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Where can you find true stories of eph-engineered mischief involving lobsters and beer pong? Willipedia!

Every fall, Dining Services serves an excellent Harvest Dinner, at which the most anticipated and beloved dish is surely the lobster. Though a ticket system attempts to ensure that each student can get only one lobster, in 2002 a few Deviant mischief-makers managed to collect enough from helpful friends to arrange a little tableau at the Log, where a number of noise complaints had been called in earlier that semester. Four lobsters were posed playing a hand of poker, and others were set up playing beer pong (using apple juice in the cups, so as not to break open container rules =) ). The perpetrators called in two noise complaints from public phones, using the names “Red Skelton” and “Rod Stewart.” This would have been the end of the story, except that Security looked up the name “Stewart” in the student directory and headed over to Lehman, where they woke up a very confused freshman named Robin Stewart and interrogated him until they understood that he had absolutely nothing to do with the prank.

The relatively new “Pranks” article is one of many pieces on WSO’s Willipedia that I think many of you will get a huge kick out of, and are capable of being a huge help to. Personally, I think the present list of pranks is a little weak. I’m working on getting some quality new content out of some sources (check back in about a week; you won’t be disappointed), but I have no doubt that many of you Ephbloggers have the real scoop on stories forgotten, or still celebrated but distorted by time.

If you have a WSO login, you can and should add your bit of the Williams consciousness to Willipedia. If you don’t, get one, or reminisce here and let me know if I can add it on your behalf.


Strathairn ’70 Nominated for Academy Award

David Strathairn ’70 has been nominated for an Academy Award for Best Actor for his portrayal of Edward R. Murrow in “Good Night, and Good Luck.” Previous EphBlog commentary here.

I do not see any other Ephs on the list of nominees. Am I missing anyone? Today’s trivia questions: Who was the last Eph to win? Who was the last Eph to be nominated but fail to win?


Course Recommendations

Second semester starts in two days. Perhaps the collective wisdom of EphBlog might provide suggestions/ideas for current students. One place to start is the commentary on hard classes, easy classes, interesting classes and boring classes at Willipedia.

I’ll start by mentioning some tutorials. Anyone with a remote interest in graduate school in any social science should take Morty’s tutorial on The Strange Economics of College; fascinating subject, fine teacher and the prospect of a top notch recommendation when you apply to graduate school. Poverty and Public Policy with Shore-Sheppard also looks like great fun, especially if you get paired with someone of the opposite ideological predisposition. Hume’s Treatise on Human Nature with Joe Cruz looks amazing. If I were as lucky as Frank Uible and could sneak into a Williams class, this is the one that I would go for.

But, Eph readers, what would you suggest?


CGCL Seminar

Our Winter Study seminar on the Diversity Initiatives has concluded. See how much fun we had last year. Check out our syllabus. Click on a name to see the discussant’s comments on the assigned reading, along with the resulting conversation.

David Kane ’88 on Introduction by President Morty Schapiro.

Professor James McAllister on Ideological Diversity.

Reed Wideower ’00 on Student Recruitment and Admission by Director of Admissions Dick Nesbitt.

David Rodriquez ’06 on Student Input.

Diana Davis ’07 on Student Experiences and Support Services by Provost Cappy Hill, Dean of the College Nancy Roseman, et al.

Lowell Jacobson ’03 on Curriculum by Professor Stephen Tifft.

Whitney Wilson ’90 on Faculty Recruitment, Retention and Satisfaction by John Gerry, Associate Dean of the Faculty.

Ronit Bhattacharyya ’07 on Alumni by Paula Moore Tabor, Associate Director of Alumni Relations.

Noah Smith-Drelich ’07 on Orientation and Ongoing Education by Gail Bouknight-Davis, Director of the Multicultural Center.

Jeff Zeeman ’97 on College Procedures by Nancy McIntire, Assistant to the President for Affirmative Action and Government Relations.

Ken Thomas ’93 on Consultants’ Report by Kimberly Goff-Crews, Dean of Students, Wellesley College.

Professor KC Johnson on Consultants’ Report by Evelyn Hu-DeHart, Professor of History and Ethnic Studies and Director, Center for the Study of Race and Ethnicity in America, Brown University.

Beides these featured discussions, we also discussed related issues here, here and here, among other places.

Thanks to Ronit Bhattacharyya ’07, Diana Davis ’07, Lowell Jacobson ’03, Professor KC Johnson, David Rodriguez ’06, Noah Smith-Drelich ’07, Ken Thomas ’93, Reed Wideower ’00, Whitney Wilson ’90 and Jeff Zeeman ’97 for volunteering to be discussants.

Suggestions for next year’s topic are welcome.


PSCI 120

In our thread on job openings and class sizes, a TA for Political Science 120 was kind enough to point out that:

I believe that PSCI 120 is a discussion/lecture class in order to help freshmen and sophs (for whom the course is intended, Prof McAllister makes it very difficult for upperclassmen to take the class)try political science in an environment that isn’t entirely intimidating. Political Science is not a topic that is very common in high school, and many students have little confidence in expressing their opinions and views on controversial current events. I believe that the size of Professor McAllister’s class helps the students figure out if they like PSCI (I took the class and decided to be a major) and then they will go on to take other and perhaps smaller classes.

Also, another thing is there is a huge difference, as I am sure you know, between 50 and 15. Professor McAllister is an excellent lecturer and I do not believe that his skills are being wasted by having a larger class, rather the students are fortunate to have one of the most talented lecturers in the department.

