Currently browsing the archives for May 2009

Older Posts »

Year of the (Eph)woman

2008-09 was simply an incredible year for women’s athletics at Williams.  In a still strong but, by Williams’ immensely high standards, relatively down* year for men’s sports, especially men’s team sports (none of which made the NCAA’s or won a conference championship), women’s sports featured a wide variety of noteworthy accomplishments, and carried the Ephs to the come-from-behind projected Director’s Cup victory.  To recap some of the most impressive moments:

(1) Tennis wins its second straight national title by upsetting top-ranked Amherst in the national championship.

(2) Crew wins an unprecedented FOURTH straight national title in dominating fashion — consequently, the seniors graduate without ever smelling second place.

(3) Volleyball overcomes a rough start to the season with a dramatic run in both the NESCAC and NCAA tourneys, beating Amherst for the NESCAC championship and later trumping Wellesley to clinch a spot in the Elite Eight.

(4) Lacrosse makes a Cinderella run through the NESCAC tourney, stunning top seed Tufts before narrowly losing in the conference championship game, making its first NCAA tourney since 2003 in the process.

(5) Soccer captures the NESCAC Championship for the second straight year with a dramatic, come-from-behind overtime win over Amherst, wrapping up two straight years of undefeated NESCAC play, and advances to the Final Four for the second time in its history.

(6) Cross country has its best season since 2005, finishing third at the NCAA tourney.

(7) An incredible three Ephwomen (Lauren Sinnenberg ’10, Logan Todhunter ’12, Joey Lye ’09) are featured in Sports Illustrated’s Faces in the Crowd.  One other current Ephwoman (Amanda Nicholson ’09) was previously featured in that section.

(8) Swimming has its usual strong year, finishing fourth nationally.

(9) Highlighting many notable individual accomplishments, Lauren Philbrook won the national championship in the  10,000 meters among other impressive finishes in cross country and indoor and outdoor track, Joey Lye set a variety of records for women’s softball en route to earning conference player of the year honors, and Logan Todhunter (only a first year) had a record-shattering year in women’s swimming.

Just an astounding body of work viewed in the aggregate.  Congrats to all.

Early prediction: while it will be hard for the women to EVER top this year, next year the Ephmen are inspired to respond in huge fashion by raising their game with (a) another big year from wrestling, (b) at least one national top-three finish (cross country and tennis are top candidates), (c) at least two sports that missed the tourney returning to the NCAA’s (soccer, golf, basketball, baseball, lacrosse, and hockey are all strong candidates to improve), and (d) at least one surprise NESCAC title from a team that hasn’t won in several years.

*Wrestling is the lone exception as the men’s team that exceeded both expectations and its historical performance levels.


Women’s Crew 1V & 2V in DIII Grand Final (live video)

Watch the NCAA Women’s Rowing Championships here. The Grand Final, which will feature two Williams boats, is scheduled to start at 11:30 AM.

Congratulations to the women’s crew team for an excellent showing – Williams is the only school to send two teams to the DIII Grand Final this year – a recap from the Williams Athletics site:crew

The Eph Varsity 1 boat cruised to a Heat 1 victory this morning to advance directly to the Grand Final tomorrow morning. The Eph margin of victory was 17.90 seconds as they crossed the finish line in 7:04.30, beating second place Smith (7:22.20).

NESCAC showed its rowing excellence as Bates 1V won the second heat (7:06.09) and Trinity 1 beat Ithaca 1V with a time of 6:58.10 in advancing to the Grand Final.

The Eph 2V came in third in Heat 3 in a time of 7:10.40 to earn a spot in the Grand Qualifier at 2:45 PM today. Joining the Eph 2V boat in the Grand Qualifier will be Smith 1V, St. Lawrence 1V, Puget Sound 1V, Trinity 2V and Ithaca 1V. The top three finishers in the Grand Qualifier advance to the Grand Final and the boats finishing 4th through 6th will enter the Petitie Qualifier.

Of the six boats entering the Grand Qualifier the Eph 2V posted the second fastest time in the morning with only Ithaca 1V finishing with a faster time (7:02.70).

In the afternoon Grand Qualifier, the 2V won in a time of 6:46.27, over a full second ahead of runner-up Ithaca, which was winning after the first 500 meters.

Scoring for the NCAA Rowing championships is baed on the finish of both boats and it is most advantageous to place two boats in the Grand Final and the Eph 2V boat will be aiming to make the Grand Final with a top three finish this afternoon.

Saturday’s schedule features the Third Final for teams that finished 13-16 on Friday at 11:00 AM. The Petite Final comprised of boats finishing 7-12 on Friday will start at 11:15. The Grand Final featuring the top six boats from Friday will go off at 11:30.

The Division III Awards Ceremony is scheduled to begin at 12:00 PM.

Go Ephs!

