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Sadness

AB ’07 has a nice post on Sadness at WSO, although it doesn’t quite measure up to his brillant monsoon writing last year. He does, however, elicit this comment from JE ’04:

[W]hile your time at Williams maybe marked by periodic regret due to changes beyond your control, I encourage — exhort — you to unabashedly throw yourself into every moment of it. As I look back, I realize there may never be another time where a certain set of factors — an amazing physical setting, brilliant mentors focused on teaching you above all else, a tightnit group of intelligent peers, a total lack of external distractions — conspire in such a forceful way. Some things change — Baxter may be gone, students above you will leave, new students will enter — but the overall environment is still amazing.

Amen.

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The Sky at Williams


For any of you who were outside of Williamstown, or inside a building, last night at about 8:30, here’s what the sky looked like from the science quad over Bronfman and Clark. Four more pictures of the sky are in the extended entry.

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Polisi ’99 Weds

Catherine Polisi was married two weeks ago.

The bride and bridegroom met at Johns Hopkins University, where both received master’s degrees in international relations.

Mrs. Jones, 28, was until May a freelance television and newspaper reporter in upstate New York. She graduated from Williams College.

You can read articles by Polisi on two completely different topics here and here. Given the breadth of her interests, Polisi should be blogging! Note also that, back in the day, Polisi was an Eph athlete of some note.

The great advantage of going from “Catherine Polisi” to “Catherine Jones” is that one becomes much harder to google. Not that that’s the reason for the wedding, of course!

Congratulations to all.

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EphBlog Solves MGRHS Deficit!

A long-running interest of EphBlog has been the financing problems facing local schools, especially Mount Greylock Regional High School (MGRHS). Classic posts here, here and here.

The short version of this history is that the College gave $250,000 to MGRHS to help with a temporary financing crunch. The town voted increased taxes to help out one year, but then failed to do so again last year, despite the hard work of Professor Sam Crane. (Note that my prediction that the College would pony up more money was wrong.)

Anyway, the latest update in this saga is a report by several Williams faculty and staff about the future trends in school finances. The report is excellent! Kudos to Dick De Veaux, Cappy Hill, Sue Hogan, Keith Finan and Jim Kolesar. I am glad to see Williams faculty and staff so involved in the well-being of the local community. The report concludes:

In the final analysis, to project balanced budgets for the school into the medium-range future will require dramatic steps by the school’s policy makers and communities to increase revenues, decrease expenses, or somehow combine the two. None of the ideas generally floated in public discussions would by itself balance the budget for very long.

Alas, I haven’t had time to go throw the entire report, but it seems well-done, thorough and depressing. Unless something is done, the school finance gap is doomed to get much larger. The school’s expenses are simply out-of-whack with its revenue under any reasonable forecast.

Fortunately, EphBlog is here to help! The central problem with MGRHS is that expenses are too high. Want to cut expenses in a service business? Cut salaries and benefits. Problem solved.

Now, our more sensitive readers may be shocked by this suggestion. How can we balance the budget on the backs of our no-doubt underpaid and overworked teachers? Yet, before the tears well up in your eyes, please guess (without looking at the report!) what the average teacher salary is at MGRHS. (Note that the school budget crisis has been going on for several years and lots of smart, dedicated people like Professor Ralph Bradburd have done everything they can to reduce costs while maintaining educational quality.)

Got your guess?

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Football Mafia

Brian Morrissey ’09 gets some good press here

“He is a spectacular kid, and he meant a ton to the program,” said GDA head football coach Mark Gerry. “He worked incredibly hard, on and off the field. He is a real student of the game. He is patient, smart, and understands what everyone on the field is doing. He is always pushing himself to get better. Every preseason he comes into camp in top physical condition. He inspires other kids to work harder.”

Gerry is class of 1979. We need to get the Eph Football Mafia organized one of these days.

Morrissey, an honor roll student at GDA, hopes to continue to do the same at Williams College next year. The Winchester resident also plans to play football there.

“It’s going to be tough giving up hockey, but Williams has a real good football and lacrosse program,” said Morrissey. “I knew that by going to a Division III school that I would get the chance to play both sports. Williams also has great academics.”

