What sports teams should Ephs route for? As always, EphBlog takes the view that, in all areas, you should route for the person/organization most closely associated with Williams. Even Republican Ephs should, for example, vote for Democratic Senator Chris Murphy ’96 to be re-elected.

When it comes to sports, my suggestions would be:

Football: The New England Patriots, largely run by team president Jonathan Kraft ’86, a former Williams trustee and heir apparent in the Kraft Group, which owns the team. That the Patriots are also geographically close to Williamstown is also a plus. Is there another football team with a meaningful Eph connection?

Baseball: The Yankees (in the American league) and Pirates (in the National League) are both owned by Eph families, the Steinbrenners and the Nuttings. What other baseball teams have Eph connections?

Basketball: The best I can do is the San Antonio Spurs, whose assistant coach is Will Hardy ’10. Other suggestions?

US Soccer: Perhaps the New England Revolution, also owned by the Kraft family? Dan Calichman ’89 is an assistant coach at Toronto FC. I think there are some Ephs associated with the expansion franchise Los Angeles FC. Others?

On hockey and more international leagues (La Liga? Premier League?), I have no suggestions. Help us out, readers!

And, this evening, go Patriots!

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“Gold Diggers of 1933″.  Very much in the style and sensitivity of 45.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gold_Diggers_of_1933

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“If you like your plan, you can keep your plan.”

“If you like your doctor, you can keep your doctor.”

Background here.

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cwvDm9asA_Lw9YsGTQNy8vW7Zxw-1

… well, the Swart clan anyway. Family members marched in Seattle, Oakland, Boston, and DC.

Here is a family reporter from DC:

It was a great and important day today in Washington DC and the Women`s March.  We wanted to take Metro but when we got to our station, the queue was about a 1/2 mile long coming out of the station (Uber was about $70!).  We wound up driving (easy) and parked in a parking garage.  Lots of incredibly clever signs so look closely at the pictures in the link, many are funny, scary, poignant, and everything between.  The crowd was huge (a few hundred thousand at least I would guess) and things got extremely tight at times in the throngs but everyone was so nice and loving.  No signs of anger (except at Trump) and just a good time peacefully demonstrating and exercising our First Amendment rights – very patriotic and very American!  Hope all other demonstrating marchers today around the globe had an an equally positive experience standing up for important issues they believe in.

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Professor LeRhonda S. Manigault-Bryant writes in the New York Times:

Attending the “Women’s March on Washington” has not once crossed my mind. I could conjure up a multitude of reasons why, but will raise what I consider to be most significant: In this event black women are merely peripheral interlocutors for what are supposed to be women’s rights and human rights writ large. There is a long history of black women being overlooked by, excluded from and co-opted into events that profess to be for the benefit of all women but that at their core almost exclusively benefit middle class, straight, white women (á la All the Women Are White).

Black women have also faced the repercussions of another egregious omission where they are asked to put their own political, economic and educational needs aside for the benefit of black men. Here, one might take a behind-the-scenes look at the famous 1963 March on Washington (from which this most recent event’s titular appropriation occurs). As Ashley Farmer notes, “despite their critical roles in the infrastructure, logistics and planning … leadership marginalized black women’s voices and subsumed their gendered political priorities under the banner of civil rights” (á la All the Blacks Are Men).

Considering the real-life wage disparities, limited access to health care, heightened state of poverty, et cetera that affect black women disproportionately, I cannot over-emphasize Kimberlé Crenshaw’s “intersectionality,” a term which is never merely semantics. This march alerts my suspicions like a spidey sense. And, that many young black women who are on Facebook (the March’s primary organizing platform) every single day are either ambivalent or utterly unfamiliar with this event confirms my suspicions.

As I have previously written, the sense of betrayal white women have expressed in the post-election season is at best disingenuous, since we cannot say enough about the ways they turned out at the polls. The impetus of this march — Donald Trump’s election to the office of president of the United States — seems too little too late. So do not look for me at the Women’s March on Washington 2017, especially since no one was looking for me anyway.

1) Always good to see a Williams professor writing in the New York Times. The more that our faculty appear in prestige publications, the higher the quality of applicant we will attract and enroll.

2) Any professors/students/alumni going to the march? Tell us about it!

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peter-arno-come-along-we-re-going-to-the-trans-lux-to-hiss-roosevelt-new-yorker-cartoon

This cartoon from the September 19, 1936 issue of The New Yorker expresses sentiment felt by many at that time.

This cartoon in the property of Conde-Nast. It is doubly interesting that it appear in Ephblog since Raoul Fleischmann, Williams 1906, financed The New Yorker and ran it for many years with the legendary Harold Ross as the editor.

The Translux was a movie theater showing only newsreels … theTV/Phone/Screen of Choice of the day.

http://cinematreasures.org/theaters/6611

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hmmmmm. Not in my section of the Northwest. How is it where you are?

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ARTSTRIKE2-1400

https://j20artstrike.org/

https://j20artstrike.org/closures/

Our own local art center is closed today. Not because of threats to the NEA and PBS, but the weather. Hood River, although a rural county in Oregon, voted 60% for Hillary.

https://www.columbiaarts.org/

I look forward to seeing Cindy Sherman’s strike placard!

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Professor Sarah Jacobson tweeted:

inaugural

1) Always glad to see faculty (and staff!) engage with students about political issues. Kudos to all the participants. I hope that the Record covers this event.

2) We all recall a similar event eight years ago when faculty and staff upset about Obama’s election talked about their views . . . Oh, wait! That didn’t happen? Who could have predicted that? In fact, eight years ago, the College paid for buses to take 100 students to the inauguration. Were similar buses hired this year? I bet not, even though I bet that at least some students would take advantage of such a trip.

3) Any Ephs participating in the ceremonies? Tell us in the comments!

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Hitler-hindenberg 30Jan1933

A new beginning.

