My diversity’s not big enough.

I wonder how much Nip and Tuck would charge for the procedure?

This morning, a young man dressed in a blue suit with leggings and a billed cap pulled up on a Schwinn Roadmaster bicycle, knocked on my door and presented me with this cable from Rechtal Turgidley, Jr. In keeping with the Retro sense of the experience, I tipped him 25¢.

Here is Rechtal’s report.

This Winter Study V comes to a close just prior to Super Bowl LXIII.

And just as the hard-fought season has brought the Steelers and the Cardinals together in Tampa Bay next week, so to, the rigour and review of the accrediting process has pitted a tough and seasoned review committee against the administration, faculty, and students of our famed alma mater.

However, and strictly as a toss-in, while the outcome of LXIII is very much a question, was V’s accrediting outcome ever in doubt? Had the history department been replaced by the faculty of the Modernella College of Beauty? Had the office of the President been redecorated with $1,645 waste baskets? Had the SOHO (South of Hopkins) neighborhood torched Goodrich? Were students begging on the streets for Blackberry batteries?

I just ask to try to put the focus on the process and values of the review which might be inherent to it.

As I understand the process:

1. Standards for Accreditation are submitted to the college for understanding of them.

2. The College carries out a rigorous self-examination of these standards.

3. The College presents the results of this study to the Committee

4. The Committee comes to campus and reviews the self-study

5. The Committee goes away and writes its’ report and evaluation of the self-study

6. This report is submitted to the College

7. The College replies

8. The Committee replies and states certain areas of possible concern which will be further reviewed at a later date as a continuing part of the required Accrediting.

That’s a hell of a season!

Small wonder the result, which while never in doubt, is, as PTC so aptly says, self-absorbed.

I call readers attention to PTC’s analysis which, as he tells us, ignores the questions of the perception of Williams by those outside “the purple bubble” and the College’s lack of perception of those not inside “the purple bubble”. Telling points and I admire PTC’s view and perspective! Perhaps “Good Local Citizenship” needs to be added to the standards.

My assignment is to comment on points 7 and 8 above, the handshake and singing of The Mountains, if you will.

The preceding points 1-6 were the game. And if there is a value to the report, to me it is not in the recommendations themselves, but in the process per se.

The obligatory development of vision and mission statements, of objective setting by units, of strategy and tactical development against budgets, and contingency planning are well-known and have been experienced by many readers (we even went through this process at the Quark Island Ferry Company), Yet the very act of doing the work is the value in terms of understanding and commitment and a sense of being on the team. Yes, yes. The clichemeister comments on corporate culture. But it’s the differece between having a play book and not having a play book.

Better ways of doing things come out of these processes. And, for the community of educators, and in particular those on this committee, it is in the examining of values and methods at one institution that can take good ideas and spread them to others.

Very good discussions have already been a part of V on specific content over the course of the last week. My out-take is Diversity = Dollars. And Dollars = the weathering of the financial storm of the century (easy to say since the Great Depression was in the last century). The various comments made on ephblog may contain some ideas to add to the self-study previously developed, particularly in the light of 2007 (bulk of the report data) and the situation in 2009.

I have been speaking of process and committees. This very situation often leads to, as has been pointed out by many, a sterility of language and a pulling of punches in outside committee reports. Indeed, some have often complained about consultants that they listen to what you have to say and then say it back to you.

And, of course, fellow students in Dr Dave’s Winter Study V will have already seen when the anodyne is expressed in very long sentences containing many polysyllable words, readability goes right down the tubes.

If you are interested
I find Fogg and Flesch good indicators of the accessibility of a piece of writing.

Yes, yes, I’m coming to my specific assignment.

The Committee has presented its’ detailed report to Williams. And now Williams acknowledges receipt.

7. President Shapiro’s reply. Short and direct. Active verbs, shorter sentences. A sense for the reader that he damn well gets what is said, thanks the committee for its time, notes with reservations its carefully parsed and watered recommendations and will now get on with the business of running Williams.

Hurrah for President Shapiro. Even though written in the first person plural, the first person singular comes across. I don’t believe he is using the Royal We. I think he is recognizing the contributions of so many while accepting the final responsibility. This is a good CEO!

8. The statement of Accreditation. What this was about, after all. Yes, we can go on! When I researched findings, some schools are put on probation and others loose their rating. The committee chooses to point out the same areas of concern reported before, in very temperate language, and with the caveat that these topics would be included at the next recurring review for progress in 2012.

I don’t doubt the need for accrediting institutions. I don’t want to have my gall bladder removed by a graduate of the the Ray Croc University of Hamburger Knowledge, good as it is in training Mickey D personnel.

And I absolutely don’t question the value of an inclusive process and the actions it can produce.

I do believe that the caveats of the committee were in the nature of the earlier reported view of consultants. They played back what was told to them.

And I do believe that the experience benefitted the committee participants, not because Williams is so smart nyahhh, nyahhh. nyahhh, but because the exchange of ideas between institutions and people is so important.

What does this mean for ephblog. Keep on and expand as a medium for the exchange of ideas between members of the Williams community. For the furthering of a school spirit and camaraderie. A part of the reason the outcome of this game was never in question is the wonderful sense of school spirit that produces such active support. This means, as noted in a comment from a reader, the accosting of someone wearing a Williams sweatshirt with a name, a class, and a hand shake!


1. PTC has presented a view of “the Purple Bubble”. Do you agree or disagree or find another view. Is the view of enough value to be included in administrative decisions and evaluations such as the process just completed?

2. Is the review about accrediting or is there another agenda?

3. The wording of some standards allows for individual institutional particular goals and missions. . Thus the definition of ‘diversity’ might be at the discretion of the institution. What role should the accrediting process play in achieving societal goals?

4. Given that the accrediting of Williams was never a question, what values do you see coming out of the review? Were any new specific ideas/insights added by the committee? Should the process be ‘streamlined’ in any way?

5. Was the Williams response sufficient to or lacking in proportion to the committee’s report? What changes, if any, would you have made to President Shapiro’s reply?

(I shall send this missive by cable to Swart for posting. I hope a suitable delivery service is available in Hood River)

Rechtal Turgidley, Jr
Quark Island, Maine

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