[bumped after adding correct live video stream info]


Get it Back

Erin Burnett ’98 asks if we taxpayers are ever going to get back the money that we have “invested” in GM?

Answer: No. Full analysis here.

UPDATE: Why doesn’t the embedded video that I have inserted in the post (but which you can’t see the code for unless you are an EphBlog administrator and click the edit button) work? I don’t know. When I click through to the original web page, the CNBC video plays fine for me.

UPDATE 2 from RB: fixed


Technical difficulties?

If you’re having problems with loading ephblog, email me at with a description of the problem, the exact browser and the version of the browser you’re using, your operating system, and a screenshot if possible.

Also, if everything seems to be working fine for you, it would be super if you could let me know that in the comments thread below (again, with browser and OS info). Thanks.

PS: here are some other eph blogs you can read while we fix things around here.

UPDATE: feeds are back. Is anyone having problems now?


Adjusting for gunshots

As the academic years comes to a close, Wick Sloane ’76 writes a powerful encomium to his students at Bunker Hill Community College. A few snippets below, but please, go read the whole thing, and share it with anyone you know fortunate enough to be a graduate:

Adjusted for gunshots, my student retention rate for this semester is 81 percent, my all-time high. I teach College Writing 1, an entry-level course. The graduating students signing up for their caps and gowns down the hall from my Bunker Hill Community College office now are two years and more ahead of my students. The national policy spotlights are always on the completion rates for community college students. Beyond “a lot more than today,” no one knows what the completion rates ought to be for this struggling, diverse, multilingual, mostly part-time population of 6.5 million, about half the undergraduates in the nation. […]

By “adjusted for gunshots,” here’s what I mean. I did not count in the starting total Cedirick Steele, who was shot and killed in Dorchester on Thursday of spring break 2007. I did count the mother this semester, who could not complete an assignment about a month ago because her son was shot.

I did count the 20-year-old man whose work and home life barely give him time to read the assignments. I spent an hour with him this morning. “I’ve had a bad weekend. Thursday, a week ago, there was a shootout in front of my house,” he said. “Then, Saturday night, one of my friends was shot in the face. I think he’s going to be eating through a tube for the rest of his life.” This student and I revised his plan for completing the semester. He and the mother agreed to complete the assignments over the summer. […]

I start each semester explaining that the national expectation is that only half of them will complete the course. The reason is the complexity of their lives, whether grueling night jobs at Logan Airport or gunshots or sick children. I give them my name and my cell phone and my e-mail. I tell them they can call any time. No one has abused that. “We’re only all going to make it if we help each other. I want you to get the name and phone number and the e-mail of the person to your left and to your right.” They do. “Now, I want you to shake hands with the person on your left and on your right and say, ‘I am committed to you being here in May (or December).’ ” I ask them to walk around and shake hands with everyone in the class, with the same commitment. The students humor me. […] Students have reported two pieces of (anecdotal) evidence, according to colleagues. The first is that I am “crazy.” The second is that they make strong new friendships in my sections. […]

Eighty-one percent made it, adjusted for gunshots. The economy may be stabilizing. Federal tax policies, which offer tens of thousands to students at the schools I attended, Williams and Yale, and nothing to Bunker Hill students, are the same. Those colleges will try to regain what they lost by taking their endowments to the dog track. My students don’t know if they will have enough money to enroll in the fall. That’s a jeremiad for another day.

The Ones Who Made It To May [Inside Higher Ed]


Big Brother Eph

UPDATE: I added more info and bumped this up. Informed commentary welcome.

Should I be surprised that the Alumni Directory knows the date and location of my wedding?

In response to some of the comments below, I did send in a wedding photo which reported the date and location of my wedding. Impressive if the Alumni Office recorded and kept track of that information! But those of us who have dealt with the Alumni Office on technology issues would be, uh, surprised by that.

Just as a cross-check, here is the info for the first three graduates from the 60’s with last name Jones as listed in the directory.

Marriage Date 08/31/1968
Marriage Place Darien, CT
Marriage Status Married

Marriage Date 06/26/1965
Marriage Place Milledgeville, GA
Marriage Status Married

Marriage Date 03/09/2008
Marriage Place Bermuda
Marriage Status Married


1) Obviously, I will not be reporting anyone’s name or other identifying information. I just wanted to provide a (random?) sample of the data that any other alum could replicate if she wanted.

2) First three Jones from the 60’s is not the world’s greatest sampling plan, but it will do for my point.

3) The third marriage could have easily entered the database via a self-report. And kudos on the choice of Bermuda for marriage location. Very pretty!

4) But just how did the first two marriages end up in the database? I honestly don’t know. Perhaps the College saved the paper report that was submitted along with any pictures from the 60’s and then entered that data by hand when the alumni database was computerized 20+ years after those weddings. Perhaps the College surveyed for that information during a 25th reunion. The first seems to me impossible and the second doubtful.

