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Avanoo

Interesting article in the Santa Monica Mirror on a “community wisdom bank,” Avanoo, founded by two Ephs, Daniel Jacobs and Wilfred Sage. Nice to see the Williams network facilitating a business partnership.

According to the site, Avanoo’s goal is to get 100,000,000 “deposits” in 92 days. Sounds pretty ambitious, but perhaps Ephblog readers can help.

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Comment Moderation

This recent thread was too vitriolic — even for EphBlog!

Aidan asks:

In all seriousness, how difficult would a user moderated comment system be to implement? I’d love to see the regular poster zoo codified in this fashion (obviously on a scale of 1 -> Frank, where Frank would be ultimate karma).

1) A first issue is whether to allow anonymous comments at all. We could (like WSO or Ephtown) only permit comments under an individuals own name. I would vote against such a policy since we have many regular commentators (like ephmom and current eph) who are important members of the EphBlog community and who have reasons for being anonymous. A second option would be to allow anonymous comments, but only by regular (perhaps even registered in some way) pseudonymed individuals. ephmom can leave comments, but not someone just posting one time. I would vote against this as well (for now) since we get so much valuable information from such drive-by-comments. Consider this example is from our discussion about Coach White.

Your statement about senior coaches not being on Ralph’s side is incredibly misleading. A MAJORITY of the senior coaches voted to extend Ralph a 1 or 3 year contract affording him time for his masters degree. You are NOT talking to right coaches, or maybe you talked to an administrator. The vote was conducted using a secret ballot so they do not get to see how the votes came out, nor do they get to see Lisa Melendy’s final report submitted to the CAP. She does that independently, with her own pen.

Without anonymous comments, we don’t learn these things.

2) But we could allow all comments but be much more active in moderating them. I have given Evan Miller a lengthy rant on this topic, hoping that he will turn Ephtown into a discussion forum to beat all discussion forums. Time will tell what comes of that.

In the meantime, the key issue is volunteer energy. It would be great if there were one or two of five EphBlog readers who would be willing to “moderate” the comments. It would be easy to give them the power to edit/delete any comment that they found objectionable. I do that a bit myself, but my judgment may not be that good. Any volunteers? Also, readers should comment on what sorts of comments they think should be edited/deleted. Specific examples welcome!

3) Besides a simple moderation, I have day-dreams of a more Digg-like system which would allow reader judgments to highlight especially interesting/useful contributions to the debate. (Un)Fortunately, not all our fellow Ephs have time to read every comment. Wouldn’t it be nice if there were a way for us to highlight on the side bar the “best” (i.e., most recommended) comments of the last week? We could even have a volunteer or two (like the Daily Kos Rescue Rangers) who highlight particularly interesting comments or posts. Anyone with WordPress experience on these topics should chime in.

Comments welcome, on this post especially.

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2007 Commencement speakers

The speakers for this year will be:

Class Speaker: Auyon Mukharji (elected by the Class of 2007)
Phi Beta Kappa Speaker: Alan Rodrigues (elected by the 2007 PBK members)
Valedictorian: Priyanka Bangard (highest GPA)

Of course Katie Couric will also give an address.

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Resurrection

Immigration reform is in the news. Let’s find an Eph connection!

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How about here ?

It’s obvious to Julian Lazalde [’04], 24, of Pilsen why many immigrants come to the U.S. and want to stay. When he visits the part of north central Mexico his parents came from, he imagines himself in a subsistence farmer’s life of hard labor and poverty.

Instead, Lazalde is a graduate of Williams College in Massachusetts, and an organizer for the Resurrection Project, a Pilsen-based organization of local churches working on affordable housing and community political issues.

“I wouldn’t be here if my parents didn’t think there was something better for me,” he said.

Lazalde has been working with a group of community residents who helped register nearly 1,000 new Hispanic voters from their neighborhoods in the November elections. They have now turned their sights to immigration reform at both the state and national level.