1) Thanks for the detail! Discussions at EphBlog are always more interesting and productive when they are grounded in actual facts. If other readers could tell us more about PSCI 100 and PSCI 120, we would appreciate it. I would be especially curious about the roles played by the TAs. There were not, I think, TAs in political science at Williams 20 years ago.

2) Is the purpose of 100/120 to allow students to “try political science in an environment that isn’t entirely intimidating”? I have my doubts. Old timers will recall that the department used to be structured with 4 intro courses (101 — 104), which were almost exactly equivalent to the current 201 — 204. They were far from “initimidating.” They were meant to be introductions to political science and served that role perfectly. Moreover, they were all discussion-sized, small enough that the professors got to know us as individuals.

3) In what sense is PSCI 120 a discussion/lecture class? I understand the “lecture” part, but how/where does the “discussion” come in, at least in any meaningful way? The course that I found most frustrating at Williams 20 years ago (PSCI 221: Issues in US Foreign Policy) was, I think, the intellectual forerunning of 120. The professor (Mac Brown) was a fine lecturer, but discussion/debate was impossible because there were too many (40+) students in the class. Brown did his best to have a little back and forth, but it was painful and annoying. There was so much that I (and many others) wanted to say and talk about, and yet there was no way to have that conversation. The log was too crowded. But perhaps 120 is run differently. Details please!

Ridding Williams of all lecture classes is a longterm goal of EphBlog.

4) The (true!) fact that McAllister is an excellent lecturer should be about as relevant in a Williams classroom as the fact that he is a star squash player. There should be no lectures in political science! This is one of the central reasons why Williams is different (and better) than a place like Harvard. Is this even worth debating? Does anyone believe that a student is better off being lectured at by McAllister in a class of 50 than she would be having a discussion with McAllister in a class of 15?

I am not arguing that PSCI 120 is a bad class or that McAllister is a bad professor. In fact, I am sure that PSCI 120 is a wonderful class and that McAllister is a star professor (besides being an author at EphBlog and the sponsor of our Winter Study seminar). But PSCI 120 would be better with fewer students.

Williams should redirect resources so that it has more professors teaching courses like PSCI 100/120 that students want to take and fewer professors teaching classes that students do not want to take.


Essay Writing

Ben Fleming ’04 asks if making fun of an Amherst graduate is EphBlog worthy. Yes!

I suppose it’s a little meanspirited to highlight this, but this op-ed in Sunday’s Washington Post is a humdinger. Amherst grad Bess Kargman writes that until recently she had been earning some extra money editing and proofreading college applications

Do I have any Amherst grads out there? Is it really possible that a grown woman who spent four years there is so painfully naive that she didn’t realize her essays were being used for a wee bit more than “inspiration”? And furthermore, was shocked to discover that an online essay writing company might not be entirely on the up and up?

The mind reels.



Economics Enrollment

Fellow Eph Blogger Ronit Bhattacharyya ’07 had this to day in a recent comment thread.

I’m now at a point where I might not take any Econ electives at all in my junior spring, leaving two to take in senior year along with the senior seminar. Even as a junior with decent grades and a number of profs who know me well, everything is closed up. This is partially my fault – I didn’t start pleading with profs early enough. But this is the sort of problem that I thought only occurred in large state schools…it’s certainly the first time I’ve experienced it at Williams.

Just how much of an enrollment problem will the Economics Department face this spring? Is it just Ronit or are some/many/most junior economics majors feeling constricted? Again, I don’t think that this is anyone’s fault. No one expected 100+ majors in the class of ’07. But it would be nice to have an accurate sense of the scale of the problem.

Here is the info on spring registration.

ECON 110   Principles of Microeconomics                   29       40      44       39
ECON 120   Principles of Macroeconomics                   20       48      42       41
ECON 204   Econ Developmnt Poor Countries         40      33       33               38
ECON 207   China Econ Transfmtn Since1980                 20        8       9       27
ECON 221   Economics of the Environment                             7       8       36
ECON 251   Price and Allocation Theory            21      15       17      17       23
ECON 252   Macroeconomics                         26      20       18      21       24
ECON 253   Empirical Economic Methods             10      19       19      18       40
ECON 255   Econometrics                           23      18       23      12       33
ECON 362   Global Competitive Strategies          24      23       24      24       22
ECON 363   Money and Banking                      25      19       27      18
ECON 367   Empirical Methds Macreconomics                          12      16
ECON 382   Industrial Organization                                                  25
ECON 383   Cities, Regions & the Economy                           12
ECON 385   Game and Information                    7      15               26       20
ECON 386   Envir Policy&Nat Resource Mgmt          7                       23

On the far right is, I think, the number of pre-registered students. Other numbers are the enrollment in the class for prior years. I am not sure what the missing numbers mean for courses like ECON 363. Not being offered? The number of courses offered seems small.

It sure does seem that Ronit does not have a lot of options. Indeed, is there a single 300 level class that has space for him to sign up?

If the situation is really as dire as Ronit makes it out to be, I would expect the department to bring in some visitors, at least for a semester or two. But perhaps I am reading too much into his comments . . .

Details please.


Peter Puck

NBS Sports producer Sam Flood ’83 is working on hockey broadcasts.

Beginning tomorrow, though, there will be a new factor in the mix – one with national reach and a much lower channel number than OLN – and those involved are as excited about it as jaded TV types get.

NBC producer Sam Flood knows all about the 40-year, mostly failed history of hockey on network TV. But he is a true believer, the son of a hockey coach and a former captain at Williams College.

