diversity initiativesWilliams College

Steps Regarding Diversity Taken in 2004-06


Compiled a battery of measurements of the degree to which students from historically underrepresented groups thrive at the College, with a plan to update and report those measurements to the College community every two years.

Appointed Mike Reed '75 to the newly designed position of Vice President for Strategic Planning and Institutional Diversity to enhance coordination of the College's diversity initiatives at the highest level of the College and to insure that diversity concerns are woven into all aspects of its planning.


Launched successful new efforts to advance the recruitment of students from low-income families. The Class of 2009 contains the highest percentage of financial aid students (49%) including a significant increase in students from low-income families, and the highest percentage of U.S. students of color (30%).

Increased the size of scholarship grants and reduced loan expectations, especially for lower-income families. For the first time, some families are expected to take no loan. Others now borrow over four years lowered totals of $3,800, $7,800, or $13,800.

Expanded the College's non-discrimination statement to include considerations of gender identity and gender expression.


Made a senior appointment to the faculty of Joy James as Chair of African-American Studies, which she has developed into a fuller program named "Africana Studies: African Americans, Africans, and the Diaspora" complete with an introductory course and capstone seminar.

Completed two successful searches for faculty in Africana Studies who will begin in the fall of 2006.

Appointed Maria Elena Cepeda as the Latina/o Studies program's first fully dedicated professor, to complement those from other departments who teach in the program, thus expanding its offerings.

Appointed Armando Vargas, Assistant Professor of Comparative Literature, to, among other things, introduce the instruction of Arabic.

Appointed each year (for 2005-06 and 2006-07) two Sterling Brown Visiting Professors, instead of, as in most years, one.

Appointed three Bolin Fellows for 2005-06 and four for 2006-07, instead of, as in most years, two.

Appointed Leslie Wingard as a Mellon Post-Doctoral Fellow in Africana Studies and English.

Appointed so far to tenure-track positions seven U.S minority and five international faculty members, with one offer pending.

After a major review of the Peoples and Cultures Requirement by the Committee on Educational Policy in consultation with many groups on campus, replaced the requirement with a new Exploring Diversity (ED) Initiative. Beginning with the Class of 2011, students must pass at least one ED course, defined as one that includes "an explicit and critical self-reflection on and immersion in a culture or people."

Added two tracks to the International Studies program: South and Southeast Asia Studies and Borders, Exile, and Diaspora Studies.

Launched the Williams In Africa program. Through it students can study in their junior year at the University of Cape Town, do a summer internship, or serve in a one-year post-graduate fellowship working with The Mothers Programmes, an anti-HIV/AIDS project founded by Mitch Besser '76.


Appointed Joyce Foster as the first Director of a new Academic Resource Center.

Reorganized the Dean's Office and appointed Assistant Dean Carol Hsiao to a new position with primary responsibility for the support of international students, addressing the advising needs of our diverse student body, and assisting with the First Days program.

Formed a Diversity in Science Team, which set goals and action plans toward the aim of sending underrepresented minority students to science graduate school at a rate proportional to their presence in the student body. New programming began in spring 2005 with student-led study groups in Math 103 and outreach to first-year students about research opportunities at Williams and beyond. New programming continues in 2006-07 with new peer mentoring opportunities in biology and a student-developed winter study course, "Science Beyond Williams."

Wendy Raymond, professor of biology, began work as the first program director of the national Diversity in the Sciences program, designed to increase the number of underrepresented minorities attending science graduate school.

Received grant funding from The Spencer Foundation, as part of the Forum on Excellence and Innovation in Higher Education, to support the assessment of efforts to increase the diversity of students in the sciences.

Held, through the Program for Effective Teaching, a forum for faculty to share how diversity issues affect classroom teaching.

Compiled, through the Committee on Diversity and Community and the Advisory Group on Admissions and Financial Aid, a list of "hidden costs" (expenses outside the comprehensive fee that particularly affect low-income students) and proposed ways to reduce them, including social programming funds to be given to each pair of JAs to eliminate the need for "entry dues."


Launched through the Human Resources Office a program of diversity discussions with rotating groups of staff.

Added sessions with outside diversity trainers to the preparation of Junior Advisors and House Coordinators.

Lissack Professor Gail Newman developed a regular series of Lissack Forums devoted to the open discussion among students, faculty, and staff of difficult campus issues, many of them related to diversity.


Enhanced multicultural programming through the CenterSeries at the '62 Center for Theatre and Dance.

Expanded kosher and halaal dining options for students.

Residential Life

Included diversity goals in planning details of the new residential house system, which aims to achieve true residential integration, and thus to take full advantage of the opportunity that Williams is committed to providing. As members of a house, instead of mere occupants of a building, students will know that their fellow residents will be a part of their lives for several years. This knowledge provides greater incentive to meet and interact with the people who live around them, and thus increases the chances that they will discover surprising commonalities, cultivate new interests, and form serendipitous friendships. Programming is being planned to help students cultivate such communities within each of the four diverse residential neighborhoods.