Williams to Lose Dean of College, Extend Dean of Faculty and Provost Terms
By Jessica Levine '13, Managing News Editor
Williams College will lose its dean of the college at the end of this academic year but has extended the terms of both its dean of faculty and provost. Williams’ Dean of the College Karen Merrill will leave her position when her three-year term ends on June 30. However, interim President William G. Wagner and provost Bill Lenhart have accepted second year-long extensions of their original terms as dean of faculty and provost, respectively.

President-elect Adam Falk, who will officially take office as president on April 1, 2010, has already begun collaborating with the Faculty Steering Committee (FSC) to find a replacement dean of the college. According to FSC Chair and Professor of Comparative and Japanese Literature Christopher Bolton, Falk has the final say in the decision. Bolton stated in an interview with The Williams Record that the FSC’s job “is to collect and synthesize input from students, staff and faculty, and pass it on to the president to help him make the decision.”

Merrill — who has served as dean of the college for the past three years and, before that, as director of the Center for Environmental Studies for two years — will be on leave for the 2010-2011 academic year. However, she plans to keep busy during that time. “I will be taking classes, taking up research for my book project again and speaking with both the history department and environmental studies program about the sort of courses that I will be teaching in the future,” she explained to The Williams Record.

Merrill made the decision to step down in part due to the demands of the position.

“As great a job as this has been, and as much as I am excited by this work, the schedule and daily commute from Amherst, Mass., have placed a lot of demands on me and my family,” she said.

Merrill will return as a full-time professor for the 2011-2012 academic year, stating to The Williams Record that “serving as dean has been such a huge learning experience, but at heart I’m a teacher and scholar.” She plans to take a year-long sabbatical the following year.

Merrill’s plans for her final semester as dean of the college include continuing work on changes to first-year and pre-major advising, completion of the Neighborhood Review Committee’s current work and further collaboration with College Council and other groups on campus to deal with issues regarding student culture and respect, particularly in light of the homophobic vandalism incident at the college last semester.

Issue 15, Submitted 2010-02-17 20:21:59