Morrissey has an interest in reading and writing and says he is considering majoring in English and may even pursue teaching. “I’m not a numbers guy, and writing is something that I enjoy,” he said.

Not a numbers guy, eh? I’ve tried to learn my lesson about tying a general discussion of Williams policies to specific individuals, so I have nothing to say on this.

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Fleeing Rich

A recent article co-authored by Economics Professor Jon Bakija seems interesting:

Well-heeled retirees often relocate to warmer climes in search of sunny skies and year-round golfing, but they also move to avoid paying higher taxes, says a University of Michigan economist.

A new study by Joel Slemrod of Michigan’s Stephen M. Ross School of Business and colleague Jon Bakija of Williams College suggests that wealthy elderly people change their real (or reported) state of residence to avoid paying high state taxes, particularly those that target estates and inheritance, as well as purchases.

High personal income taxes and property taxes levied by states also give upper-bracket taxpayers additional incentives to pack up their bags and head for places with lower, less progressive tax rates.

The College often arranges faculty lectures, either at reunion and home-coming week-ends or at alumni meetings around the country. Why not ask Bakija to speak on this topic? The College has every incentive to help its wealthy alums save money from the tax man . . .

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Checking Out the Competition

It’s interesting to see that the sons of Lord Jeffrey finally have a blog to call their own. Rumor has it that they were forced to steal some of Ephblog’s HTML code; fortunately, their efforts to steal Ephblog’s authors failed miserably. Much like its parent institution, Jeffblog is but a pale imitation of its more esteemed older brother:

www.amerst.com

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Questbridge

Considering that seven percent of Williams’ incoming first year class is arriving as a result of the Questbridge program, it’s interesting to get some insight into the program and the types of students it recruits. Here are profiles of some of the Questbridge students headed to Williams next year.

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Ephayist: Ken Thomas ’93

I have vivid memories of the July 25th 1995 bombings at the Saint-Michel station in Paris.

I was at the end of a long corridor which opens onto the down escalator to the RER-B. Suddenly, the air pressed against my face, a sudden punch, followed by a concussion wave and a short decompression, almost in a single moment. The sound of the blast itself was muted, a drawn-out pop, not quiet, but not loud, and not what I or any of those around me seemed to expect from an explosion.

There, standing a hundred or hundred and twenty-five feet from the platform, perhaps two hundred feet from the blast, we “onlookers” knew only that something out of the ordinary had happened. The blast wave from an explosive detonation is only unmistakable once you’ve experienced it, and no one in the corridor seemed able to distinguish it from, for instance, a collision or derailment, or a massive equipment failure of some kind. It was late afternoon, and we were commuters on our way home.

Without skipping a beat, we moved forward.

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Ephayists

I have not been exactly overwhelmed with volunteers to participate in our Ephayists program, but the first writer has stepped forward. Tune in tomorrow to read Ken Thomas’s ’93 memories of the bombings on the Paris metro 10 years ago today . . .

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Best ’87 Weds

Michael Best ’87 was married last week.

The bride and the bridegroom met at Gracie Mansion in 2003, while both were working for Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg.

The bridegroom, 40, is the general counsel of the City Department of Education. In 2002 and 2003, he was the deputy counsel to Mayor Bloomberg. He graduated from Williams College and received his law degree magna cum laude from Harvard.

Congratulations to all.

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Stephenson ’04 in Gold Cup

Khari Stephenson ’04, playing for the Jamaican National Team in the CONCACAF Gold Cup, earned a mention in the team’s loss to the US.

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Everything

Camille Bevans ’09 looks forward to Williams.

Camille, 18, a resident of Roxbury, plans to attend Williams College in Williamstown, Mass., where she will study “everything,” she said.
“I really loved the programs they offered and I wanted a smaller liberal arts college,” she said during a recent interview days before graduation. “No one else I know from Shepaug is going to Williams, but I met five new friends [at orientation] so I’ll know people when I get there. I’m really looking forward to it.”

Enjoy.

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Paul on Terror Attacks

Political Science Professor Darel Paul is quoted on the London attacks.

Thursday’s bloody terror attacks in London could dampen global economic growth by once again shaking the confidence of consumers and businesses, economists said.

