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EphPlanet: End-of-year roundup

MoCA
  • Marc Lynch has a series of insightful posts on the geopolitics of Gaza. Go to his blog and start reading.
  • Sam Crane points out the vagueness of Samuel Huntington’s delimitation of “civilizations”.
  • The Mass MoCA blog has some pictures from what looks like a fascinating exhibit entitled Being Here is Better Than Wishing We’d Stayed, and also informs us that Philip Glass will be in North Adams Jan. 16 to talk about his work on film.
  • BRAAAAINS

  • More impossibly cute babies.
  • Jennifer Mattern writes a heartbreaking post about spending the first Christmas after a split.
  • Juliana Stone finally feels at home at college.
  • Ariel Ramchandani interviews the head curator of the Museum of Arts and Design in New York, which looks simply stunning.
  • Chad Orzel starts a helpful discussion on what makes a dissertation.
  • Hockey at Wrigley? I’m not sure how that works, but Sam Flood will be producing the broadcast, New Year’s Day on NBC Sports.
  • Congratulations to John Szawlowski, First Team All American
  • Liv Osthus gives great quote in an article about the portrayal of sex workers on reality TV:

    “It’s gross. It’s retarded,” is how Portland’s Liv Osthus, whose strip club persona is Viva Las Vegas, dismisses such fare. “I don’t like to see women brought down to the harpy level. We are not these Howard Stern, hypersexual, punch line characters,” she says. “We are really entrepreneurial, healthy, and intelligent, and do this by choice.”

    I’m most surprised by the fact that there’s at least one type of job interview where saying you went to Williams College doesn’t result in blank stares and crickets chirping:

    When Osthus got the casting people on the phone, told them she was a Williams College grad, in a rock and roll band, and — oh, yeah, a headlining stripper, the producers immediately put the couple on a plane.

  • Daniel Drezner points to this absolutely awesome smackdown laid down by Mika Brzezinski’s dad:

Happy new year, everyone.

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Naming Conventions

This fun WSO thread on heating included comments from Christophe Dorsey-Guillaumin and Sydney Pitts-Adeyinka. What happens if Christophe marries Sydney? Can we expect to see an Emily Pitts-Adeyinka-Dorsey-Guillaumin in the class of 2041? Or would that be Emily Dorsey-Guillaumin-Pitts-Adeyinka?

Now, obviously, Christophe and Sydney are no more responsible for their names than I am for mine. My point here is not to mock them, or even to mock their parents. I am really curious about the sociology behind hyphenated last names (surely this would make a great entry for Stuff Williams People Like) and the likely future evolution of the trend. What happens when such Ephs get married? I am honestly curious. And, yes, this is Stuff Williams People Like.

And, just to burnish my own progressive credentials, I can honestly claim to be one of the first male Ephs to seriously propose taking his bride’s maiden name in marriage. Captain Fang would have been a kick-ass title in the Marine Corps . . .

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Discussants Wanted

Here is the rough draft of the syllabus for this year’s CGCL Winter Study seminar. I am still arranging the material, but the draft is stable enough to seek discussants. If interested, please either contact me (dave at kanecap . com) or leave a note in the comments to this post.

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Variable Rate Debt

Inside High Ed reports:

Moody’s Investors Service warned Monday that colleges with variable interest rates on their debt may face additional risks in light of problems with credit markets and the economy. The report, “Risks of Variable Rate Debt No Longer Hidden,” notes that 73 percent of private colleges and universities rated by Moody’s issued at least some variable rate debt, and 29 percent of those institutions issued at least 50 percent of their bonds with variable debts.

Williams has variable rate debt. Should we be concerned?

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Spoken Up-Summary #1

This post is a summary of a discussion on “Speak Up” . It was inspired by LG’s first comment in the thread and contains some wonderful anecdotes about the takeover of Hopkins Hall, the first female Ephs, and a bit of history on early Catholicism at Williams.