The Resurrection Project is planning continued pressure on legislators who are on the fence on immigration reform initiatives such as the recent bill allowing for drivers’ certification for undocumented immigrants in Illinois.

Even legislators who are supportive of immigrant rights in predominantly immigrant districts get more calls against immigrant rights than in favor, Lazalde said several politicians had told him.

“We’re doing all we can to balance out those numbers,” Lazalde said.

It is a huge struggle to help immigrants become citizens, register to vote and stay politically involved, he said. The threat of deportation is a two-edged sword that can galvanize support or keep people hiding in fear, Lazalde said.

“People who are undocumented feel like they can’t do anything,” he said.

Uh, yeah. Just like American citizens feel when they visit Mexico.

Anyway, good luck to Lazalde! If the McCain-Kennedy Bill passes, then the US will have millions of new citizens, the vast majority without college degrees. That’s good for Williams graduates since the prices of the services they buy (yard work, manufactured goods, cleaning services) will go down while the prices of services they provide (legal, medical, consulting, business) will stay the same. We get richer!

Current US citizens without a Williams degree? Not so much.

Note the immigration reform will not allow foreigners to compete with us or other members of the US elite. A construction worker from Mexico will be able to replace a construction worked from the US as soon as McCain-Kennedy passes. A doctor or lawyer from Mexico will still be forbidden from practicing his trade, unless he goes through a residency and/or schooling all over again. Wouldn’t want doctor salaries to go down, would we?

Recommended reading on this topic here, here and here. Alas, those links are not as ideological diverse as one might like. Please suggest other readings in the comments.

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Stetson-Sawyer update

Construction of the North Academic Building, part of the first phase of the Stetson-Sawyer project, is well underway. This building, which will contain approximately 110 faculty offices, several classrooms, a language lab, the college’s first archaeology lab, and other resources, is being built immediately to the north of Sawyer Library. You can see four pictures of the foundation work here.

Construction of the smaller South Academic Building begins after the close of Alumni Reunions. Safety fences will go up on or about June 11.

The good news is that both buildings should be completed by late summer 2008. At that point construction activities will move to Stetson Hall and the area immediately behind it, where they will be far less of an intrusion on normal campus life.

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Sears Cup

Kudos to the Eph women for winning the NCAA Division III crew championship. But spare a thought for the Eph female lacrosse team of a decade ago, denied their chance to compete in the NCAA. (Unfortunately, my link to that story in The Game of Life no longer works. Perhaps someone could type it in the comments. I will see that it is preserved forevermore.)

Where does that leave the Sears Cup? We had some informed commentary on the topic last week. Could someone knowledgeable comment?

UPDATE: We won! We won! Informed sources report that Williams has won the Directors’ Cup for the 9th year in a row. Official announcement to come on June 8th.

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Paresky summer hours

Visiting Williams over the summer? Be sure to stop in and see “the new Baxter,” the Paresky Center. To make sure that you are there when it is open, see the message below the break. (Maybe by the time you visit in July or August, they will have the fireplaces working!)

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Ephs Who Have Gone Before

Who is this Eph?

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He is Myles Crosby Fox ’40.

Myles will not be in Williamstown for reunion weekend, for he has passed away. He leaves behind no wife, no children nor grandchildren. His last glimpse of Williamstown was on graduation day.

Fox was, in many ways, an Eph of both his time and ours. He was a Junior Advisor and captain of the soccer team. He served as treasurer in the Student Activities Council, forerunner to today’s College Council. He was a Gargoyle and secretary of his class. He lived in Wood House. Fox wrote letters to his class secretary, letters just like those that you and I might write.

The last issue of the Review has put me up to date on my civilized affairs. I am enclosing the only other information I have received in the form of a letter from Mr. Dodd. Among my last batch of mail was notice of the class insurance premium, and if you think it will prove an incentive to any of my classmates you may add under the next batch of Class Notes my hearty endorsement of the insurance fund, the fact that even with a military salary I am still square with the Mutual Company, and my hope that classmates of ’40 will keep the ball rolling so that in the future, purple and gold jerseys will be rolling a pigskin across whitewash lines.

