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I am starting a new category of posts on cost cutting ideas. Feel free to contribute your own. Morty needs all the help he can get since the College’s budget is obviously out of control, at least relative to our newly constrained resources.

First cut? Freshmen Leadership Weekend. To be honest, I have no idea what this is, yet I can be sure that it is not worth the money. You don’t learn leadership at some ersatz weekend boondoggle where you sit around and talk about leadership. You learn leadership by joining some group and trying to get things done.

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#1 Comment By eph On October 27, 2008 @ 8:26 am

Here’s another:

Stop wasting college money on supplying the bandwidth for people to access Ephblog.

#2 Comment By Rory On October 27, 2008 @ 9:59 am

wow. i don’t know what it is, but i know i can cut it!

great advice.

#3 Comment By PTC On October 27, 2008 @ 10:09 am

It should only be cut after the Administration makes a couple of Frosh and Educators defend the program through a series of lengthy briefs that take a lot of time and effort to put together.

You know, graphs and charts and such- hundreds of power point slides with pros and cons and justifications for expenses… you send a low level bureaucrat to look at as if he/she was interested. Then you cut the hell out of it. That’s normally how that kind of thing works David… you know that.

#4 Comment By JeffZ On October 27, 2008 @ 10:18 am

Wow. I think this post sums up why, as Professor Crane recently explained, faculty and admin have such a hard time taking Kane seriously: reflexive opposition to anything and everything bearing certain facial characteristics, regardless of any actual knowlege of what he reflexively opposes.

My proposal: eliminate the econ department. If virtually the entire economics profession was unable to foresee or prevent this crisis, what’s the use? Just let everyone major in art and music, so we at least have pretty pictures to look at and pleasant music to listen to while we all starve to death.

#5 Comment By hwc On October 27, 2008 @ 11:03 am

Reminds me of my favorite quote from Professor Charles Samuel’s film class at Williams:

I don’t have to see a movie to know it’s bad.

And, guess what? He was right. Did anybody here feel like they had to go see Rocky 7 or Die Hard 13 to give the thumbs down?

#6 Comment By hwc On October 27, 2008 @ 11:05 am

My proposal: eliminate the econ department. If virtually the entire economics profession was unable to foresee or prevent this crisis, what’s the use?

I’m actually thinking ritual public hari kari for the entire faculty of the Harvard Business School.

If Williams eliminated the Econ Department, how would it attract all the full-fare customers looking for a ticket to a career in investment banking.

Oh, wait…I forgot. The investment banks just wiped themselves out.

#7 Comment By Rory On October 27, 2008 @ 11:34 am

now we’re making up movies to defend david?

more seriously, its a bad analogy. those films were expressly made not for film professors to enjoy, but for an entirely different audience.

no, wait, actually it’s perfectly apt. Of course David doesn’t need to know anything about FLW to know he doesn’t like it. He’s the film professor. FLW, however, is for the undergraduate students, not the film professor.

#8 Comment By frank uible On October 27, 2008 @ 12:30 pm

In my day there was no FLW. I know that I have a Williams sheepskin around here somewhere (maybe patching a leaky ceiling) and wonder how I was ever able to originally lay my hands on it without having attended FLW. Consequently any reasonable person certainly would surmise that at the very least my name should have been expunged long ago from the roll of alumni, but it hasn’t been – yet. Possibly that failure has been caused by the fact that I’m an old white male (I don’t fully qualify for the superior rank of rich WASP). As you all know, we old white males get more than our fair share of the favors.

#9 Comment By Larry George On October 27, 2008 @ 1:22 pm

Rent out 1/2 – 3/4 of Morty’s house, and thereby bring in some $$ while reducing his compensation package. If we’re tightening the belt and having more students double up, let’s share the pain.

Seriously: reduce some of the Williams extracurricular lectures, etc. It is wonderful to go to a school where one could fill many hours a day going to “free” lectures, concerts, films, shows, and performances but there’s far more than anyone could take advantage of (even assuming no classes or other activities), plus the schedules overlap enormously. In addition, a lot of these events are scheduled during the Division of the Day time, which means that maybe as many as 1/4 of the student body can’t participate in them. Obviously, this is a very important part of the Williams experience and I certainly wouldn’t advocate eliminating it; just cut it back some.

#10 Comment By Ronit On October 27, 2008 @ 1:39 pm

Serious question: What is the actual ownership status of the Williams Club? I recall past discussions about WNY that assumed that the Williams Club building was property of Williams College. If so… well, that building is essentially a townhouse in prime real estate – midtown Manhattan – should be worth a very nice chunk of change. Even with the real estate slump, the Manhattan market is still at or near its peak (and a Japan-style recession might mean that prices won’t see this level again for a long time to come). Something to consider.

#11 Comment By Dick Swart On October 27, 2008 @ 1:57 pm

#12 Comment By Parent ’12 On October 27, 2008 @ 1:58 pm

Williams Club property: I, too, wondered whether it could generate revenue.

Rather than sell it, if part of it could be leased long-term to some small for-profit or non-profit institution.

Could some floors be renovated into small apartments again for long-term lease?

#13 Comment By Derek On October 27, 2008 @ 2:11 pm

Let me defend Dave at least a bit here. I too tend to think leadership institutes and leadership studies programs are a bit dubious. The sort of person who is likely to becaome a leader is going to becaome a leader in a discipline or endeavor or field based on their work in that field. One cannot merely become a leader by desiring to be a leader. And many of the students I’ve seen in leadership programs tend to re-enforce my views. (Students who want to be leaders independent of an actual series of accomplishments in a particular realm remind me a lot of professors who really want to enter admin. I become suspicious of their motives until shown that my worries are unfounded.)
Many of you may not know that Leadership studies has a very Williams connection — James McGregor Burns is the doyen of the field. But he of course developed his own leadership as a political scientist and historian. Nonetheless, because I respect him I do not want to be too harsh about leadership studies. But I have always believed that it was based on a false premise of what leadership is and how it develops and who earns the right to be a leader and how.
So, yes, I would need to know more about the Freshman Leadership weekend before I would advocate cutting or scaling it back. But I will bet that unless things have changed a great deal at Williams, once those Freshmen get onto campus, they had likely best not be pulling some leadership chit on upperclass students because they’ve attended an institute. Because those students, some anyway, would have developed either leadership skills or chosen, formally or informally, student leaders based on the area that needed the leading, and not on leadership-qua-leadership in some vacuum.


#14 Comment By David Kane On October 27, 2008 @ 2:38 pm

Jeff Z claims that I am guilty of “reflexive opposition to anything and everything bearing certain facial characteristics.” Perhaps true! But not in this case. You could, perhaps, make that accusation about my recommendation to cut the Bolin. But what “facial characteristics” do you see here? I have no idea who supports this program, who organizes it or who attends.

Maybe this is run by my buddy James McAllister. Maybe only Williams students interested in the military attend. I have no idea. (And neither does Google.)

Now, my honest guess would be that this is the brainchild of some College bureaucrat in the Office of Campus Life. (Corrections welcome.) But I really don’t care.

It is obvious that this program is not student driven. That no student woke up one day and said, “What we really need is a week-end devoted to leadership for first years.” I want to cut most anything which is not directly connected to students which, in this context, means driven by their ideas and goals.

#15 Comment By Rory On October 27, 2008 @ 2:43 pm

so…now you not only don’t know, but also don’t care?

so convincing and really helpful, i’m sure, to the college’s efforts to trim waste.

this is getting almost as comical as mccain criticizing earmarks he actually voted for.