We are undertaking this project in conversation and collaboration with our students. They are bringing great thoughtfulness and dedication to the process of helping us imagine how best to transform Grad Art to become more inclusive, more intellectually expansive, and better poised to foster and educate a new generation of critics, curators, educators, museum trustees, directors, gallerists, public intellectuals and other cultural workers who share a commitment to expanding the bounds of art and art history, and transcending the exclusionary, racist, and extractive origins of the field’s institutions and intellectual traditions.
Our initiatives will affect our admissions and recruitment procedures, our curriculum and internships, our staffing, our institutional culture, our partnerships, and more. Most immediately and concretely, this fall marks the first one that students will apply to the program with no application fee, and no GRE, which will no longer be considered in the admission process. This small change reflects the ethos we are bringing to examining, and ultimately readapting, every level of the Program’s operations. We are committed systematically to eliminating any barriers to inclusion in the Grad Art community, to fully funding every student, and to providing support both personal and intellectual for all students who become members of that community. Bringing together a diverse community of talented students and scholars remains the bedrock of our endeavors. We are now in preliminary conversations with our partners with the aim of hiring a scholar, on a permanent basis, who will bring greater diversity and intellectual breadth to our team.
As part of Williams College, our efforts are inherently collaborative, and we are working with the College’s Davis Center and its Office of Institutional Diversity, Equity and Inclusion. And with the College’s support, Grad Art will also constitute its own DEAI committee, including student, alumni, and partner representation. (A comprehensive external review of our program, with a special focus on DEAI issues, is scheduled for next year.) We look forward to updating you with further announcements about our curriculum, our language requirements, new fellowship programs and research collaborations, among other topics, over the course of the coming year and beyond. Needless to say, the work of dismantling the legacies of white supremacy embedded within our program is complicated, urgently needed, and long overdue. It will require “a many-faceted permanent commitment,” as President Maud Mandel stated in her recent letter to the Williams community. We regard that commitment as something that, in the next months as well as the next decades, must be woven into the fabric of everything we do.