Feel free to add to the discussion if inspired. Read more

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Speaking of gals with guns …

pistol-packin

 

 

 

 

 

 

as we are in the DC post below. 

http://www.ephblog.com/2008/12/27/march-dc-condo-prices-by-neighborhood/

Well, first in line is the 1943 hit ‘Pistol Packin’ Momma’ introduced by Bing Crosby and the Andrews Sisiters (later covered by everybody and his brother including Ol’ Blue Eyes).

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uMDsV_lurd8

And ‘Pistol Packin’ Momma’ became the name of choice for WWII aircraft, including this B-17 ferried to Europe from Columbus, Ohio by the WASP (Women Airforce Service Pilots), the first women to fly combat aircraft.

‘Patty’s Got a Gun’ moves right along to Patty Hearst and the 70’s in this new book by William Graebner.

http://www.press.uchicago.edu/presssite/metadata.epl?mode=synopsis&bookkey=314743

Sidebars are the affliction of the attention-span challenged.

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Eph Spotting

A nice story from Andrew Wang ’08.

I just thought I’d clue you in on a random alumni encounter I had about a month ago. I’ve been studying Chinese in Taiwan for the past three months, and as anybody who’s been to Taipei can tell you, convenience stores are ubiquitous. One night, I was sitting down in a 7-11 scarfing down a quick dinner before I was to meet up with friends, and a thirty-something Asian man tapped me on the shoulder and asked in perfect English, “Excuse me, but did you go to Williams?” (I just so happened to be wearing my Williams sweatshirt that day). It turns out he was a Williams alum, class of 1998, and he was vacationing in Taiwan. If I recall correctly, he was working in Shanghai, and his name was Ken. Unfortunately, aside from telling him my name and the fact that I’d just recently graduated, I couldn’t really have a conversation with him, as I was already running late.

What’s the most unusual place that Williams has come up for you? My story involves Marine Corps Office Candidate School in Quantico, Virginia . . .

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Keenly Progressive

Think that Morty is working too hard, worrying about the future of Williams during the worst financial crisis in a generation, not even considering his future at Northwestern? Think again.

A former foe will accelerate his assimilation as a newfound friend of Northwestern football and other athletics when NU’s incoming president-designate arrives in San Antonio this weekend for the Alamo Bowl.

Morton Schapiro, the president of keenly progressive Williams College in northwestern Massachusetts, confirmed Tuesday he’ll be the guest of retiring NU president Henry Bienen when the No. 22 Wildcats (9-3) face No. 25 Missouri (9-4) on Monday night at the Alamodome (ESPN, 7 p.m.).

Late last month, the NU board of trustees announced that Schapiro, 55, will succeed Bienen in September. Ironically, when the Cats lost the 1996 Rose Bowl 42-31 to USC, Schapiro was a vice president and dean of USC’s College of Letters, Arts and Sciences.

”I was actually in the locker room and on the sideline for part of that game,” said Schapiro, a noted economist and administrator who left USC to be president at Williams in 2000. ”I remember coming out of the tunnel with the (USC) team and seeing all the purple and thinking, ‘Oh, my God, this is like an away game.’ We were 10 miles from the USC campus and 60,000 in the Rose Bowl were Northwestern fans.”

During Schapiro’s time in Williamstown, the Division III ”Ephs” – pronounced with a long ”e” in honor of college patriarch Ephraim Williams – won 13 NCAA titles in six sports, and three students were named Rhodes Scholars.

Said Dick Quinn, the school’s director of sports information: ”Morty is a great sports fan. I doubt there is another Big Ten president who has caught a field goal at a game. Get ready for him because he walks the sidelines at all home football games. The man is a great sports fan and his ability to remember students and athletes is amazing.”

While Schapiro has yet to formally meet Wildcats coach Pat Fitzgerald, they’ve exchanged e-mails and he expects to be introduced to Fitzgerald this weekend in San Antonio. He also has begun to study other Northwestern teams.

”I was very frustrated the other night because I had to follow the Northwestern-Stanford (men’s basketball) game on the Internet,” the Hofstra alumnus (Class of ’75) said. ”Despite having a (satellite) dish, I couldn’t find it anywhere. Nonetheless, I look forward to watching many, many games and many other student activities in the years ahead.”

Although we all wish Morty nothing but the best at Northwestern, I can’t help but worry that, during the inter-presidentum, no one is cutting the costs that need to be cut.

