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Hopkins Furniture Going Out of Business

The George M. Hopkins Furniture Store at the bottom of Spring Street is going out of business, and will soon have a “Going Out of Business” liquidation sale.

Hart’s Pharmacy, Goff’s Sports, McClelland Stationers, and the U.S. Post Office are about the only things left on Spring Street from my era (30 years ago). The Williams Co-op burned down; Renzi Books and the Joseph Dewey Bookstore are gone (yes, there were two bookstores on Spring Street in my day); the House of Walsh went out of business; the Williamstown National Bank went through multiple takeovers; the Gulf gas station was razed and gentrified; and Spring Street became one way.

These changes have been going on for years; in the 1930s, Spring Street supported three or four top men’s clothing shops. By the jeans-clad 1970s, they’d all vanished except the House of Walsh. So current students, look around — Spring Street as you know it will be different when you come back for your 25th Reunion.


Nanny Attack

This New York Times article isn’t about EphBlog.

There is no excuse for the poor judgment of the busted, but it is intriguing how an overdose of college fanaticism has created a strain of voyeurs who have morphed into Internet nannies, gaining more empowerment with every miscreant they take down.

Their blogs, e-mail messages and downloads have permanence because a tip can be delivered straight to the top of athletic departments and universities under the mask of anonymity.

But it could have been.

By the way, every Eph’s favorite racist, Aida Laleian is on-leave for 2005-2006, relaxing and rejuvenating herself for future Art Department meetings. Your tuition dollars at work.

But surely the College has learned something from the experience. Surely some committee was formed to investigate how someone like Laleian was hired by Williams and how she was tenured. Surely the idiots folks who made those decisions have been called to account. Surely they are not the same folks in charge of hiring and tenuring the next round of faculty hires. Surely someone is asking questions about a process which seems to result in a lot of faculty jobs going to the spouses/partner of current faculty. (Or didn’t you know that Laleian is married to Art Professor Steve Levin?)

Surely someone in authority will tell concerned alumni about how all this happened.

Ha! That will be the day . . .

The article ends with

This moment of unsolicited fame for Kyle will pass quickly. Soon, another snapshot of collegiate ignobility is bound to land as a pop-up on the Internet.

Who is the next target? Just log on to find out.

Indeed. Have we told you the one about the Eph porn star yet? Stay tuned.


Asian American Quotas?

In our Quota! thread, HWC writes:

Now, if you want to talk quotas, ask why Williams only has 9% Asian-American enrollment from a hugely qualified and eager applicant pool as evidenced by the percentages at:

Amherst 13%
Dartmouth 13%
Duke 13%
Princeton 13%
Brown 14%
Yale 14%
Swarthmore 16%
Columbia 16%
Harvard 17%
MIT 28%

It’s not the international enrollment at Williams that is out of step with the prevailing supply and demand at high-end US colleges. Looking at those numbers, it is hard to not speculate that Williams may have an “Asian-American quota”. I have a hard time imagining that Asian-Americans simply aren’t applying to the #1 ranked liberal arts college in the country.

A “current eph” replies:

Williams does not have a cap or limit on asian admits. The relatively low number of asian admits at Williams is reflective of the admissions pool rather than any particular Williams admission practice. Most likely this is due to a carry-over of Williams’ reputation as being a school for upperclass white boys combined with a relative lack of asian recruiting (compared to other minority groups recruiting) on the part of Williams’ admissions office.

HWC also writes:

I am skeptical about the claim of a small Asian-American applicant pool at Williams. I see no reason that its brand identity would scare off applicants any more than, say, Dartmouth’s nearly identical geographic location and market positioning. Particularly telling is that Williams’ percentage of Asian-Americans has declined
from its high-point in the early 1990s (11.2%). Asian-American enrollment at most elite colleges has skyrocketed in the last ten years. For example, Swarthmore’s 1995 Asian-American enrollment was exactly the same as Williams that year (10.8%). By 2004, Swarthmore’s percentage had increased to 15.8%; Williams’ had declined to
9.2%. Simple twist of fate, running against the demographic grain? Or, institutional guidance to the admissions office?

I think a likely explanation is that the admissions office at Williams has been given higher priorities than enrolling Asian-Americans, who tend to be more likely to be seriously academic and music oriented; less likely to be varsity athletes. When 28% of the incoming class consists of recruited athletes, as it did this year,
the Asian-American enrollment will tend to be lower. According to Williams’ Diversity Report data, 49% of the white students play varsity sports at Williams compared to 33% of the Asian-American students.

This is directly analagous to the “jew quotas”. If I recall, the argument was that the academically-focused Jewish students were not “well-rounded” enough (and that included being well-rounded enough for the hockey team).

It is also possible that the smaller aid budget for US students impacts Asian-American enrollment. This group, on average, qualifies for frequently for need-based aid (44% at Williams) than caucasian students (32% at Williams). This theory could be tested by looking at the relative yields for accepted Asian-American students.


