Friday, May 12, 2006

Assessment of Faculty and Staff Diversity and Satisfaction, March 2006

Assessment of Faculty and Staff
Diversity and Satisfaction

Williams College
March 2006

Produced by Cambridge Hill Partners



During the 2004-2005 academic year, Williams College launched a series of Diversity Initiatives, an effort that has as its primary goal the generation of ideas about steps the College can take to ensure that all faculty, staff, and students can thrive at the institution. Integral to the Initiatives was an extensive Self Study that resulted in a series of documents, data sets, and recommendations addressing issues of diversity relating to students, faculty, and administrative staff.

One of the questions posed in the Self Study was “How effective is Williams College in creating a workplace that serves the needs of a diverse faculty and staff?” To address this question, the Faculty Steering Committee engaged Cambridge Hill Partners, Inc. (CHP) to conduct confidential interviews and focus groups with a diverse group of faculty and administrative staff members.


The Steering Committee outlined the following objectives for this project:

  • To determine the differences in the satisfaction of faculty and administrative staff members as a result of intrinsic factors such as race, ethnicity, gender, sexual orientation, etc.
  • To develop a deeper understanding of the differential experiences that these individuals have at Williams College.
  • To create the broadly based understanding and buy-in among faculty and staff members necessary to implement recommendations resulting from the Diversity Initiatives successfully.

Information about students and the experiences of students was not a specified objective of the study. However, during the course of the interviews and focus groups with faculty and staff, many discussed the challenges of diversity within the student body. For some, it seemed easier to focus on students than on the dynamics of diversity among faculty and staff. As a result, we are including findings about student experience, recognizing that this information comes from the perspectives of faculty and staff only. CHP did not interview any students.


Three consultants from Cambridge Hill Partners individually interviewed fifty faculty and staff members and conducted seven focus groups during mid February 2006. Additionally, CHP consultants reviewed the College’s Self Study, two consultant reports from 2005, preliminary data from the Higher Education Research Institute (HERI) survey on faculty satisfaction, and faculty demographics.

RankNumber of Participants
Associate Professor10
Assistant Professor19

Race/EthnicityNumber of Participants
African American7

GenderNumber of Participants


The findings have been collected from the individual interviews and focus groups. It should be noted that some of the information presented below appears contradictory because it represents the experiences and perceptions of a diverse group of individuals with multiple roles and experiences at Williams College. More important than specific individual comments is the gestalt that these data create and the opportunity to reflect on their overall meaning. When individuals’ statements are used, they are meant to be representative of particular views that are important to consider. Individual speakers will not be identified nor will numeric counts of how many times a particular statement occurred or was offered. Unless otherwise noted, the statements are meant to represent themes that emerged in multiple interviews and, given the purposes of the project, are important to consider.


With any project of this nature, it is likely that more time and discussion will be devoted to areas for improvement. Therefore, it is important to acknowledge the many strengths relative to diversity and faculty and staff satisfaction present at the College. Williams is generally perceived to be a good place to be and to work by faculty and staff. There was acknowledgement in the interviews that the College has a desire to be inclusive and welcoming and that there is an abundance of goodwill and good intention. Furthermore, there is a strong history of being willing to take on difficult initiatives to change, e.g. eliminating fraternities and admitting women students, as well as a track record of progress relative to diversity.

During the last thirty years, the face of the College has changed dramatically yet the mission has remained the same.

Williams has a genuinely good heart. The College really wants to be diverse, but it is hard given the location to forge any type of racial diversity—there is no black community here.

I stay because Williams is great for someone who loves to teach and conduct research. The students are exceptional and of high caliber. The College is well resourced. My department is nice, and we get along well.

This track record of success is particularly apparent in the student arena with the successful recruitment of greater numbers of domestic minority and international students.

The state of diversity here has improved over the years. It is less homogenous among both faculty and students. There are a lot more international students coming to Williams. The fact that need-blind admissions has been extended to international students has helped this trend.

