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Prominent

Thanks to a reader for noting this article about the search for Dartmouth’s next president.

Former and current college presidents, administrators, professors and possibly a member of the current Bush administration could make it onto the Board of Trustees’ search committee’s list for a successor to College President James Wright, who will step down in June 2009. The committee will be announced in early June.

The search committee will likely consider several candidates from other Ivy League institutions’ recent presidential searches, including Dartmouth’s last search. Williams College President Morton Schapiro was a finalist to succeed former College President James Freedman in 1998, according to the prominent Williams “Eph” blog, and will potentially be considered in the current search.

It is not clear if the The Dartmouth has another source for this speculation besides my post. And, even though The Dartmouth got our name wrong, EphBlog appreciates the compliment. No such thing as bad press!

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Hard Right

One of the few off-key notes from Morty’s presentation at the Road Scholars event in Foxboro was his response to a question about the continuing controversies at Dartmouth. (See here for a recent Wall Street Journal article and here and here for previous EphBlog coverage. Wikipedia provides a useful history.)

The short version of the debate is that Dartmouth, unlike Williams, used to have an relatively open process for alumni elections to the Board of Trustees. Interested alumni could gather signatures and earn a place on the ballot even if Dartmouth insiders did not like them. At Williams, of course, that’s impossible. Even if 90% of the alumni would like to see, say, Wick Sloane ’76 on the Board, there is no way for us to get him there.

Morty was asked a question about these debates at Dartmouth. His response was reasonable, to some extent, noting that much of the controversy was sad and unfortunate, that out-going Dartmouth President James Wright is an amazing guy and that Williams has nothing like this sort of acrimony. But then he refereed to Wright’s opposition as the “hard right.”

And that’s absurd. Although some of the non-insider candidates are (Gasp!) Republicans, some are not. And all of them focus on changing specific parts of Dartmouth: lower class size for undergraduates, providing more support for athletics and so on. The debate is not about left or right. It is about what is best for Dartmouth, a topic about which reasonable people can differ. It is also a debate about the best process for including alumni opinion in the discussion.

If I ever got really upset about the direction of Williams, I would use the details of the Constitution of the Society of Alumni to push for change, mainly by making it easier for outsiders (like Wick and me) to get elected to the Board. And it wouldn’t be that hard to do! Fortunately, Morty and the Trustees are 90% correct in the decisions they make (and reasonable Ephs may differ over the other 10%), so there is no need to agitate for radical change.

Just don’t call people who think that alumni ought to have a meaningful role in choosing Alumni Trustees the “hard right.”

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Navel Gazing

We came, we saw, we ate some bacon. So this morning I went to breakfast with Mr. Ephblog himself, David Kane. I will have you all know that the entire affair was quite civil – indeed, quite friendly. Although the fur flies here on Ephblog, we alums know how to behave in public (when not at sporting events). Anyway, our discussions and David’s exhortations that just about everything I said would make a good post for Ephblog have motivated me to write something tonight.

We joke sometimes about making David take an Ephblog vacation for a week, or about how posts need to be more positive or the general tone of our discussions. It is really one of my favorite little pastimes to poke holes in David’s arguments and needle him about being less critical. But this morning as we were talking about all the trouble I used to cause at Williams when I was there, I realized that the only way to change anything is to work on making it better. In keeping with that, I’m going to try to post more (NOT because I am in any way better, but because I want to change the tone). Thus far, I post here and there, then get really frustrated by some of the things I see up here and get discouraged, then come back and make snarky comments, eventually feeing motivated enough to make my own post again. This is a pretty circular pattern that doesn’t seem to accomplish much. So, I’m going to start off with a modest goal of one post each week even if that means expanding a comment into a whole post (good idea btw David) or just finding some obscure Williams connection to a news item. If I want more positive or constructive posts, I should quite whining about it and do something, so I will try.

On a related note of navel gazing, when I went to write this, I noticed the list of incoming links to Ephblog and one caught my eye. It is a comparison of Williams and Princeton of their relative “ridiculousness.” Now this fits under navel gazing, because I really thought I wanted to go to Princeton, got waitlisted, and picked Williams. Thank goodness I did! Anyway, so I thought I’d check out that link and discovered a pretty hilarious chart comparing various aspects of the two schools, from reunions to newspapers, to latin names to random days off, to the best category of all:

Blog Run By Students/Alums Who Care Entirely Too Much

And the winner was (of course): EPHBLOG!!! Good to know someone thinks well of us. So keep caring entirely too much everyone – you’re doing your part!