1) I agree with “current eph”. I do not believe that Williams has a quota for Asian Americans. What would be the purpose of such a policy? Who could imagine someone like Morty being in favor of it?

2) I agree with HWC that this is an interesting topic. The percentage of Asian Americans at Williams is much smaller than I would have guessed. The difference between 13% at Amherst and 9% at Williams is not that large, but I am surprised by it none-the-less.

3) There are clearly plausible explanations with regard to Ivy League and city schools. Most every Chinese immigrant mother wants her daughter to go to an Ivy League school. (And I am allowed to make this observation!) But why would Amherst have 50% more Asians than Williams?

4) It would be great to have some data on this topic. What percentage of the total applicant pool at Williams is Asian? What is the average SAT score and/or Academic Rank of admitted Asian students?

Speculation, gossip and innuendo are welcome.


Legacy Math

Time for some more legacy math! Although my own daughters are still several years away from their college applications, it is never too early to start thinking about what their chances might be at Williams. Recall our earlier discussion of the fact that there were 94 legacies admitted into the class of 2009 with an average SAT score of 1446.

Thanks to Jim Kolesar, we now know that 68 of these legacies ended up enrolling in the class. Comments:

1) I wonder about the 26 students who didn’t come to Williams. Are these mostly very strong students who choose places like Harvard/Yale/Princeton/Stanford instead? If so, this would suggest that the average SAT score of the students who came to Williams was lower than the 1446 average of the 94 applicants admitted. It is also possible that they are weaker students who realized that Williams might not be the best place for them, but I doubt that.

2) What is the extreme lower-bound for the enrolled legacies? Assume that all 26 of the students who turned down Williams had perfect 1600s. This implies that the 68 enrolled legacies would average around 1390 since (94 * 1446 – 26 * 1600) / 68 = 1387.

3) Can we reject the null hypothesis that enrolled legacies have similar SAT scores to the overall Williams population? No. Note that the SAT average for the class of 2009 is 1425. Solving the appropriate formula for X:

(94 * 1446 – 26 * X) / 68 = 1425

we can see that X = 1500. In other words, if the average SAT score of the accepted legacies who went elsewhere is 1500, then the average for the enrolled legacies would be the same as the average for the entire class. Is 1500 a plausible estimate for those 26 non-enrollees? Sure.

4) Does this imply that legacy status does not positively impact one’s admissions chances? No. Again, the key issue is that 1425 is the average for the entire class. The average for students from wealthy families with college-educated parents is going to be much higher than 1425 because, for good or for ill, the College gives preferences to applicants, independent of race, from poorer, less educated families. Now, the magnitude of those preferences is not large, but it is not zero.

5) Key unknowns are the characteristics of applicants and admitted students who come from families “like” those of the legacy applicants. Although race, wealth and athletic talent are complicating factors, I doubt that the average SAT scores of similar enrolled students in the class of 2009 is much higher than 1475.

All in all, I will stick with my back-of-the-envelope guess that being a legacy, all else equal, is worth about 50 points in combined average SAT score. This is a minor advantage, much lower than the 100 points that tip-level athleticism counts for and 150 points that accrue to URMs.

In other words, if you’re an Eph and your daughter scores 1300 or below (and she is not an athlete, heiress or deeper shade of purple), you better start looking at Colby.


Taoist Thanksgiving

Sam Crane has thoughts on a Taoist Thanksgiving.

A Taoist, then, would give thanks, in the sense of recognizing and gratefully subordinating oneself to uncontrollable forces of Tao that shape our lives and produce the good (as well as the bad) around us.

It is in that spirit that I give thanks. And as I give thanks in that way (Way), with Aidan silently sitting next to me in his wheelchair, air rattling in and out of his tracheostomy tube, I am thankful for him in precisely the way that he is. I do not regret his disabilities (this is not Regretsgiving Day, after all). Of course, if I were some omnipotent divinity able to determine the conditions of his life, I would call a do-over and have him fully abled in all the ways he is not now. But I am not omnipotent. I am subordinated to Tao, and Tao moves as it will, with no heed to my desires or expectations.

But can I be positively grateful for his disability? Yes. I can because I have come to see that his experience of Tao is just as valuable and worthwhile as any other experience of Tao.

Read the whole thing.


Spencer ’77 Making Policy at Harvard

Williams Trustee Clayton Spencer ’77 is making more policy at Harvard.

A. Clayton Spencer, since 1998 associate vice president for higher education policy, becomes vice president for policy, a new position. In this capacity, she assumes “a broader role overseeing the work of the president’s office” with the aim of ensuring “a more integrated approach to activities that entail cooperative efforts with other departments or schools.” Spencer, a lawyer and trustee of Phillips Exeter Academy and Williams College, has worked on such issues as creating the Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Study and enhancing financial aid for lower-income students. She has also served as liaison to several schools and staffed decanal searches. Citing Harvard’s “ambitious goals,” she said, “[A]s we move forward, the emphasis increasingly will be on effective execution.”