In just a few moments, the murderous rush-hour onslaught in London killed scores of people, injured hundreds of others and paralyzed one of the world’s pre-eminent financial centers.

“I think that had to be part of their thinking — to not only kill a lot of people but to damage the whole system,” said Darel Paul, professor of political economy at Williams College in Massachusetts, who recently returned from four months of teaching in London.

“Their goal is mainly political, but there are economic ramifications — and they are intended.”

Perhaps. But there is an observational problem here. Wouldn’t the Islamofascists act in exactly the same way — in terms of the style of their attacks given the limits of their resources — if their only goal was to kill and terrify as many Infidels as possible? That is, it might be that the Islamofascists want to wreck our economy also. It might also be that they are concerned about global warming and therefore favor attacks on transportation networks.

Paul needs to come up with a hypothetical example of the sort of attack that the Islamofascists would try — that would not be so economically significant but would be equally or more causalty-causing and/or headline-grabbing — but don’t take on because it’s economic effects would be less. Off hand, I can’t come up with anything. Moreover, it is easy to imagine attacks that would be more economically serious (say, bombings of oil refineries and chemical plants) but less deadly than subway attacks. If economic thinking plays a big part in calculations of the Islamofascists, then why don’t they do more of this?

I’ll stick with Occam’s Razor on this one. The Islamofascists choose planes and trains and buses because doing so maximizes the deaths of innocents like Lindsay Morehouse ’00.

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Parker ’51, RIP

Patrick Parker ’51, former president, CEO and chairman of Parker Hannifan, passed away.

Under Pat Parker’s direction, Parker Hannifin, which was founded by his father in 1918, grew substantially in size, global reach and product breadth: From the ’60s through the ’90s, he guided the company’s expansion into a wide array of hydraulic, pneumatic and electromechanical products solidifying its position as the global leader in motion and control technologies. Now an $8 billion enterprise, the firm had annual sales of $197 million in 1968 when Parker was named president.

Parker was extremely active in charitable activities, but seems to have had little if anything to do with Williams. I can’t find any listing of him on the College website. This might mean that he insisted on discretion in his gifts to the College, but I suspect some other story.

Condolences to all.

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Fair Williams, Thou Art Vanquished

Someone — Esa, Dave, or someone else entirely — requested pictures of the construction around campus. I am always happy to oblige and take some pictures (in this case 23 pictures) of Williams, so this time I took pictures of all the construction I could find. At the end there are pictures of the new theatre and the recently constructed turf field, for those of you who haven’t seen it yet. We’ll start with an instantly recognizable spot:

Sawyer Porch? Veranda? Whatever it was called, it isn’t a very pleasant spot anymore.

Lots more pictures are in the extended entry. Lots.

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Wedding Dresses

Sarah Hart ’02 needs our help.

i forgot to mention that i went wedding dress shopping this past saturday. nothing too crazy — my sister and i just went to 2 stores that were fairly local (raleigh) and i tried on maybe 10 dresses, total. nothing jumped out at me as ‘the’ dress, unfortunately, but i did like a couple that i tried on. i’m just wondering — how long do i make attempts to find ‘the’ dress before giving up and realizing that ‘the’ dress may not exist, at least in my price range? (readers with experience, i’d love some guidance here.)

Kleinfeld is the answer, although perhaps not convient for Sarah. I clearly recall a pleasant three hours spent reading a book outside their Brooklyn store while my lovely wife shopped like mad 13 years ago. She did indeed find “the dress.” Sarah also mentions that there are

10 months and 12 days until our wedding and we’re already worried about finding a photographer. i tell you, wedding planning-world is an insane universe unlike anything i’ve experienced before. new lingo, new values — and i feel like such an idiot in a sea of well-trained brides who have been planning Their Big Day since they were in kindergarten.

Not that there is anything wrong with that! Indeed, I am already collecting anecdotes and pictures for my daughters’ rehearsal dinners. My wife has also decided that, whatever else might happen, there will be fireworks.

One serious piece of advice I have is to get a videographer. It may seem weird and strange, but you will be glad you did.

