Fast Facts for Prospective Faculty

“In the gentle light of the Berkshire hills, Williams pursues a bold ambition: to provide the finest possible liberal arts education. If the goal is immodest, it is also bracing: elevating the sights and standards of every member of the community, encouraging them to keep faith with the challenge inscribed on the college’s gates: “climb high, climb far.” Williams is fortunate to have extraordinary resources, but its strength derives, above all else, from the quality of its people.”

~Mission and Purposes, Williams College Accreditation Self Study, 2017

The faculty of Williams College contribute, in no small part, to what makes a Williams education distinctively Williams. Founded in 1793, Williams is the second-oldest institution of higher learning in Massachusetts, and our approximately 2,000 students are taught by a faculty noted for blending excellent teaching with active scholarly research.

Part of the lore of being a Williams faculty member is tied to an important anecdote that frames faculty life. U.S. President James A. Garfield, Class of 1856, reputedly said of his mentor, Mark Hopkins (class of 1824 and Williams President 1836-72), that The ideal college is Mark Hopkins on one end of a log and a student on the other.” This sense of intimate engagement, deep learning, and robust life of the mind is more than just an ideal – it is a deep part of our legacy as Williams faculty. It is commonplace, if not expected, for faculty to foster opportunities for interaction with each other and our students inside and beyond the classroom.

Below are several resources for you to review as you consider joining the faculty at Williams. Please note that this description is not meant to be exhaustive, as the Office of the Dean of the Faculty partners closely with a number of offices to ensure that faculty transitions to Williamstown and the college run smoothly, including especially the Office of Institutional Diversity and Equity and Human Resources.

You might find it helpful to start with a few Fast Facts about Williams College and Williamstown, including a quick summary of fields of study and a snapshot of the faculty population.

You might also find it helpful to review some of the valuable information about life here at the college, as more generally about living in the Berkshires. Lastly, you might also consider perusing the Nuts & Bolts for New Faculty for more information.

Frequently Asked Questions

  • What is the yearly teaching Load?

    Williams boasts a regular, 2-2 teaching load of two courses per semester, and faculty typically offer a course during the winter study term every other year.

  • How many students are in a class?

    Williams is celebrated for its 7:1 student to faculty ratio. That said, class sizes vary from course to course and unit to unit. 

  • What are your students like?

    The Fast Facts site provides a helpful snapshot of our student demographics. You might also find it useful to review what students themselves say about their experiences of Navigating Williams. Our faculty find that working closely with bright, motivated, undergraduates is among the most rewarding aspects of our jobs. 

  • Are faculty at Williams collegial?

    In a nutshell, yes! The atmosphere across the college is generally quite collegial, which is fostered in large part by our small faculty numbers overall, as well as our small academic unit sizes. All Faculty Lunches, weekly lunches for the science faculty, and programs such as First 3 help ensure that collegiality, as does our robust faculty governance system, where faculty serve on college-wide committees. Many faculty find that collaborating with and getting to know faculty from other disciplines is also quite a rewarding experience. That said, it is  not atypical to discover that you might be one of a few, if not the only, faculty member who does your particular research. As such, most of our faculty find it especially  important to continue nurturing field-specific professional relationships outside of the college. 

  • What support exists for teaching?

    Our online hub for all things teaching at Williams is the NetWorks site, which is a repository for resources and events, as well as professional development and networking. You will find that there are a plethora of opportunities to meet with other faculty to discuss teaching, including especially our flagship program First3. You will also find that there are ways to visit each other’s classes via the Open Classroom initiative, to incorporate design thinking and experiential learning into your courses, to get help with teaching design, to confront pedagogical challenges, to discuss topics of mutual interest to faculty, and to share ideas in a Teaching Roundtable, just to name a few. There are a great number of Teaching and Writing Resources for Faculty as well as an excellent collection of resources related to  Teaching and Advising at Williams. 

  • What support exists for research?