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No Rush

The New York Times reports:

A FEW weeks ago, the youngest of the 20,953 students at the Storrs campus of the University of Connecticut went shopping for a calculator. Colin Carlson, who lives in nearby Coventry, took his mother along, as she had the driver’s license and the money. He also took a reputation well beyond his 12 years.

Another male student spotted him and said, “Hey, Colin, I hear you’re a babe magnet.” The boy smiled. But with a full course load and the usual schedule of public appearances ahead of him, he had yet to make finding a girlfriend a priority.

All of this convinced Colin that he was ready for college. In his application letter, he wrote: “My ‘issue’ is this. I am currently 11 and will be 12 by the time I matriculate. Please don’t be alarmed by this — I am actually a very mature person.”

Most deans of admissions, however, seemed wary of taking on the legal responsibility for an under-age student. Williams College wrote back: “What’s the rush?”

Well played, Dick Nesbitt. Well played.

Good luck to all our readers working on their own Williams applications.

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March DC Condo Prices by Neighborhood …

Any relation to the discussions of ‘good’ neighborhood/’bad’ neighborhood occurring below in ‘Mugged’?

http://www.dchousingprices.com/2008/07/dc-sales-march-2008-sales-by.html

 

And, please read Hayakawa (introduced in Sociology 1-2 with Fred Schuman in 1953) on “loaded words”:

 

http://books.google.com/books?id=0H1p2sMdyXEC&pg=PA48&lpg=PA48&dq=hayakawa+on+loaded+words&source=web&ots=e_AaQby4fs&sig=upUkGlZ21jTyGrQxnhYQ5-oB5VA&hl=en&sa=X&oi=book_result&resnum=1&ct=result#PPA48,M1

 

 

dc-hood-condo-prices1

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Page 56

From Will Slack ’11 on WSO.

* Catch the book nearest to you. Right now.
* Go to page 56.
* Find the 5th sentence.
* Write this sentence here
* Don’t look for your favorite book or your coolest but really the nearest.

“After deducting non-interest expense, provisioning, and extraordinary items from operating income, what is left is income (earnings) before taxes.”

That’s from The Bank Credit Analyst Handbook by Jonathan Golin. And people wonder why I blog so much . . .

What’s on your page 56?

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Bill Couch ’79 – Deployed to IRAQ

Bill Couch ’79 has been re-deployed to Iraq.  We now have 6 Ephs who are deployed in harms way.

Bill’s deployed address is:

CAPT W S Couch

MNSTC-I / JHQ AT

APO AE  09348

Thank you for your support of my classmate, Bill Couch, and all of the Ephs who are deployed.

Stewart Menking ’79

StewMenking@yahoo.com

Williams College Adopt An Eph Program

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A Christmas Present for MCLA

More applications.

Students are applying to the state’s public colleges and universities in record numbers, as the nation’s financial crisis forces more families to consider less expensive schools. …

Framingham State and Westfield State colleges have seen more than 40 percent increases in applicants from this time a year ago, while the Massachusetts College of Liberal Arts in North Adams has seen a 60 percent jump. Early-action applications at the Massachusetts College of Art and Design in Boston have risen 75 percent.

Good news for Williams’ neighbors.  The article mentions, quite sensibly, that most of these colleges don’t have much of an ability to increase enrollment, so the effect will likely be a somewhat more select incoming class at MCLA.

Also, interesting data coming in on recession effects.

At Framingham State College, where applications for the fall and spring have risen to an unprecedented extent, more than one-third came from families making more than $100,000 annually.

“For a public college, that’s very surprising,” said Nick Figueroa, dean of undergraduate admissions at the college, where annual tuition and fees this year total $6,141. “You tend to see more middle-income families.”

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Old Alum

Laura Huang writes at WSO:

I had my first local *alumni run-in* yesterday morning after an ’86 alum saw my sweatshirt and accosted me (in that eager-alum way). I’d find this remarkable even under normal circumstances just because I live in a very “Oh, you mean William & Mary?” area… but this particular exchange took place along a really random walking trail that my family was checking out on a whim, on a day when all places are closed and everyone’s at home. I can’t wait to spring up unexpectedly on young people wearing Williams gear once I become an old alum.