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A recurrent debate in academia is: How much should standardize test scores count in admissions? This debate occurs at Williams, but the College, like almost all its elite peers, decided long ago that the answer would be: A lot! Graduate school admissions, on the other hand, are more varied. Some schools/programs prefer not to weight GRE scores that heavily, sometimes justifying this stance by noting that such scores don’t predict success in graduate school that well. Of course, most of the time this lack of success is due to a restriction of range. Math GRE scores don’t predict success in the Harvard Physics PhD program because all the students in the program have 800s.

In this context, Taylor Rabon, a biology post-doc at Indiana, tweeted:

professoratwilliams

1) Exactly right! Standardized test scores probably help the student from U Mass in her competition with the student from Williams.

2) Always nice to see Williams used to mean privileged. This is part of our brand!

3) I have heard that Williams professors do an excellent job, on average, in their recommendation letters. True? The Physics Department, for example, has an amazing track record in terms of getting its students into top graduate programs.

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Oren Cass ’05 argues that we — both the US Government and Williams College — worry too much about climate change.

A more dispassionate placement of climate change alongside a range of worrying problems does not mean there is nothing to worry about. But it points away from sui generis mitigation at all costs and toward an existing model for addressing problems through research, preparation, and adaptation. It suggests that analytical exercises that would never be applied to other worrying problems, like assigning a “social cost” to each marginal unit of carbon-dioxide emissions, are as inappropriate as estimating a “social cost of computing power” as it brings humanity closer to a possible singularity, or a “social cost of international travel” as it elevates the risk of a global pandemic. Taxes on any of them are closer to political statements than efficient corrections of genuine externalities, and each would be more likely to stall meaningful economic and technological progress than to achieve a meaningful reduction of risk.

Lessons might run in the other direction as well: We are not focusing as much on other challenges as we should. And perhaps, if climate change were consigned to its rightful place in the crowd, some additional attention might be available to concentrate elsewhere. If the level of research support, policy focus, and international coordination targeted toward climate change over the past eight years had gone instead toward preventing and managing pandemics, imagine the progress that could have been made. For a fraction of the cost of de-carbonizing an industrial economy, it could be hardened against cyber attacks; with a fraction of the attention corporations pay to their own purported climate vulnerability, they could make real strides in their own technological security.

A little bit of worry provides healthy motivation. Too much is a recipe for paralysis, distraction, and overreaction.

Read the whole thing. Cass’s perspective — like the perspectives of others skeptical that climate change is a major problem that requires special attention from the federal government (or the College) — is not welcome at Williams. As we discussed last summer, Williams believes that only one side of the debate should be heard on campus. Is anyone else concerned that Williams is morphing from a college into a madrassa?

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Gargoyle is interested in Williams history and has passed along some questions about life at Williams is the mid-to-late 1980s. I will be posting (and answering) these questions. If you were around during this era, please chime in!

What were the major issues and topics of conversation that students at Williams were concerned with?

Issues and topics of conversation were, more or less, the same then as now. Consider some front page articles from the issues of the Williams Record from September 2016.

Seniors, Faculty Convocate
Minority Students Preview Science Courses
Student Rental Disturbs Neighbors
College Council Discussed Ways to Recruit Minority Faculty
Baker Like Mass MoCA
Falk Appoints Cook to Head Race Relations Board
Department Chairmen Stress Minority Recruitment Efforts
Tauber Chairs IPECS, New Department for Innovative, Interdisciplinary Courses
Council Reorganizes Freshmen Council

Oh, wait. Did I claim that these were the front page Record articles for September 2016? My mistake! Those were the front page Record articles for September 1987. (I made two switches: replace (then president) “Oakley” with “Falk” and (then governor) “Dukakis” with “Baker.”) Careful readers might have been suspicious about some of these headlines. We now use “chairs” instead of “chairmen.” We now talk about “diversity” instead of “race” or “minority.” Professor Kurt Tauber (bless his Marxist heart!) is long retired and Professor Tim Cook, sadly, passed away several years ago.

But, to me, the amazing thing is the constancy of the issues/topics that concerned the Williams community, then and now. Indeed, with minor word changes, each of these titles could be a Record article today. We were obsessed with race in the 1980s. Williams is obsessed with diversity today. Affirmative action — admitting students and hiring faculty with worse qualifications because of the color of their skin — was controversial then, just as it is today. The general liberalism of Williams students has, if anything, grown over time. There was an active Garfield Republican Club in the 1980s, not so today.

Of course, many other issues/topics are different. The biggest single issue at Williams during this era, as we discussed yesterday, involved apartheid in South Africa and the College’s response to it, especially in terms of divesting the endowment from companies doing business there. There was a “shanty town” on Chapin Lawn, at least for a several months and maybe longer. An impressive display of white crosses in the same location, to illustrate the fatalities associated with apartheid, was a major event one year. Concerns about nuclear winter were common, with movies like The Day After highlighting the dangers of conflict with the Soviet Union.

Yet, looking back, the political disputes then and now are more similar than they are different. The major changes have been technological. For example, how much porn does the typical (male?) Williams student consume each week? Thirty years ago, pornography was vanishingly rare. There must have been (male?) students with copies of Playboy and Penthouse, but I never knew of them. My avante-garde theatre major roommates rented a porn video once and, on at least one occasion, Images showed something along the lines of Lady Chatterly’s Lover, but the modal Williams student viewed almost no pornography while at Williams.

Similar changes have come in all sorts of communications technologies. Back then, the typical Greylock suite had a single phone line, shared by 4 or even 6 students. Non-local calls were so expensive that, at the end of each month, roommates would look at the bill and specify (and pay for) the calls they had each made. Finding out a fact as simple as, did the Dodgers win last night, was non-trivial.

Some students had TVs but channels were limited and reception poor. Cable only became available in some dorms, and then only in the common areas, in the later 1980s.

Summary: A transcript of a Williams college class from thirty years ago, especially something in the sciences or humanities, is very similar (98%?) to today’s transcript. A practice session for the soccer team or the Springstreeters is also more-or-less the same. But the entertainments students consume, the communications they employ and the computer devices they use are all radically different.