My guess is that the College has contracted with a firm that provides this sort of data for a fee. Not that there is anything wrong with that! Marriages are a matter of public record in the US. Someone has already gone to the trouble of computerizing them.


Banker’s Bluff

Want to write an amazing senior thesis in economics or political science next year? Tell the story of the Chrysler bankruptcy. Start with the Wall Street Journal.

biz034bPresident Barack Obama’s auto task force heard a blunt message early this spring from J.P. Morgan Chase & Co., the largest lender to Chrysler LLC. In any deal to remake the troubled auto maker, Chrysler would have to repay its lenders all $6.9 billion it owed.

“And not a penny less,” said James B. Lee Jr., vice chairman at the bank, in a call to auto task-force boss Steven Rattner on March 29.

The next day, Mr. Obama called the banker’s bluff. The president stepped before a podium to announce that Chrysler could face a disorderly bankruptcy or even liquidation. His meaning was clear: If that happened, the lenders would get nowhere near $6.9 billion.

A few hours later, Mr. Lee called Mr. Rattner back. “We need to talk,” he said.

Indeed. That’s Jimmy Lee ’75, subject of several EphBlog posts and most successful Eph banker of his generation. He and his wife Elizabeth (also class of 1975) donated enough money to get their name on a plaque at the Paresky snackbar. Further discussion below.
Read more


I Miss College

Where else can one have a water balloon fight, patrol for bears, engage in random library hook-ups, debate the meaning of a liberal education, and of course, play trivia all night, all while you SHOULD be studying for final exams?


Update on Williams Track Book

I have conducted several interviews both online and over the phone for the Williams track book. There’s been some good material going as far back as the class of 1950. I hope to add to it and have replied to a few inquiries with lists of questions, but I am waiting for responses. So please, if I emailed you some questions, do get back to me. Thanks! Joel Richardson


Due to Start at Williams College


Thanks to Jeff for pointing toward this article from the Daily Mirror.

Princess Eugenie made another solo foray into her royal duties yesterday as she attended a function at Chelsea’s Stamford Bridge ground along with club star Frank Lampard.

HRH was there to support the Hong Kong Down Syndrome Association Dragon Football Team and support her friend, businessman and socialite David Tang.

Her first official royal engagment was in February last year at a cancer ward for teenagers in Leeds.

Apparently, Eugenie, plans to spend some time over the summer working for her mother’s Children In Crisis charity before going to university in the autumn.

The sixth in line to the throne, she’s spent a gap year doing a bit of travelling around the globe and is due to start at Williams College in Massachussetts this autumn.

It’s a private college that specialises in the arts but her attendance has sparked rows about how much it would cost in royal security protection officers.

That’s not consistent with this note from Richard Palmer, Royal correspondent on the Daily Express, telling us that “Eugenie is definitely NOT coming to Williams.”


1) Was Princess Eugenie accepted into the class of 2013? My guess is Yes. If she had not applied and been accepted, I would wager that Williams officials would not have gone out of their way to have a private meeting with her her mom, the Duchess of York, last month.

2) Has Princess Eugenie sent in a deposit to save her place? My guess is Yes. Even if she and her family are unsure about next fall, sending in a deposit is a cheap way to keep options open.

3) Will Princess Eugenie be attending Williams in the fall? I have no idea. “Due to start” seems fairly definite. Why would reporter Jody Thompson write this if it weren’t true?

4) Other articles about the event (here, here and here) don’t mention Williams.

UPDATE: By the way, is “a private college that specialises in the arts” the sort of branding that we are looking for? (Thanks to Rory for point that out and to LG for the correction about her met with Williams officials.)

UPDATE II: Only EphBlog gives you this kind of inside scoop.

At the moment, 556 members of the class of 2013 have had accounts created on the Williams network. None of them are named Eugenie. Take from that what you will.

Seems like no Princess Eph.


Bet Me

Vermando challenges me.

You can have Bolin or you can have crew. You can’t have both. Choose.

Premise rejected. He hates one, loves the other, and is trying to make us choose. That’s good rhetoric but crap logic.

I will bet David $50 that in the 2011-2012 school year that Williams will have both. Don’t think we can have both? I call BS.

Bet accepted! Details below.
Read more


Olmsted Teaching Prizes

Not sure if I’ve ever mentioned this before, but one of my absolute favorite things about Williams graduation is the awarding of the George Olmsted Jr., Class of 1924, Prizes for Excellence in Secondary School Teaching (to use their full name).  I loved nominating one of my high school teachers, and I embrace fully the idea of Williams recognizing those who helped get the fabulous students to Williams in the first place.  Tom Friedman wrote about them in his column back in 2005 after speaking at graduation that year, providing a nice bit of notoriety for this great program.  A great quote from Morty in that article:

“When you are at a place like Williams and you are able to benefit from these wonderful kids, sometimes you take it for granted. You think we produce these kids. But as faculty members, we should always be reminded that we stand on the shoulders of great high school teachers, we get great material to work with: well educated, well trained, with a thirst for learning.”

