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The Dana-Towne Library, better known as the Math Library, is a popular place for Math majors and others to study. The lower floor is surrounded by math department faculty, and the upper floor, which forms a ring around a central open space, is surrounded by psychology department offices.
When asked what has made the Williams math department so successful1, some math professors cite the configuration of their space. Students can easily collaborate in the math library, and their professors' offices are right there if they have a question since their office doors are always open. However, there are book stacks between the table area and the offices, to separate the professors and the students so that they're not staring at each other, because that could get awkward.
Sheafe Satterthwaite has pointed out that the math library is like an advertisement: When driving along Route 2, it is easy to look right into the math library (see illustration at right) and see students reading and working. This is a nice advertisement for what goes on at the College.
1 The math department has been very successful in the following ways:
- Fully 10% of graduating students are math majors, which is well above the national average of just over 1%.
- Four of the math faculty (Colin Adams, Ed Burger, Tom Garrity, and Frank Morgan) have won an Excellence in Teaching award. No other college or university has more than two winners, and those that have two are much larger departments than Williams.