P.S. Any Boston-area Ephblog readers should get in touch with David and grab a meal.  Fun stuff!

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Blown Gasket

Fun article from Wick Sloane ’76 on the role of trustees at schools like Williams. Best part is this quote from Upton Sinclair.

You take it for granted that this money is honestly and wisely used; that the students are getting the best, the “highest” education the money can buy. Suppose I were to tell you that this educational machine has been stolen? That a bandit crew have got hold of it and have set it to work, not for your benefit, nor the benefit of your sons and daughters, but for ends very far from these?

Indeed. I have it a good authority that a Williams trustee “blew a gasket” after reading this article.

A little gasket-blowing is usually good for the soul.

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Trustees on Wikipedia

Wikipedia has a wonderful page of the Dartmouth Trustees. Inspired, I just started a page for Williams. Who will help me with it?

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Offset My War Bonnet

Remember my insensitive suspicions about last year’s green preening at graduation? Short version: The College bought thousands of dollars of “carbon offsets,” some from the “Owl Feather War Bonnet Wind Farm, a 30 megawatt wind farm being developed by the Rosebud Sioux Tribe in South Dakota.” I speculated that this was probably a scam, that the College was wasting money, that no carbon would actually be offset.

And I was (so far) right. Details below. How much money will the College (special shout outs to Amy Johns ’98 and Stephanie Boyd) waste this year? The press release should be available soon . . .

Below are portions of two e-mails from Ken Haukaas, Business Manager at the Rosebud Sioux Tribe Forestry Department.

Not sure whether this will get to anyone, but anyway.

I queried OFWB on the net and some interesting things came up and one was your blog on this subject and Carbon Offsets. If anyone would like to clarify any thing concerning this proposed development on the Rosebud Reservation, please contact me if you wish, as I am very intimate with the particulars of this Project. I have administrated this project at the tribal level since Oct of 2003.

I see that people are purchasing carbon offsets from a project that has yet to be in the ground, but efforts are there to get this done by Dec. 2008.

Native Energy has OFFERED to the project a purchase of the lifetime of 10Mw of the green tags. This project will use the money offered to buy down on the project debt. Lower the debt. Their contribution is significant but not that large, considering the price tag to construct the project is at 54,000,000.00 and their offer is about 3.2 million although it definitely helps.

I cannot tell you what Williams College has paid to Native Energy, as this is not in my realm. Like I said in my previous email, Native Energy has offered this project an upfront offer to purchase 10Mw of the green tags and although the transaction has not truly transpired, we expect to use this money on the debt side to lower the cost of the debt. What sort of deal Native Energy is making with whomever is not in my capacity to comment on except in this manner.

In 2003, the Rosebud Sioux Tribe applied for and received a Department of Energy Grant of $441,000.00 with in kind from the tribe and Distributed Generation Inc. from Lakewood, Colorado, totaling about $550,000.00 to do all of the pre-construction studies and activities to develop this wind farm.

We are at the point now build this wind farm. In 2003, the price of construction to build this 30Mw was at $37,000,000.00, it is now at $54,000,000.00.

I presented a power point in November ’07 in Denver for DOE, and for other tribes to view along with other govt. officials. You can find this power point at this link.

The name Owl Feather War Bonnet represents an incident that took place prior to reservation existence when a group of Lakota went down on foot south into Nebraska to hunt and raid and and so happened onto a Pawnee Camp and stole all the horses from these Pawnees. Horses were still somewhat rare and sought after tremendously. It seems they stole the horses but there was not enough for everyone to ride back on and so some had to walk back. The Pawnees are now running to catch up and take revenge and so that left a group of lakota, that did not have the horses, under potential attack. It was reasoned that the lakota that had horses should go ahead and get some help. Those that went ahead found a Lakota medicine man with the Owl as his medicine. They brought the medicine man back with them and found the Lakota raiding party and had the group form around him and he summoned his medicine, the Owl,… and Owls from all over came, flew over this group and loosened feathers that had fallen all around. The medicine man told the group to grab a feather and put it in their head dress and walk in a deep ravine and the Pawnees will not be able to notice you. This medicine worked and the Pawnees could not find the Lakotas and they eventually went home to Nebraska. The incident is said to have happened around this area, hence the name.

Any other questions, go ahead and ask, if I can answer I will.