Asked whether he knows hockey better than any previous network executive, Flood said: “I don’t know, but I figure I have had a lot of time training. My whole youth was playing the damn game and now I get to do it after doing all the other sports.”

Speaking of history, might NBC revive the most infamous symbol of its last try at regular-season hockey, which ended in 1975? That would be Peter Puck, the cartoon that debuted in 1973 and explained the game between periods.

“That’s top secret,” Flood said. “If I told you, I would have to shoot you.”

Don’t shoot the messenger.


Job Openings

Concerned, like the Record, with the crush of students in economics, the increased class size and decreased tutorial offerings? No worries. The Department is hiring.

ECONOMICS (Ralph Bradburd; Dec. 2) One tenure-track position in economics for entry level or advanced assistant professor level, fields open.

Why does the Department only have permission for one hire? Well, the College has other priorites.

AFRICAN-AMERICAN STUDIES (Joy James; Sept. 15, 2005) Two tenure-track positions in African-American and Africana Diasporo Studies.

I believe that “Diasporo” in the job notice is a misprint for “Diaspora” and not some trendy new academic jargon, but I have been wrong before.

No doubt these new positions are driven by increased student interest in courses offered in AAS. Consider enrollments from fall 2005.

African-American Studies
AAS 165   Racial Justice 20th Cent  Amer  19
AAS 206   African American Social Mvmnts  15
AAS 211   Topics African-Amer Performnce  11
AAS 229   Tchngs Black Sacred Rhetoric     7
AAS 235   Cult. Pol. in the Caribbean     23
AAS 236   Witnessing:Slavery & Aftermath  19
AAS 281   African-Amer History 1619-1865  15
AAS 372   African-Am Lit Thought Culture  13
AAS 383   Black Women in Am:Slvry-Presnt   6

Hmmm. Why does Williams need more professors in this area if virtually every course already offered has fewer than 20 students enrolled?

As always, this is not the complaint made by stupid critics of the academy. There is nothing intrinsically more interesting about, say, the Iliad then there is in a course like Teaching Black Sacred Rhetoric. To each her own. I am glad these classes are offered at Williams. I am pleased to see students taking them and professors teaching them.

But resources are limited. There are an average of 14 students per class in AAS. Unless and until more student interest arises, Williams should concentrated its hiring in other areas. Consider Political Science.

Political Science
PSCI 100   Asia and the World              60   POI
PSCI 120   America & the World After 9-11  50   POI

I have no doubt that the Professors Crane and McAllister did great jobs in these classes, given their enrollment. But there is simply no way a mostly-lecture class with 50 students can be as good as a discussion class with 15. Indeed, it is against every principal that makes a Williams education special. Fifteen students can sit, albeit a bit crowded, on the proverbial log. Fifty can not. Moreover, this does not even take account of the students who wanted to enroll in these classes and were turned away. How many were?

Williams needs to decide if it is going to teach important classes that its students want to take in a manner consistent with its best ideals. This question goes directly to the heart of what Williams should be. It is a shame that the Diversity Initiatives did not confront this question, did not wrestle with the limited resources that confront even a school with Williams’ wealth.

Yet the whole situation is even worse than it appears at first blush. The Diversity Initiatives pretend, and KC Johnson reasonably assumes, that no decision has been made about the Hu-DeHart recommendations that Williams be reorganized. Currently, Williams has virtually all of the professors who teach AAS classes (like Chakkalakal, Long and Bean) located in traditional departments (like English, History and Theatre). This is commonsense. Williams is too small a college to support tiny departments. It should offer as many classes as its students want to take in Africana Diaspora Studies (or any other topic) but the professors who teach those courses should be located in large traditional departments. This strikes me as obvious, but is perhaps worth a longer discussion.

Yet the that discussion is probably besides the point. Williams has already decided to go the Hu-DeHart route, to make some hires in AAS instead of new hires in economics or political science. These new hires will report within AAS to, presumably, Professor Joy James; they will teach AAS classes and be focused on AAS students. They will be evaluated by AAS criteria.

Now this may be a good idea. It may be a bad one. But there was never much of a public discussion about it. The College acts like it hasn’t decided whether or not to go in this direction, but it has already taken the first few steps. In fact, I’ll wager that it took those steps when it hired James, that it guaranteed her the budget and authority to make these hires. But that is a story for another day.

Side note: It is nice to see that Williams is a leading location for the study of the Africana Diaspora, at least if you believe Google.


Bush Follows Lynch’s Advice

In the aftermath of Hamas’ victory in the Palestinian elections, Professor Marc Lynch writes:

For America, I think it’s extremely important right now to handle this right: honor the will of the people, demonstrate a commitment to democratic process, and see what happens. Give Hamas the chance to prove its intentions. Don’t get too upset about the inevitable bursts of objectionable rhetoric by excited victors – test deeds, not early words. Above alll, don’t give the Islamist hardliners the winning argument they crave about American hypocrisy. Refusing to deal with Hamas right now could effectively kill American attempts to promote democracy in the Middle East for a generation. And get it right from the start – initial impressions of the American response will be extremely important.

And, just a few hours later, President Bush does what Lynch recommends in his news conference.

QUESTION: Mr. President, is Mideast peacemaking dead with Hamas’ big election victory? And do you rule out dealing with the Palestinians if Hamas is the majority party?