Finally, some progress has been made in the curriculum, most notably with the establishment of a program in Latino/Latina Studies.

We are doing better in hiring faculty of color. There are now enough Latino/Latina faculty that there is a support group. Latino/Latina Studies is an outstanding program.


It was apparent in many of the interviews that there is little consensus as to what diversity is or what it means for Williams College. For some individuals, diversity is affirmative action; for others, it is numerical representation; for some, it is more about diversity of thought than personal identity; for still others, it is a complex interaction of elements of personal identity.

Diversity has come to mean “visible diversity” and less intellectual diversity.

A big issue among faculty when you talk about diversity is the fear that standards will be lowered. Hiring more diverse faculty means lowering standards. I have heard some hires referred to as “affirmative action hires.”

I hear, “Aren’t we all the same? You have a college education. Why do you have to have labels? Why do racial groups always separate themselves?” We have to keep pounding on why diversity is important.

This lack of common understanding has several results. For some, it compromises the credibility of the current initiatives. They question whether there is a strong desire and institutional will for sustainable change. They question whether the College truly wants diversity or merely the assimilation of diverse individuals. For others, achieving diversity is undesirable because it represents a diminishment of standards of quality.

It feels like we’ve gone around in circles on the topic of diversity and multiculturalism—here we go again. We are at heart a conservative college that is tinkering around the edges.

We want diversity, but still homogenization—it’s a disconnect.

There is a lack of courage within the institution. It is easy to set-up committees to assess issues of diversity. It is easy to hire consultants to tell us what we should do. It is extremely difficult to take significant action.

Right now Williams is first in everything in U.S. News but this—that’s what motivates the institutional interest.

Curriculum is central—the fulcrum. It affects faculty hiring and the recruitment of students. Diversifying faculty and student populations results in a decrease in standards. Williams is fighting over second-tier black students. The first tier of black students goes to Harvard, Princeton, Yale, etc. There is a big difference between first- and second-tier black students.

In all cases, the issue is made more complex by what is perceived as an institution-wide reluctance to participate in dialogue and debate about this issue.

The case for diversity is not well established and is not discussed because it might raise debate. Ethnic minority students need role models—they come to me for conversations.

The population at Williams is not sophisticated or well informed. Having worked at other colleges, I am surprised with the lack of diversity. At Williams there seems to be pressure to conform. Differences are not celebrated here.

The institution does push a lot and expect assimilation. For instance, when people of color act or behave in ways that are familiar to their cultural background, members of the College community do not like it. Don’t be too visible—white parents don’t want to see gays or hear about race during parents’ weekend.

There is a trend on campus to not bring in a range of perspectives that is necessary for vigorous academic debates. . . As a result, there is a sense of mainstreaming.

We do not have a huge range of styles among faculty. The myth of Williams is that faculty have to be of a certain style. This creates a mismatch with students who have diverse needs.

It will be a tragedy if we do not take this moment in time to talk to each other and work through these issues. This may be a moment for top-down approach—taking a leadership stand.


There is also a variety of experiences within the larger community. By most accounts, Williamstown is a great place to raise a white family, but it is a much harder place for people of color and for single and/or gay individuals. The lack of social opportunities combined with limited employment opportunities for spouses and partners often results in faculty commuting on weekends and during holidays. This further reinforces the isolation from the campus and community that some experience.

It’s challenging being a young professional—there are very few here. We have to create our own network and connections. There are only so many people under 27; if you are not a professor, there’s a line drawn. There’s very little interaction (between staff and faculty).

I’m young, I’m single—I likely won’t last here; it’s brutal. You get to know people through your kids. There’s no network for those who don’t have kids.

I don’t know if I can survive another year. My circle of friends never grows—it’s very hard.

A black visiting faculty freaked out at how white it is here and decided to go to New York City a lot. It’s hard to get into the culture.

Living in Williamstown is really hard. I’m not part of the town and I don’t know how to be part of the town. I am nervous about raising a dark child in Williamstown since daycare and school seem like very white spaces.