Indeed. It is every bit as fun as Laura imagines it will be. Try it yourself over the holidays!

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Feliz Navidad.

floridita

 

The old man was in his usual place at the dark wood bar at la Floridita.

In front of him, a stemmed frosted glass, the product of local limes, orange liquor, and white anjejo rum.

He took the glass in his weathered hand, He looked at the sea in the mural of the city behind the bar. He said “Salud”.

The icy liquid slid down easily. It was his first of the day. And it was good. It would not be his last.

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Merry Christmas

Christmas wishes from a very special Eph.

Advocate: Santa, we hear that your planning to return to
Williamstown again for the town 2008 Holiday Walk.

Santa: Yes, Williamstown is one of the most special places on
earth. I’ve been visiting different places for over 200 years and
I’d have to say that your town is one of my favorites.
santa-2008
Advocate: Santa, how long does it take to get here?

Santa: Well, technically my workshop is based in the North Pole but
it’s safe to say that I come from everywhere, given the many, many
places I need to visit to celebrate the Holiday traditions
throughout the world. In fact depending on where I am, I’m
recognized by many different names. A few that come to mind are:
St. Nickolas, Father Christmas, Pere Noel, Pelznickel, Ru-Klaus,
Sante Klaas, Sinter Claes, Grandfather Frost and a few more- that
Ahem.. let’s say the less spirited (or perhaps the too spirited)
have dubbed me. I dare not repeat them for the sake of the children.

Advocate: Santa, is it safe to say that you have a lock on being
the sole commercial icon of the Christmas season?

Santa: There are other players out there – but c’mon … and no
offense intended here but…Befana- an Italian witch on a broom?
Julnissen- the grey-clad giftgiving elf of Denmark? The Russian
Grandfather Frost? I’ll let you decide! Plus, good Christian
children know that the true meaning of Christmas is to celebrate the
birth of the Christ child. As you know, we all answer to a higher
power, and even Santa has a boss, if you get my snowdrift.

Rest of the interview below. Also, read this heart-warming story.

Merry Christmas to Ephs far and wide.
Read more

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Merry Christmas

From Swimming World magazine, here’s a Christmas performance recorded by the Williams College swim team in the middle of a winter training session somewhere warm and sunny:

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Newest Questbridge Ephs

Congratulations to these Ephs from the class of 2013, admitted early decision via the Questbridge program.

Claudia Corona Los Angeles, CA
Kelsey Gaetjens Lihue, HI
Maria Galvez Chicago, IL
Ivory Goudy Decatur, GA
Christopher Hikel Fryeburg, ME
Sarai Infante Bronx, NY
Christopher Simmons Los Angeles, CA
Ginette Sims Westminster, CA
Kwan Tang Brooklyn, NY
Carly Valenzuela Bermuda Dunes, CA
Laura Villafranco Jarrell, TX
Jonathan Wosen San Diego, CA

Gaetjens, Galvez and Wosen were awarded Tyngs.

Congratulations to all!

Questbridge provides background on some of the winners, but I couldn’t figure out how to link directly. So, below, are those descriptions. They seem to be written by the students themselves.
Read more

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Williamstown in Winter

Check out this nice Boston Globe travel feature on Williamstown in the winter.  I note that the Downtown Williamstown website has been nicely fleshed-out.  Anyone hear any scoop on the anticipated start date for the Subway / Purple Pub project?  Students have gone without cheap late night eats and the best off-campus bar for far too long.  I’m also curious to hear whether Paresky has annouced any plans for the former Subway building, which will be demolished at some point (hopefully sooner rather than later as it is quite an eyesore in the middle of downtown).  Considering that this was a hideous building and a waste of valuable Spring Street frontage as a single level-structure, anything that replaces it should be an upgrade.  Although I hope the architects follow the Tunnel City building model, rather than create another hideous suburban strip-mall wannabe like the Spice Root / Sushi Thai Garden building erected after the last major Spring Street fire.