BUSH: Peace is never dead, because people want peace. I believe — and that’s why I articulated a two-state solution early in my administration so that — as a vision for people to work toward, a solution that recognized that democracy yields peace and the best hope for peace in the Middle East is two democracies living side by side.

BUSH: So the Palestinians had an election yesterday, the results of which remind me about the power of democracy.

You see, when you give people the vote, you give people a chance to express themselves at the polls, they — and if they’re unhappy with the status quo, they’ll let you know.

That’s the great thing about democracy: It provides a look into society.

And yesterday, the turnout was significant, as I understand it. And there was a peaceful process as people went to the polls. And that’s positive.

What was also positive is that it’s a wakeup call to the leadership.

BUSH: Obviously, people were not happy with the status quo.

The people are demanding honest government. The people want services. They want to be able to raise their children in an environment in which they can get a decent education and they can find health care.

And so the elections should open the eyes of the old guard there in the Palestinian territories.

I like the competition of ideas. I like people that have to go out and say, “Vote for me and here’s what I’m going to do.” There’s something healthy about a system that does that.

And so the elections yesterday were very interesting.

On the other hand, I don’t see how you can be a partner in peace if you advocate the destruction of a country as part of your platform.

And I know you can’t be a partner in peace if you have a — if your party has got an armed wing.

BUSH: And so the elections just took place. We will watch very carefully about the formation of the government.

But I will continue to remind people about what I just said: that if your platform is the destruction of Israel, it means you’re not a partner in peace. And we’re interested in peace.

Coincindence? I think not! It will be interesting to watch the evolution of US policy over the next few months and Lynch’s commentary on it. In the days before blogs, there was no way for an Eph alum to get insights from a Williams professor on important issues of the day. Now, we get them in real time. Just another sort of log, I guess.


Not Our Fault

Kudos to Professor Thomas Murtagh for leading the push to make CUL’s deliberations public and to my classmate, Professor Tom Smith ’88, for heading up the Physical Spaces subcommittee.

Praise aside, you have to love the draft report on how to improve the physical spaces under the looks-to-happen-for-sure 4 cluster plan.

In light of the current uncertainty with new four-neighborhood proposal and the quickly approaching deadline when a decision must be made by the Dean of the College, the committee will likely be unable to make a wholly considered recommendation. However, we will do our best to respond to the concerns of the campus and will work with the Dean to optimize whichever plan is ultimately selected.

Good to know! In other words, because Dean Roseman dropped this bomb — 4 clusters with First Years in Mission — on us with no warning, we don’t have time to come up with a decent plan. As I noted last month:

There is nowhere near enough time (?) to even begin to evaluate this radical change in the proposal. Isn’t the co-op draw less than 2 months away? If I were in Williamstown, I would be buying Will Dudley a beer right about now . . .

This does reinforce my notion that Dean Roseman is a social engineer par excellence. She really does think that she, and she alone, knows best. The College has gone through a year’s worth of trouble and process. Just imagine how many meetings Dudley has attended, how many e-mails he has written. And now, at this late date, Roseman has a brand new idea! She couldn’t maybe have mentioned this to Dudley last spring . . . I am sure that he would have appreciated the heads up!

As would have Tom Smith. Someone buy my classmate a beer! (I realize that quoting yourself is indulgent, but I can’t help crowing about this one.) Best part:

The Four Neighborhood Model

On December 15th, we were informed of a new proposal for organization of the neighborhoods which would use Mission Park as first-year housing and would consolidate the upperclass housing into four neighborhoods (Figure 2 and Table 2).

Translation: Screw you, Roseman!

There was no reason to mention in this report the date on which the committee heard about the new proposal — a date, for the record, only one day earlier than our loyal readers found out about it — unless it was to disclaim responsibility for any bad outcomes that result. In other words, don’t blame us if this whole plan goes haywire, Roseman didn’t give us enough time. See! She only told us about this change on Decemeber 15th.

Normally, I would, at this point, complain loudly and strongly about Roseman. Thing is, I like the idea of putting the First Years in Mission. I think that this is the best of all the plans that CUL has discussed.

My one concrete suggestion to the students on the committee is to fight for more co-op spaces. There are few more successful and popular aspects of the Williams housing system. Although it is true that the Dodd cluster is smaller than the others, there is no reason why this should matter. If anything, having the Dodd cluster be a little smaller and more intimate is probably a good thing for the members of this cluster. It does not hurt the members of the other clusters. It also allows the College community to see if smaller clusters are better so that, should the whole topic be revisited in 5 or 10 years, we all might be better informed. Moreover, the Dodd cluster already has way too many senior singles, so the loss of these co-op rooms would just make the clusters more equitable in terms of their senior accommodations.

So, a call to action for CUL and for College Council. Fight to keep Goodrich, Parsons and Sewall as co-ops, while still adding Chadbourne and Woodridge. Indeed, a pitch might be made to even add Wood and Spencer to the co-ops.

Now is one of those rare moments when the students have a fair amount of leverage. Trade more co-op spaces for your approval and support of the overall plan. It is the best deal left on the table.


Self Made Eph

Which Eph is the topic du jour in the blogosphere? Norah Vincent ’90.

(Thanks to Dan Blatt ’85 for the tip.) Vincent has just published Self Made Man: One Woman’s Journey into Manhood and Back. See here for New York Times review and here for Instapundit podcast.