Spencer is an interesting trustee because she is one of the very few permanent trustees on the board without an obvious source of significant wealth. Perhaps she was already wealthy (from family or marriage or a successful pre-Harvard career), but, otherwise, her trustee position at Williams is somewhat anomalous.


Dog Retribution

As long as the College refuses to publically archive all-campus communications, it will fall on EphBlog to do so. I don’t have a, uh, dog in this fight, but if your curious about canine politics at Williams, you’ll want to keep reading.

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Justice to Kazan ’31

Great article on the life and times of Elia Kazan ’31.

When Elia Kazan, one of the twentieth century’s great American theater and movie directors, died two years ago, the obituaries almost all struck the same sour note. As the New York Times put it, in addition to his artistic accomplishments, Kazan committed “what many still consider one of the great ideological betrayals in American performing arts history.” The Los Angeles Times, the movie business’s hometown paper, announced his death with a straightforward page one headline, elia kazan, 1909-2003, but then got down to cases in the subhead: stage and screen triumphs were eclipsed by his testimony against colleagues in the blacklist era.

For many “progressives” — especially in the entertainment business — “eclipsed” doesn’t begin to tell the story. Over the entire half-century after he “named names” to the House Un-American Activities Committee on April 12, 1952, Kazan remained the very embodiment of a self-serving, backstabbing rat bastard. The assumption about his moral turpitude rests on another assumption, so often echoed in books, movies, and classrooms that by now it appears an indisputable fact: that the blacklist was a straightforward case of good versus evil, pitting decent Americans defending free thought and expression against the vilest forces of reaction.

Like the most heavy-handed Hollywood “message” movie, such a view allows for zero ethical complexity — and it is nonsense. While no one can deny or excuse the bullying and moral corruption of federal investigators, the term routinely applied to their work —- “witch hunt” —- is entirely misleading. Mid-twentieth-century Hollywood, California, had nothing in common with seventeenth-century Salem, Massachusetts. In Hollywood, the witches —- communist activists, working surreptitiously to advance Soviet interests —- were all too real.

Exactly so. There is a great senior thesis waiting to be written about Kazan and the effect that his time at Williams had on his career. Who will write it?


Photo ID, #30

I have widely heard the story that Williamstown has a zoning law against chain restaurants, and Subway only got in because the person reviewing applications had never heard of it and thought it was a quaint little mom-and-pop sub sandwich shop. Have you heard that one, and is it true? (A zoning law story at my high school turned out to be false, so I’m wary of them.)



Marc Lynch gives thanks “for so many, many things (beautiful little cub, bouncing baby A, and ravishing Mrs Aardvark, I’m looking at you!) and consuming huge amounts of turkey . . . ”

Attentive readers will note that Marc is now following EphBlog’s First Rule of Blogging: Thou shalt always praise one’s wife in the blog.

Good advice for all of us.

And on a personal note, I am certain that Mrs. Aardvark, whom I have never met, is not only ravishing, but thoughtful, intelligent, caring, emphathetic and otherwise wonderful. And I hope that she remembers I said this when she is reviewing the applications from my daughters Michaela and Cassandra in a decades time . . .


Subsidize Bicyclists

What happens to College Council Presidents when they leave Williams? Good question! It seems that Carter Zinn ’88 is still involved in politics, even 20 years later.

So instead of talking about that, virtually everybody at the meeting Friday concentrated on a proposal to charge people for walking and biking across the bridge.

Carter Zinn was one of several citizens who stood up Friday to urge the board to drop the proposal. “Every bicyclist is another car off the street,” said Zinn. “I think the district should actually find a way to subsidize bicyclists rather than charging them.”

Others pointed out that such a toll would generate a maximum of only $1 million over five years if the number of people currently crossing the bridge doesn’t drop, everyone pays and the toll system doesn’t cost anything to implement. But several directors said bicyclists and pedestrians need to pay their share.

“This district is in financial crisis,” said Mike Kerns, who represents Sonoma County. “We have some serious decisions to make and they are not going to be popular with the public.”

As my running mate and I discovered back in the day, you campaign against Carter Zinn at your own peril . . .



Jim Kolesar has kindly replied to my concern about whether or not the College sets a quota for international students.

Williams currently expects to have international students comprise about 6% of each entering class. That number could go up or down somewhat from year to year based on the quality of the international applicant pool. I know of no college that admits international students as if they were U.S. citizens. Colleges exist in the law, including the tax law, as contributors to the national good. Their first responsibility is to advance that national good. Since students help educate each other, enrolling international students enhances the preparation that all students receive for an increasingly complex world and, happily, does broaden geographically the public good to which colleges contribute. But a college that gave itself over to educating mainly international students, which is eventually what would happen given the numbers, would have a significantly different mission, very different standing with U.S. prospective students, and greatly altered relationship with government, donors, etc.