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Flood ’83 Promoted

Ephs interested in sports broadcasting should probably reach out to Sam Flood ’83, recently promoted to the number 3 spot at NBC Sports. A picture of Flood and a discussion about NASCAR can be found here. Flood has been active in the Eph alumni network, see here and here for examples. More on Flood here.

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Kimball ’93 and Crowther ’95 Go The Distance

Nikki Kimball ’93 won a gold medal at the World Cup 100-K.

Kimball was on the United States women’s team that won the World Cup 100-K last month in Hokkaido, Japan. She covered the 62.1 miles in 8:22.58, making her the second runner of the United States team to finish and placing her seventh overall.

She might have even enjoyed the moment on the podium more if she could have prepared for it. But it all caught her by surprise, and the magnitude of the accomplishment had not even hit her by the time she climbed down from the medal stand.

“We were just hoping to medal. We didn’t think in our wildest dreams we would be first,” Kimball said. “Japan was the overwhelming favorite. When they played the national anthem, I was emotional but not as emotional as I thought I would be. It didn’t seem real.”

Greg Crowther ’95 finished 20th in the men’s field as part of a US team that came in fourth. More on Kimball here and Crowther here. More on both below.

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Fair Williams, Where Art Thou?

Daniel Mckenna-Foster ’07 just sent this image to the Summer 05 listserv:

baxter-lawn-small.jpg

It has been a long time since the Williams campus looked that nice. All of you who have graduated, be glad that when you were here, there were not so many construction projects, and that you were able to see expanses of green grass without trekking to Weston1. Right now, Baxter lawn, Sawyer lawn, the entire area around Stetson, the lawn in front of the Greylock Dining Hall2, a part of the Odd Quad, and Cole Field are all torn up with construction.

I have no doubt that it will look beautiful when it is done; I am only sad that it was my time at Williams that had to be marred in this way. One of the reasons I chose Williams over a city school is because it is so beautiful around here. It still is; I just have to go running off campus to see the mountains and the green grass.

1 Weston isn’t even all grass anymore because of the turf field.
2 Admittedly, this area has green sprayed-on “grass.”

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Spin Doctoring

Joe Shoer ’06 has thoughts on anchor housing.

MY father just showed me an article in a Williams parents’ newsletter by James Kolesar ’72, Director of Public Affairs, discussing anchor housing. Mostly, his artcile concerned itself with describing how students are looking forward to the change in housing system. Specifically, Kolesar writes, “significant” numbers of students are eagerly anticipating the change, though “some” hold reservations. I’m sorry, but that just bothers me.

“Significant” and “some?” Come now, Mr. Kolesar…while I do no dispute that both those terms are accurate in an absolute sense, they are highly improper in a relative one. This is an institution of intellectual honesty. I, unlike you, can put numbers on those qualifiers: “Significant numbers” of students means, approximately, 20% of the student body; while “some” corresponds to a full 60%. That’s three to one against anchor housing, Mr. Kolesar, not the other way around. I’ve seen similar spinning in Morty’s pieces in the Alumni Review. Choose your words more carefully next time, so that they convey the whole truth.

Is the parents newsletter on-line anywhere? It would be nice to read the article that Joe refers to. Joe also asks

Why, oh why, can’t they listen to the significant numbers of students who harbor deep, severe, and intelligent reservations about the new system? Why can’t we have something that bears more evidence of being student-conceived?

I am 90% sure that I know the answer to this question. Morty took a look at Williams housing when he arrived in 2000 and did not like the amount of self-segregation that occured. He did not like all the Jamaicans living in Prospect, all the male helmut athletes living in Tyler, all of Brooks being African-American. He decided then and there to change things. He knew that a scheme, like anchor housing, that randomly broke the student body into 5 equal sized chunks would prevent self-segregation.

Everything else since that decision has been so much Kabuki theatre.

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2 Ephs in Iraq

We now have two alums in Iraq. Ben Kamilewicz ’99 and Joel Iams ’01 were both deployed in harms way earlier this month.

“Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friend.” (John 15:13)

The Williams College Adopt-An-Alum Program salute them, and wish them a safe return.

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Off the Waiting List

Looks like Williams will be accepting around 20 students off the waiting list. Congratulations to all those who got the call.