Don’t judge this book by its cover. It features two photographs of the author, Norah Vincent. In the first, she’s a brassy, attractive woman with short, upswept hair and a confident smirk on her face. In the second, she’s done up in man drag, with poindexter eyeglasses, a day’s worth of stubble and a necktie. There’s your premise in a nutshell: assertive, opinionated Vincent, best known as a contrarian columnist for The Los Angeles Times, goes undercover as a man to learn how the fellas think and act when them pesky broads ain’t around. Flip the book open, and the first thing you come to is its dedication: “To my beloved wife, Lisa McNulty, who saves my life on a daily basis.” Yes, ladies and gents, the author is a self-proclaimed “dyke.”

But “Self-Made Man” turns out not to be what it threatens to be, a men-are-scum diatribe destined for best-seller status in the more militant alternative bookstores of Berkeley and Ann Arbor. Rather, it’s a thoughtful, diligent, entertaining piece of first-person investigative journalism. Though there’s plenty of humor in “Self-Made Man,” Vincent – like her spiritual forebear John Howard Griffin, the white journalist who colored his skin and lived as a black man in the South for his 1961 book “Black Like Me” – treats her self-imposed assignment seriously, not as a stunt.

Perhaps a good choice for next year’s CGCL seminar.


More Co-Ops

There is a meeting tonight on physical spaces. More on this tommorrow but, in the meantime, if you are a student or student leader you should go to this meeting and lobby for more co-op spaces, at least for keeping Goodrich, Parsons and Sewall as co-ops. In a four cluster model, there is no particular reason why the clusters need to be the same size, so there is no reason why these co-ops need to be converted. Below is my email to the CUL on the topic.

Read more


KC Johnson: How Not to Diversify

In April 2005, Professor Evelyn Hu-DeHart, formerly chair of the University of Colorado’s Ethnic Studies Department, described Ward Churchill (the professor who denounced victims of the World Trade Center attack as “little Eichmanns”) as “her hire.” She also denied that any special considerations relating to “diversity” helped Churchill get his job–an assertion that was directly contradicted by internal documents recently released by Colorado. And in one of her final acts at Colorado, she arranged for Churchill to receive a merit-based pay increase.

The career of Churchill, an ideologue currently facing allegations of massive plagiarism and lying about his status as a minority, provides an example of how Professor Hu-DeHart herself translated into action her ideas about “diversity.” I’m astonished that Williams would seek guidance from someone with such a blot on her administrative record. That Professor Hu-DeHart was the sole outside consultant to provide input on “faculty issues” calls into question the criteria used for the entire diversity self-study.

Read the rest here. Thanks again to Professor Johnson and all of our discussants.


From Whew To Grrr

Laura Lim Prescott ’92 has a knitting emergency. Offer your advice and condolences. Prescott’s site is filled with beautiful images and has an active following. Indeed, her traffic rivals most other Eph-written sites, other than uber Eph blogger Dan Drezner ’90 and Dan Blatt ’85.


Goff-Crews: Practical Directions (revisited)

[This thread is an elevation from another post. In consideration of other discussions, it may be lowered in priority or temporarily removed. -K]

Frank, hwc, ’04 and All,

First, thanks for your responses. Because this is not the kind of seminar where we can look across the table at one another for guidance, I hope I may use them as a series of starting points in examining Goff-Crews (and Hu-DeHarts’) concrete proposals.

As you seem to note, the consultants’ section of the report, and the report in general, is more-than-complex in structure. I tend to prefer that proposals begin with a very short goal or mission statement and a series of bullet points. Literary theorists (and we later) may ponder that the policy recommendations of these reports are not clearly highighted by such bullet points, or even vertical bars and bold titles.

Rather, they seem subordinated within the larger narrative of the reports, a narrative that (I think it is fair to say) seems disjointed and confusing … in that old question from first-year philosophy, what do we make of how this is presented to us?

But before we get to “narrative” and structure, perhaps it is time to do what others have done– pull out the specific proposals of this section of the report, and place them in something like bullet point structure (with my comments, which I’ll keep very brief).

Goff-Crews’ specific proposed action items (using her headers) are thus:

Proposed Diversity Initiatives to Improve the Quality of Student Life

1. Create [a] centralized academic support center:
(self explanatory?)
2. Consider reshaping transition programs:
Goff-Crews suggests that existing Humanities, Social Sciences and Sciences summer transition programs have their components extended into term-time, “strengthening” their impact”.
3. Use New Residential Plan to Enhance Initiative: [my emphasis]:
Goff-Crews suggests the development of a “full-blown” diversity training model for HCs and JAs, and use the new house system as a “new opportunity” to enhance “awareness” of “diversity.”
4. Enhance Role of Associate and Assistant Deans in the Diversity Initiative Efforts:
Goff-Crews suggests that the Deans take a stronger role in campus life, that the officially make themselves available to address racial/diversity issues, and that they become more “connected” to such issues by assigning one Dean to diversity/race issues.
5. Make campus protocol and expertise on racial incidences transparent:
In short, appoint an Omsbudperson to as point-of-contact for racial issues, and distribute a policy document that outlines procedures.
6. Enhance diversity of Health Services staff:
7. Regularly discuss diversity issues among senior staff:
(self-explanatory?: senior staff should meet every six weeks to explicitly address these issues).
8. Consider creating fellowship opportunities to attract more diverse senior administrators to Williams:
(self-explanatory, but within, the suggestion is that current senior staff can explicity serve as mentors for a more diverse junior staff)
9. Recognize and enhance support staff efforts to support student development:
recognize that ‘support staff’ such as secretaries, dining services etc play a key role in student life, and “regularly” educate these support staff in diversity issues.

Do we believe in these proposals?