I noticed in our feed from Williams (on the left side there for those who may not have noticed) that the prizes were announced yesterday (click here for the full press release).  I don’t expect that everyone will read below the fold, so I wanted to put their names here on the front page…after the jump I’ve put in a few highlights from the full release.  For those who don’t know, the winning four teachers get flown in with their families for graduation and are recognized as part of the overall graduation hoopla.  They receive a cash prize and their respective school receives a donation as well.  Please do follow the links above for more info on the program.

  • Bradley E. Conant, Dirigo High School in Dixfield, Maine
  • Karen S. Franke, Kennett High School in North Conway, N.H.
  • Jeffrey C. Markham, New Trier High School in Winnetka, Ill.
  • Tracey M. Wilson, Conard High School in West Hartford, Conn.

Congratulations to the winners, and thanks again to all of those high school teachers who inspired us, guided us, and also pushed us when that was needed!

Anyone have a particular high school teacher or coach that influenced you in a way you still remember?  Please share stories in the comments…. Read more


Tiny Liberal-Arts College

Gadfly writes:

The University of Michigan has 26 varsity sports (including cheerleading); Duke has about 22. So how much sense does it make for a tiny liberal-arts college to support 32 varsity teams?

A lot of sense. Comments:

1) Gadfly ought to join us as an anonymous author. His/her point of view is not well-represented at EphBlog.

2) Although there might come a time when sports need to be cut, there is at least $10 million of cuts that ought to come first. Trim that spending and then we can talk.

3) Gadfly’s opinion is not unusual among Williams faculty. I have had at least two faculty members rail against the stupidity of the Directors Cup to me in person in just the last 6 months. All those who attack me for the cuts I want to make should recognize that, if we don’t make those cuts, there will not be 32 varsity sports at Williams for many more years.

4) I am pro-athlete (and anti-tip). I would like to see Williams have even more teams, especially things like JV lacrosse/baseball and freshmen soccer. There are hundreds of Ephs who would like to play for Williams. There more that they have the chance to, the better.

Moreover, the mission of Williams is to be the best college in the world, and that implies that the students here should have a better experience at Williams than they would have had elsewhere. And sports are a critical part of that experience. Don’t believe me? Ask the women on the crew team. They will tell you that their Williams experience would have been much worse without crew.



Most depressing comment on EphBlog this month? This one from Jeff.

In his Record farewell article, Morty mentions — and this shocked me — that a few varsity sports may have to be cut if the economy fails to improve in a few years.

You were “shocked” by this? Don’t you read EphBlog? Williams is in huge, huge trouble. How many times do I need to say that? Here is the quote from Morty.

He predicted that if the recession continues for several years, the College will reduce its budget in ways similar to other colleges, perhaps by eliminating a couple of the 32 varsity sports teams, forcing staff to take unpaid furloughs and reducing the amount of financial aid offered to international students. “If the recession ends, we’ll never see these things,” Schapiro said. “But if things don’t recover, there will be years of financial difficulty. We’re going to hold to our principles, but we’re going to sacrifice.”

Although I do not think that the Trustees are doing enough, they still plan on spending $8.5 million less from the endowment in 2010-2011 then they will this coming year. Look around at the Williams budget. Think it is easy to find $8 million to cut, especially after all the cuts that have already been made? It isn’t.

One of the reasons that I have been so adamant about cutting the budget now is because, once you have spent money this year, it isn’t coming back. That money is gone forever.

Middlebury just cut spending on crew. Williams is a richer school than Middlebury but not that much richer.

The trade-offs are fairly obvious. Williams spends about $200,000 per year on the Bolin Fellowships. I think that this money is pretty much wasted. (During flush times, I would have preferred to spend that money on Williams professors.) But, even if you think that the spending is valuable, you need to compare it to other things that the College provides, because the recession means that something is being cut.

Once you add in coaching salaries and other expenses, crew probably costs somewhere around $200,000 per year. By keeping Bolin for at least one or two more years, we are jeopardizing a year of crew.

You can have Bolin or you can have crew. You can’t have both. Choose.

UPDATE: Further discussion here


Mayda del Valle ’00 at the White House Poetry Jam

Click here for much larger HD version:


This is the library that you helped to build

We recently received this letter from Noah Smith-Drelich ’07 (emphases added):

When I came to the Pine Ridge Reservation two years ago, most of my students hadn’t ever finished a book. It wasn’t that books were too hard; most had never tried to finish a book. Their teachers hadn’t pushed them, and there weren’t many books to read even if they had. And that’s where ephblog stepped in.

