the field focuses on the Supreme Court, constitutional law and theory, American political and constitutional development, American political thought and culture and American political institutions.

Based on his research, Crowe has published a book, Building the Judiciary: Law, Courts, and the Politics of Institutional Development, and several articles analyzing the role of the Constitution and the Supreme Court in American political development. His work has been published in the journals Studies in American Political Development, Journal of Politics and Perspectives on Politics.

When asked what it meant to be tenured, Crowe said, “Being awarded tenure is obviously exciting for any faculty member, but being awarded it at my alma mater is incredibly special for me. As I often tell my students, Williams is home: it’s where I became myself, where I met my wife, where I decided to do this with my life. I wanted this job – my advisor’s job – more than any other in the world since the summer after sophomore year, so knowing that I get to teach (and learn from) my fellow Ephs about the Constitution and the Supreme Court for the long term is quite literally a dream come true.”

At the College, Crowe teaches courses on American politics, American constitutionalism and American political thought. He also serves on the Compensation Committee from Steering Committee, and the advisory committees to Justice and Law Studies and the Leadership Studies Program.

David Gürçay-Morris

Another alumnus of the College, David Gürçay-Morris ’96 earned his M.F.A. at the University of Washington at Seattle in scenic design. Well known as a set designer, he has received many accolades for his contributions to several plays. His show STRAIGHT WHITE MEN, a collaboration with playwright and director Young Jean Lee, was listed in Best Shows of 2012 by the New Yorker and Minneapolis Star Tribune. In recognition of his work, he received a Princess Grace Fellowship, a Hewes Nomination and was selected as a two-time member of the HERE Artist Residency Program.

Regarding his recent promotion and connection to the College, Gürçay-Morris said, “My return to Williams to teach was an unexpected, unplanned-for left turn in my life and career as a freelance designer and theater artist, but it was a change and challenge that I embraced with gusto. Now, almost eight years later, it is hard to imagine my life any other way, and I am deeply honored and humbled by the College’s decision to grant me tenure. This place, this institution, has been pivotal in my education, my life and my career in so many ways; I look forward to continuing to work and learn with my students and colleagues for many years to come.”