Thanks to Haukaas for writing. The central point, for those still reading, is that the whole carbon offsets business is 95% scam, a scam to which the College has fallen (willing) victim. We wanted to believe that, by writing someone else a check (especially a nice PC someone?), we could reduce the amount of carbon that would have been emitted had we not written the check. But that check just went in to some hustler’s bank account.

Now, to be fair, the hustler is is still hard at work. But where is the accountability? How much did the College spend? What paperwork did it receive? What follow up was done? Thousands of dollars and all we seem to have gotten is a few feel-good lines in a graduation press release.

Again, this is not an anti-Boyd or anti-Johns screed. I want Boyd to go from “Acting” to permanent Director of the Zilkha Center for Environmental Initiatives. (The College should do more to hire faculty spouses and promote from within.) I want Johns to work on my special projects, environmental and otherwise, for the College. (The more alumni that work for Williams, the better.) I am just tired of the College’s endless gaze into a green tinted mirror of fantasy.

UPDATE: More background from the Los Angeles Times.

A budding industry sells ‘offsets’ of carbon emissions, investing in environmental projects. But there are doubts about whether it works.

The Oscar-winning film “An Inconvenient Truth” touted itself as the world’s first carbon-neutral documentary.

The producers said that every ounce of carbon emitted during production — from jet travel, electricity for filming and gasoline for cars and trucks — was counterbalanced by reducing emissions somewhere else in the world. It only made sense that a film about the perils of global warming wouldn’t contribute to the problem.

Co-producer Lesley Chilcott used an online calculator to estimate that shooting the film used 41.4 tons of carbon dioxide and paid a middleman, a company called Native Energy, $12 a ton, or $496.80, to broker a deal to cut greenhouse gases elsewhere. The film’s distributors later made a similar payment to neutralize carbon dioxide from the marketing of the movie.

It was a ridiculously good deal with one problem: So far, it has not led to any additional emissions reductions.

Beneath the feel-good simplicity of buying your way to carbon neutrality is a growing concern that the idea is more hype than solution.

Indeed. Read the whole thing. It even mentions Owl Feather War Bonnet Wind Farm!

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Startup School

Wouldn’t it be cool if there were a Startup School organized at Williams next January? How hard would it be to organize something like this? There are plenty of Ephs with relevant experience (Ethan Zuckerman, Bo Peabody, Greg Avis, William Oberndorf and others). Sounds like a good project for OCC. (Related discussion here.)

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Heresy

Morty and former Williams Economics Professor Mike McPherson on defining college success.

“What college success means depends so much on what [kind of] college you’re talking about and what students you’re talking about,” said McPherson, who is president of the Spencer Foundation and former president of Macalester College. He suggested that the best measures for college success would be specific but tailored to individual institutions. What that means, precisely, “each one can answer that question for themselves,” he said.

The panel was conspicuously divided into two halves: on one side sat McPherson and Schapiro, the president of Williams College; on the other were two representatives of public institutions whose students are much more likely to come from disadvantaged backgrounds and rely on financial aid. Williams, the moderator, didn’t hesitate to point out that the administrators from Miami-Dade and the University of Maryland seemed more willing to embrace strict accountability measures and the data collection that approach requires.

Schapiro, also an economist, suggested that there might be “some appetite” among faculty for more in-house accountability measures, but explained that much of the resistance stems from a fear that increased empiricism could lead to a one-size-fits-all testing regime — like a No Child Left Behind for higher education.

He stressed the need to more rigorously link what colleges do to their students’ professional and other outcomes after they graduate. Otherwise, it’s impossible to tell which teaching methods work and which don’t. Schapiro brought up a hypothetical proposal to compare students’ incoming SAT scores with outgoing GRE scores to determine whether they improved (and presumably correlate those scores to majors and other factors during the college experience).

“I would do that, but then again, I’m an empirical economist,” he said. Professors in the English department, he imagined, would view it as “heresy.”

When colleges experiment with different ways to teach critical thinking skills, as Williams does, Schapiro said, it should be seen as necessary to then empirically test what worked the best. Higher education is “horribly bad at this,” McPherson said — to take one example, colleges tinker with class sizes all the time — but they “never, ever look at the results.”

“Even at Williams, there’s not as much of an appetite as there should be,” Schapiro said.

Well, isn’t it (part of) the president’s job to generate that appetite?

Now, to be fair, Morty is already at the 99th percentile of all college presidents in terms of his willingness to measure Williams performance, so I shouldn’t be too critical. And, to be fair to my English professor friends (Hello Katie Kent ’88!), any measurement plan that uses a tool like the GRE is likely to fail, both because improving standardized test scores is not the purpose of a Williams education and because any such improvement is likely too small to notice.