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Vincent ’60 on Olympic Softball/Baseball

Fay Vincent ’60 had an op-ed (permanent copy here) in the New York Times, datelined Williamstown, on the recent decision to remove baseball and softball from the Olympic Games.

From what I understand, the decision by the International Olympic Committee to eliminate baseball and softball was most likely prompted by two problems with American baseball. (Softball, it seems, was pretty much an innocent bystander.) What were the problems? First, the world’s best players were kept out of the Olympics because Major League Baseball barred its players from competing in the Games. Second, professional baseball’s antidoping program is below Olympic standards.

Vincent is obviously much better connected than I, but it seems clear that softball was hurt because, well, it isn’t really played much outside the US. I could also see that, if the IOC wants to restrict the games to 10,000 athletes, it needs to make some hard choices as more and more countries have swimmers and runners to send.

Read the whole thing.

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Doleac ’03 Thesis on Academic Achievement

One of EphBlog’s continuing missions is to bring the excellent work done by Williams undergraduates to a broader audience. For now, the focus continues to be on senior theses. Although I hope to convince the College to post all those prior theses related to specifically to Williams, we will do what we can in the meantime. Consider:

Admission criteria as predictors of achievement : a case study of Williams College, by Jennifer Doleac ’03.

Special thanks to Jennifer for providing me with a copy of her thesis. There is a lot of great stuff here, which I hope to be able to comment on at some point. Her thesis lacks a abstract, which is too bad for those looking to get a quick overview. (The Economics Department ought to require all theses to have abstracts, a handy tool for readers and a useful method for forcing students to focus on the specific point that they are trying to make.)

Below are selections from Doleac’s conclusion (pages 96 to 99):

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Big City, Little Three Report

The alumni/student networking schmooze fest was endless fun. If you haven’t gone to one of these before, you really ought to. Unfortunately, there were so many alumni speakers that each of us only got a chance at a brief introduction. So, my speech went ungiven, although I did get to pass it around a bit. For those that care, it is below.

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Chuck King ’48

Chuck King ’48 died in Williamstown on July 3rd. His obituary in the North Adams Transcript mentions that he worked in finance for Chemical Bank and Merck, and then was a lawyer for a number of years.

However, I knew Chuck from his volunteer work for Williams. He had been both President and Class Agent for his class; he was a Vice Chair of the Alumni Fund from 1997-2002, and had begun another three-year term last year. He was rather quiet — certainly not the most loquacious or the most outspoken member of the Vice Chair Committee — but someone who would make his point-of-view known and then let others speak.

The Williams community will miss Chuck in two ways. First, and perhaps most importantly, he was a nice fellow. Second, Chuck was a member of that small but valuable group of alumni that gives a lot of volunteer time to the college, raising money and creating goodwill. Without such people giving of their time, the college’s outreach and fundraising programs would cost more and probably be less successful.

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Sabot Obituary

Thanks to a Williamstown reader for this link to the obituary for Professor Richard Sabot.

Condolences to all.

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Big City, Little Three

For those in the Boston area, I’ll be at OCC’s Alumni Sharing Knowledge event tonight. Although the event is listed as full, I find it hard to believe that they’ll turn away people who show up. If you’re an EphBlog reader, please say Hello.

I think that the event is mostly a networking-fest. The alumni who are speaking (I am one) have been instructed to just talk for a minute or two about their backgrounds. After that, much mingling will ensue. The Eph alumni network is one of the great underutilized resources of Williams. The more you network, the better off you are.

I’ll be providing a no-doubt-offensive-to-some riff on military service.

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Stop Alberto

Stephen Hunter ’07 has a new Web site, stopalberto.com. From the page:

Alberto Gonzales has a maladjusted personality that makes him one of the most Machiavellian individuals in our country (in some ways he’s worse than Ashcroft). Unfortunately he is Bush’s Attorney General. However, he could do far more damage as a Supreme Court Justice. We all need to take a few minutes out of our day to donate our time and money to moveon.org or any other progressive group. It is imperative that we StopAlberto before he further ruins this great nation of ours.

Steve, who is from Maine, is coordinating an effort to lobby his senators about this. You may also remember his political page of several months ago, Students Against Bush, which was more extensive but is not online anymore.

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