Most faculty of color leave because there is no sense of community here. It’s also hard to be single here at the College. This environment is better suited for families.


Not surprisingly, the two reasons cited most often for difficulty recruiting and retaining diverse faculty and administrators at Williams were the location of the College and limited pools of diverse candidates. There was some resignation that the College has little or no control over these two factors and that there is little more that can be done. Other faculty members were frustrated that the conversation often ends with these limitations.

I’m fairly pragmatic, we do OK, we’re not extraordinarily diverse, but we are a small New England college. The problem with women and minorities in the sciences is endemic—the numbers just aren’t there.

We cannot compete with Princeton or Yale for top-notch black faculty.

The story line of “no one wants to come here because of the location” gets old after a while. Look at Dartmouth College. They have made significant strides in the area of diversity particularly given their frat boy history.

Interviewees also pointed to issues that could be addressed or addressed differently by the College. These included ramping up efforts relative to spousal employment, revamping recruitment processes and practices, and addressing the differential experiences of minority faculty and candidates.

Spousal Employment

The isolation of Williamstown requires different incentives for locating here. We need to work on spousal hires.

I am in a commuting relationship. It is very difficult and very tiring. The residential college idea impacts me too; I get worried about leaving on the weekend.

Spousal employment needs work. Almost no husbands are using their Ph.D.s. There is a huge resource of trailing spouses to fill leave vacancies.

My spouse never heard when he applied for job on campus—not even a rejection letter.


Most, although not all, of the women interviewed did not report differential treatment by their male colleagues.

My experience couldn’t be better. I never felt a problem regarding rank, gender, or sexual orientation. Of the three places I have worked this is the best.

Coming more recently, I have reaped the benefit especially in relation to women.

Women are not fully integrated into the life of the campus. It is a male model here at Williams. As a result, some ideas put forth by women are not taken as seriously or given the same level of consideration. Women who have been particularly successful here are those who take on more male traits. It is subtle, but a male culture prevails here. Even though they want women to feel valued, they do not think broadly enough for the next generation of women.

There are hidden gender issues and inequity. Most of the men have stay-at-home wives so they can go off to every conference or go out for drinks at the end of the day. There are some implicit requirements that are harder for women to fulfill.

However, interviewees did report differential treatment by male students.

I don’t think the experience of women is different from men; although I suspect that men have a certain authority in the classroom that I have had to establish. Students are more forgiving with males, more challenging with females.

Faculty to faculty I do not know of issues that occur based on identity. I do know that there is gender bias among students. Male presentations in the classroom are accepted whereas a woman will be challenged.

Students test you the first year, but my male colleagues get more attention and respect.

Because of the heavy emphasis on student evaluations in the tenure process, many women did feel disadvantaged by the expectations of students and, in some cases, colleagues for a particular style of pedagogy and classroom management.

There’s a certain privilege in the male teaching style—the old school Williams way of the great performative male teacher. I can see women worrying if their departments want them to fit the mold.

There ought to be something more than the PET program. I need a mentor who can coach me about teaching (differently than male style); we need a (safe) venue to talk about it.

There’s a failure to think about student assessments and rely too heavily on them. The level of thought and analysis is very limited about how women fit into what constitutes good teaching other than the big boy teaching model.

Women also expressed more concern about the effect on tenure and career when using parental leaves and stopping the tenure clock.

Most of the College is responsive to maternity leaves; male faculty take advantage of paternity leaves. Women have stopped the tenure clock; I see no negative perception.

We can stop the tenure clock, but you have to go to the dean—women are afraid to use it.

I’m not sure about the impact of a maternity leave.

A hiring committee will ask, “What was she doing for these couple of years?” when a woman has taken a couple of maternity leaves.


Not surprisingly, tenure is a huge concern for junior faculty. Several individuals mentioned that the process itself lacked the transparency they would prefer. While this is not specifically related to diversity, the transparency of the tenure process does have an impact on the ability of the College to recruit and retain diverse faculty.