Instead, my point is that there is an obvious policy change that would a) Allow fair-minded observers to see the causal effect of a Williams education on student achievement and b) Not force Williams professors to do much if anything differently. That change is the public display of student work. Put on the web all the papers that a student writes as a freshman for ENGL 101 and all those she writes as a senior for ENGL 401. If the Williams English Department is doing its job, the latter papers will be much better than the former.

There are, of course, all sorts of difficult issues to consider in any plan which makes student work public (as well as her professor’s comments but not grades). Perhaps freshmen should be exempt. Perhaps students should be allowed to opt-out from the requirement for one class per semester. Applying the requirement to non-paper-writing classes is difficult. And so on.

But the central principal is obvious: Being a part of an academic community requires public participation in the scholarly conversation. Making papers public will increase the quality of work done at Williams. Making the comments (but not the grades) public will have a similar effect. All the good reasons for making senior theses public apply in the context of other classes as well. (See Tim Burke for a related re-imagining of a liberal arts education.)

Assume for a moment that Morty agreed. What should he do? Best next step is to recruit some faculty to try out the experiment. (All the projects done by students in my Winter Study will be posted to the web, along with my comments.) See how it goes. I bet that someone like Joe Cruz would be willing to try it out in philosophy. Perhaps the whole thing will be a disaster. More likely, I think, is that other professors would be impressed with how making academic work public both improved the quality of that work and made it easier for everyone to see the progress that students make.

[Side note: Just noticed that the ENGL department no longer has a 101 (common introductory course for all students) or 401 (common senior capstone course). This is another sign of the Decline of the West, but save that for a separate rant. Just substitute 100-level and 400-level in the above.]

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Trade Costs

The latest issue of R News (pdf) features an article on trade costs by Arjun Ravi Narayan ’10, Aaron Schwartz ’09 and 4 other authors. Arjun and Aaron worked for me last summer and much of their time (especially Aaron’s) was spent on coding the tradeCosts package and on writing this article. Congratulations on their first published peer-reviewed article!

Quantitative Ephs in finance may also be interested in my work on Matching Portfolios.

Many other Ephs have published papers/books recently. Tell us about them in the comments. As an example, ace WSO hacker Topher Cyll ’04 has a book entitled Practical Ruby Projects: Ideas for the Eclectic Programmer. But surely there are others . . .

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Self Dealing

My liberal friends are fond of pointing out that the business world is rife with self-dealing and mutual back-scratching. Senior executives do things, not just because it is objectively the best choice, but because doing so helps out their buddy, who then turns around and helps them out. The classic example inolves setting executive salaries. CEO A is on the board of CEO B. He votes for B to get a big raise. Now, if CEO B were on the board of CEO A and also voted similarly, the quid pro quo would be too obvious. We need one more level of misdirection. So, CEO B is on the board of CEO C who is on the board of CEO A. Both B and C, like A, vote for big raises. Everyone wins! Were the pay hikes the right decision “objectively?” Hard to say.

And my liberal friends are right! This happens all the time in the world of business. But they are wrong if they think that this particular sin is restricted to the for-profit world. Just as much self-dealing occurs among non-profits. Consider the distribution of honorary degrees, the academic equivalent of stock options.

Amherst gives the President of Wesleyan an honorary degree.
Williams gives the President of Amherst an honorary degree.
And, to make the circle complete, Wesleyan gives the President of Williams an honorary degree.

Everybody wins! The presidents of all three institutions have fancy honorary degrees, but no two presidents just gave degrees to each other.

Now, to be clear, this is mostly a tongue-in-cheek entry, motivated by Morty’s new honorary degree from Wesleyan. Neither the schools nor their presidents would actively collude in this way. Of course, the same is true of CEOs. CEO A does not write an e-mail to B CEO saying, “Raise CEO C’s salary and he will then return the favor to me.” Collusive cooperation happens naturally.

The point, instead, is just to note that it is an awfully insular would among elite liberal arts colleges. Of all the college presidents in all the world, Williams, Amherst and Wesleyan just happened to pick each other’s presidents for the awarding of honorary degrees. Perhaps, objectively, they were the best choices.

On a good note, there is little doubt that we have the funniest president.

After receiving an honorary degree, President of Williams College Morton Schapiro poked fun at both the event’s heightened security and the rivalry between Williams and Wesleyan.

“I bet you had no idea that the president of Williams traveled with so much Secret Service,” he said.