Almost seven decades later, the pigskin is still rolling.

Fox was as familiar as your freshman year roommate and as distant as the photos of Williams athletes from years gone by that line the walls of Chandler Gym. He was every Eph.

Fox was killed in August 1942, fighting the Japanese in the South Pacific. He was a First Lieutenant in the Marine Corps and served in a Marine Raider battalion.

Fox’s citation for the Navy Cross reads:

For extraordinary heroism while attached to a Marine Raider Battalion during the seizure of Tulagi, Solomon Islands, on the night of 7-8 August 1942. When a hostile counter-attack threatened to penetrate the battalion line between two companies, 1st Lt. Fox, although mortally wounded, personally directed the deployment of personnel to cover the gap. As a result of great personal valor and skilled tactics, the enemy suffered heavy losses and their attack repulsed. 1st Lt. Fox, by his devotion to duty, upheld the highest traditions of the United States Naval Service. He gallantly gave his life in the defense of his country.

On Memorial Day, America honors soldiers like Fox who have died in the service of their country. For many years, no Eph has made the ultimate sacrifice. That string of good fortune ended with the death in combat of First Lieutenant Nate Krissoff ’03, USMC on December 9, 2006 in Iraq. From Ephraim Williams through Myles Fox to Nate Krissoff, the roll call of Williams dead echoes through the hallways of our history.

With luck, other military Ephs like Bungee Cooke ’98, Kathy Sharpe Jones ’79, Dan Ornelas ’98, Zack Pace ’98, JR Rahill ’88, Jerry Rizzo ’87, and Dan Rooney ’95 will survive this war. It would be more than enough to celebrate their service on Veterans’ Day.

Those interested in descriptions of Marine combat in the South Pacific during World War II might start with Battle Cry by Leon Uris or Goodby, Darkness by William Manchester. The Warriors by J. Glenn Gray provides a fascinating introduction to men and warfare.

A Navy destroyer was named after Fox. He is the only Eph ever to be so honored. The men who manned that destroyer collected a surprising amount of information about him. It all seems both as long ago as Ephraim Williams’s service to the King and as recent as the letters from Felipe Perez ’99 and Joel Iams ’01.

Note: As long as there is an EphBlog, there will be a Memorial Day entry, a tribute to those who have gone before.

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Agyapon, RIP

Sad news on a beautiful week-end.

To the Williams Community,

I am sad to report the passing yesterday of KweYao Agyapon, accompanist to our dance program, who has served as musical director and resident composer off and on since the early 1980s. He most recently was on medical leave.

KweYao had worked with many of the country’s top directors, choreographers, and performance groups. We were fortunate to have him with us, not only for his great talent but for his wonderful spirit. He was a warm and gentle man, whose presence we will surely miss.

Our thoughts and prayers go to his wife, Wanda, and their family.

We will pass on details of arrangements when they are known.

Best regards,
M. Schapiro
President

Brother Spotless notes that Agyapon “mentored many, and was a friend to many more.” Trevor Murphy agrees:

KweYao was a great person to know on campus. His teaching style is pretty much summed up in the first paragraph of this article.

ON a recent morning, Kweyao Agyapon carried six bags of percussion instruments into Public School 17 in Jersey City. He had a private set of hopes as he wisecracked and handed out drums and rattles to rowdy sixth-grade class after rowdy sixth-grade class. And he fulfilled them: by the end of each session, the students had not only drummed, they had also learned new words and concepts, some math, a little foreign language and a lot of cooperation. They may not have noticed, though. They were having too much fun.

If you had to wait for a spell during a tech for a production, time would pass quickly if you had KweYao with you. He had a million stories to tell and you wouldn’t hear the same one twice. He was funny. He listened to you and learned your name quickly. He never told you when he was suffering. You wouldn’t know. You could be playing music with him, crack some jokes, and after the session was over he would be gone. Next thing you would hear was that he was in the hospital. He would never say what it was if you asked. He would have some wisecrack prepared for such inquiries.