The grounds for appeal are very circumscribed; the process is not transparent—it seems like it circles right back to the people making the decision in the first place. I am not sure the tenure review process went anywhere.

I don’t feel the department is always on my side—it’s more supporting the department.

Williams isn’t as transparent about tenure as other places.

My department didn’t tell me how much I have to publish to get tenure.

I’d like the dean to be more proactive about junior faculty evaluation—what are the measures? Why are these the measures? What are the implicit assumptions at play?

I don’t know how many papers I will need.

Evaluative Process

Women, in particular, were worried by the evaluation process for tenure and some felt they did not get the support they needed to manage the tenure process.

The constant evaluation is very unsettling. When they interview students we don’t see the questions or the responses. I noticed I was taking fewer risks—it detracts from intellectual diversity.

I feel quite supported; I have to focus on publishing a book.

There’s too much emphasis on student evaluations. All the evaluations are about teaching, but the tenure decision is based on publications.


Williams, as most institutions in higher education, has a “class” divide between staff and faculty. Faculty are perceived to receive more perks in the form of access to campus housing, leaves, flexible schedules, etc. For some, the fact that staff are not invited to Mountain Day is symbolic of this class difference. Administrative staff also described social situations in which they felt ignored by faculty or conversations terminated very quickly when it became known that they were not faculty.

While this separation is not unusual, it does create even more isolation for gay staff and staff of color. Social and support groups are formed less on the basis of core identity and more on employment status at the College.

I am a gay person—there is no support for gay adults. There is visible support for students. I don’t feel threatened. It’s OK to be out, but there’s not much support. There’s not much interaction between the staff and gay faculty. I wish for some kind of community.

Gay life for faculty and staff is a big disappointment here. When I came, I just didn’t find it. I waited through the first year to see if there would be opportunities to get together.

I wish there were a more concerted effort to look at GLBT staff and faculty and to create a deliberate sense of community.


Those who discussed students’ experiences are passionate and concerned about the well-being of students at Williams. Seeing students and teaching as the core of the institution, faculty described how diversity efforts need ultimately to benefit and strengthen the quality of the student experience—academically and socially.


Virtually everyone noted the significant change in the student body over the past fifteen years. While there has been a continued increase of women students, there has also been a significant increase in the number of international students.

We are accepting lots of international students. This is a great thing. These students seem to be doing fairly well. They speak lots of different languages.

Recruiting international students is valuable. It has a direct effect on the cultural diversity at Williams. We have blind admissions that have a great effect on the student population. Many have interest in the sciences.

Despite the diversification of the student population, some faculty and staff were surprised upon arriving at Williams by the homogeneity of the student body. Faculty who have few non-white students enrolled in the their classes noted this in particular.

I taught at a college within a large city before coming to Williams. It was a bit of a shock to arrive here and see so little diversity. In some classes, the lack of diversity makes it difficult to work the course content. The life experiences of students can be so limited.

In addition, there are concerns about how Williams considers international students in relation to U.S. born minorities, i.e. African Americans and Latinos. Several referred to international and U.S. minority students as being “clumped together.”

When the College thinks about diversity, they think about international students. There is an assumption that internationals and U.S. born minorities are the same, and they get lumped together. They are not the same.

International students add a lot to the College. Their issues are different than U.S. born minorities. These are different populations, and the College assumes that these various groups will assimilate and integrate. We do not acknowledge the differences.

Internationals and U.S. minorities have different needs. We can’t clump them together. Internationals grapple with social issues. U.S. minorities grapple with academic issues. Latino and African-American students can struggle in basic science due to lack of math skills developed in high school. As a result, it is hard to teach a wide range of students with varied ability.

Blacks are not used to being clumped with other blacks or Latinos with Latinos. For instance, within the Black Student Union, there are blacks from the Caribbean and blacks from New York City, and there can be friction between these groups.

