Senior Staff successions: Provost and Dean of the College

Williams faculty, staff and students,

As I mentioned in my Start of Semester email, Dean of the College Marlene Sandstrom and Provost Dukes Love will step down from their administrative roles next June after six years of service. They will rejoin the faculty as Hales Professor of Psychology and Class of 1969 Professor of Economics, respectively.

Marlene and Dukes have done extraordinary work as members of the Senior Staff team. Their accomplishments show what we can achieve when faculty who know Williams well as professors and scholars bring their insights to bear on the management of the college.

One of Marlene’s most lasting contributions, in my view, has been to more fully theorize connections among our curriculum, residential life programming and co-curriculum, and to envision a Williams education holistically. Her vision—influenced no doubt by her scholarly and clinical expertise in psychology—has prompted investments in learning and student support beyond the classroom: the introduction of professional area coordinators to support student residential leaders; the piloting of theme, program and special interest housing; and the definition of new learning and developmental goals for students’ residential experience during strategic planning, including in the areas of wellness and community-building.

Marlene’s vision also aided the transition of numerous student life and support units into her office from the former Division of College Campus Life. It was a major reorganization, bringing together the deans, campus life, student health and integrative wellbeing, the chaplains, the registrar, academic engagement, sexual assault prevention and health education, international student support, parents and families programming, and more. Her gift for understanding how these elements fit together enables us to support students in many aspects of their academic and personal lives.

Within this framework, Marlene also helped create a class dean model so that students can now get advice and guidance attuned to their particular place along the “Williams arc.” She guided an expansion of the Office of Accessible Education and was instrumental in the Committee on Academic Standing’s recommendations to temporarily relax some of our academic policies during COVID.

Dukes has done equally outstanding work as provost, guiding Williams through one of the most financially challenging moments in recent history. His greatest responsibility has been to manage the college’s spending in partnership with the Vice President for Finance and Administration (now Finance and Operations). This includes managing our financial response to Covid, focusing on essential aspects of our mission and incorporating input from across the Williams community. A gifted communicator, he has been my close partner in helping campus, alumni and families understand our financial choices and strategies.

Dukes has also made important contributions in sustainability and the arts. He has consistently advocated for sustainability as a college-wide priority and was instrumental in bringing together many areas of campus to cooperate on this work, leading to real reductions in our carbon emissions and the infusion of environmental ideas into diverse areas of the curriculum and co-curriculum. In the arts meanwhile, he has guided investments in the Williams College Museum of Art and fostered a new vision for the Museum and Lawrence Hall, while modeling “the integrative arts” by supporting closer collaboration among our many arts departments and units.

In addition to all of this, Dukes has been an invaluable co-sponsor of our strategic planning process; an advocate for the value of institutional research and data-driven decision-making; and the guiding hand behind a restructuring and consolidation of our Offices of Admission and Financial Aid. He is a team-builder: From the libraries to the art museum, and information technology to institutional research, the innovative senior managers he has recruited, promoted and encouraged are helping us aspire to our mission and values in many areas that support our academic excellence.

As grateful to Marlene and Dukes as I am, I am also attached to them as dear colleagues, partners, and friends. We have one more year together and a lot we hope to accomplish before it is time to truly say goodbye. I ask you all to support and join in their work as fully as you can.

We also want to take this year to identify equally capable successors from within the faculty. For those not familiar with our model, the provost, dean of the faculty and dean of the college are all traditionally recruited from within the Williams faculty, serving three-year terms that may be renewed for another three. The Faculty Steering Committee will soon launch its standard, faculty-run nomination process for both open positions. They invite all faculty, staff and students to contact any of their members with thoughts about what the college needs in our next provost and dean of the college.

Please join me in thanking Marlene Sandstrom and Dukes Love for all they’ve done for Williams, while temporarily setting aside their scholarship and teaching. I look forward to announcing their successors later in the academic year.