This is a realy loss for the dance program at Williams.

Indeed. See here for a bio and here for various images.

Condolences to all.

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The Reinhardt Precendent

Excellent Transcript article by Adam Bloch ’06 on Coach Ralph White (hat tip to Jeff Zeeman).

Not everyone is so enamored with White, however. Though the Williams sprinters, who are personally coached by White, offer almost unanimous support, there are some dissenters.

“During my time at Williams, I was often extremely frustrated and disconcerted with both his coaching and leadership style,” Caroline Cretti, an enormously successful distance runner who graduated in 2006, said last week. “Many organizational and logistical aspects of the team were run strangely. His success comes from his athletes, who are incredible, and a support system that is second to none in the country.”

When pressed to explain White’s accomplishments before his tenure at Williams, however, Cretti admitted that his methods were successful for some.

“I do understand that the coach-athlete relationship is a personal, individual one, and that he has a method that does work for certain athletes, but at times I wonder at what cost to their emotional or mental state,” she said. “His relationships with his athletes are unhealthy. Athletes began to determine their success by his reaction and nothing more. When he took that approval away, the effect it had was unbelievably unacceptable. It was unsettling to see that over and over again to some of the strongest, most incredible people I have encountered.”

Gray and fellow captain Katie Howard, both sprinters, disagreed with Cretti’s assessment, which was supported by several other alumni.

“He’s easily the best coach I’ve ever had,” Howard said last week. “I can’t imagine returning to Williams as a visitor next year, and coach White not being here.”

Howard created a group on Facebook.com called “We Support Coach White” that has drawn more than 100 members. There have been many other outspoken displays of support. Athletes, alumni and parents have expressed condemnation of the CAP’s decision on Ephblog.com, the Web site of Williams Students Online and Letsrun.com. Many supporters have sent letters to members of the CAP lauding White and urging the college to reconsider its decision.

And thanks for the shout out to EphBlog (although the Transcript should refer to us as “EphBlog” not “Ephblog.com”.

Although I still think that White is doomed, the historical example that he (and his lawyer and his supporters) should look to is Mark Reinhardt‘s successful appeal of his initial tenure denial by CAP a decade ago. There are lessons in that story for those who would learn them.

Other highlights below..

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NYT: “Elite Colleges Open New Door to Poor Youths”

Although The New York Times article mentions Williams (along with Amherst, Harvard, Princeton, Stanford, UVA, and UNC), it’s really about Anthony Jack, a graduating senior at Amherst.

Some interesting stats:

In their groundbreaking 1998 study of 28 selective universities, William Bowen, the former president of Princeton, and Derek Bok, now the interim president of Harvard, found that 86 percent of blacks who enrolled were middle or upper middle class. (Amherst was not included in that study.) The white students were even wealthier.

In Mr. Jack’s class of 413, 15 percent, or 61, students, are from families with incomes of less than $45,000 a year; about two-thirds of those are from families earning less than $30,000.

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Bored

Brandi Brown ’07 is bored. Bad thing? No! This is a good thing because there are hundreds of alumni who want Brandi to write up a version of her Ephailure project that could be distributed on the web (i.e., one shielding student identity). Now she has the time to do it. Let’s hope she will. Brown’s project has something to say to all of us. We should listen.

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Operant

Fun article on move out time at Williams.

Williams College underclassmen will have left campus by noon today, having transformed dormitory trash containers and nearby curbs into a scavenger’s paradise.

“I’m leaving behind a pair of pants, a lamp, a pillow that is mostly dead and my pride,” freshman Eban Hoffer of Portland, Ore., said while helping a friend pack his minivan.

Every first year leaves a bit of his pride behind. Nothing wrong with that!

Hoffer said he was unable to find anything useful, however, when he rummaged through bins of other students’ discarded clothing looking for booty.

“I only found small girl-pants,” he said.

Hoffer said students would probably do well to transport fewer items into college dorms from home, but living simply can be more difficult than it seems.

