Announcing our next dean of faculty

To the Williams community,

I am pleased to report that I have offered the position of Dean of the Faculty to Lara Shore-Sheppard, Kimberly A. ’96 and Robert R. ’62 Henry Professor of Economics, and she has accepted. Lara will assume the deanship on July 1.

Lara, who joined Williams as Assistant Professor of Economics in 2000, has an impressive record as a scholar, leader and faculty advocate, as well as a professor and mentor to many students. A nationally respected health and labor economist, she has devoted much of her career to studying the impact of so-called “safety net” programs including Medicaid, the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program and Temporary Assistance to Needy Families among low-income adults and children. Since 2012 she has concurrently served as a research associate at the National Bureau of Economic Research, and is in the midst of a one-year appointment as a Russell Sage Foundation Visiting Scholar. Over more than two decades her studies have been supported by grants from Russell Sage as well as the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, the U.S. Department of Agriculture, the National Institutes of Health and the National Science Foundation, among other funders.

Lara’s extensive scholarly and policy work enriches her teaching, as well. Her courses at Williams have included Poverty and Public Policy; The Economics of Health and Health Care; Research in Labor Economics; Econometrics; Empirical Methods in Political Economy; and Dimensions of Public Health, co-taught with Lecturer in Philosophy and bioethicist Julie Pedroni. She has also taught the Center for Development Economics’ course in statistics and econometrics many times. A long list of students have completed theses and independent studies under her tutelage, and she has worked closely with students through Williams’ summer research programs. An avid figure skater, Lara has also served as faculty advisor to the college figure skating club and faculty affiliate for women’s crew.

In addition to having chaired both the Department of Economics and the Program in Political Economy, Lara has long advocated for faculty through her committee roles, including a term as chair of the Committee on Educational Affairs. She served on several committees that preceded and contributed to the creation of the college’s Children’s Center, chaired the Campus Environmental Advisory Committee and in 2010-11 co-directed the college’s Project for Effective Teaching, a precursor to the First 3 Program.

Lara will succeed current Dean of Faculty and John B. McCoy and John T. McCoy Professor of Psychology Safa Zaki, who will leave Williams in June to become the 16th president of Bowdoin College. Over the course of her service, Safa has worked closely with committees and chairs to support an impressive number of searches and curricular development initiatives, as well as to support faculty scholarship and collaboration. She also launched both our new Grants Office and the Rice Center for Teaching, among other accomplishments.

I now look forward to working equally closely with Lara. We are fortunate that someone of her abilities, experience and dedication to faculty interests is willing to assume this role, continuing our tradition of filling senior administrative positions from within our ranks. I hope you will join me in congratulating her and welcoming her to the job.

In closing, I want to thank the many colleagues who offered nominations and advice to me and the Faculty Steering Committee during the search; and the members of the FSC themselves for the thoughtful discussions we had as I made this important decision.