In under six months, I have received box after box of books from ephs and friends of ephs–roughly 2,000 books in total! I started with three bookshelves and now I have nine. By the end of the summer I will have eleven. What was once an afterthought of a classroom library has become the most frequented library of any sort for at least thirty miles.

While I sadly won’t be returning to Crazy Horse next year–I will be going to law school in the fall–our books will be back, and I know that students and community members in Wanblee will be reading from this library for many years to come. One student asked me if she could be the librarian when I was gone. Another has been looking up quotes about reading and writing them on sentence strips to hang above the library [see picture below]. One of my older students got so excited by the book drive that she wrote her relatives in Oklahoma who donated ~50 books in a mini book drive all of her own doing! I know that when I leave, my students will be in the right place–hooked on reading with enough great books to last for years.

As an English teacher and an English major, I am rarely at a loss for words. However, I really can’t begin to express my gratitude for the generosity shown by so many of you. Thank you to everyone who helped organize this book drive, and to everyone who donated books. Your books will continue to serve this community for years and years to come.

Pictures and comments from Noah follow. Read more


Ten Years of MassMoca

This weekend, MassMoca celebrated its ten year anniversary.  Its impact on the region, and on North Adams in particular, can not be overstated.  Without MassMoca, there is no Porches Inn.  There is no Gramercy Bistro or Taylor’s Fine Dining.  There is likely no stadium style movie theater in North Adams.  There would not be a viable future for a restored Mohawk Theater.  There certainly would not be a DownStreet Art gallery tour, an initiative that has turned a bad economy into a positive local enterprise by doubling its utilization of vacant downtown space in just one year.  (It’s just a shame that all of the MassMoca-spurred development occurred subsequent to the criminally stupid “urban renewal” that destroyed much of North Adams’ historic downtown in favor of a strip mall …).

Kudos to MassMoca founder Thomas Krens ’69 and founding (and current) Director Joseph Thompson ’81, two Ephs who had the vision to see something spectacular where everyone else just saw blighted, abandoned factory buildings in a town decimated by industrial upheaval.  It is a testament to the strength of their vision that, only ten years later, the notion of repurposing industrial buildings in blighted or rural communities as a means of economic revitalization has become almost trite.

And MassMoca continues to be a pioneer: with its recent highly-regarded Sol Lewitt installation, its partnership with the Clark, its continued integration of commercial and municipal space into its complex, its outreach to kids, and its environmental initiatives.  All in all, the museum is arguably the largest contribution Williams and its alumni have made to the greater Berkshire region in recent memory.


Tales from the Darkside

So, I attended Amherst’s Commencement this weekend … thought I’d share a few tidbits:

— Overall, like Williams, Amherst is incredibly well-run, and the school put on a memorable weekend for all involved.

— Common theme from every speaker throughout the weekend: predictably, the economy.  Kind of got depressing after awhile, actually.  I felt that, while certainly the collapse and its implications needed to be acknowledged, it was overemphasized.  The only person who achieved the proper balance in my view was the student class speaker, who noted the economy but still made his speech primarily about the Amherst experience.  (He is a tour guide, and employed a very clever framing device in which he reflected on truths and lies told on the Amherst tour.  That also yielded the best line of his speech, something to the effect of, I’ve given the Amherst spiel so many times that I could almost recite it walking backwards …).

— Speaking of which, the seniors all listened to brief auditions for class speaker prior to voting on the winning orator.  The winner was, I imagine not coincidentally, outstanding (despite noting that “Williams College is a horrible college,” a reference to a t-shirt I observed on more than one occasion on campus).  This is an idea Williams should steal.

— On the topic of stealing ideas, Amherst stole Williams’ Olmstead Awards idea (Amherst has been awarding these for 12 years, Williams for 25).  To add insult to injury, Amherst named its version of these awards for Zephenia Swift Moore.  But, if Amherst is going to steal something, this is definitely something worth stealing.

— There is, however, no outside speaker, just the college President.  That went, ummm, far less spectacularly.  (The first ten minutes of the speech involved a Cliffs-notes recap of the financial crisis, followed by the President’s opining that individual greed rather than collective responsibility was responsible — yes, it really was that platitudinous.  He officially lost the crowd about two minutes in ….).

— There is no equivalent to the student-centric Ivy Exercises, which I thought was a shame.  Like Williams, Amherst does have a Baccalaureate Service (which, as one might expect from a NESCAC school, was sufficiently politically correct and featured a Muslim, Hindu, Buddhist, Catholic, Jewish, Christian, Orthodox, and non-believer component).