1) Kudos to Williams and to Kolesar for being so open and honest.

2) Williams does indeed have a quota. Interesting.

3) Jim claims that “Colleges exist in the law, including the tax law, as contributors to the national good.” That’s just wrong. There is nothing in the law, tax or otherwise, about Williams needing to contribute to the “national good.” Of course, there are some complexities with regard to non-profits and the intentions of their donors (from Ephraim Williams to the present day), but the basic legal reality is that Williams is a non-profit entity, a 501(c)(3). Nothing in the law prevents Williams from having 0% or 6% or 100% international students. Non-profits, as long as they adhere to the appropriate regulations, can spend their money as they see fit. How can Kolesar not know this?

4) Doing so more research on the question, I just discovered this passage in The Chosen: The Hidden History of Admission and Exclusion at Harvard, Yale, and Princeton. The speaker is Radcliffe Heermance, Director of Admissions at Princeton from 1922 to 1950 and a graduate of Williams (class of 1904, I think).

“But a college that gave itself over to educating many Jewish students, which is eventually what would happen given the numbers, would have a significantly different mission, very different standing with U.S. prospective students, and greatly altered relationship with government, donors, etc.”

Heermance and others of his era felt that having “too many” Jews at places like Princeton would radically change them, generally for the worse. Let in all those Jews, however clever they might be, and non-Jewish students won’t want to attend, formerly loyal alumni donors won’t want to contribute.

I had thought that such opinions were a thing of the past.

If a meritocratic admissions process leads to a Williams than is 1/3 International students, then so be it. Anyone who argues otherwise is no better than the men 50 years ago who sought to keep out the Jews.

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Old School Integration

“Plum” reports on a scandal in the Math Department.

I discovered that the tutors at the Math/Science Resource Center for math 103/104 are the ones responsible for telling kids that int[f(x) * g(x)] = int[f(x)] * int[g(x)]. I might have to kill them. If they only knew the pain of grading homework and quizzes where half the class did the SAME WRONG THING… Enough of them did it that I started doubting my own calculus skills, which sucks, especially around 4am… There are five calculus tutors at the Resource Center. How is it that none of them knows how to integrate?? Maybe next semester I should work at the Resource Center and not be a TA.

Back in the day, Professor Silva always got this correct.


A Jew Quota for the 21st Century?

Is the treatment of international applicants by Williams today equivalent to the discrimination by Ivy League schools against Jewish applicants 50 years ago? Inquiring minds want to know.

First, we have the empirical question of whether or not Williams discriminates against international applicants today. I am beginning to think that it does. For starters, international students have made up a seemingly fixed 6% of the each class for several years now. Where did that magic 6% come from, if not an implicit/explicit quota?

It could be that international students just so happen to be a strong enough group that there are about 60 of them worthy of admission each year (which, with a 50% yield, would generate 30 international Ephs in each class), but I would have predicted a secular growth in the quality and quantity of international applicants in the last decade. The world is getting smaller. Still, as I have argued on other occasions, the law of large numbers applies to admissions as elsewhere, so a steady state value of 6% is not, in and of itself, evidence of a quota.

The more damning evidence of discrimination comes in the performance of international students at Williams. Consider the first crop of Phi Beta Kappa students for the class of 2006. Now, if the population of international students is similar to the population of US students in the class of 2006, we would expect that 6% of the 26 PBKs would be international. In other words, the default hypothesis of no-discrimination would predict 1 or 2 international PBKs.

Before reading further, ask yourself how many PBKs would have to be international for you to be distrustful of the Admissions Department . . .

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Holtschulte ’06 wins NCAA championship

Neal Holtschulte ’06 won the NCAA Division III cross country championship race yesterday (see article and photo here) out of a field of 165 who qualified for Nationals. Neal is the first Williams man to be all-American in cross country for all four years, placing second and sixth last year and two years ago, respectively. Jenn Campbell ’05 was the first Williams woman to hold this title.

In other news, the Williams women’s cross country team was second in the NCAA (behind SUNY-Geneseo), and four women earned all-America status.


Clark on CNN

EphBlog’s Oxford correspondent Noah Smith-Drelich ’07 notes that a Clark exhibit is featured on CNN.

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JA Selection Committee

Applications are open for the JA Selection Committee (JASC):

Do you want to make an impact on Williams? Apply to be on the JA Selection Committee! This student-led committee of 25 sophomores, juniors, and seniors will meet during February and March to choose the JA Class of 2010. While it is a significant time commitment, it is also a fun way to have your voice be heard regarding next year’s JA class. If you are interested, or have any questions, email a short self nomination or any questions to 06csg and 06sec.


1) If you are a student, apply for this committee. It is an amazing, eye-opening roller-coaster ride. See Richard Dunn’s commentary in this thread for all sorts of interesting background. See also previous EphBlog commentary here and here.

