Provost Briefs

Update from the Office of Provost and Dean of Faculty

The Provost’s Office continues to work to support students to have successful and purposeful academic experiences by envisioning and providing the structure for faculty to do their work effectively and efficiently. The registrar’s office works with us in the management and scheduling of the curriculum. The office of institutional research collects feedback from students on their academic experience and provides useful information on key parameters that help the Provost’s Office, along with other offices, to make informed decisions. We have 50 FSEMs currently scheduled for the fall 2013 semester, which will yield an average class size of about 13. Given the intensive focus on writing and seminar discussions, small classes are a priority. Work continues with the Digital Pedagogies Project, funded by a Mellon Presidential Discretionary Grant. We funded 11 faculty proposals involving about 16 faculty members. Disciplines represented include, Biology, Classics, Education, Environmental Studies, Geosciences, German Area Studies, Media & Society, Philosophy, and Russian.

The second part of the Mellon Presidential Grant, the Alternative Calendar and Academic Programming Project, is moving more slowly as it is much more complex and involves coordination of almost every office and area on campus. We are still collecting ideas and identifying all of the relevant constraints and possibilities before beginning to develop pilot programs. A couple of the most promising ideas will be piloted during the 2013-14 year. In the area of General Education Assessment, a small study-group of faculty have been examining critical thinking and will pilot an approach to assessing critical thinking skills as evidenced during the Senior Symposium. This complements a similar pilot project conducted last year that assessed oral communication skills displayed during the Senior Symposium. Taken together, these two small projects will have advanced our thinking about Goals 1 & 2, gaining insights that will be of use in the review of the general curriculum during the 2013-14 year.

Middle States Reaffirmation Process

Steering Committee members and six Working Groups comprised of faculty, staff, students and Trustees submitted complete preliminary draft reports on all of the 14 standards we must meet for re-accreditation at the end of January 2014. Steering Committee weekly meetings have focused on reviewing the preliminary working group reports, and the Working Groups have completed their initial round of revisions. We are now planning several face-to-face forums with different campus constituents to solicit some constructive feedback/recommendations, and to address any gaps before the co-chairs compile these separate reports into a more unified Self-Study Document. The HWS Middle States Re-Accreditation web page has also been updated with further activities, and a Middle States 2014 Information sheet has been created.

Technos International College Exchange

This March marked the first time that two students from Technos International College, Shinya Kamitsumagri and Ryo Sugahara traveled to Geneva to see life at Hobart and William Smith Colleges. During their exchange, these two students experienced a homestay for a weekend, attended a musical at Geneva High School, volunteered with America Reads at a local elementary school, attended a variety of classes on campus, took a day trip to Niagara Falls, attended a banquet in their honor, and capped off their visit with a weekend in New York City. Overall, the exchange went extremely well and we hope that this will continue in the years to come.

Summer Research

This year 58 students will be performing summer research with 27 faculty mentors in the areas of biology, chemistry, environmental studies, geoscience, mathematics, physics and psychology. Students will work for 8-10 weeks and will be paid a stipend. In addition, housing will be provided by the Colleges. Funding for this program comes from a number of external grants, endowments, and restricted funds.

New Associate Deans

Associate Dean Paul Kehle is nearing the end of his term. He will step down this summer and proceed on a well-deserved sabbatical leave. I remain grateful for Paul's help these past several months and thank him for his devotion to HWS over the last three years. I am now in the fortunate position to announce the appointment of two very capable colleagues who will join my office as associate deans in part-time capacities.

Professor Eric Klaus, who came to HWS as a Visiting Professor of German in 2001, will serve as Associate Dean of First Year Seminars. He has been the coordinator of the German Area Studies Program since 2006. He has published on Goethe, Gorky, and the Austrian occultist Gustav Meyrink. From 2009 to 2011 he was a member of the American Association Teachers of German culture task force, during which time he contributed to the task force’s collection of teaching materials designed to foster intercultural learning, and also wrote the introduction to that collection. In recent years he has turned his attention to cross-cultural encounters in the works of Yoko Tawada and Lafcadio Hearn, as well as topics in the digital humanities. Eric has participated in HWS’s first-year seminar program since 2008 and is looking forward to working with the faculty to strengthen this vital component of the colleges’ curriculum.

Professor Dewayne Lucas who joined the HWS faculty in 2000 will serve as Associate Dean of Faculty. DeWayne’s research deals with the decision-making processes (or lack thereof) of Congress, particularly the House of Representatives, and the role that party polarization has played in reducing Congress’s ability to legislate. From election results to voting records, he has examined various explanations of the challenges to the chamber in operating effectively and has written most recently on the role of moderate congressional factions in shaping contemporary debate. At HWS, he has been actively engaged in the campus governance structure, chairing the Committee on Academic Affairs, the American Studies Program, and the Political Science Department. Since his arrival at the Colleges in January 2000, DeWayne has also served on the Committee on Standards and the Committee on Faculty, where he chaired the taskforce that rewrote the Sexual Grievance Process for the Colleges.


Preparing Students to Lead Lives of Consequence.