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Not Me

Looking for an Eph connection to the Bernie Madoff scandal? Me too! Luckily, there does not seem to be one, at least as far as Arthur Levitt ’52 is concerned.

Ex-Securities and Exchange Commission boss Arthur Levitt yesterday fired back at critics trying to lay at his feet some of the blame for the Bernie Madoff scandal, saying he wasn’t asleep at the switch.
amd_levitt-speaks
“At this point, I don’t see any evidence that the SEC dropped the ball,” Levitt, who’s now an adviser to private-equity shop Carlyle Group, told The Post.

The 78-year-old Levitt also denied allegations that he had a chummy relationship with Madoff, who last week was arrested on charges of having masterminded a $50 billion Ponzi scheme that has touched everything from hedge funds to charities to European banks.

Some have suggested that Levitt and Madoff were close enough during the eight years that Levitt was SEC chairman that it might have skewed his oversight of the company. Additionally, Levitt said he’s never been an investor in Madoff’s advisory business.

“We were not socially friendly,” Levitt said. “I knew Bernie the way I know [former Citigroup CEO] Sandy Weill or [ex-Merrill Lynch chairman Dan] Tully. He received no special breaks from the commission.”

By 2001, while Levitt was still chair of the SEC, Madoff was already running the largest Ponzi scheme in history. If we can’t blame him, who can we blame? More here.

On the heels of the recent lurid discoveries about Bernard Madoff’s multi-billion-dollar fraud, former SEC Chair Arthur Levitt is quoted in the article as saying: “At this point, I don’t see any evidence that the SEC dropped the ball.”

That comment infuriates me—and likely many others who have spent countless hours this past week listening to the devastation brought upon the life savings of many victims of Madoff’s apparent fraud. It is possible that Madoff made off (sorry for the pun) with billions of dollars of other folks’ money. I think the enormity of the theft needs repeating: Billions of dollars. Billions. And this occurred right under the nose of the SEC, which regulates RIAs and b/ds, and FINRA, which regulates the latter only. We will need to see how this story unfolds to know the extent of the regulatory failure and determine where to point the finger.

Still, what kind of evidence does former Chairman Levitt need in order to recognize that the SEC failed the investing public and the industry? What evidence is required to convince this former industry cop that the streets of Wall Street were not being patrolled … that the squad cars were arriving too late while their occupants were munching on donuts and slurping down coffee?

Indeed.

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Hey Mr Swart- We love and miss you!

Townies and other know it alls in America miss you brother.

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Down How Much?

If the Harvard endowment is down 50%, is it plausible that the Williams endowment is only down 27%? No. Williams is continuing to spend money as if it were a much richer institution than it actually is. The sooner we start cutting costs, the better.

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Glistens on the Highway

Thanks to Nuts for the link to this segment from yesterday morning. Liked the part (around 2:00) when Burnett points out (correctly) that “wind, solar, all these technologies, don’t make sense right now” with gas/oil prices so cheap. Nuts notes:

Erin report to Joe and Mika that auto bridge loan requirements are likely to strip GM common stock of all value.

Cerebrus investors seems to be getting the best end of this government intervention, after a debate that is sadly misinformed with regard to worker compensation and managements’ culpability for the companies financial viability. Foreign transplants are facing the same sales and revenue problems.

The Federal government is favoring the interests of rich, politically connected folks like my three-headed-dog friends? Shocked, I am not.

Burnett ends with “Nobody knows the answer. But I don’t want government telling me the answer. That’s all I can say.”

An Eph after my own heart.

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Brzezinski ’89 Mugged



Background
:

Washington Mayor Adrian Fenty was confronted face-to-face Thursday with some of the district’s crime problems, when it turned out the host of the morning talk show he appeared on had been mugged in the city an hour earlier.

MSNBC’s Mika Brzezinski was mugged outside the Ritz Carlton in Georgetown at about 5 a.m. while waiting for a car to pick her up for the 6 a.m. broadcast of the show she co-hosts with Joe Scarborough, “Morning Joe.”

The anchors did not disclose on air the location or name of the hotel, and did not respond to a question via email, but Mrs. Brzezinski later told the Washington Post it was the Ritz.