2) If you are in charge of the JASC, expand the membership to 35 students. I realize that it is much more difficult to work with a group of 35 than 25, but the central problem with the JASC is that it is perceived to be exclusionary. Turning down JASC applicants — especially applicants that are out of the mainstream of Williams life — reinforces that perception. Moreover, an important role of the committee is to explain/comfort rejected applicants, argue to them that the process was a fair one. In an ideal world, every rejected applicant would know someone on the JASC fairly well. Having a larger JASC helps in that goal.

3) If you are concerned about alcohol abuse on campus (I am not), then you should fill this committee with non-drinkers and/or people who think that non-drinkers (all else equal) make better JAs then heavy drinkers. Previous discussion here. There is little doubt that JA behavior influences first year behavior. If you want first years to drink less, then surround them with JAs who drink little.

Below is the e-mail that went out to all members of the class of 2007 from Sarah Connell and Chris Geissler, JASC Co-Chairs.

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Fashion Emergency

Diana Davis ’07 reports on a fashion emergency, cranberry sauce and Harry Potter, but not in that order.


Harrison Gallery

The Harrison Gallery in on Spring Street has an interesting Eph background.

Founded by Jo Ellen Silipo, director, and her advising partner, Laurie J. Thomsen.

Jo Ellen (Harrison) Silipo, Williams ’79, an Art History and Studio Art major, and a Harvard graduate student in Art History, is returning to Williamstown after a 20 year career as a sales & marketing executive in high tech. Until now, Jo had been active in the arts only as a collector, and nurtured only a dream of a return to the world of art. Commemorating her father, David Harrison, Williams ’53, The Harrison Gallery at 39 Spring Street is the beginning of an inspired second career.

Laurie Jones Thomsen, Williams ’79, a founding General Partner of Boston-based PrismVenture Corporation, was an Art History and Economics major and worked at Soethby’s, New York. In addition to her collecting, Laurie’s desire to return to the arts was realized in a formal capacity when she accepted a position as Overseer at the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum in Boston, MA.

Thomsen is also a Williams Trustee. How is the gallery doing?

By the way, if you dream of running your own gallery someday, the place to start is with a successful career in venture capital . . . or a close friend with one.


Tip Applicant?

I am pleased to note that EphBlog is the number 1 hit on Google for Colleges for underacheivers. Special thanks to Sam Crane . . .



A Whole New World of Pain

The WSO/Wiki (Willipedia?), “The Eph Encyclopedia”, is getting better and better, somewhat to my surprise. I now plan on trying to accomplish the up-till-now-total-failure EphCOI idea with in it. But that’s a project for another day. In the meantime, the entry on Hard Classes includes this tidbit on CHEM 342: Synthetic Organic Chemistry.

For those with enough testicular fortitude, this class is interesting but the workload is constant and makes intro orgo look rather pale by comparison. Getting through this class with a decent grade is a blessing bestowed upon few. With Smith its a whole new world of pain, he’s a great prof and helps out a lot . . .

Kudos to classmate Tom Smith ’88 for doing such an excellent job. It is easy to get the students to love you if you are a pushover. Having them love you while working their tails off requires real talent.


Photo ID, #29

Let’s take a field trip. Take Rt. 2 towards North Adams for about a mile or a mile and a half. On your right, you’ll see Luce Road. Run up Luce — there will be a hill — and you’ll see it veer left while a smaller road continues straight. That’s where I took this picture. If you continue up Luce to your left, up up up the hill a mile or two to the reservoir, and then keep going straight up the hill while another road leads down to the right, where will you end up?


Son of Super-Lefty

Since November is sweeps month in media-land, we at EphBlog need some more posts about, well, sex. Here is a quote from a recent judicial opinion.

When parents of schoolchildren in Palmdale, California learned from their sons and daughters that they had been questioned in their public elementary school about sexual topics such as the frequency of “thinking about having sex” and “thinking about touching other peoples’ private parts,” some of them exercised their constitutional right to take their grievance to the courts. The questioning was part of a survey the Palmdale School District was conducting regarding psychological barriers to learning. The parents brought an action in district court against the School District and two of its officials for violating their right to privacy and their right “to control the upbringing of their children by introducing them to matters of and relating to sex.” They brought both federal and state claims. The district court dismissed the federal causes of action for failure to state a claim upon which relief could be granted and dismissed the state claims without prejudice to their right to re-file in state court. We agree, and hold that there is no fundamental right of parents to be the exclusive provider of information regarding sexual matters to their children, either independent of their right to direct the upbringing and education of their children or encompassed by it. We also hold that parents have no due process or privacy right to override the determinations of public schools as to the information to which their children will be exposed while enrolled as students. Finally, we hold that the defendants’ actions were rationally related to a legitimate state purpose.

Thanks to Cafe Hayek for the quotation and associated commentary. They refer to the author of the opinion as “super-lefty” Judge Stephen Reinhardt of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit.

