Annemarie Bean for Tenure sign now

January 2006

We, the undersigned students, alumni, faculty, staff and parents of Williams College, petition the President of the College, Morton Owen Schapiro; Dean of Faculty, Tom Kohut; Chair of the Faculty Steering Committee, Julie Cassiday; and Chair of the Theatre Department, Robert Baker-White, to reconsider the recent decision and make Annemarie Bean a tenured professor at Williams College.

In December of 2005, the Committee on Appointments at Williams College, chaired by the President of the College, declined current Assistant Professor of Theatre Annemarie Beans application for tenure.

We feel Professor Bean is an invaluable member of the Williams faculty, the Theatre Department, and the Williams community; an irreplaceable teacher and mentor to students past, present, and hopefully future; and an important part of advancing Williams Diversity Initiatives.

Professor Beans greatest gift is being able to help every student feel that their curricular interests and cultural background are just as important, and their potential just as valuable, as those of any other student at Williams. Her classes, for many students, are a kind of home.

Value to Faculty & Theatre Department

Williams faculty, particularly in the theatre department, is still far from achieving the goals laid out in the Diversity Initiatives. All three tenured professors in the Theatre Department are white or Jewish and male. There are two tenure-track female professors in the Department, one of whom, Professor Bean, has now been denied tenure. Yet she has been a highly successful advisor to the vast majority of senior Theatre majors, in addition to students in other departments. They trust her advice, her directorial eye on the stage, and her scholastic eye on the page. They seek her out and depend on her. The mentoring and advising she provides in the department is unique. We feel strongly that Professor Bean should be part of the expansion of the theatre and dance facilities at Williams.

Value to Curriculum

Professor Beans courses are cross-listed in the African American Studies Program; and in the Women and Genders Studies, American Studies, and Theatre Departments. Her signature courses (the Harlem Renaissance; the Black Arts Movement; Introduction to Performance Studies; and Performance Analysis) all address the under-served curricular interests of students of colour and should be considered a vital part of the Colleges Diversity Initiatives.

In teaching Intro to Theatre, Professor Bean has presented a broader narrative of the history of theatre, which includes groups usually excluded. Her classes always incorporate watching, interrogating, and writing on viewed performances, many of which she co-presents through inter-disciplinary projects like the Stalwart Originality Conference. She pioneered the Performance Studies concentration, which has produced two Contract Majors (Caroline Taylor 04 and Andrew Lazarow 07). Without Professor Beans continued presence at Williams, the future of this program is uncertain; its loss would severely obstruct the Colleges own development.

Value of Teaching & Mentoring

Though the College claims to be serious about fostering faculty, curricular, and student diversity at Williams, it has bypassed a professor who advances precisely that diversity and who is one of the most extraordinary mentors to women, students of colour, and students of the theatre. She challenges her students, across racial, religious, and curricular boundaries, not only to think outside the box, but to reconstruct the box or do without it altogether.

She genuinely connects with students of every background, particularly women and students of colour. She shines in small seminar classes; tutorials; and in advising first-years, sophomores preparing to declare a major, independent study candidates, and seniors writing theses. She consistently helps students who feel excluded by the dominant culture at Williams to carve out spaces for themselves.

Professor Beans classroom work is reinforced by distinguished visiting performers, speakers/lecturers, and workshops. Her teaming with Professor Sandy Burton of the Dance Department produced the Stalwart Originality Conference 2001-2005, a precursor to the programming at the new 62 Centre for Theatre & Dance. Stalwart Originality gave student performers and artists from all media dance, spoken word, steel pan, film, theatre a platform to share with renowned artists.

What Anna teaches, understands and promotes, is diversity; how to be successful as a minority or minoritarian performer or academic in America; and how a minority can produce work that is fresh, innovative, and relevant. She renders what is usually invisible at Williams visible, and brings what was the margin to the centre. This is something the College surely cannot afford to lose.

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Martina LivingstonBy:
Transport and infrastructureIn:
Petition target:
President of the College, Morton Owen Schapiro; Dean of Faculty, Tom Kohut; Chair of the Faculty Steering Committee, Julie Cassiday; and Chair of the Theatre Department, Robert Baker-White

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