    Williams highly values research and teaching, and there are numerous resources to support you as a scholar in your field. At Williams, you are expected to establish yourself as an independent scholar, and to do that in a way deemed most appropriate to your field. The need for professional development and support varies from field to field, and the college will work with you to ensure that you can do the work you need to do in order to thrive professionally. Writing and Creative Endeavors Roundtables are a part of that, just as robust planning and support for internal and external Grants and Funding opportunities. Most tenure track faculty receive generous start-up and research packages. All faculty are eligible for divisional research funds, which are renewable annually. Where applicable, artists have dedicated studio space just as STEM faculty have dedicated laboratory space. There are dedicated resources related to pursuing Our Own Work, including support for discussion groups, writing practice, and a manuscript review program to name a few.  The life of the mind also includes a generous sabbatical program, where faculty can take regularly scheduled sabbatical or leave whether you have secured external funding or not. For example, Assistant Professors receive a full year’s leave at 0.75 pay, which in the absence of external funding can be “topped up” to full pay through an internal grant process (though faculty are encouraged to seek external funding to provide that “top up”.). After tenure, faculty earn a semester leave for every 6 semesters taught, though faculty frequently ‘bank’ their time or obtain external funding to take a full year’s leave. 

  • What about moving expenses?

    The college is committed to covering reasonable moving expenses for new faculty. To ensure fair pricing, we encourage new faculty members to collect estimates from more than one moving company. In addition, Williams has joined other Massachusetts colleges and universities in negotiating a contract through which the cost of long distance moving might be reduced. Detailed information regarding this cost-saving opportunity will be forwarded to all new appointees upon acceptance of their offer. 

  • Where might I live?

    Williams owns and manages approximately 125 faculty/staff residential housing units in Williamstown, from single homes to multi-family apartments, to provide convenient, safe, and economical housing to attract and retain junior faculty and new administrative staff. Residential housing is offered to eligible faculty and staff at market rates through a housing points and lottery process that occurs semi-annually. At other times, available housing is offered to new employees on a first come, first served basis. Please see the Faculty & Staff Housing Handbook for more information about the Housing Lottery, the application process, and Commuter Housing.  Faculty who do not find appropriate housing within the college run system typically rent from independent landlords in Williamstown or neighboring North Adams, though some faculty will look to communities a bit further from campus.  For those hoping to purchase a house, the college offers a generous subsidized mortgage program for eligible faculty. 

  • I have been invited for a campus visit, now what?

    Congratulations on being extended the opportunity to visit our campus! At Williams, we see faculty recruitment as integral to our efforts to impact students by hiring the best and brightest academic minds.

    The cost associated with a campus visit (airfare, transportation) is covered by the college. Meals and lodging will also be covered. Campus visits can take a variety of forms and have some variation by unit. Yet there are several components that virtually all visits are likely to include: a research presentation and/or teaching demo; individual or small group meetings with faculty within the hiring unit; a meal with a group of faculty; conversations with faculty affiliated with and/or outside of the hiring unit; and meetings and/or meals with students. At Williams College there are two additional features of the campus visit that may distinguish us from other institutions: an individual interview with representatives of the Committee on Appointments and Promotions (the CAP), and a non-evaluative breakfast with faculty members from outside the hiring unit, which are set in in collaboration with the Office of Institutional Diversity and Equity.

    We adhere to the regulations and laws that extensively protect against discrimination in employment and rely on recruiting practices that forbid discrimination based on age, religion, marital status, race, sexual orientation, and ability, among other categories. Where applicable, we invite candidates to let the faculty host (typically the search committee or department or program chair), know if reasonable accommodations need to be made during your visit. This might include, but is not limited to the following:

    • Food allergies
    • A private space in which a parent might nurse or pump
    • Childcare (in extraordinary cases)

    Additionally, candidates might find it useful to request:

    The short window in which campus visits occur might well mean that not every request can be accommodated. Yet we strive to ensure that your visit is informative while providing you a brief, but necessary, snapshot of life at Williams. We encourage candidates to let their hosts know if there are specific needs that should be met during their visit. 

  • What is Williamstown’s proximity to other places, and how can I get there?

    Given the rural nature of Williamstown, most residents find that having a car (or ready access to a car) is not only necessary but required.

    Albany, New York is the closest large city to Williamstown, and many local residents find that flying in and out of Albany International Airport (approximately 1 hour away) to be a convenient alternative. Bradley International Airport (approximately 2 hours away) is also readily used, as is traveling to Boston Logan International Airport (3 hours) or JFK in New York (just over 3 hours). With its relatively close proximity to Boston, New York City, Providence, Rhode Island (3 hours), and Montreal, Canada (4 hours), as well as local haunts such as Bennington, Vermont (20 minutes) and Northampton, Massachusetts  (1.5 hours), regular excursions beyond the Berkshires can be quite easy.

    In addition, there are some  local motorcoach transportation alternatives (including free weekend transportation and trips to New york City and Boston), the Peter Pan Bus service that has scheduled stops in Williamstown, one could rent a Zip Car or use a local provider, Norm’s Airport & Limousine Service for transportation.