Some described how this “clumping” has at times created tension among student identity groups and challenges for faculty. There seems to be more focus on assimilating all students into Williams and less focus on acknowledging and embracing differences among students.

Academic Support

There is significant concern that Williams’ strategies for academically supporting a more diverse student body have not kept pace with the success in admissions. Interviewees described diversifying the student body through admissions without having thought through what is needed to support the academic success of diverse students.

Williams is proud to have a solid percentage of minority students, yet their support is not a priority. These kids get taken care of by other kids. There is a lack of mentors.

We focus on students of color during their first days at Williams, but beyond that we offer little support or mentoring during the four years here—if they stay.

We need to have more academic support for those students who are not as well prepared for Williams—those students who may come from disadvantaged backgrounds.

The biggest issue here is the lack of support for students. If you are faculty, you’ve got it pretty good. There is lots of support.

Student of color get virtually no support. They are accepted to Williams based on their promise, yet they are expected to be up and running with the best students within the first month.

For students coming from an urban setting, it’s a big transition coming to such a homogenous white place.

Many faculty members described the challenge of supporting students of color who are struggling. Some white faculty described their personal frustration, while faculty and staff of color discussed the burden of being “one of few” to provide support to these students.

In the sciences, the kids who are at the bottom of the list are typically African-American and Latino students. It is disturbing. I struggle with how to deal with this. The challenge with the summer program for the sciences is the weaker students end up working primarily with other weaker students.

There is a disproportionate number of male students of color who end up in academic trouble. There is little forthright discussion about it, and there is little response. These students get pushed to faculty and administrators of color.

Many more international students, however, I do not have a lot of U.S. minorities in my classes. It is often the students of color that are the last ones leaving the science lab. It is uncomfortable; I’m not sure how to deal with this.

Kids from disadvantaged backgrounds always seem to trail behind throughout their four years here.

While faculty applaud the efforts of individual faculty, they described the need to invest more resources in academic support. It also appears that the level of the understanding of and commitment to providing such support varies by department.

Wendy Raymond in the Biology Department has been working with others to bring more underrepresented minorities into this discipline.

Wendy Raymond has a Howard Hughes Medical Institute Grant and a grant from the Spencer Foundation to develop strategies for intervening early with students in mathematics. How can the College build on these structures to assist?

If kids are struggling, they are not sure where to go or who can be trusted. A lot of them need counseling.

Many described the success of the current summer program in the sciences. Faculty believe that, under Chip Lovett’s leadership, students from disadvantaged backgrounds have been able to make the transition to Williams more effectively. Building on this success should be a priority.

Transitioning students into Williams should be a priority. We do have an effective summer program for science prior to the start of school. It creates a support system up-front. We have to find ways to build on this not just academically but socially.

We should expand the Science and Math Summer Program and find ways to involve more faculty.

Faculty also discussed their concerns about the broader range of students across socioeconomic classes. Many academic programs and student life activities are out of financial reach for many students. This further creates a sense of “ins” and “outs” within the student body.

There are lots of kids here who have no or little money and no access to resources. There are numerous ways in which students cannot participate given the lack of resources—trips, graduation events, supplies—these seemingly little things have a significant impact on students’ experiences. A lot of parents can’t afford to travel to Williams.

There are issues around student separation and integration. For instance, forty to fifty percent of students are on financial aid. Students with money don’t see the financial limitations that some students face.

Student Culture and Life

Several interviewees described how the underlying Williams culture remains intact despite change in the student body. There is a sense that many informal systems and practices reinforce the Williams legacy in ways that isolate some students.

The odd thing about Williams is that the student culture has not shifted with the changes that have already happened. There is still an underlying prep school ethos. For example, one of the events prior to graduation is like a Great Gatsby event. And, there is still Mountain Day in October where the entire school hikes up Mount Greylock. Students of color typically don’t go, and then whites end up talking about the fact that they didn’t go as if it was an affront.