Indeed. When Morty was first proposed/named president, Professor Mark Taylor quipped that “Williams needs a wise man, not a wise guy.” Perhaps! But there can be little doubt that Morty, wise guy though he is, has done an amazing job over the last 8 years. Long may he reign.

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Planet Octet Part II

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Ephs Who Have Gone Before

Who is this Eph?

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 Williams 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 or 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 had 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 pages of our history.

With luck, other military Ephs like Jeff Castiglione ’07, Bunge Cooke ’98, Paul Danielson ’88, Kathy Sharpe Jones ’79, Lee Kindlon ’98, Dan Ornelas ’98, Zack Pace ’98, JR Rahill ’88, Jerry Rizzo ’87, Dan Rooney ’95 and Brad Shirley ’07 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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Memorial day

http://www.cnn.com/2008/US/05/23/memorial.day.irpt/index.html

This is a really fine tribute.

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Local swimming hole #1, re visit

http://www.ephblog.com/2007/02/28/local-swimming-hole-1/

Summer is here! Enjoy the Berkshires and the Green Mountain State! I do miss it so.

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Planet Octet Part I

Easily the funniest Eph video of the year.

The video skit presented at the final concert of the Williams College Octet all-male acapella group. Mockumentary using lines and soundtrack from BBC’s Planet Earth, narrated by Sir David Attenborough. Shown in concert 5/4/08.

Helps to have seen the BBC original, but great even if you haven’t. Could more have been done with the “female asses” line or is the subtle slow motion enough?

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Campus Conformity Via Lacrosse

UPDATE: Formatting fixed. Thanks. For those curious about what can go wrong in the sausage factory, I had pasted the embed link from YouTube into the “Visual” rather than “HTML” editor mode on WordPress.

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Gridlock!

Lester Thurow’s ’60 op-ed on the current financial crisis is, unfortunately, incoherent.

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Learn From Me

Interested in taking my Winter Study class on Quantitative Equity Research this January? Read below.
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Mayo Online

Who would bother to make these three (separate?) websites about Mayo Shattuck ’76? They don’t seem like vanity sites, but neither are they critical.

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Hooves to Udders

Given that the womens tennis team won the national championship in stirring fashion, we can surely forgive them this video.

But props to Coach Swain for her good humored participation.

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Professors: Get Your A Game Ready

… because this future Eph will be watching. I like this kid, she’s got some brass. Williams can always use more students who are willing to stir things up … the highlights:

Emily Perry is the valedictorian, an athlete, a peer tutor and the head of the Science Olympiad. She is also the center of controversy in the wake of her speech before a group of Classical High School alumni.

In her April 30 address at the school’s alumni association dinner, Perry did the unthinkable: she criticized the teaching at Classical, the only Providence high school that routinely sends graduates to elite colleges, the only school where students must pass an examination for admission.

“While we have several teachers who truly care and are good at their jobs,” Perry said, “there are far too many who operate on cruise control. As a teacher who was recently laid off from the science department said, many teachers want to come to Classical, not for the challenge of teaching exceptional students, but for the relief provided by a relative dearth of behavioral problems.

“This is not as difficult as it sounds,” she said in her speech. “Many of the best teachers can easily be recognized. They are the ones who are here before and after school … To improve the school and make Classical truly great, the administration needs to demand more from the teachers and the teachers, in turn, demand more from and deliver more to their pupils.”

Perry, who plans on majoring in bio-geology at Williams College, tempered her criticism by saying that the student body as a whole works hard and deserves recognition. She also pointed out that many of the school’s challenges stem from chronic funding shortages and a system that rewards seniority at the expense of youthful talent.

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Fibonacci This

DeWitt Clinton ’98 is a fan of Fibonacci functions and other simple examples for evaluating computer languages.

You can tell a *lot* about how a language works by looking at those simple examples. Does it encourage and/or optimize for tail-recursion? Does the language use strong typing / type annotations / type inference? Parameter pattern matching? Does it feel functional vs. imperative? Compare a Fibonacci implementation in Lisp to ML to C to Java to Scala and the differences are immediately apparent.

Indeed. DeWitt gives some fun examples but, for some reasons, fails to use R. Here is one (modified from this.):

> fib <- function(n){if(n <= 2) {if(n >= 0) 1 else 0 } else fib(n-1) + fib(n-2)}
> fib(10)
[1] 55
>

I think that this could be made slightly tighter and more elegant. Suggestions?