Best part is Mika talking about this event giving her parents undue stress and causing them to admonish her to be more careful. What advice should I give my own daughters on the topic of mugging and city life?

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The Longest Night

Rachel Barenblat reflects on the first night of Chanukah:

Today is the December solstice: the shortest day of the year here in the northern hemisphere. And today at sundown we’ll celebrate the first night of Chanukah — chag urim, the holiday of lights.

On the first night of Chanukah, the flame of the single festival light (and the single shamash or helper candle) can feel tiny — maybe especially tonight, against the weight of all that darkness. The solstice and Chanukah always feel congruent to me but it’s rare for the festival to begin on the solstice itself. Night falls early in the Berkshires at this time of year. The longest night is long indeed.

It always takes a leap of faith to choose to kindle light in a time of darkness, to trust that our small flames can actually make a difference in the great cold world. But they can, and they do. Lighting the first candle of Chanukah is a chance to affirm our ability to bring light into the world.

As we kindle the holiday lights tonight, may we rededicate ourselves (as our stories tell us the temple was once rededicated at this season) to the work of creating light. Even, or especially, on the longest, darkest night of the calendar year.

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Little Platoon

Conor Cruise O’Brien, Irish intellectual and former visiting professor at Williams, has passed away. Did any readers study with O’Brien? My roommate reported that the class was excellent, if too large. Former Williams President Frank Oakley reflects on O’Brien’s work in this 1995 essay.

So, where does all of this put me along Conor Cruise O’Brien’s continuum of pessimism to optimism? What I have had to say should place me, I suppose, well towards the outer, pessimistic reaches. But I find myself reluctant to be located on that continuum at all. If I am well aware of the sorry historical record of setbacks and failures, I also cannot help taking heart from some of the successes. Despite the predictions of so many pundits that Portugal and Spain would be unable to make an effective transition to liberal democracy after the ending of the Salazar and Franco regimes, they succeeded in so doing. If so many tyrannical regimes have flourished in Africa, constitutionalist (if not necessarily liberal democratic) orders have survived in Botswana and Zimbabwe, and, against all forecasts, have made an unexpectedly successful start, at least, in South Africa. And, whatever its flaws, a parliamentary, constitutionalist order will soon be celebrating its fiftieth anniversary in the vast reaches of the Republic of India.

Rather than pessimism, I am left simply with a sense of the wisdom, in these matters, of modest expectations, of the importance of attending carefully to the nourishing of grass roots initiatives–the network of voluntary organizations, the collaborative efforts of state agencies with the non-profit–all of those undramatic, piecemeal activities which go to weave and strengthen the very fabric of civil society.

Modest expectations are rarely disappointed. Those interested in the history of thought behind civil society might start with The Great Melody, O’Brien’s masterful biography of Edmund Burke.

Condolences to all.

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Tag your fellow Ephbloggers with a Caricature…

Reggie Dunlop

Which Ephblogger am I “tagging” with this clip? Can you guess?

Please add a clip that captures a caricature of one of your fellow bloggers and let others guess. We will continue this nonsense again later if it works.

UPDATE: Ok. Is this too hard or just boring? Here is a hint, it is not David.

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Supply and Demand

Thanks to nuts for the tip. The Williams action is just a few seconds, but worth a click.

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Williams is SO grateful

About a week ago, I made a small donation to the Williams Annual Fund. Because I am a class agent, I was supposed to do this months ago, but I got around to doing it last week. Fine. A few days later, I got a form letter from a Williams athlete — one of my former teammates, in fact — thanking me for my generosity. Two days after that, I got a slip of paper in an envelope thanking me and confirming that I had made a tax-deductible contribution of such-and-such amount. Then today, I got a handwritten note from someone in the alumni office thanking me for my donation.

Gosh! Three separate mailings? The cost in postage, if I may be so crass as to talk about money, exceeded 10% of the value of my donation. In this time of cost-cutting and belt-tightening, I would expect Williams to perhaps not send so much paper in the mail. On the other hand, perhaps they just want to express a lot of appreciation because they know money is tight nowadays. (Incidentally, I made all my donations to my alma maters at the same time, and have gotten 0, 0 and 1 acknowledgement in the mail from the other three.)