Read more


A snowy day in Williamstown

Yesterday, it snowed quite a lot in Williamstown, four inches or so. It was a beautiful snowy day, with snow sticking to the branches and people trudging around in boots.

Here, two students outside of Morgan take advantage of Winter Study in one of the best ways that I can think of.

Hopkins Hall and Thompson Chapel through the Sawyer “porch”

Current progress on the Paresky Center


Jeff Zeeman ’97 on Procedures

My discussion topic may not be the sexiest: diversity procedures. But I guess it’s only appropriate, as I am not the sexiest Ephblogger. I’ll jump right to the six recommendations contained in this section and discuss each, in turn, below:

1. The College should include a statement of its commitment to a diverse community and the value it places on that diversity in the mission statement required in the next Self Study for Reaccreditation to be developed in 2006-2007. Such a statement will include an acknowledgement that the College is a community of men and women of diverse races, religions, national or ethnic backgrounds, and sexual identities and orientations. That statement would complement the existing nondiscrimination statements published in the Catalog and in faculty, staff, and student handbooks, and it (or a portion of the statement) should be conspicuously publicized.

Hard to argue with this one. I dare say it would not serve Williams well to publicly express a commitment to a monolithic community, or an antipathy to diversity. The only thing I would add: a statement about socio-economic diversity. I believe that social and economic background is far more likely to shape someone’s Williams experience, both in terms of how they understand their peers and what their peers learn from them, than race (arguably) national origin (likely) or religion (almost definitely). And the statement would send a nice message, in line with Williams’ recent (though still incomplete) progress in this arena (Questbridge, need blind international admissions, fin aid percentage up to 50 percent in most recent admitted class, etc.).

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Endowment Watching

The National Association of College and University Business Officers released data on college and university endowments. Not surprisingly, Harvard still has the largest endowment with $25 billion, followed by Yale ($15 billion), and Stanford ($12 billion). Williams weighs in at #37 with $1.3 billion, To put that number in a little perspective, it is larger than the University of Toronto and, more importanty, Amherst. Alternatively, “if you added up the endowments of the 10 historically black colleges with the largest funds, they would not equal the endowment of Williams College.” Not bad for a school with only 2000 students.

What surprised me is that Grinnell has passed Williams in liberal arts endowment. I guess this was true in 2003 as well, but I somehow missed it. I can’t any stories about Grinnell receiving a very large gift, so how did it surpass Williams? It is a smaller college in a less wealthy part of the country, so the shift is surprising. The only suggestion I can find is that Grinnell spends less of its endowment than Williams:

Grinnell College in Iowa had the distinction of being the wealthiest liberal-arts college, with an endowment of $1.3 billion in 2004. But Grinnell spent only 4% of its endowment that year. In fiscal 2005, the figure fell to 3.5%.

Mickey Munley, vice president of college and alumni relations, says the school has a policy of spending 4.5% of the average size of the endowment for the last three years. He says the school relies on its endowment for half its spending and needs to be conservative about its withdrawals. In fact, Mr. Munley says, the school has plans to bring down the rate to 4% by 2007. At the same time, the school expects to raise its tuition and fees — now just under $35,000 — so they are more in line with rivals. “We are trying to be responsible for future generations of students,” he says.

This might imply that Grinnell is not on the building spree that our alma mater is at the moment. So the Williams administration builds facilities to “benefit future generations of students” and Grinnell saves its money. I suppose the correct strategy depends upon whether you think the new buildings will be a net positive. Given the quality of the new science facilities, art building, and Goodrich Hall, I like the adminstration’s strategy.


Internship Opportunity

Like all good alums, I try to provide jobs/internships for fellow Ephs whenever I can. Latest offer is here. Target audience is the 5 or so First Years that showed up with so much computer experience that they skipped CSCI 134 and tried to talk their way out of 136, but applications from others are welcome.

I have mentioned this link only to only OCC and a few Williams folks. But the weird thing is that I have already gotten applications from students at Emory and BC. Weird. [Any Eph applications? — ed. No. Perhaps this is another example of EphBlog hurting your reputation? Let’s hope not!]


Odd Class

Is HIST 395 one of the 10 oddest courses in America?

At Williams College, students can learn more about those in the cement shoe industry by enrolling in “Comparative History of Organized Crime,” which compares the work of goodfellas from the United States, Italy, Japan, and Russia.

No (and not just because we are an Eiko Maruko Siniawer fan). This seems like an excellent class, perfectly suitable for Williams. (Have any of our readers taken it?)

There is a stereotype that older non-liberal academics (like me) should be constantly bemoaning the rise of non-traditional classes. Why aren’t students reading Plato?

My concerns are different.

Format: discussion/lecture. Evaluation will be based on class participation, response papers, one research paper (15 pages), and a self-scheduled final exam.

I do not care what students study at Williams as long as 1) The have a reasonable set of courses to choose from and 2) Whatever courses they do choose are taught rigorously and well. As long as 2) is true of HIST 395, I have no grounds for complaint — although I have never liked response papers.

But I would like to see a class like this be even more intellectually serious than it already is. One (cheap) way of accomplishing this goal is to require that the 15 page papers (and Siniawer’s comments on them) be placed on a public web page. (The grades could still be secret.) Making this happen for many classes at Williams is the single best (free) thing that could be done to increase the level of intellectual engagement at the College.

More windmills to tilt at in 2006.



Noah Smith-Drelich ’07 provided the following discussion.