How would our reader who were at Williams in the 1980s answer this question? What about readers from other eras?

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Hello Williams,

This is another email to encourage all students to come out and participate in this year’s Winter Study Workshops. This week has even more opportunities to participate in, including movie screenings with Men For Consent, military presentations from the Student-Veteran Association and screen printing with Williams Vista. Also newly added to the calendar is the Sustainable Investing Symposium, organized by TL Guest ‘17 and Don Carlson ’83, which will have interesting panels and events all day Thursday and Friday.

If you are interested in joining a class, please email the organization to find out time and location info.

If you have any questions about the program or are still interested in hosting a workshop, feel free to contact me. If you have questions about a specific workshop, feel free to reach out to the club unix.

Best,
Alex Besser
Vice President for Academic Affairs

 

WinterStudyWorkshops2017

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Gargoyle is interested in Williams history and has passed along some questions about life at Williams is the mid-to-late 1980s. I will be posting (and answering) these questions. If you were around during this era, please chime in!

What was happening politically/socially outside of Williams? What were students thinking about aside from school (elections, political events, scandals, etc.)?

Nothing was different and everything was different.

Then and now, US Presidents (Reagan/Trump) had received virtually zero votes from Williams faculty members and very few votes from students. Both were widely derided as intellectually vacuous buffoons. Then as now, Russia was considered to be a key international competitor. Then as now, there were vociferous debates over taxes and the size of the federal government. Politics was, more or less, the same then as it is now, perhaps the same as it ever was. Students were concerned, to a certain extent, with these issues, but they were also mainly interested in their classes, their activities and their friends. The outside world touched Williams, but not deeply.

From my imperfect memory, one of the most important political issue — in terms of what Williams students/faculty talked and argued about — was apartheid in South Africa. Divestment by the endowment from companies that did business in South Africa was one of the major sources of conflict between students and the trustees. (The closest parallel today would be divestment from companies which contribute to climate change.)

Many of the social debates of that era have echoes today. Read this history (pdf) of “Black Williams,” especially pages 67ff for details. Affirmative action was a lightning rod for debate, both in admissions and faculty hiring. Abortion was controversial, although student opinion was overwhelmingly pro-choice.

If I were to re-phrase you question, I would add “technologically” to your duo of “politically/socially.” Political and social issues today would have seemed very familiar to a student transported forwarded from 1987. Technologically, the world is a very different place.

How would our reader who were at Williams in the 1980s answer this question? What about readers from other eras?

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Dear Williams Community Members,

Over the last three days, Campus Safety and Security has responded to several thefts in public spaces on campus, as well an incident in an academic building.

These thefts have involved bags and backbacks that have been left unattended. Please make sure you are securing and attending your items.

If you have information about these incidents or see something suspicious, please contact Campus Safety and Security at 413-597-4444.

Best wishes for a safe and enjoyable weekend,

Dean Sandstrom

Marlene J. Sandstrom
Dean of the College and Hales Professor of Psychology
Williams College
Phone: (413) 597-4261
Fax: (413) 597-3507

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Let’s spend five days reviewing the latest annual report (pdf) from the Investment Office. Greatest hits commentary on related topics include here, here, here and here. Today is Day 5.

I have praised the Investment Office (and Collette Chilton) for their successes and criticized them for their pay and for the lack of transparency over performance and process. What is left to say? My (forlorn?) hope is that, over the next few years, the College can improve on the dimensions that it ought to improve on. We can be as transparent about our managers as Grinnell and about our benchmark as Amherst. We would then be in a better position to discuss more substantive issues with regard to endowment management. In the meantime, here are some final thoughts:

1) New Chief Communications Officer Jim Reische was kind enough to investigate whether or not the College’s policy with regard to transparency in the calculation of the performance of the benchmark portfolio has changed. It hasn’t. Thanks to Jim for asking!

2) Unless others object, I will probably make this series an annual lecture, a topic worth revisiting each year. Although we have regular readers at EphBlog who have been with us for more than a decade (Hi Frank!), many of our readers (mainly students and their parents) are new each year, so it makes sense to revisit these important topics, updating them with any changes in College policy.

3) What other topics would readers like to see a similar deep dive into? The latest Common Data Set (pdf) is available. And we haven’t gone through recent Form 990s or the College’s financial statements in a couple of years.

4) Kudos to Managing Director Abigail Wattley ’05 for offering this excellent Winter Study class:

POEC 23 Endowment Investment Management
This class is designed to provide students with an overview of endowment and investment management and is taught by members of the Williams College Investment Office. The Investment Office is responsible for overseeing Williams’ $2.4 billion endowment. Through presentations, discussion, readings, and project work, Winter Study students will gain a better understanding of the various components of an institutional investment portfolio, how it is managed, and how investment managers are selected and monitored. Students will learn about portfolio theory as well as specific asset classes such as global equities, hedge funds, venture capital, buyouts, real estate, and fixed income. Students are expected to attend all on-campus classes (approx. 6 hours/week) and complete a set of relevant readings, a case study exercise, journal entries, and a final project. Students will also be required to complete an introductory excel course.

Does this mean that the Investment Office is no longer offering its usual Winter Study internship? I think that that would be an OK trade-off. Do we have any readers in the class? If I can get permission to share a copy of the syllabus, I will.

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Hamster My brother forwarded a link to me this morning about Amherst’s search for a new mascot, to replace the deposed Lord Jeff.   While its probably not our place here at EphBlog to get involved in the internal deliberations of the Defectors, I can’t help but hope that they pick the potential mascot highlighted in the linked article.  What do you think?

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Let’s spend five days reviewing the latest annual report (pdf) from the Investment Office. Greatest hits commentary on related topics include here, here, here and here. Today is Day 4.

