Alternate administrative structures – Williams College

Anders Selhorst sent me the following as an e-mail, and I asked if I could post it here. He agreed.

In light of the conversation yesterday, I think it might be helpful for faculty and College leadership to look at other models for our College administrative positions. There are other models that not only leverage the talents of senior faculty but also nurture the culture of faculty service for the College but in an administrative function.

I am not sure if I mentioned this to you, but Williams College appoints senior faculty to dean and provost level posts for three year terms–each is released from teaching responsibilities during that time. There are three rotating faculty that serve as part of the nine senior staff, which include the Dean of the College, Dean of the Faculty, and the Provost. Each serving faculty member in such a role does not make a salary above that of a full professor. The Williams College model has helped keep their manager salaries low and overall personnel costs low–which have fallen by 12% over the past 12 years. See the 2:39 minute mark in this video:

This is remarkable especially since our management costs have risen over that same time period. There are also other benefits to this model that senior faculty could more adequately speak to, for which I can not, and I welcome their input.

This alternative management structure not only keeps salaries at a reasonable rate for faculty serving in administrative roles, but it also reinforces faculty leadership of the college. The term limit of three years also allows for regular intervals where new ideas are introduced, provides more sunlight and transparency of the work of administration and the board of trustees, and allows for greater distribution of shared-leadership responsibilities across all senior faculty.

The salary savings created by adopting this model would lead to more money available to provide greater salary money to correct current flaws in the pay-scale across all faculty and staff levels. But, some of this savings could also be targeted for hiring outside consultants for guidance during challenging times, in a temporary capacity. This model seems like a more sustainable model for small liberal arts colleges.

Please advise if you need more details.



One Comment

  1. This a a very interesting idea. It would be great to hear various Williams faculty perspectives on this admin system. Does anyone know how long they’ve used this system?