What does this have to do with Williams? Well, the son of super-lefty would be our own Professor Mark Reinhardt. Now, the sins or triumphs of the father are neither the fault of, nor credit to, the son. But “super-lefty”, like “limp wristed,” is too good a phrase to ignore.


Taoist Yankee Fan

Professor Sam Crane has a nice post on a trip to Yankee Stadium.

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Answering “ephgal”

I am much less likely to answer anonymous questions than named ones, but I’ll make an exception for “ephgal” and her comments on Xavier in Trouble.

Honest question: Where are the admissions stats of the kids who dropped out? Since you mentioned that the drop out rate corresponded to the least qualified applicants, I skimmed the report looking for the admissions stats but couldn’t find them.

I have no data on the students who dropped out. It seems obvious to me that drop outs will be disproportionately drawn from among the less academically prepared/qualified students. I realize that financial/family problems are another (major) cause of drop outs, but my biggest concern with the policies at Xavier and places like it is that they are letting in hundreds of students (and loading them up with debt) who are highly unlikely to graduate. That does not seem a kindness to me.

Note that around 1/4 of the first years at Xavier have combined SATs below 900, and that’s just among the 50% who report any standardized test scores at all. Once you enter 800 territory, it is not clear that you will be able to earn a BA. Is Xavier doing those students a favor by admitting them? I don’t know.

I would have assumed that the drop out rate was correlated to financial aid. My friends who dropped out or took a year off Williams always had financial or family problems. The financial aid office simply couldn’t replace the sorely needed income I would have made had I stayed back home.

As an aside, I was an at risk admit. I wasn’t within the Williams SAT range. I couldn’t afford the SAT books, let alone an SAT class. I ended up excelling academically at Williams and won several Williams and national academic honors. Not tooting my horn, but underscoring the fact that my admission scores had nothing to do with my struggle at Williams. I almost dropped out twice because of money and family issues.

This is interesting stuff. Would you mind telling us (anonymously) your test scores and/or high school standing? I have always thought that the best academic performers at Williams — of which I was not one — were overwhelmingly drawn from the Academic Rank 1s and 2s. Is that not true? Perhaps Jen Doleac or Lindsey Taylor could help us out with this . . .



Marc Lynch has thoughts on the bombing in Jordan.

The nature of the attack – especially the sheer evil brutality of attacking a wedding celebration – once again throws dirt in the face of Ayman al-Zawahiri, who (assuming the authenticity of that letter) urged Zarqawi to stop doing things which would alienate Arab public opinion. That the traditional Jordanian opposition – including the Muslim Brotherhood-dominated professional associations – led an angry protest against Zarqawi speaks volumes. Jordanian public opinion (certainly the organized political opposition) has been more generally supportive of the insurgency than in most other places… to hear them shouting “death to Zarqawi” shows how thoroughly his methods alienate even potential supporters. (see my earlier commentary on Morocco, Algeria, Egypt, and London for background…)

What, if anything, does this say about Jordanian politics specifically? Generically speaking, of course it is blowback for Abdullah’s pro-American policies — that’s nothing new.

As with everything Lynch writes, the whole entry is worth your time. But is “blowback” the right term to use here? Doesn’t Zarqawi want to attack any nation that does not bend to his will?

Ethan Zuckerman also supplies a round up from Jordanian blogs. Ethan noted earlier that:

Jordan has a very special place in my heart. I’ve been to Amman half a dozen times in the past few years, and have come away with the sense that Jordan is the logical bridge nation between the US and the Arab world. Amman has increasingly become host to meetings, conferences and gatherings where people from throughout the region, and the US and Europe can come together. The hospitality, tolerance and openness of the Jordanian people, as well as the beauty of the city, make it a logical choice to bring people together. Tragically, I suspect it’s that openness, that willingness to connect to other nations and other cultures, that’s made Jordan a target today.

In other words, Jordan’s openness and (relative) freedom that make it a target, not its (relatively) pro-American policies. So, who is right? Lynch or Zuckerman?


Trustee Typology

In our continuing efforts to understand and explain the structure of governance at Williams, here is a description of the different categories of Trustee. There are currently 24 trustees; 5 Alumni, 5 Term and 14 Permanent. (The Permanent are sometimes referred to as just, without qualifier, trustees.)

Alumni Trustees:
Paul Grogan ’72
Delos Cosgrove III ’62
Steven Rogers ’79
Michael Reed ’75
Cesar Alvarez ’84

The Alumni Trustees serve five years and are elected by, you guessed it, alumni. Three alums are nominated by a somewhat secretive committee (see Article IX of the Consitution of the Society of Alumni) and a vote happens in the spring. I am trying to convince the College to be more transparent in this process, to let us know the names of the people on the nominating committee so that we might suggest names/ideas directly to them, but so far without success. It is somewhat strange that all the current alumni trustees are male. Why would that be? Are men more likely to be nominated than women? Do more men vote in the election and/or are men more likely to vote for other men? Are the male candidates just, objectively, better? I have no idea. It does seem like the nominating committee is more likely to select candidates of color than random chance would suggest, but I have not collected the data on this. Three of the five current alumni trustees might be categorized as being a darker shade of purple. Perhaps alumni voters, open-minded souls that they are, are more likely to vote for URM candidates. Perhaps such candidates have, in the last few years, just been better. (Note I am not trying to be offensive here. Really! I am honestly curious about the causes of the current racial/gender background in this group.)