We dramatically overpay the folks who work in the Investment Office, primarily Collette Chilton but also Bradford Wakeman. The Record ought to write an article about this. Here are the questions they should ask along with my commentary.

The latest Form 990 (pdf) reports that:

bonus

Q: How many people in the Investment Office are eligible for bonuses? What is the formula used to award those bonuses? How much money, if any, in total bonuses was paid out last year? [See here for more background. The College will try to claim that releasing this information would violate the privacy rights of College employees. But note that the questions do not ask for the specific amounts given to named individuals. We just want to know how many and how much in total. Privacy concerns do not prevent Williams from releasing this data.]

Q (for Collette Chilton): If the College decided to stop paying performance bonuses, would you work less hard? Would anyone on your staff? [The College worries that Chilton and other (how many?) investment professionals won’t work hard enough even though Williams is paying them hundreds of thousands of dollars per year. So, in addition to all that guaranteed money, we need to pay them extra bonuses or else they’ll —- what exactly? Spend all day at the movies?]

I think that this is the sleaziest arrangement at Williams today and have been complaining about it for years. How did this happen? Tough to know. I am still trying to get the inside story. My guesses/speculation:

a) Both previous president Morty Schapiro and key trustees were in favor of starting an Investment Office and other steps for turning Williams into Yale.

b) No one worried too much about Chilton’s compensation. The Trustees, of course, see their role as more supervisory. They don’t set salaries. There may have been a head-hunter or compensation consultant involved. Morty, while in theory worried about the College’s overall budget, had no real incentive to pay Chilton less.

Never forget that Morty, for all his many wonderful qualities, is not — How to put this politely? — immune to the siren song of worldly wealth. It is not out of the goodness of his heart that he serves on the board of MMC. It was not an accident that he failed to take a pay-cut, unlike presidents at some other schools, during the budget crisis. It is not irrelevant to him that the Northwestern job pays around twice as much. It was not via random motion that his annual salary increased by hundreds of thousands of dollars during his time at Williams.

So, subconsciously or not, Morty would realize that a proposal to pay the new Chief Investment Officer substantially more money than he was then making would only provide a (dramatic?) upward push to his own compensation.

c) This deal was made in the bubble years. There is no way that Chilton could find a comparable job paying this much money today. Even for 2006 (when Chilton was first hired), the compensation was excessive. Professionals I quizzed felt that someone with Chilton’s resume — modest compared to others in the field — would be somewhere in the $300,000 to $500,000 range.

Consider how the actual numbers have changed from 2009 (pdf) through 2015 (pdf):

pay2009

pay2015

Collette Chilton’s pay has almost doubled in 6 years. She now makes $1.3 million dollars! Bradford Wakeman’s total compensation has gone from $360,000 to $639,000. And it is not like Wakeman is some sort of financial genius. Recall our discussion from when he was hired:

Consider a presentation by Wakeman to a risk meeting. His content seems sensible enough, but the topic (making a better 401(k) plan for Lucent) has almost nothing to do with running a major endowment.

That’s fine, perhaps Wakeman knows about other stuff as well. But I laughed out loud when reading the last slide.

Outside experts have noted, and applauded the changes Lucent made to its 401(k) plans.

Nobel laureate William Sharpe notes the changes Lucent made to its 401(k) plan: “better aligns their DB and DC plan methodologies.”

James Palermo, Vice Chairman of Mellon Financial Corporation, observed that: “Lucent is on the cutting edge of our client base with respect totreating their 401(k) plan in the same manner as their defined benefit pension plan.”

Stanford Law School Professor and co-founder of Financial Engines, Joseph Grundfest, commented that: “Lucent has made an important step in fiduciary oversight by implementing consistent management practices from plan to plan.”

Fidelity Investments recognized that: “Lucent was early in this initiative.”

Wakeman is quoting a bunch of vendors who sold things to Lucent, for whom Lucent is a customer, people who will say nice things about Lucent even if (especially if!) they think that the people in charge of the Lucent pension fund are the dumbest of the dumb.

And, as best as I can tell, Wakemen is using these quotes without a bullet point of irony. He really thinks (?!) that William Sharpe’s complimentary testimony about Lucent is meaningful information to his audience even though his audience knows that Lucent is paying thousands of dollars to Sharpe’s company: Financial Engines. My hope is that Wakeman is not this clueless, that he showed the slide but made a joke about the reliability of the testimony cited. That, anyway, is the best case scenario.

The Record should do an article about Chilton’s (and Wakeman’s and the entire investment staff’s) compensation. Don’t the editors believe in muckraking anymore? I bet that some of the more left-wing Williams professors would provide good quotes, either on or off the record.

What should be done? The College ought to close the Boston Investment Office. (Read the whole comment thread for details and background.) Most/all of the senior investment professionals (like Chilton) would decline to move to Williamstown. Problem solved, without any nasty firings or salary cuts.

In the meantime, it is hard to take seriously any of the mewlings about the problems of increased income inequality in the US — which is, sadly, a real problem — from our progressives friends on the Williams faculty if they can’t even be bothered to ask questions about the out-of-control salaries/bonuses that Williams itself pays out to some particularly undeserving members of the 1%.

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Let’s spend five days reviewing the latest annual report (pdf) from the Investment Office. Greatest hits commentary on related topics include here, here, here and here. Today is Day 3.

The Investment Report provides no information about the underlying managers. As with yesterday’s example of lousy transparency when it comes to performance measurement and attribution, the College does not measure up to the best practices of its peer group.

Abigail Wattley’s ’05 addressed the topic of manager transparency in a 2015 Record op-ed:

We don’t disclose the list of our fund managers because of agreements we have entered that relate to confidentiality.

Unsophisticated readers might assume that Wattley meant, “Our managers require us to not reveal that we have invested in them, otherwise they would not want to do business with us.” That is, the managers insist on confidentiality and there is nothing the College can do.