— Random senior class tradition: each senior received a wooden walking cane for graduation — which led to the odd sight of a huge number of 22 year-olds employing those canes later that afternoon, not to mention the equally odd sight of bunch of canes going through metal detectors at the airport later that evening.  Of course I am biased, but I think the watch-dropping kicks that particular tradition in the butt :) …

— Coolest thing by far at Amherst: its Museum of Natural History.  The brand new building is spectacular (not to mention the only noteworthy contemporary building on campus), and the contents are even more spectacular.  Definitely worth a visit if in the area.  On the other hand, I’d skip the art museum, which (predictably) is far, far inferior to the WCMA.

— Most impressive thing about the physical plant: the dorms.  All of the frosh dorms are newly renovated and are incredible, one in particular which used to house the prior incarnation of the Natural History Museum and resembles a ski lodge at Vail.  Any tour going through the most newly-renovated frosh dorm is sure to come away impressed.  Amherst has also recently constructed two huge, gorgeous upperclassmen dorms, both with spectacular views.

— Least impressive thing about the physical plant: everything else.  Amherst is way, WAY behind Williams in terms of its non-dorm facilities.  The Amherst student center is definitely looking worse for wear (stylistically, it reminded me of the interior and new addition to Hopkins — unsurprising considering the buildings were built at the same time — only a lot shabbier).  Paresky absolutely destroys its interior, both aesthetically and in terms of functionality, and I actually prefer the Paresky exterior as well (the Amherst exterior is not nearly as daring or ostentatious as Paresky, so some might prefer it, but it is boring and the design is not aging well at ALL).  There is, moreover, no Goodrich equivalent so far as I can tell.  The main Amherst library is in even worse shape than Sawyer, believe it or not.  The lone dining hall on campus doesn’t come close to matching Williams’ dining facilities / options.  The science complex seems to approximate Williams’ science complex prior to the construction of the Unified Science Center.  Other than the building that houses the Natural History Museum, none of the academic buildings struck me as particularly impressive.  Amherst is in the middle of a fund raising drive, which I learned will support major renovations to its science and library complexes, but Williams is definitely WAY ahead in terms of physical plant needs in all areas but for dorms (and even when it comes to dorms, Williams is in MUCH better relative shape, as Williams has recently renovated most of its dorms, just not to the spectacular degree as Amherst).  I imagine to do the job right, Amherst will have to spend nearly as much on renovating its library as Williams’ remaining obligation on the new Sawyer.  And that still leaves Amherst with massive prospective outlays on crucial student life and science facilities if it hopes to keep up with the Williamses.

(*NB: I realize some on this blog have recently opined that physical plant expenditures contribute little to the educational experience; I am not trying to argue either way here, but rather simply make an observation.  Also, I don’t think the different levels of physical plant outlays reflect a difference in philosophy between the institutions, but rather a difference in timing.  Because the new buildings Amherst has constructed / gut-renovated are just as over-the-top luxurious as the newer buildings on the Williams campus).

— It would be very, very difficult to distinguish (without the aid of t-shirt slogans) a group of 20 random Amherst students vs. 20 random Williams students.  The only SLIGHT difference I noted is that there seemed to be a bit more of a stark divide, both in appearance and socialization, between jocks and non-jocks at Amherst, while at Williams there might be a bit more of a continuum.  But perhaps that observation was influenced by my preconceived notion on that point.

— Amherst’s senior class t-shirt: I Survived Swine Flu.  Awesome.

— There is no single location on Williams’ campus that is nearly as gorgeous or memorable as Amherst’s enormous, impressive central quad.  (Although I do believe Williams’ campus will at least finally have a similar true functional and aesthetic “center” between Stetson and Paresky once the Stetston-Sawyer project is completed).  But the Williams campus feels larger and less cloistered, is more interesting / diverse in terms of architectural styles, and offers a far greater variety of  noteworthy settings (Berkshire Quad, the row houses, the science quad, Mission Park area) than Amherst, which outside of the absolutely stunning main quad area, felt sort of like a closely-clumped and randomly arranged afterthought.  Without a doubt, the difference in architectural styles mirrors the difference in mascots and school colors: the Williams campus feels open, quirky, and fun, whereas Amherst’s feels traditional, impressive, and stuffy.  On the other hand, Amherst does not have to deal with Route 2, which is a huge plus.  In terms of natural surroundings, Amherst features one jaw-droppingly gorgeous view.  Williams, of course, features such views from almost everywhere on campus …

— Back on the topic of speakers, given that Clarence Otis is a businessman, his forthcoming address is expected to — and I am sure will — hit on the economy, but I hope that he and other speakers are not AS overwhelmingly focused on present economic conditions, and also discuss broader aspects of the Williams experience and the long-term future for graduates.  The last thing everyone in attendance needs is yet another sobering reminder of just how much the graduates’ lives are about to suck.


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.

I saw the mountains of Williams
As I was passing by,
The purple mountains of Williams
Against the pearl-gray sky.
My heart was with the Williams men
Who went abroad to die.

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.