In a few years, every class at Williams that uses statistics will use R. The best professors have already switched over. Why haven’t you?

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My White Friends

The Wall Street Journal reports:

But after classes — and after the occasional Obama rally — most black and white students on college campuses go their separate ways, living in separate dormitories, joining separate fraternities and sororities and attending separate parties.
[David Sparks]

“It’s much harder to be a white person and go to an all black party at Duke than vote for Obama, says Jessie Weingartner, a Duke junior. “On a personal level it is harder to break those barriers down.”

The Williams connection?

Some blacks respond that black students — like all students — room with people they are comfortable with. What’s more, they say living among backs eases some of the pressure and isolation of being a minority at a predominantly white institution.

“When I was at Williams [in Williamstown, Mass.] I thought I had a lot of white friends,” says Ashley Brown, a black graduate student at Duke. “But I look on Facebook and I see that they all go to visit each other. But none of them come down here to visit me.” She pauses. “Of course, I haven’t gone to see them either.”

Brown is class of ’07, so she was at Williams during free agency (when there was significant self-segregation by students, both by race and within some sports) and during the neighborhood system. Do more white students live with black students now that Morty has ensured that each neighborhood has 25% of the black students on campus?

Of course, what we really need is a senior thesis which looks at racial interactions at the Williams of today. Is there a “black table” at Paresky? Are rooming groups racial mixed? Such a thesis would be read by dozens of people and could be supported in a wide variety of departments, e.g., Economics, Political Science, Math/Statistics, and Sociology. Who will write it?

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How Many Seniors at Hilton Head?

In our discussion of the (new) tradition of many Williams seniors spending the time between final exams and graduation festivities at Hilton Head, poiyay wrote:

I cannot comment with any authority on the origins of this idea, although it was pretty well established when I went last year. I would guess that smaller groups started going 7-10 years ago and it has been increasing in popularity since. Last year, I would estimate that at least 80% of the senior class was there.

80%?!? Wow. That is pretty amazing. Is it accurate? Are there really 400 Williams seniors at Hilton Head this week-end? There was some effort to create a listing on WSO, but it went nowhere.

Also, surely EphBlog reader can help nail down the history of this event. I am fairly sure that no one went to Hilton Head in the spring of 1988. Did you go? Did you know anyone who did?

What Eph deserves credit for starting what sounds like an amazing tradition?

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1988 Yearbook: Page 230

Click below for full image:
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Captions Sought

“Isn’t it obvious Tim? I am wearing yellow in preparation for my 10th reunion at Williams College.”

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Alumni in Wikipedia

The Wikipedia category Williams College alumni provides for fun surfing. Yet it is hardly comprehensive. Surely there are more than 158 Ephs in Wikipedia. Turns out that there are, but they lack the key tag in their page. For example, I just updated Hal Steinbrenner ’91 by adding this on the bottom of his page:

[[Category:Williams College alumni]]

Want to help? Ensure that every Eph in Wikipedia has a similar tag. Here is a good place to start.

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Wait List Data

Another interesting piece of data from the 2007-2008 Common Data Set (pdf) concerns statistics for the wait list.

C2. Freshman wait-listed students (students who met admission requirements but whose final admission was contingent on space availability)

Do you have a policy of placing students on a waiting list? Yes
If yes, please answer the questions below for fall 2007 admissions:

Number of qualified applicants offered a place on waiting list: 1,553
Number accepting a place on the waiting list: 682
Number of wait-listed students admitted: 67 admitted, 51 matriculated
Is your waiting list ranked? No

It seems that this data is for the class of 2011. Has anyone heard what happened for the class of 2012?

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1988 Yearbook: Page 229

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Ephs and the Primaries Collide

Massachusetts Attorney General and notable Eph Martha Coakley ’75 has just put herself out there in support of Hillary Clinton (she is a Dem super). She is the only super of the week for Clinton so far. She said:

Regardless of the outcome of the primary, Mrs. Clinton’s energy, stamina, and resolve have changed the course of history for women seeking office, including the presidency, and I dare say, have changed the course of history of Presidential politics in the United States. It is for these reasons that I will vote for Hillary Clinton in August at the Nominating Convention.

A nice thing to say, but has a rather defeatist ring to it – “regardless of the outcome” telegraphs her prediction of how this will ultimately end up, no?

Even though I probably won’t stay up late enough out here in the east, I want to send a shout out to my fellow Oregonians (some of whom read this blog) who are voting, well at least having their mail-in ballots counted, today. It is pretty exciting that my home state matters this year!

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