This is absurd, at least for 95%+ of the managers the College invests with. If Williams asked them for permission to reveal their name on a list of all its managers, the vast majority of investment managers would say:

1) “Williams is the client! If Williams wants to include us on a list of managers, that is its right. Indeed, many of our investors, especially state pension funds like Texas Teachers, are required by law to reveal all their managers and even our fees!” See below (pdf) for an extract:

texas_teachers

Indeed, many (most?) of the College’s managers are publicly identified by at least some of their clients.

2) “We hope that Williams reveals our name (if not our fees and performance)! Having smart, sophisticated endowments invest with us is great advertising! The more people that know that Williams trusts us, the more money we are likely to be able to raise.”

The easiest way to see that Williams could easily make its list of managers public is to take note of other institutions that do so. (Previous discussion here.) Consider Grinnell College’s listing (pdf):

grinnell

Or how about the listing provided by The Boston Foundation (tBf):

tbf

If The Boston Foundation can provide a listing of its managers, then why can’t Williams? Note, also, that these managers are some of the most elite and sought after in the business. Some (Baupost?) are probably even closed to new investors. And yet they have no problem with tBf making their status public.

Should we expect members of the Williams Investment Office (like Wattley) and the Williams trustees to know about the practices of places like The Boston Foundation? Well, in addition to being a similar sized endowment in the same city, The Boston Foundation has a CEO (Paul Grogan ’72) and a board chair (Michael Keating ’62) who are both former trustees at Williams!

Not enough evidence? Consider the comments (via personal correspondence) of Churchill Franklin, CEO of Acadian Asset Management and former chair of the board of trustees at Middlebury.

You are right (as usual) the answer is no we [Acadian] don’t care and are happy to have the advertising. Some fund of funds and outsourced CIOs are reluctant to share the names of the managers they select, because that is their “edge” and their value-add. Huge funds are sometimes reluctant to share the names of their managers if they are trying to protect limited capacity, but the managers are almost always happy to have their names shared.

I could produce similar quotes from Ephs in money management if I thought doing so wasn’t a huge waste of their time.

Is there any way that Wattley isn’t lying? The naive among you might guess that, perhaps, for historical reasons (or because our lawyers are stupid), there are stipulations in every investment contract along the lines of: “Williams agrees to never publicly reveal the name of the investment manager.”

But, if that were so, then how could I possibly know that all of these firms (pdf and pdf) have managed money for Williams in the last few years?

hintz

spo

summit

charles bank

If the College really had “agreements … that relate to confidentiality” and which prevented the College from reporting that its managers included SPO, Summit, William Blair, Charlesbank and so on, then how do I know about these managers?

The cynic in me is afraid that Wattley is purposely trying to mislead the Williams community. She (or her boss Collete Chilton . . . or her boss’s boss) don’t want other Ephs to know who we invest in. Of course, they don’t want to lie too obviously. They just want to string together a bunch of mostly-true-individually but misleading-in-the-aggregate sentences that give everyone the impression that the College’s hands are tied.

And note how the reasoning for this secrecy has changed over time. In the 2009 Annual Report (pdf), the rational for opaqueness was:

Williams doesn’t publish a list of its outside investment managers. Because some of our most successful managers insist on confidentiality, and because the College prefers to treat managers equally, all remain confidential

Compare and contrast this (more honest!) 2009 version with what Wattley wrote in 2015:

We don’t disclose the list of our fund managers because of agreements we have entered that relate to confidentiality.

Now, we pretend that lots (all?) managers have (legal?) agreements protecting their identity. Then, we admitted that some (10? 3? 2?) of our managers insisted and that, only because we felt like it, did we decide not to publish the names of the other managers.

If the Record were a better paper, it would find out the truth. Start by asking for some example language from one of these “agreements” about the required “confidentiality,” perhaps from one of the firms that are already public.

In fact, why not start with Charlesbank! It is perfect. First, it happily allows some of its clients, like The Boston Foundation, to report its involvement. Second, Williams already reports an investment. Third, a (the?) senior member of Charlesbank is Michael Eisenson ’77, chair of the Williams Trustees, and Abigail Wattley’s boss’s boss’s boss.

Here are more questions for the Record to ask:

Q: How many outside managers does the College employ? How many managers are there within each of the endowment categories? What is the largest amount managed by a single manager? [In theory, the College should not mind answering these questions. (I think that there are 50 – 75 outside managers, but I am not sure.) I am fairly certain that what the College does is consistent with best practices. They probably have lots of managers in each category with no one manager being too large. But there is no reason not to share these statistics with the Williams community.]

Q: How much money did Williams pay to all its outside managers last year? [This would be an interesting number to know. How are members of the College community to evaluate the performance of the Investment Office without knowing how much it spends? That spending comes in two components: that spent by the Investment Office directly and that spent to pay the individual managers. (We covered the first category a few years ago.) My guess would be that this number was between $10 and $20 million, but I could easily be wrong. Different investment categories (e.g., corporate bonds versus venture capital) have radically different fee structures. The College may be able to negotiate special rates. And so on. Again, individual managers would not want the College to reveal how much they get paid, less their other investors realize that Williams is getting a better deal. But no outside manager cares if Williams reveals its total spending on managers.]

Q: How many of the outside managers have a direct connection to a Williams Trustee or to any of the members of the “Advisory Committees?” How much did the College pay these managers in aggregate? How did their performance compare to other outside managers employed by Williams? Fiduciary Responsibility 101 argues that Williams must be very careful when the people making decisions about how Williams invests its money benefit from the investments so made. I have no problem with the College making such investments. Indeed, I suspect that such investments turn out better than the average investment, if only because rich alumni would hate to be embarrassed among their rich peers for putting Williams in a sub-par investment. Still, we need to be careful.

The College already collects all this information. The (very smart and experienced!) Ephs on the Advisory Committee — people like Noriko Chen ’89 and Liz Robinson ’90 — already study this data closely, or would if/when Collette Chilton provides it to them.