The years go fast in Williams,
The golden years and gay,
The hoary Colleges look down
On careless boys at play.
But when the bugles sounded war
They put their games away.

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 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.

They left the peaceful valley,
The soccer-field, the quad,
The shaven lawns of Williams,
To seek a bloody sod—
They gave their merry youth away
For country and for God.

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.

God rest you, happy gentlemen,
Who laid your good lives down,
Who took the khaki and the gun
Instead of cap and gown.
God bring you to a fairer place
Than even Williamstown.

Note: As long as there is an EphBlog, there will be a Memorial Day entry, a tribute to those who have gone before. Apologies to Winifred M. Letts for bowdlerizing her poem, “The Spires of Oxford.”


Memorial Day

The Man in the Arena

“It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs, and comes short again and again, because there is no effort without error and shortcoming; but who does actually strive to do the deeds; who knows the great enthusiasms, the great devotions; who spends himself in a worthy cause; who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement, and who at the worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who know neither victory nor defeat.”

President Theodore Roosevelt
Speech at the Sorbonne Paris, France
April 23, 1910

The Washington Post has a good tribute.

Marine 1st Lt. Nathan M. Krissoff is there…


Williams in Africa

I noticed that Williams has a “Williams in Africa Initiative” meant to make the College more aware of issues in Africa. In my college search, it is rare that a school has a program so devoted to one part of the world. As a student concerned about genocide and international development, it impresses me that Williams has a strong focus on Africa.

Anybody have any thoughts or know more information about Williams in Africa Initiative?


Hey, Brother, Can You Spare A …


I was talking with a current Williams parent yesterday. She came over to thank me for the alumni-sponsored internships. (I told her, of course, that they were a joint effort by a lot of classes.) Her son was awarded one for this summer, and that $400 a week is going to allow him to undertake a project that should make a big difference when he applies to graduate school in the fall. He’ll be working on the side in a paid (non-career track) weekend job but he couldn’t get in enough hours doing that alone to contribute his part of what the family needs to make the bottom line of that last year of Williams. The student has done very well at Williams and his family thinks that, with this internship project, he should stand in good stead of getting scholarship money for grad school. What his mother said made me very glad that my class had decided to give reunion class money to help endow the alumni-sponsored internship project several years ago.

As far as I can tell, there are very few paying summer jobs out there compared to prior years. What work is there often goes to laid-off older people or, in specialized fields, to graduate students rather than college students. On the internship front, you’d be wrong if you thought people were falling all over themselves to hire unpaid interns. With severe budget and/or staffing cutbacks, many non-profits don’t have the staff to supervise interns and devise helpful, meaningful projects for them to do, and there is a general understanding that even unpaid bodies raise operating costs (lights, copying, use of telephones, etc.).

Even where there still are good internships, families are finding it harder and harder to cover the costs of supporting the children over the summer plus paying all those extra bills even students on full financial aid must meet.

If you work for or are involved with a non-profit, is there some meaningful work, even part-time and unpaid, that you could make into an internship that could at least provide skills, helpful contacts, and a rewarding experience for an Eph? And could you take that student into your home, water your soup a bit, and feed her or him, in return for all the joy a college student can bring into a family? Could you provide some paid work around the house (child care, sports lessons, tutoring, painting, gardening, running errands, companionship for an elderly family member…) to help a student underwrite an unpaid internship or part-time paid work? And if you work in or run a for-profit business, is there some sort of meaningful work, even part-time, you could hire a college student to do?

It’s very late in the season for this summer, but, if you know of anything, please contact the Williams Office of Career Counseling, talk to current Williams families you know, or figure out how to have an announcement posted on WSO.

I can’t really help this summer, but we are planning things in the hope of being able to offer housing and some paid weekend work to one or two students working in marine biology or ecology two summers from now when we again have a spare bedroom. If you, too, can’t help this summer, maybe you can start planning something for next summer. And if you are involved in a regional alumni association, maybe you can figure out a way to collect up housing and job offers (including one-time “extra cash” jobs like tending bar for a party or moving some furniture) and get them out to current students.

Let’s double our efforts to help our younger brother and sister Ephs.


Artist of the Deal

Is Henry Silverman ’61 the real artist of the deal?

When Henry R. Silverman gazes north from the cozy 41st-floor office he shares with two assistants on New York’s Fifth Avenue, he looks down on the famed Plaza Hotel and much of sleek Trump Tower. The view couldn’t be more fitting. Silverman, chief executive of HFS Inc., has no use for trophy properties, though he controls the biggest hotel network in the world. And there are few dealmakers he differs from more than his flashy longtime acquaintance, Donald Trump. Says the reserved former tax attorney: ”I don’t believe in self-promotion.”