To begin, I’m not going to summarize the Orientation and Ongoing Education section of the diversity initiative. The section of the report deals separately with a number of topics: student orientation and ongoing education, faculty orientation and ongoing education, and staff education and ongoing education. These topics are dealt with too separately in the report, as if each contained its own distinct set of unrelated issues. This is a section of the report that particularly has much to gain from further discussion of it. I’d strongly encourage you to read this section (which is more a summary of current Williams than a compilation of suggestions for future Williams), using it as a knowledge base with which to build your own strategies regarding diversity for Williams.

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Anza Trip

This seems like a fine way to spend Winter Study.

For six college students, it’s San Francisco or bust.
And Monday night, Tucson was the pit stop for the group, who are cycling from Nogales to San Francisco this month. The students attend Williams College in Williamstown, Mass., and are following the original trek of Spanish commander Juan Bautista de Anza, a nearly 1,200-mile journey that will take them from the Sonoran Desert to Northern California’s coast.

The trip is part academic and part athletic, said 19-year-old Grant Burgess. The students are all track athletes who are using the opportunity to train, but are also taking notes along the way and doing research for class credit on the effects the original journey had on the land and people of the Southwest.

Good stuff. But I sure hope that their “research” is substantive and not just a cover story for a fun boondoggle. The best way to enforce intellectual seriousness is to make the resulting write up (along with comments by the faculty sponsor) public. Alas, I don’t see much movement in that direction.


Williams-Mystic photo #1

After the success of my wildly popular [with a certain alum — ed.] Photo ID series, I shall now embark upon a photo series with a different goal. I will be posting pictures of the Williams-Mystic program, with the intention of educating the wider Williams community about what goes on there.

You’ll notice that this series is not a “Photo ID” series, per se, because I don’t expect that very many EphBlog readers would be able to identify the pictures I post. However, I was surprised to find out that a number of Williams-Mystic alums do read EphBlog and EphPlanet, and they are welcome to add information, clarifications, and memories in the comments, just like a regular Photo ID post.

Ready? Okay.


I didn’t actually take this picture, but it’s better than any that I took, and I think it’s important to start off with the Charles W. Morgan. In the beginning of the 20th century, the Mystic Seaport Museum existed, but it was not doing well. Right before the Great Depression, Mystic received the Charles W. Morgan, which was the last remaining wooden whaleship in existence. Suddenly, Mystic Seaport started flourishing. Whereas it had had 2000 visitors per year, suddenly it had 20,000 visitors, and soon 200,000 visitors per year. (These numbers are approximate. Glenn could give you the exact figures.) So the Morgan saved the seaport, and the seaport gave birth to the Williams-Mystic program.

Williams-Mystic students become relative Morgan experts. Every history class begins somewhere interesting on the Seaport grounds, and one history class begins on the Morgan, with all the students crowding into the fo’c’s’le (FOKE-sull), the inside of the bow (front) of the boat where the crew lived. Thus begins an eight-minute talk on the importance of the focsle to those living on a whaleship — it was the only place where the higher-ranked crew was customarily not allowed to be, and the dismal conditions occasionally encouraged mutiny.

Those that choose “squad skills” for their maritime skill climb the rigging, climbing up the masts and standing inside the hoops that whalemen used to stand in for hours at a time, scanning the horizon for a puff of steam from a blowhole. Additionally, in the spring semester on Herman Melville’s birthday, there is an event called “Moby on the Morgan,” where Moby-Dick is read aloud in its entirety over a 24-hour period.

By the way, Williams-Mystic has rolled out a new, and much improved, version of the Williams-Mystic site. It has some great pictures and good background information, if you’re interested. Also, the Charles W. Morgan recently made it to the AP wire when trees blown down by Hurricane Katrina were donated to Mystic Seaport to be used in the major overhaul of the Morgan that is scheduled for 2007.

Note: I inadvertently published this post when it was still in draft form. My apologies! I will post Williams-Mystic pictures on Fridays.


Eph Politicians

There are quite a few Ephs involved in interesting elections in 2006. Here are the Eph candidates that I know of. Anyone know of any others?:

Charles Imohiosen ’97 for NY State Assembly

Martha Coakley ’75 for Massachusetts Attorney General

Chris Murphy ’96 for US Congress

Ed Case ’75 for US Senate

Sounds like Case, in particular, faces an uphill battle, but an Eph in the Senate would be pretty cool. Can’t hurt to have Steve Case as your cousin, either …

As for Murphy, he has been on the fast track since graduation (and before, I definitely recall him giving off the aspiring politico vibe in College Council meetings), and it’s pretty impressive that he is a legit Congressional candidate at age 31. Good luck to all!


Pushed or Jumped?

Bill Lenhart has been named the new Dean of the Faculty Provost. See below for Morty’s e-mail on the topic. Comments:

1) Could someone, anyone, start archiving these messages in a public place?

2) I think that Lenhart is a good choice. I think that he handled the Nigaleian situation about as well as it could be handled.

3) I had problems with how Lenhart dealt with the Barnard/VISTA controversy a few years ago. More on that some other day.

4) It is hard for any outsider (and many insiders) to know if Lenhart deserves credit or blame in these situations. Perhaps if he had handled Nigaleian differently, the College would have been able to fire her? There is simply no way for EphBlog to know. But Morty does know, and I trust his judgment.

5) The really interesting aspect of this story is not that Lenhart has been appointed but that Kohut resigned in the first place. Kohut had just been reappointed to a new term that was schedule to go to July 2007. So, why did he quit a year early?