There is simply no reason why Williams could not share the same information with its alumni/faculty/students. Again, such transparency is uncommon but not unusual, especially for state schools subject to open records laws. Here are details (pdf and pdf) for the University of Texas. Needless to say, there are a lot of details to consider in what to release, how often to release it and so on.

Why doesn’t Williams release this information? Not because anyone is evil, but because bureaucracies (and bureaucrats) are naturally secretive. The more that Collette Chilton and her team know — relative to what you know — the less likely you are to make trouble for them.

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Let’s spend five days reviewing the latest annual report (pdf) from the Investment Office. Greatest hits commentary on related topics include here, here, here and here. Today is Day 2.

The College (and Investment Office) provide little of the necessary information that we would need to evaluate their performance when it comes to the management of the endowment. The Record ought to write an article about this. Start by asking the Administration this question:

Q: The endowment dropped 1.5% last year. It is impossible to understand performance without reference to a benchmark. What does the College use as a benchmark and who calculates its performance? Can you provide us with the details behind this calculation?

The Investment Report refers to an “internal benchmark” and to a “Policy Portfolio Benchmark” (presumably the same thing) but has declined, in the past, to provide any details. That is ridiculous. There is no way for anyone to know if Chilton and her staff are doing a good job if there is not some (public) benchmark to compare their results with. Every mutual fund in the US is required by the SEC to provide performance relative to a well-defined benchmark. Consider this chart from the Annual Report:

perf

This chart is designed to make us cheer: Yeah Williams! Hooray for Collette Chilton! We/she beat the “Policy Portfolio Benchmark” over the last 1, 3, 5 and 10 year horizons. Pay Collette and her team more money! They are geniuses!

But Williams does not provide the necessary details for us to calculate those benchmark returns ourselves. Consider how a peer school does it:

Amherst’s strategic policy benchmark is a weighted average return derived by applying the target strategic portfolio weights of each asset class to the performance of the respective asset class benchmark.

Just so. And because Amherst is a serious and honest organization (!), it provides all the necessary details, e.g.,

amherstperf

Investment professionals might quibble with some of the choices here. But there is no excuse for Williams not to provide the same sorts of data. Instead, we get prose like this:

attr

We need the exact benchmark that William is using to measure the performance of, for example, its global long equity managers. MSCI World, MSCI ACWI, even MSCI EAFE plus the S&P 500, would all be reasonable choices. Nor is Amherst an outlier when it compares to transparency in reporting benchmark performance. Consider Yale:

yale

Again, we can quibble. Is the Wilshire 5,000 really a good benchmark for domestic equities? But that is precisely the discussion we should be having. Williams has no good excuse for not being at least as transparent as peer colleges like Amherst and Yale when it comes to providing the details behind endowment performance calculations.

To be fair to Williams, not every school is as transparent as Amherst and Yale. Dartmouth, for example, does not provide the details (pdf) behind the returns of its Policy Benchmark portfolio. Perhaps our friends at Dartblog have some thoughts?

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Class of 2017,

The 2016-2017 yearbook is on sale now! This is a great way to remember your time at Williams. You’ll be able to look back at classmates, clubs, sports, profs, and events (including graduation!). This year we’re also including a “Senior Look-Back” section for your memories from freshman through junior year. Send in pix documenting your entry life, sophomore slump, junior year and/or study away to jl12 by January 20th. Make sure to let us know which year your pictures are from!
Order your copy before March 1st for $75 plus shipping — prices go up on this date and supplies may be limited.
Order the yearbook:
Like our facebook page:
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Hello Williams,

 

Happy second week of Winter Study. Thanks to all who have signed up to participate with Free University. If you still are interested, feel free to sign up here.
 
This year College Council is introducing a new program: Winter Study Workshops. Every evening Monday through Thursday during Winter Study, teams and student organizations will be hosting events open to the whole student body. Check out the calendar below to see which workshops you would like to attend!
 
If you are interested in joining a class, please shoot an email to the organization so they can have an idea of workshop size. They can also share with you location info and if you need to bring anything.
 
If you have any questions about the program or are still interested in hosting a workshop, feel free to contact me. If you have questions about a specific workshop, feel free to reach out to the club unix.

 

Best,
Alex Besser
Vice President for Academic Affairs
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Let’s spend five days reviewing the latest annual report (pdf) from the Investment Office. Greatest hits commentary on related topics include here, here, here and here. Today is Day 1.

Let’s begin with the good news. First, the Williams Investment Office, led by CIO Collette Chilton, has done a solid job over the last decade, as EphBlog predicted in 2007.

How competent is Chilton herself? Informed commentary welcome! I have spoken with people who have run money for her and the consensus opinion is that she is a solid professional. She has experience selecting and monitoring investment managers

More importantly, she avoided the temptation of the Harvard model and has not tried to manage any of the money directly. Returns have been solid:

endowment

As long as the College’s endowment is somewhere in the middle of the pack when it comes to trailing 10 year returns, alumni should not complain about performance. (We will have many other things to complain about over the next four days.)

Second, the future of the endowment seems assured in that Managing Director Abigail Wattley ’05 will make a wonderful successor to Chilton someday (hopefully) soon. Recall my advice from 10 years ago:

The biggest risk issue in any asset management situation is the option value to the asset manager. Will Chilton take on the appropriate amount of risk, consist with her guidance from Morty and the trustees? I hope so. But doing so might not be in her best financial interest. Imagine, instead, that she “shoots for the moon,” that she levers up the endowment and invests in the riskiest stuff available. If she is lucky, she (and the College) will win big. Then the fawning profiles from the New York Times will roll in and she will have the option of starting her own hedge fund and (trying to) generate serious personal wealth. Heads, she wins.

And, if it’s tails — if those risky bets don’t pay off, if our endowment performs poorly — Williams loses. Chilton, probably, keeps her job. She blames factors beyond her control. And, it will be hard for anyone to know what really happened.