“The Spartan, monk-like life is something I find appealing,” he said. “But in the end, it’s simply not operant.”

Freshman Mary Gelber of Winnetka, Ill., for example, said she depended on her roommate for essentials when she discovered she had not brought enough things from home.

“I didn’t have nail polish remover, which is a very necessary item,” Gelber said, smiling. “If I didn’t have a roommate, I don’t know what I would have done.”

Her roommate, freshman Amanda Huey, said she knew what to pack because she had attended boarding school. Both said they donated clothing to charities by tossing it into bins in the dormitory basement.

The choices for post title — operant, monk-like life, small girl-pants — were a bit overwhelming.

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Prarie ’05 to PSU

Eph wrestling standout Tom Prairie ’05 has a new job.

Plymouth State University has named a new head wrestling coach to take over for the 2007-08 season.

Tommy Prairie, a former three-time All-America at Williams College, is the new Panther wrestling coach. Prairie takes over from Jason Holder, who departed last month after four years at Plymouth State, two as assistant coach and two as head coach.

A 2005 graduate of Williams, Prairie was the first Eph wrestler to capture three straight New England Championships and earn First Team All-America honors three straight years. The two-year captain finished third, fourth and second at 125 pounds at the NCAA Division III National Championships from 2003-05, finishing his remarkable career with a 106-8 overall record.

Prairie began his coaching career in 2005-06 as a graduate assistant at Cumberland University in Lebanon, Tenn., before serving as lightweight wrestling coach last year at his native Delran, N.J., High School. He was also a Prep All-American in 2001 at Blair Academy in Blairstown, N.J.

“We would like to welcome Tommy Prairie as our new wrestling coach,” said PSU athletic director John P. Clark. “He obviously has outstanding wrestling credentials, and he was very impressive during the interview process. We think Tommy has a bright coaching future ahead of him, and we’re happy to welcome him aboard. We think he’ll be an excellent fit with our student-athletes and the Plymouth State community.”

Although I hear nothing but good things about current Eph wrestling coach Raf Vega, if he ever moves on, I hope that Williams will interview Prairie. Also, Vega has just finished his third year at Williams. Does that mean that he is/was up for the coaching equivalent of tenure (revolving five year contract with decent job security)? If so, did he get it?

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Binder ’11

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Ari Binder ’11, future member of the men’s tennis team, wins a tournament in New York.

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Coach White Updates

Thanks to Aidan for posting the recent letter from Coach Ralph White. I have several uninteresting comments below the break.

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An Open Letter from Coach White to the College Community

**Coach White asked that this letter be distributed to the College Community, and I have done so at his request.**

May 22, 2007

To the Williams Community,

For the past several weeks, I have watched while many students, parents, and alums have worked tirelessly to express their support for me in response to the College’s decision not to renew my contact. I cannot thank you enough. Your efforts mean more to me than you can imagine. However, in the process, some great intentions have gotten out of hand. I understand the strong feelings involved, as this has taken a heavy toll on my family and our track teams. However, several good people are having their names and reputations tarnished. Making hurtful comments and allegations is unnecesary and harmful. We are better than that.

I am currently fighting the decision through the schools administrative processes and it is my hope that the College will conclude that its initial decision was based on incomplete information. I am optimistic that when all is said and done we will prevail.

That said, I have heard of some actions on my behalf that I cannot accept. I have tried to stay focused on my team, but I have been told about a petition that I strongly disagree with. It is my understanding that a number of students, parents, and alums have begun a petition to withhold money from the College to both make a point and to ease any financial hardship on my family. My wife and I are truly touched, but we cannot condone this effort.

Over the past seven years, my wife and I have come to love both the area, and, more importantly, the College community. We have invested much here. Williams is a special place and will remain so, no matter what happens to us. It deserves the support of its students, parents, and alums. While I strongly disagree with the College’s decision, there is more to your relationships with the College than with me or track & field, and those must endure.