The reality is that Williams has a WASP legacy, lots of money, and an incredibly loyal and invested alumni.

In addition, there is a perception that white students have a limited understanding of the range of cultures and backgrounds of international and U.S. minority students.

Whites have to put themselves in the shoes of minorities. They believe that giving minority kids access to Williams is enough. It’s not—they need on-going support.

There are white students here who do believe that minority students are here due to affirmative action. They think minority students have been given a special pass—not that legacy students or athletes have.

Williams needs to expose students to other cultures and parts of the world. There is a danger in being isolated in Williamstown.

Interviewees noted that Williams implicitly expects assimilation. Acknowledging, responding to, and celebrating differences in a proactive way seems counter-cultural. While the Multicultural Center does facilitate the celebration of differences, the beneficiaries are primarily non-white students. As a result, the mission and activities of the Multicultural Center do not seem to lie at the core of the institution or student life.

The population at Williams is not sophisticated or well-informed. Having worked at other colleges, I am surprised with the lack of diversity. At Williams there seems to be pressure to conform. Differences are not celebrated here.

The Multicultural Center has not been that effective over the years. It organizes and sponsors events and programs that are peripheral to the College like heritage weeks, talks. It is a support center for non-white students. We have not integrated multiculturalism into the soul of Williams College.

The Multicultural Center receives little support from the College. It is positioned as a place to entertain students of color.

There are also concerns about segregation among students. There appear to be no forums for engaging students, faculty, and staff in dialogue about the dynamics of difference on campus. It appears that misunderstandings of behaviors and actions taken by students of “other” groups become a source of tension among students.

The College does not really demonstrate that working on diversity is the right thing to do. They think that diversity should be assimilation of differences. For instance, there is a Latino organization on campus. They have very popular parties. The Student Council has recently told this group that they are not inclusive and not well advertised, yet no one targets the athletic teams for not inviting the campus to their parties. When black students get together for lunch, there is the impression that they are “segregating,” yet when the hockey team has lunch together it is not viewed in the same way.

Athletics here are important—it is in the culture and ethos. There are many faculty who are anti-sports. The athletic culture here is white. Most blacks believe that the best athletes should start and play. The ethos is around “the team.” The team gets rewarded; individual talent is less appreciated. As a result, blacks are not well-represented on teams.

There is also the fear that discussions and policies related to diversity are inadvertently creating separateness among students.

There may be a way in which the College’s policies are polarizing the campus—the Black Student Union, the GLBT Union, etc.

As on many college campuses, there is concern about drinking on campus during weekends. Given the isolated environment of Williamstown and the current student culture, interviewees suggested that the dorms become a focal point for socialization on the weekends. Several interviewees described an uncomfortable and, in some cases, an unsafe environment for students.

The dorms can be wild on the weekends with the amount of alcohol that is consumed. Women have to lock their doors on Saturday nights to avoid the craziness and potential threats.

The drinking life on campus is pretty intense. As a result, I believe that there are numerous sexual assaults that occur that are not reported. Not only do they occur, the perpetrator seems to win. There is definitely an underlying macho culture here.

Many interviewees described the need to be, “much more serious about the concept of student life without creating student life as a profession. We can do this if we develop a vision and take charge as opposed to coming up with piecemeal solutions.”


Many interviewees described how to address the challenges of developing curriculum and pedagogies that are of more interest to and better reflect the student body. In addition, several noted that the curriculum does not offer the range of exposure needed by students in today’s environment.

The student body and the curriculum reflect an isolationist position. The majority of students lack understanding of others beyond those like them. There is no language requirement. The increase in the number of international students is helping to change this.

For instance, it is amazing how little awareness there is about third world countries. There is a real complacency about America’s place in the world and its relationship to it.

Students want to see themselves reflected in the course content. African-American and Latino studies have been responsive to this need.

On the other hand, there is a concern that the College’s focus on diversity risks quality and standards. This concern includes the quality of both faculty and students. It was also noted that building academic programs in response to the shifts in student demographics is, in itself, segregating the student body.

