This blog has been pretty weighty recently, what with posts about Diversity Makes a Difference, Where Have All the Poor Kids Gone?, and Merit Aid. In the face of those pointed arguments, the pros and cons, and the soul searching, it’s easy to forget amongst all these policy debates that Williams is about people: the teachers, the students, the administrators, the support staff, and the people of Williamstown.

This was brought back to me as I read through the post about Hodge Markgraf ’52’s passing. Prospective students, you should read that post. This is about a Williams graduate who returned to teach at Williams so he could educate legions of graduates with his knowledge, his humanity, and the twinkle in his eye. If you don’t believe me, watch this video of Hodge describing his view of what a professor’s life was like. As you read the comments to the blog post, it’s clear that to some graduates Hodge was Williams College.

I never took a course with Hodge, but I did speak with him once or twice and certainly heard the rave reviews about him from my classmates. My Hodge was Prof. Dudley Ward Rhodes Bahlman — a great name, don’t you think? — who taught English history. He was my professor with the twinkle in his eye. And then who can forget Prof. Fred Rudolph, who always had time for a wry observation, gave great parties, and commissioned Charles Moore to design two houses for him. Or Victor Hill, a math professor who gave harpsichord concerts. In short, Hodge’s zest for life was not an anomaly within the Williams faculty — although, to be fair, it was at the high end of the spectrum.

In short, if you’re considering Williams, look past the stats and the debates and pay attention to the people — for they offer the life lessons that you’ll remember.

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