Faculty members Stroud, Howe, Lebestky and Braggs granted tenure

From top left clockwise: Stroud, Howe, Lebestky and Braggs. Photos courtesy of Williams College

Last month, the Board of Trustees Executive Committee approved the recommendations submitted by the College’s Committee on Appointments and Promotions (CAP) to grant tenure to four assistant professors.

The four professors who received tenure and a promotion to the rank of associate professor were Nicolas Howe, assistant professor of environmental studies; Catherine Stroud, assistant professor of psychology; Rashida Braggs, assistant professor of Africana studies and Tim Lebestky, assistant professor of biology.

Faculty are typically evaluated for tenure decisions during the fall of their sixth year at the College, according to Dean of the Faculty Denise Buell. “The CAP makes its decisions concerning tenure based on a combination of a report from the senior members of the department or evaluation committee, a self-evaluation and portfolio from the tenure candidate and external letters of evaluation by experts in the fields of the tenure candidates.”

The promotions will take effect on July 1, 2017, giving the faculty members the free-dom to attempt new types of teaching and more challenging research with the knowledge that they have extensive long-term job security. With tenure, professors are permanently employed unless they are mentally or physically incapable of performing their job, their program is discontinued, they commit serious misconduct or the College experiences a legitimate financial emergency.

Howe researches the many ways that geography, religious studies, legal studies and climate change interact with the environment and has written one book, Landscapes of the Secular: Law, Religion, and American Sacred Space, and co-written another, Climate Change as Social Drama: Global Warming in the Public Sphere, within the past several years. The cultural geographer is looking forward to his new promotion.

“To be honest, it’s hard to describe how it felt to get tenure. Overjoyed, exhausted, grateful, lucky and extremely relieved, all at the same time,” Howe said.

Stroud researches clinical psychology on adolescent stress. “I am honored to have the opportunity to be a tenured professor at Williams College. In fact, it is a dream come true,” Stroud said. “I’m most excited that I will be able to continue to teach and to conduct research alongside Williams students.” Stroud’s three research projects at the College have focused on the connection between depression, stress, relationships and the social environment.

“My primary research project was a three-year longitudinal study of adolescent girls and their primary female caregivers,” Stroud said. “The main goal of the project was to identify biological, psychological, interpersonal and environmental factors that affect adolescents’ response to stressful life events and ultimately confer increased risk for the development of depressive symptoms as well as other forms of psychopathology.”

Braggs researches jazz, race and gender in post-WWII Paris and her first book, Jazz Diasporas: Race, Music, and Migration in Post-World War II Paris, was published this past year. Lebestky studies neuroscience and developmental biology by employing fruit flies as a genetic model and zeroes in on the impact of dopamine across human attention disorders. He is the recent recipient of a Hellman Family Foundation grant and his work has been published in multiple well-regarded research journals.

“The College aims to hire faculty members with the expectation that they can succeed and aims to offer the mentoring, regular communication and professional development resources to make that possible,” Buell said.

There is no quota for how many professors can receive tenure in any given year. In-stead, the College elects to hire faculty solely based on their performance and potential for future success.