Yale, smartly, hedges this risk by hiring someone like David Swensen, someone whose commitment to the success of the institution is beyond question. Williams could have followed suit, could have selected an Eph Swensen, a younger graduate with finance experience and a deep connection to the College, someone already living in the Williamstown area or eager to move there. Someone committed to Williams for life, and not just until a better job comes along, until the commute to Williamstown becomes too annoying. Such candidates were available. Instead, the College chose Chilton. I hope it works out.

It has worked out. I may have overplayed the risk of Chilton pulling a Meyer. And, certainly, given Meyer’s implosion at Convexity among other changes, there are many fewer opportunities for successful endowment CIOs outside of the CIO market. But there is no doubt that Chilton has done a wonderful job of selecting and then mentoring Wattley, someone who is universally praised by the Investment Committee Ephs I have talked to. Wattley is married to Kevin Kingman ’05 and is as committed to the long term success of Williams as anyone. With luck, she will be managing the endowment for decades to come.

Third, although I would still prefer that the Investment Office were located in Williamstown, Chilton (and Wattley?) have done a great job in involving students and recent graduates in the office via (at least) three mechanisms.

  1. Full-Time Investment Analyst Program: A two-year position open to graduating seniors
  2. Summer Analyst Program: Summer positions open to rising juniors and seniors
  3. Winter Study Program: A winter study class open to sophomores and juniors

I have spoken to Ephs in all three programs, all of which are well-done. (One suggested improvement is that Chilton/Wattley ought to encourage younger Ephs to network more in the Boston financial community.) If Williams (like Middlebury or Smith) were to outsource the management of its endowment to a place like Investure, these programs would not be possible.

See! EphBlog can praise the praiseworthy! Relative to its peers, the Williams Investment Office in general and Collette Chilton specifically is just as competent and professional as, for example, the Wiliams English Department or Career Center. Kudos to Chilton and to the Trustees who selected her. Stand by for four days of (constructive!) criticism starting tomorrow.

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bob-odell-1

When I first arrived at Williams in September 1986, Williams had an experienced and well-respected head football coach, named Bob Odell.  I did not see any of the games that season (or really any others during my time in Williamstown) because I was always playing rubgy on Saturdays, but I always tried to make it to the Williams-Amherst game.  In November 1986, I saw Williams lose 10-7 to Amherst.  Little did I know that that game would be the last Williams loss to Amherst for 14 years, and would also be Coach Odell’s last game.  Bob Farley took over in 1987, and had an amazing run as the head coach.

I really hadn’t given Coach Odell much thought in decades until a few weeks ago, when I ran into someone who, spotting me in a Williams sweatshirt, told me he had been recruited by Coach Odell, though he ended up going elsewhere.  We chatted for a while, and he said that Bob Odell was the runner-up for the Heisman trophy when he played in college.  That really surprised me, so I poked around for a while and found that indeed Bob Odell, then a running back at Penn, had finished second in the Heisman Trophy in 1943.  Turns out he also won the Maxwell Award in 1943 as college football player of the year.

I assume that Coach Odell’s extremely accomplished playing career was known to many when I was at Williams, but it was news to me.  Are there other long-standing Williams employees with prestigious professional awards which are little known on campus?

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KC Johnson provides an excellent update/summary on the College’s latest filings (Memo in Support of Motion to Dismiss, Memo v PI and for stay and Kurker Memo) on Safety Dance. Comments:

1) KC’s summary and comments are perfect. Read them! For history’s sake, I have copied them in their entirety below the break.

2) The next hearing in the case is scheduled for January 11. Does anyone have details on exact time/location? Perhaps a reader will be there . . .

rossi3) Does anyone else have the sense that Doe’s attorney is overmatched? Has she ever litigated a case like this in the past? How do attorneys with law degrees from Western New England University School of Law stack up, on average, with attorneys with degrees from Northwestern? As EphBlog likes to point out, money talks (and often wins), and you can be certain that Williams is paying its attorneys much more than Doe can afford to pay his . . .

lapp4) Stop being so snotty EphBlog! And, besides that, Rossi (Doe’s lawyer) has an undergraduate degree from Columbia while the College’s main attorney (Daryl Lapp) has a BA from Swarthmore. Call it tie.

5) How much money have Doe and Williams spent so far? How much can they expect to spend if this case goes to trial? (I would love to get some reasonable estimates from our attorney readers.)

6) Although the details are confusing (to me), it appears that, officially, the College expelled Doe for a single instance of sexual assault against Smith. (She accused him of a variety of violations, including various forms of “relationship abuse.”)

date

First, assuming that this is correct, that the key event happened on September 1, 2014 (in the middle of their approximately two year relationship), did this occur on the Williams campus? (Classes were not in session but perhaps Smith/Doe arrived early.) Second, would it (should it?) matter if it occurred off campus? I can understand (maybe!) why the College feels the need to regulate events on campus. But to do so off-campus seems insane . . .

7) The College is pulling no punches:

punches

EphBlog readers knew about Doe’s prior record two months ago.

8) Can anyone explain the logic of Doe pursuing this case while the College is still going through its own process?

appeal

If I were the Court, I would find this persuasive. Why not wait until the College rules on Doe’s appeal of his expulsion? But, if I were the Court, I would also press Williams on just how long its appeal process is going to take. And, if I were a cynic, I would note that all the lawyers involved benefit from maximizing the paperwork generated and time spent on the dispute . . .

Would readers like me to spend a week going through these documents item by item? Or should I move on to other stuff?

UPDATE: John Doe has filed a Withdrawal of Opposition v Motion to Stay, meaning, I think, that there will be no hearing until after February 28, at which point the College plans to issue its ruling on Doe’s appeal of his expulsion.

UPDATE II: KC Johnson notes that the Motion to Stay has been granted, with the next hearing scheduled for March 2. So, it looks like the judge agreed with EphBlog (unsurprisingly!) and will wait for the College to rule on Doe’s appeal.