That is not to say that I do not appreciate your support. I do and am honored by it. It is overwhelming that so many of you would offer to help my family. However, we urge you to continue to support the College, as we do, and if you believe it needs change, to do so from within.

We feel blessed to have the support of all of you and hope that support continues going forward as we continue to challenge this decision. Many thanks.

Sincerely,

Ralph & Lisa White

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MassMoca Tarps

Great NYTimes article on the resolution of a hotly disputed exhibit in the enormous gallery at MassMoca. Even before I reached the last few paragraphs of this article, I was guessing this dispute was fabricated, all part of the experience. Maybe I’ve just seen too much contemporary art. I wouldn’t be shocked if MassMoca was in on it: the tarps practically scream of conceptual art, particularly given the themes of this exhibit. And even if unplanned, the tarps will undoubtedly come to be viewed as part of the art by critics.

Speaking of North Adams, the Mohawk will be opening sooner rather than later: should provide another huge boost for downtown. For a great summary of recent changes to downtown North Adams, including photos, read this recent Berkshire Eagle article.

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Staying at Williams for a Looong Time

The New York Times had a recent article about colleges offering on-campus burial plots for alumni. The article, “Colleges Offering Campuses as Final Resting Places,” notes, “In an era when many people are highly mobile and do not settle in one place for long, a college can have a strong allure as a final resting place.”

I believe Williams used to offer such a service to alumni, but since the burial ground is filling up (it’s next to Mission Park, and it’s a great place for snagging some rays in late Spring), it’s now only available to faculty.

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A Greener Shade of Purple

Best comment in May? Jeff Zeeman:

Nazis, sex, and explosions: it’s official, Ephblog has turned into a Jerry Bruckheimer movie.

Links added. I am not as familiar with the Bruckheimer oeuvre as Jeff, but aren’t we missing something? How about unimaginable wealth (c.f., The Rock, Pirates of the Caribbean and National Treasure)?

No worries! EphBlog has that covered. What Eph made the most money last year? Not me! Could it have been Chase Coleman ’97?

Chase Coleman
City: New York
Firm: Tiger Global Management
Age: 31

One of the youngest members of the Trader Monthly 100, Coleman now manages roughly $2 billion in assets; his returns last year were in the neighborhood of 30 percent.

Estimated Income: $75-100 million

Comments:

1) Does the listing of the big money makers include any other Ephs? The Alumni Office would like to know!

2) Trader Monthly is not the world’s most authoritative source, but, even if they are remotely accurate, Coleman must have done well. If I were Morty, I would recruit him to the trustees.

3) How does the math work? Well, if Coleman’s benchmark was the S&P 500 (which returned 13% in 2006), then he produced 17% in excess returns. On $2 billion, that would be $340 million in value creation for his clients. 20% of that (a typical hedge fund performance fee) would be $65 million. Add in a 1% fixed fee of $20 million, and you get $85 million total. I initially suspected that this was a (slight?) overestimate (rumors of returns and assets under management are often exaggerated), especially since Coleman needs to pay his (many?) employees. But, some further gossip suggested that, if anything, Coleman is doing even better than this. Impressive!

4) Previous coverage of Coleman here and here — and how come no one pointed out the other Ephs in the wedding pictures? Coleman’s 10th reunion is next month. One hopes that he gave big.

5) All of this raises the timely topic of income inequality. The short version of this story is that the rich are getting richer and that this is even more true the further out in the tail that you go. (Background here. See here for more technical details.) Even within the exceptionally wealthy population of Williams alumni, Coleman has done well. In fact, I would wager that he, alone, made more money last year than the sum of every other member of the class of 1997.

Does that bother me? No! Coleman is both lucky (not every Eph gets to work at Tiger Management) and talented. But others had similar opportunities and made different choices. Coming out of Williams, you are unlikely to get (self-made) rich unless you go into finance. Nothing wrong with teaching or military service or non-profit work (I have done all three!), but don’t whine about income inequality (at least in the Williams context) if you make those choices.