We have a balkanization of the student body—men are not welcome in women’s studies, whites are not welcome in black studies, and queer studies are primarily for homosexuals.



As can be seen from the range of conflicting perspectives quoted in the findings, Williams lacks a clear and explicit vision of what it aspires to achieve in the realm of diversity. We believe that it is time for the Board of Trustees and the leadership of the College to articulate such a vision. This vision needs to include how Williams defines diversity for itself and a clear picture of what it aspires to achieve in the future. Without this vision, there is a significant risk that the College will continue to tinker around the edges, foster unproductive conflict among faculty and staff, and never be truly clear about what all constituents—faculty, students, staff, alumni, applicants, parents, and peer institutions—can expect from Williams in the future.

We realize that there are numerous challenges to articulating this vision and “putting stakes in the ground.” Our sense is that the two core challenges will be Williams’ model of faculty governance and its department-centric culture. These two aspects of Williams have made it an exceptional and highly competitive liberal arts college with an incredible legacy and loyal alumni base. We are not suggesting that these aspects of the College culture be dismantled, yet we do believe they will be primary sources of resistance to a vision and mandate articulated by and for the entire institution.

To articulate this vision, the Board and College leaders need to determine what is important to its future, how much institutional will there is, and how far to go. As one faculty member said, “Williams does not want to be the leader, but it does want to be in the lead pack.” On the basis of the interviews, our sense is that there is enough will within the institution at this moment to be a leader and to establish a compelling vision. As another faculty member said, “It will be a tragedy if we do not take this moment in time to talk to each other and work through these issues. This may be a moment in time for top-down approach — ‘taking a leadership stand.’”

With an articulated vision, there is a range of activities in which faculty can engage to realize that vision. We have outlined a number of options that would be both desirable and feasible for the institution to pursue.


Within the context of a vision, to focus efforts and to overcome skepticism about commitment to diversity, the leadership of the College must set some specific goals. These can include targeting key administrative and faculty positions for diverse recruitment, creating forums in which open, authentic conversations about diversity can take place, and sponsoring yearly retreats for chairs that include a focus on establishing and enhancing inclusive and productive departmental climates.


To recruit diverse candidates successfully, it will be necessary to institute best practices in this arena. The American Association of Colleges and Universities (AACU) has outlined best practices before, during, and after the search process. Department chairs, search committees, and hiring managers should be supported in implementing these practices through workshops, consultation, and financial resources.


The tenure process is critical in the development of young faculty, the preservation of institutional quality, and the maintenance of an inclusive and equitable climate. The tenure process should be reviewed and, if necessary, revamped to make it more transparent. This review would also allow an opportunity to consider the standards for tenure at Williams, how best to support young faculty, how to avoid disadvantaging particular groups, and the role that diversity play in tenure decisions. Such a discussion of the tenure process would also create an opportunity for further dialogue.

We realize that the tenure process reflects a set of academic standards deeply embedded in every top-flight institution of higher education in the United States. Two core questions are what constitutes excellent scholarship and what is considered quality teaching. These questions need to be discussed within the context of diversifying the faculty. As a result, we recommend that the College leverage its ability to provide financial support to departments to examine the tenure process in deep and expansive ways, i.e. through research, conferences, visitation to comparable institutions, etc.


Based on the interviews, it appears that women faculty experience a different set of challenges in the classroom than their male counterparts. In addition, both male and female faculty described ways in which they are challenged by the dynamics of difference among students.

We recommend the College invest significantly in researching and developing programs that will assist faculty in responding more effectively to the needs and dynamics of a more diverse student body. Several faculty indicated that students may not choose certain classes or majors based on perceived lack of skill in responding to and integrating diversity issues.

This investment should extend beyond the classroom to strategies for academic support. For instance, it is clear that there are white faculty members who are committed to students of color yet struggle to find effective strategies to engage and support these students.