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Welcome Cappy!

cappyCatharine “Cappy” Hill ’76 will be the 17th President of Williams College. You read it here first. We need (or, the powers on the search committee will argue that we need) a quick hire, known to Williams, comfortable with our culture, and experienced with both leadership and hard economic choices. Cappy Hill fits those criteria perfectly.

Quick Hire: The financial crisis makes this the most dangerous era for Williams in a generation. We need new leadership and we need it now. Although it would be nice to conduct a nationwide search lasting a year or more, perhaps installing an interim President like Carl Vogt ’58 in 1999-2000, the College lacks the luxury of time. Hard choices must be made and the earlier they are made, the less damage to Williams. Although Morty will serve as a good steward for the next 9 months, he is in no position to demand sacrifices from various stakeholders nor to make promises as to future benefits. He is a lame duck, with at least one eye focused on his responsibilities at Northwestern. So, Greg Avis ’80 (chair of the executive board of the Trustees and of the Presidential Search Committee) will want to have the job filled no later than this summer. That means a fast search, with a preference for those candidates that Williams knows well already.

Known: Members of the search committee will know Cappy as well as they know virtually any other candidate. She is a Williams alum, a former faculty member and senior administrator. She was a finalist for the presidential search in 1999 that selected Morty. She is a known quantity. Select Cappy and there will be no surprises. The biggest mistake made by the Trustees in the last 20 years was the selection of Hank Payne. They won’t make an error like that again.

Comfortable: Cappy is as comfortable with the Williams ethos as anyone can be. One son is an alumnus and another is a current student! She knows what makes Williams tick, what makes it special. She bleeds purple. And she is a golfer! The greens of Taconic are calling . . .

Leadership: If you had to design the perfect President to lead Williams through a period of economic turmoil and difficult spending cuts, you would have two conflicting goals. First, you would want someone who knew Williams inside and out, who had served as Provost (more or less the chief financial officer of Williams) for many years. Second, you would want someone with experience outside of Williams, ideally someone who had already served as a college president, someone who has insider knowledge of how another elite liberal arts college prioritized its spending, ideally a less-rich college than Williams, a place that spent fewer dollars while providing the same quality education. Unfortunately, those two qualifications are almost never found together in one person, unless that person is named Cappy Hill.

Possible Objections:

1) Williams would not steal Cappy away from Vassar. Hah! Williams stole both John Chandler and Hank Payne from Hamilton without hesitation, after only 5 years in office. Indeed, Cappy is following precisely Chandler’s path of faculty member, department chair, senior administrator and then a different college presidency for seasoning. If Williams was willing to steal Chandler and Payne, we will steal Cappy. Her short tenure (3 years as of this summer) will make Greg Avis ’80 feel guilty, but only a little. His responsibility is to Williams.

2) Williams passed over Cappy once and will do so again. Perhaps. There was something that made Williams choose Morty over Cappy and maybe that something will happen again. But I doubt it. Being runner-up to Morty is still a good showing and her winning the Vassar job means that there was nothing substantively wrong with her application.

3) Williams may want Cappy but she will turn us down. Perhaps. Chair of the Vassar Board of Trustees William Plapinger should be a nervous man. He led the search committee that selected Cappy. He would hate to lose her. If he is smart, he is calling her right now, trying to (gently) pin her down on her future plans, double-checking that her committment to Vassar is as strong now as it was three years ago. He will not want to be so crass as to demand a promise from Cappy that she will remove herself from the Williams search, but he will strongly imply that it is unfair of her to expect him (and other senior trustees) to work hard on the current capital campaign unless she is fully committed to the future of Vassar. Luckily, Cappy is smart enough to put him off.

4) Cappy is a great candidate but there are a dozen others. True! There are many good candidates (and future posts will handicap the race) but none as perfect as Cappy. In fact, I can’t come up with anyone who comes close, at least according to the criteria I outline above. (Suggestions welcome!) She is an even money bet, at worst.

Allow me to be the first to welcome her back to Williams.

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