(more…)

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Dear Members of the Williams Community,

I am pleased to announce that Shawna Patterson, Ph.D. has been appointed Director of The Davis Center. She will assume the role on January 9, 2017. Shawna brings a wealth of experience to the role, as she focuses on approaches that enhance the academic, social and civic experiences of community members, especially students, in a manner that involves collaborative partnerships and innovation. We are excited to leverage her experience working on issues of diversity, equity and social justice and collaborating with and in support of students, faculty and staff.

Most recently, Shawna served as a House Dean at the University of Pennsylvania; she also worked at Michigan State University, Penn State University, and Florida State University. Over the years, Shawna worked on the implementation of intercultural programming, advised students, responded to critical incidents on campuses, facilitated diversity trainings and collaborated with community stakeholders to co-sponsor discussions around social justice issues. At Michigan State University, she supported diverse student populations, developed inclusive residential curricula for residence halls and advised student organizations. She also worked in collaboration with stakeholders across campus to respond to critical incidents of bias, prejudice and sexual assault and harassment. At Penn State University, she oversaw the safety and security functions for the residential housing system, and worked to foster an environment that valued diversity and demonstrated a commitment to social justice. While there, she also helped develop a curriculum around global citizenship and reflective praxis.

Shawna has also been a lecturer and instructor at Florida State University, Michigan State University and the University of Pennsylvania. She received a doctorate from Florida State University where her dissertation was titled, Love and hip hop: The meaning of urban reality television in the lives of Black college Women. Her published articles appear in the International Journal of Doctoral Studies, Alabama Civil Rights and Civil Liberties Law Review and Journal of Student Affairs at New York University.

Please help me welcome Shawna to the Williams community and support her as she collaborates with students, faculty and staff to contribute to the intellectual life of The Davis Center.

I thank the search committee, Vice President Steve Klass (chair), Michael Ding ’18, Raquel Douglas ’19, Katie Kent, Molly Magavern, James Manigault-Bryant, Ngoni Munemo, Claudia Reyes ’18, D. L. Smith, and G. L. Wallace, for their diligence and commitment to the process. In addition, I thank the dozens of students, staff and faculty who took the time to participate in this incredibly important search.

Best,

Leticia Smith-Evans Haynes, Ph.D.
Vice President
Office of Institutional Diversity and Equity
Williams College | Williamstown, MA
(P) 413.597.4376

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Hello Williams,

 

Hopefully everyone is settling into their Winter Study routines. College Council is excited to announce the course listing for Free University 2017! This is your chance to learn a new skill or activity, taught by fellow Williams students. Now is your chance to sign up and see what there is to learn.
Below are the classes for this year’s Free University. If you are interested in joining a class, please contact the instructor directly at their listed unix. They will organize with you and other interested students to arrange meeting times and locations. Class size is up to their discretion and many do have limits, so please only contact an instructor if you are serious about being active in the class.
 
If you have any questions about the program, feel free to contact me. If you have questions about a specific class, you may direct them to the appropriate instructor.

 

Best,
Alex Besser
Vice President for Academic Affairs
Free University 2017 Courses
Ballroom Dance
Instructor: David Vascones (djv1@williams.edu)
Ever wanted to learn how to dance the foxtrot, waltz, salsa, and tango?  Learn these and MORE ballroom dances in a fun, casual atmosphere this Winter Study.  Beginners are especially welcome!

(more…)

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What is the real purpose of Winter Study, especially for male undergraduates?

The real purpose of Winter Study is to fall in love.

You will never, ever, be surrounded by as many smart, pretty, eligible women as you are right now. Life after college is, comparatively, a wasteland. Of course, as you pass into the great beyond, you will meet other women, but they are unlikely to be as wonderful, physically and mentally, as the Eph women you are blessed to know now. More importantly, the best of them will choose mates sooner rather than latter. Exiting Williams without a serious girlfriend is not necessarily a one-way ticket to permanent bachelorhood (as several of my co-bloggers can attest), but it is not the smart way to play the odds. The odds favor love now.

It isn’t that your classes and papers, your theses and sports teams, are unimportant. But finding a soulmate to grow old with, someone to bear your children and ease your suffering, someone to give your life meaning and your work purpose — this is a much more important task than raising that GPA enough to make magna cum laude.

So, stop reading this blog and ask out that cute girl from across the quad. I did the same 29 years ago and have counted my blessings ever since.

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Latest filings in Safety Dance feature the College’s attempt to unmask John Doe, justified, in part, by citing EphBlog. Should we be horrified or proud?

The Memo in Support of Motion for Reconsideration provides the College’s argument.

mem1

1) What do readers think of the College’s attempt to unmask John Doe? Seems sleazy to me!

2) What do attorneys (especially MRL ’91 and WW) think? Is this a negotiating ploy?

Here is part of what Doe’s attorney Stacey Elin Rossi wrote in that e-mail:

mem2

Harsh but fair? Susan Smith has not come off looking good so far . . .

By the way, why was Rossi sending Smith e-mails like this last summer? John Doe’s complaint is with Williams refusal to grant him his degree. How was Smith still a part of the conversation in August?

mem3

The other (unnamed) blog is Academic Wonderland, maintained by former Williams faculty member KC Johnson. Should we be proud or embarrassed to be called out by Williams’s counsel in this context? Should we be upset not to be mentioned by name? Also, any lawyers care to chime on about our use of a photo from the Internet Archive? Do we really need anyone’s “permission?”

The Attachment 2 to Memo Reconsideration is a screenshot of EphBlog. I believe that this is the second time that EphBlog has appeared in a court document. Who among our loyal readers remembers the first?

John Doe’s attorney argues against in the Reply Memo in Opposition to Motion for Reconsideration.

mem4

Did College attorneys Daryl Lapp and Elizabeth Kelly really violate an (important?) rule of civil procedure? I have my doubts. They seem like serious players, as one would expect of the attorneys hired by Williams. (Harvard hires few idiots.) Comments welcome!

mem5

Seems to be that Rossi has the better argument here. Am I missing something?

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