To the Williams community,
As we return to the semester in a new mode, the college is continuing to track the COVID-19 pandemic and think about how we can mitigate or manage for its impact in the future. Recent college announcements about this issue have focused on very immediate concerns. Today, I want to take a moment explain how we’re simultaneously gathering information to inform decisions for you on longer-term issues.
Over the last few weeks I’ve worked with Senior Staff to convene two ad hoc advisory groups:
An advisory committee on financial planning is assessing the financial impacts of COVID-19 in order to propose budget strategies that prioritize our academic mission and care for our people. The scope of their work was presaged in a March 27 community-wide email from Provost Dukes Love and Vice President for Finance and Administration and Treasurer Fred Puddester. Dukes will send a followup email in a few moments with more information about their process.
Meanwhile, an academic continuity planning group is developing contingencies for fall 2020 in case the pandemic prevents us from holding a conventional fall semester. I’ve charged them with thinking broadly and proactively about innovative curricular possibilities, including ways that we might adjust our timing, offerings, or modes of instruction if needed. While we hope to return in the fall as usual, I want us to use the intervening time to think creatively about these alternatives in case we need them.
The rosters of both committees are found at the bottom of this message and on their websites, which also include comment forms you can use to share your input.
The groups will each recommend options to me and Senior Staff based on their analyses. We’ll then consider their advice in conversation with the appropriate governance bodies. Both groups will meet and provide advice through the end of the semester, but, given the nature of the topics, their work will continue into the summer, as well.
We’re all contending with so much uncertainty and change in our lives right now. I hope this email helps clarifies steps that Senior Staff and I are taking, to think through complex challenges beyond this semester. Our priorities in that process will always be people’s wellbeing and the education of our students. I encourage you to share ideas with both groups to help achieve those goals, and appreciate your patience as we seek to make the most thoughtful and deliberative decisions possible, amidst ever-shifting circumstances.
As always, I send you my warm wishes and good thoughts,
Ad hoc advisory committee on financial planning
Crystel Frusciente, Maintenance Technician
John Gerry, Associate Dean of the Faculty
Danielle Gonzalez, Director of Human Resources
Leticia Haynes ’99, Vice President for Institutional Diversity, Equity and Inclusion
C.J. Hazell, Cook’s Assistant
Todd Hoffmann, Budget Director
Sara LaLumia, Professor of Economics and chair of the Committee on Priorities and Resources
Dukes Love (chair), Provost and Class of 1969 Professor of Economics
Tiku Majumder, Barclay Jermain Professor of Natural Philosophy, Interim President (2018), Director of Science Center, and member of the Faculty Steering Committee
Maud Mandel, President and Professor of History
Aria Mason ’21, Student
Lisa Melendy, Athletic Director
Christopher Nugent, Professor of Chinese, Chair of Comparative Literature Program, and chair of the Curricular Planning Committee
Essence Perry ’22, Student
Fred Puddester, Vice President of Finance and Administration
Marlene Sandstrom, Dean of the College and Hales Professor of Psychology
Eiko Siniawer ’97, Professor of History, incoming chair of the Committee on Priorities and Resources
Chris Winters ’95, Associate Provost
Academic continuity planning group
Sarah Dubow, Professor of History and member of the Faculty Steering Committee
Matt Carter, Associate Professor of Biology
Kath Dunlop, Registrar
Sarah Jacobson, Associate Professor of Economics and member of the Committee on Educational Affairs
Barron Koralesky, Chief Information Officer
Laura Muller, Director of Quantitative Skills Programs and Peer Support
Kashia Pieprzak, Professor of Francophone Literature, French Language, and Comparative Literature, and Associate Dean of the Faculty,
Amy Podmore, J. Kirk T. Varnedoe 1967 Professor of Art, Art Department Co-Chair and Chair of Studio Art
Chad Topaz, Professor of Mathematics
Safa Zaki, Professor of Psychology, member of the Committee on Appointments and Promotions and incoming Dean of the Faculty (chair)