Good question! I don’t know. (I hope that it is nothing health/family related.) It might just be that he wanted to return to teaching/scholarship. It might just be that he was tired of the job. But then why accept reappointment just a year ago?

Odds are this is more of the baseless speculation that EphBlog is famous for. Nothing to see here. Just move on. But it sure would be nice to see someone ask the question. Note that, as Dean of the Faculty, Kohut is probably paid a lot (25%? 50%?) more than he will be paid as a full professor. Money isn’t everything but you don’t have to be a Marxist to wonder why someone would leave early from a job he had agreed to do and take a large pay cut in the process. When was the last time a Dean of the Faculty left the position before his term was completed?

UPDATE: Thanks to a comment below on Lenhart’s actual appointment. My reading comprehension skills had failed me once again.

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All The (Tenure) News That’s Fit To Print

Sometimes the Record, for all its many strengths, is almost a parody of a rah-rah, go-Williams paper. I sometimes think that the typical high school paper is harder-hitting. Consider this article on recent tenure decisions.

The Committee of Appointments and Promotions (CAP) made its 2006 recommendations for tenure: Laylah Ali, assistant professor of art; Joseph Cruz, assistant professor of philosophy; Liza Johnson, assistant professor of art; and Ileana Perez Velazquez, assistant professor of music.

Fine. Just as we reported last month (with the added detail that Johnson is an alum).

But the Record fails to report anything on the topic of the professors who were denied tenure! Pathetic. Why? I can’t think of a good reason. Surely many of the Record‘s readers would be interested. Previous criticisms of Record coverage here and here.

Best part:

Tenured professors are guaranteed lifetime job security as long as he or she abides by College policy.

Nigaleian! Tenure protects you even if, like Professor Aida Laleian, you violate all sorts of College policies. Has any tenured Williams professor in the last 50 years been dismissed? Not that I know of.


Couric, Jones and Lee

What does Jimmy Lee ’75 have in common with Katie Couric and Chipper Jones? A mention in the New York Times!

In addition to large paychecks, people like Katie Couric of NBC, the Atlanta Braves third baseman Chipper Jones and James B. Lee Jr., a J. P. Morgan Chase investment banker, have something else in common.

Under a proposal by the Securities and Exchange Commission, their entire pay packages may be made public, along with those of the senior executives at the companies where they work.

Buried in the proposed reporting regulations – the most significant overhaul of compensation disclosure rules in more than a decade – is a change in whose pay packages companies will now have to make public.

Current rules require that companies disclose the compensation of the chief executive and the next four highest-paid executives in management. The new rule, which is expected to be adopted in a few months, will require companies to disclose the pay, severance, bonus, stock and option grants, and retirement packages of the chief executive, the chief financial officer, the next three highest paid executives – and as many as three other employees who receive more than any of the first five.

The proposal permits companies to omit the identity of any the three highly compensated employees and simply list their job titles. But it is likely to sweep in stars like Ms. Couric, Mr. Jones and Mr. Lee as well as highly successful bond traders, top salesmen, studio heads, financiers and athletes.

Of the three, I would wager that Lee is paid the least, but we will know soon enough. The Alumni Office will be more than a little interested. And, to counteract my reputation as a rightwingnut, I’ll point out that my suggestion on how to deal with execessive executive pay is much more radical than any Democratic proposal.


Constant Legacy Admissions?

There is much to blog about in the latest issue of the Record, but consider this line from an article last spring about the class of 2009.

Twelve to thirteen percent of the class are legacy students, a number which Nesbitt said has been constant at the College for 20 years.

This would suggest 65 to 75 legacies. Consistent with what we were later able to confirm. But the interesting part is that this number has been consistent for 20 years.

Hmmm. Thoughts:

1) I believe that Nesbitt is telling the truth, but it would be fun to look at the exact numbers. Are they available?

2) Is there a (maximum) quota here, as there is in International admissions? I doubt it. Why would the College turn down excellent legacy candidates?

3) Is there a (minimum) quota? That would be shocking. My first thought is to dismiss such speculation, but, then again, I was too stupid to realize that there was an International quota, so I might be misinformed again.

4) Why would the number stay constant for 20 years if there were not a quota, or at least a guideline?

5) Given the dramatic rise in the number of International students and in US students of color (as well as continued focus on athletics), the odds of getting into Williams if you are not in one of these categores has plummetted. I am too lazy to do the math, and the are certainly legacies that are athletes and/or of color, but there are only so many spots to go around.

6) It is interesting to note that the International quota is set at 6%, just about exactly one half of the legacy admission percentage. Is that a coincidence? Someone had to pick the 6% number and he didn’t pick it out of thin air . . .

7) Why doesn’t the Record write a story on this topic? I think that it is a scandal. Surely, I am not the only one. I had lunch with a recent graduate and he was shocked to learn about it.

I think that my big 2006 Williams project will be to form a alumni/student/faculty group whose purpose will be to urge the College to increase the percentage of International students by not penalizing them so much in the admissions process. Eps Against International Quotas, perhaps.


Alumni Diversity

The section I am discussing starts on page 69.

As part of the Diversity Initiatives Self Study, Paula Moore Tabor, Associate Director of Alumni Relations, writes about

1. “How the undergraduate experience for many students of color is less rewarding than it is for their White counterparts,”

2. That “this sense of dissatisfaction lowers the desire of minority alumni to re-engage with Williams, particularly without the support of other graduates of color,”

3. And how “affinity connections after graduation help to promote reconciliation.”

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