Or, better yet, whine here. If income inequality (at the high end, leaving aside poverty) bothers you in general, please explain why it bothers you in Coleman’s case specifically. Don’t begrudge the (self-made) wealthy their rewards unless you are willing to criticize one of our own.

What is wrong with a world in which rich, sophisticated investors want to pay lavish sums to Chase Coleman ’97 to manage their money?

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NESCAC Nation No More

Derek had high hopes for NESCAC Nation, a blog devoted to athletics among NESCAC schools. Alas, the VC money seems to have run out and the site is no more. But that thread last year was a good time! Rory made me laugh out loud at the end. Feces flinging indeed! Highly recommended procrastination for those studying for finals . . .

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Snarky Blogs

I have tried to figure out the connection between Katie Couric as Commencement Speaker and Katie Couric as Eph girlfriend (of Brooks Perlin ’96) for several months. On the one hand, it seemed unlikely that it was a coincidence that Couric’s boyfriend and speaking plans were both Eph-related. On the other hand, the timing made little sense. Commencement Speakers are selected well in advanced and, yet, Couric and Perlin only started dating in the fall.

The Record solves the mystery.

Katie Couric will be sharing her pearls of wisdom at this year’s Commencement, but don’t believe the rumors – she is not speaking at this year’s graduation because of her alum boyfriend, Brooks Perlin ’96. “He has nothing to do with it,” she said. “No, I agreed to this two years ago. He doesn’t wield that much influence, tell them.” But Couric does have personal ties to the College, albeit less sensational ones. “My sister [Clara Couric Batchelor] spent her junior year at Williams and my brother-in-law [James P. Batchelor ’72] went to Williams,” she said. “Williams was actually my safety school … I’m kidding. That’s a joke.” Couric explained that she had been asked to speak at Commencement two years ago, but rescheduled for 2007 because of prior commitments. “I’m really very, very honored because I know what a fine school Williams is and what a beautiful place Williamstown is.”

But she still remained mum about her much-younger boyfriend. “I thought this was the Williams school newspaper not EphBlog,” Couric said. “Honey, I am not going to get into all this stuff, it’s not something I’m talking about. Thank you for asking, I appreciate your chutzpah.” She may be America’s sweetheart, but Couric is no pushover.

OK, I admit it. I made up that part about EphBlog. Couric actually used some other publication (The National Enquirer) as her example of a sleazy, celebrity-obsessed gossip rag.

The Boston Globe confirms this account.

In nabbing high-profile commencement speakers, sometimes it’s all in whom you know. Behind many of the star speakers is a personal tie with a university president, a trustee, or an alumnus.

While many colleges are upfront about the personal ties that land big names, some, such as Williams College, are reluctant to divulge details of the courtship, creating intrigue.

Snarky gossip columns and blogs have speculated whether Couric accepted Williams College’s invitation to speak at commencement on June 2 because of a possible new love interest. Press reports last month tied Couric to Brooks Perlin, a New York entrepreneur and a 1996 Williams alumnus.

“It’s simply coincidental,” Mathew Hiltzik, a Couric spokesman, said in a phone interview with the Globe.

He stressed that another friend of Couric with ties to Williams first invited her two years ago, but that she couldn’t accept because of her impending departure from the “Today Show.” He also pointed out that Couric’s brother-in-law and other family members are Williams alumni.

Comments:

1) Since it is almost certain that the writer used EphBlog as a source, he should credit us.

2) Who is this other “friend of Couric with ties to Williams?” EphBlog readers want to know!

3) And this makes the whole story even better! Now, instead of speculation about how the Couric/Perlin relationship led to an invitation to Commencement, we have evidence going the other way, reason to believe that the speech caused the relationship.

Imagine that you are Brooks Perlin, meeting a beautiful celebrity, desperately casting about for an interesting topic of conversation. Presto! Turns out that the two of you have Williams in common.

Not the first relationship to be started discussing the wonder of our Purple Mountains . . .