Term Trustees:
Janet Brown ’73
Gregory Avis ’80
Jonathan Kraft ’86
Barbara Austell ’75
Yvonne Hao ’95

Term Trustees also serve for five year but are selected by the board of trustees itself. (The Trustees, like the Gargoyles and (somewhat) the JAs, are self-replicating.) I would have guessed that Term Trustees — since they are clearly second-class citizens to Permanent Trustees — would be more likely to be selected for the racial/gender/age balance that they bring to the overall composition of the Board. I do not think that it is a coincidence that they are 60% female. I do not think that Yvonne Hao would have been selected had she been, say, a Jewish male from the class of 1975.

(My point here is not to criticize this policy. Indeed, there are all sorts of reasons why you want to have a Board which “looks like” Williams. My lovely wife would certainly be quick to notice if the Board had no Asian females. The purpose here is just to understand and explain.)

Kraft ’86 and Avis ’80 are interesting Term Trustees because their extensive wealth would seem to qualify them for permanent status. Why aren’t they Permanent Trustees? I predict that they will be. I suspect that the board occasionally identifies younger, wealthy Ephs (both Avis and Kraft are younger than every Permanent Trustee) and grooms them for long terms on the Board by starting them out as Term Trustees. (I do not know how wealthy Brown, Austell and Hao are.)

Lucienne Sanchez ’79
William Simon Jr. ’73
Peter Wege II ’71
Paul Neely ’68
Robert Lipp ’60
E. David Coolidge III ’65
Michael Keating ’62
Carl Vogt ’58
John Wadsworth Jr. ’61
A. Clayton Spencer ’77
Laurie Thomsen ’79
Stephen Harty ’73
Robert Scott ’68
William Oberndorf ’75

Permanent Trustees serve for 15 years. These are the most important people on the board, a status gained via both longevity and financial clout. They are overwhelmingly rich and male. (Not that there’s anything wrong with that!) If you want to be a Trustee at Williams, the surest route is to be very rich and to give a great deal of money to the College. Best is to give a bunch while implicitly promising to give much more at a later date. Of course, no one would be so crass as to have an explicit conversation along these lines, but when the hat is passed for the Climb Far campaign, you can be sure that the Trustees are expected to (and expect each other to) pony up. As best that I can tell, every male on the board is successful in his field and very wealthy.

But do not assume that the non-white-males on the board aren’t wealthy too! No stereotypes here, please. Laurie Thomsen ’79, for example, is a prominent venture capitalist. Indeed, she may have made as much money on her own as just about any Eph, male or female, of her generation. (Or maybe not. It is hard to know the wealth of Ephs working outside of publicly-held companies.)

The other two female permanent trustees are trickier cases. Is Spencer part of the same Spencer family that is behind, say, the Spencer Studio Art building? I don’t know. She did not spend long enough in the private sector to generate significant wealth herself, but non-work wealth can come to someone in a vaiety of ways. Sanchez is similar because, whatever else one might think about doctors, they no longer earn trustee-level wealth, at least at a young ago.

So, if the answer isn’t money, then why were Sanchez (1992) and Spencer (2001) selected to be permanent trustees? Well, your guess is as good as mine. I suspect that the permanent trustees do not want to be placed in a position in which all their number are white men. Ideally, they would want to find some very rich and generous non-white-men to include on the board. They can partly do this via the Term Trustee position, but even better are Ephs like Thomsen. Sanchez is, obviously, a three-fer and Clayton knows a great deal about higher education so these factors might have played a role in their selection.

My prediction is that, once Sanchez goes, you will not see a permanent trustee like her (meaning one without a great deal of wealth) for many years to come. Fifteen years ago, it was much harder to find wealthy Eph non-white-men to include on the board. Now that it is easier, there will not be a need to “spend” one of the 15 permanent trustee spots on someone without the means and inclination to be a major contributor to the College.

I think that all three categories of trustee feature staggered terms. That is, one alumni, term and permanent trustee is replaced each year. The ordering above is chronological, so Grogan, Brown and Sanchez will be leaving the board this year. I don’t know nearly as much about trustee history as I should. The 1984-1985 Bulletin lists only 20 Trustees without an indication of different categories. Thanks to JoAnn Muir for providing me with a breakdown of the status of the current trustees.

On the whole, the structure and composition of the Board of Trustees seems perfectly reasonable. My only cpmplaint is that, at minimum, the names of the members of the Nominating Committee should be public. Even better would be if their were a petition procedure whereby alumni from outside of the College’s “in-crowd” could find a place on the ballot. But that is a windmill for another day.