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Gendell ’90 Weds

I have fallen behind on my Eph wedding blogging. Apologies to all! Latest nuptials from the New York Times.

Yfat Miri Reiss and Bradley Howard Gendell were married last evening by Rabbi Sol Greenberg at the Wheatleigh, a hotel in Lenox, Mass.

The bridegroom, 38, is a hedge fund manager at Cumberland Associates, an investment advisory company in New York. He is the chairman of JazzReach, a nonprofit organization devoted to promoting the appreciation of live jazz. He graduated from Williams College and received an M.B.A. from Harvard.

JazzReach seems like an interesting organization. There is at least one other Eph on its board, Ken Alleyne ’88.

And, to complete the circle, Ken was the subject of a similarly Jazz-themed wedding announcement four (!) years ago.

Congratulations to all.

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Economic Theses Posted

Kudos to the Economics Department for posting all their senior theses on-line. Good stuff. Are other departments this organized? They should be! Pointers welcome.

Unfortunately, none of the topics are of special interest to EphBlog readers, unlike Lindsey Taylor‘s ’05 or Jennifer Doleac‘s ’03.

I still think that the department ought to publish the comments made by the professor who act as thesis readers. At the very least, the readers should be listed somewhere.

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Tradition of Nonconformity

“Deferred Rushing: The Beginning of the End of Fraternities,” by Henry Bass ’57 completes our series of 1957 reunion essays. Special thanks to Henry for supporting this project and for putting me in contact with the other authors.

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Photo ID, #83

Ebenezer is my favorite name associated with Williams, even more than Ephraim.

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Update on Diversity Initiatives

The following message is from Michael Reed, sent to williams-students and williams-personnel:

To the Williams Community,

Williams has made some changes in how we work on issues of diversity and inclusion that I would like to inform you about.

I am particularly pleased that Wendy Raymond, Associate Professor of Biology, has agreed to serve in the new position of Associate Dean for Institutional Diversity. While continuing her teaching and research, Wendy will use course-release time to work with my office as we assist departments and offices across campus in making Williams a place where everyone, whatever their background, can thrive. She is already known on campus and nationally for her work on developing ways to support students from underrepresented minority groups in the sciences. I very much look forward to having her be part of our Office for Strategic Planning and Institutional Diversity.

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KC on Farred

KC Johnson provides further insight into Farred’s recent nonsensical rant at Williams concerning the Duke lacrosse case. Basically, as KC makes clear, Farred’s thesis has shifted over time to allow him to maximize his demonization of the innocent players, despite the accuser being exposed as a fraud.

One good thing about Farred, he provides hope to all aspiring academics. After all, if his brand of incomprehensible gobblitygook (and that is actually a compliment, because to the extent it is comprehensible, it is utterly moronic) is enough to land coveted positions at Duke and Williams, securing a job at an elite institution must be far easier than I had ever imagined. (D)avid, I’m sorry to say that my admiration for your accomplishments is much diminished.

I especially love KC’s link to the piece on Yao Ming and Jeff Van Gundy. Suitably inspired, I’ve already put pen to paper on my breakthrough article — Robert Horry’s Muggery of Steve Nash: A Texas Individualist Critiques Canada’s Health Care System.

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CC Poster Meeting Notes

CC Secretary Remington Shepard ’08 kindly provided me with the minutes to the April 25th College Council meeting which discussed Mary Jane Hitler. Previous discussion here and here.

It isn’t clear to me if CC discussed having a speech code at Williams (a stupid idea) or my much simpler Eph Style Guide.

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Nikita

Richard Gardella ’57 wrote this essay, entitled “A Mentor Remembered” for the class of 1957 reunion essays. There is a fifth essay in the series, but I have been unable to get a copy.

I contacted the key folks in the Alumni Office about having them publish these essays themselves. There is no doubt that they would do a better job in terms of layout and organization. I also suggested that they continue with these essays in future years and expand the practice to other reunion classes. I have not heard back from them.

UPDATE: Found the last essay! Coming tomorrow.

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