UPDATE: See here for more info.


Epping Questions

I have two questions about Art Professor Ed Epping.

1) In 1999, he seemed to be leaving Williams for the University of Illinois.

Ed Epping, former chair of the art department at Williams College whose works are part of more than 35 permanent collections nationwide, will join the University of Illinois at Chicago as director of the School of Art and Design. The appointment is subject to approval by the University of Illinois Board of Trustees.

“Ed Epping brings a combination of wisdom and enthusiasm that will help spark everyone’s imagination,” said Judith Kirshner, dean of the UIC College of Architecture and the Arts. “Like the college’s high-profile faculty, he will be an important actor in the larger Chicago arts community. Our faculty and students will benefit from the leadership of this first-rate artist and educator.”

But Epping is still at Williams. What happened?

2) Early in the Iraq War, Epping starting sending out anti-war postcards. He seems to be continuing with the project. Why aren’t these postcards available on the web somewhere? I, and other Ephs, would like to read them.


Sign My Yearbook Next Year

Thanks to Gul editor Carolyn Reuman ’06 for providing this update on my suggestion to publish the yearbook in the spring.

After meeting today with our Jostens representative, he spoke with the production team to find out what changes would be necessary to our deadline schedule and gave me this response:

All color books have a certain deadline to be in on if they want their books to be produced by graduation time. Unfortunately this date has already passed! Jostens needs to have ALL cover and endsheet specs in already. And a book with your stature, such as the amount of pages and number of copies; needs ample time to get produced. We would have had to start planning this at the end of this summer or least by end of August to make the appropriate changes to get your book out by your desired time frame.

This explains why we have never published by graduation before; I will still suggest it to next year’s editor-in-chief, but it will require a staff that is committed and in action as soon as school starts. Thank you for your interest.

Again, I think that the Gul would be much more popular if it were published in the spring. Yearbook signing is a tradition that, like Mountain Day, could be built from scratch at a place like Williams. I hope that next years Gul staff give it serious consideration.


Adopt An Alum on Veteran’s Day

A recurring theme at EphBlog is the support of Ephs in the military, especially those serving in a war zone. Fellow EphBlogger Stewart Menking ’79 has been organizing the the Williams College AdoptAnAlum program for more than a year. Current Ephs in uniform in Iraq include: Ben Kamilewicz ’99, Joel Iams ’01 and Lee Kindlon ’98. Stewart writes:

Williams College: AdoptAnAlum

Thank you for your interest in supporting our alumni in harms way! I know that Ben, Joel and Lee will really appreciate any support you can give them. No one in the military can get too much. Here’s a brief write-up of how to show your support!

SGT Ben Kamilewicz
A/1 172 ARBN
2BCT 28 ID
APO AE 09362-9997
BKamilewicz _at_

1stLt J. M. Iams
2d Bn, 7th Mar H&S
UIC 41545
FPO AP 96426-1545

Capt. Lee Kindlon
2/6 H & S Company
Unit 73175 S-1 SJA
FPO AE 09509-3175
LKindlon _at_

Ben (Army), Joel (Marines) and Lee (Marines) are the three Williams alumni who are currently deployed in harms way. They are all in Iraq. There are three great ways to show your support.

1. Send them an actual snail mail letter. A-political, of course. Soldiers and Marines love getting mail. Getting mail turns a tough day into Christmas morning.

2. Send them an e-mail. A-political, of course. Soldiers and Marines love getting e-mail. Short ones though because on-line time is limited and not always available.

3. Send them CARE PACKAGES. We all loved getting packages from home when we were at Williams. Soldiers and Marines LOVE getting packages from home.

Sending packages is easy. Just make sure you tape up all the edges well to keep out sand and “sticky fingers.” And the Post Office will give you the appropriate Customs form for you to fill out. It’s just a glorified mailing label.

They love to get anything you send! However, you are NOT allowed to send the following: alcohol (illegal); pork (illegal); chocolate (it melts in the heat). What every soldier and Marine (soldiers don’t like being called Marines and vice versa) does appreciate is:

Two-ply toilet paper (No Kidding! )
Baby Wipes (for showering)
Slim Jims
AA and AAA batteries
Crystal Light
Gatorade Drink Mix (They put it in their canteens. 130 degree water gets boring.)
Starbucks Coffee
“Bar” food (Granola Bars, Power Bars, etc)
Anything else you want to send.

First three on the list are the most sought items. If you have any questions, comments or jokes, please call me or e-mail me.

Thanks to Stewart for organizing such a worthwhile project. I have written brief notes to all three Ephs and thanked them for their service. Men like them ensure that my daughters can sleep safely in their beds tonight.

Have you sent them anything? Have you sent any service member anything, even a brief e-mail? If not then — whatever your views of US military activity in Iraq or Afganistan or Kosovo or anywhere else — you can hardly claim to “support the troops.”


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