Nonetheless, the hotel, real estate, and rental-car empire Silverman is building seems bound to make him a far more important dealmaker than Trump. Already, he owns the rights to such powerhouse brands as Howard Johnson, Days Inn, and Ramada in hotels; Century 21, ERA, and Coldwell Banker in real estate; and Avis in rental cars. With his $1.7 billion purchase of PHH Corp., announced on Nov. 11, he’ll add a topflight corporate relocation, mortgage, and car-fleet management company. The deal will bring to about $5.1 billion the value of acquisitions he has made since mid-1990.

When Henry R. Silverman gazes north from the cozy 41st-floor office he shares with two assistants on New York’s Fifth Avenue, he looks down on the famed Plaza Hotel and much of sleek Trump Tower. The view couldn’t be more fitting. Silverman, chief executive of HFS Inc., has no use for trophy properties, though he controls the biggest hotel network in the world. And there are few dealmakers he differs from more than his flashy longtime acquaintance, Donald Trump. Says the reserved former tax attorney: ”I don’t believe in self-promotion.”

Nonetheless, the hotel, real estate, and rental-car empire Silverman is building seems bound to make him a far more important dealmaker than Trump. Already, he owns the rights to such powerhouse brands as Howard Johnson, Days Inn, and Ramada in hotels; Century 21, ERA, and Coldwell Banker in real estate; and Avis in rental cars. With his $1.7 billion purchase of PHH Corp., announced on Nov. 11, he’ll add a topflight corporate relocation, mortgage, and car-fleet management company. The deal will bring to about $5.1 billion the value of acquisitions he has made since mid-1990.

Finance, like love, is a timeless story because the characters and scenes repeat endlessly through history. Was this article written today or yesterday or decades ago?


Today’s Warriors





(photo copyright Williams track & field)

Going into the final day of the DIII Track & Field NCAA National Championships, the women are 7th, with a total of ten points. The Ephs have some strong contenders on both sides of the aisle. Here is today’s finals schedule for Williams participants:

1:20 PM — Men’s 1,500 (Macklin Chaffee)

1:30 PM — Women’s 1,500 (Olga Kondratjeva)

1:55 PM — Women’s 100 Hurdles (Elise Johnson)

2:10 PM — Men’s 400 (Taylor Fitzgerald)

3:00 PM — Women’s 800 (Lizzie Danhakl)

4:20 PM — Women’s 5,000 (Lauren Philbrook)(ranked #2)

4:45 PM — Men’s 4×400 Relay (Fitzgerald, Alex Hoerman, Viktor Nagy, Deividas Seferis)

May the wind be in their sails and all their hand-offs perfectly efficient.

And congratulations to the Williams spring NESCAC All-Academic honorees. And to the ten Williams NESCAC sportsmanship honorees.


Movies Every Eph Should See

Esquire presents (pdf) 75 Movies Every Man Should See. Vaguely amusing, especially the one sentence summaries, e.g.

The Warriors: Bloodthirsty mimes, clown-faced baseballers, and barechested men in leather vests—kind of makes you miss pre-Giuliani New York City.

Glengarry Glen Ross: Because no matter what line of work you’re in, first prize is a Cadillac, second prize is a set of steak knives, third prize is you’re fired.

How about 10 movies every Eph should see? I’ll start with:

The Graduate: Going home to live with your parents after graduation has its advantages.

The Human Stain: Why couldn’t Nigaleian have featured such a surprising ending?

Not nearly clever enough. Readers should provide better sentences for these two movies as well as other suggestions. All movies should have a meaningful connection to Williams. (The Graduate (the book) was written by Charles Webb ‘61. The Human Stain was filmed at Williams.)


Lauren Philbrook ’09 is 10k National Champion


Williams College senior Lauren Philbrook had the last event of the first day of the 2009 NCAA Div. III Outdoor Track & Field Championship Meet and she made it count, running to a national title in the 10,000-meter race.

Philbrook came into the event seeded first and lived up to that billing, setting a Don Drumm Stadium — the home track of host Marietta College — record with a time of 35 minutes, 24.78 seconds.

Philbrook’s time was nearly 24 full seconds ahead of runner-up Stephanie McNamara of Tufts University, who finished second with a time of 35:46.62. Philbrook’s time broke the old stadium record by over three minutes.

The finish by Philbrook allowed the Ephs to finish Day 1 at nationals in a tie for third place with 10 points.

Post race interview with Philbrook:

Full article on Williams Athletics website

Complete Women’s Results

Complete Men’s Results


Women’s Tennis National Championship Today


copyright Williams College

copyright Williams College

UPDATE: The Ephs storm it, coming from behind to present Coach Alison Swain ’11 with another National Championship. Congratulations on a well-played, tough contest (made even sweeter by taking revenge on the Jeffs for winning the NESCAC title).

Some details here.




Good luck to the woman’s tennis team, who face Amherst in Georgia today for the NCAA Division III championship. Led by Williams’s own Alison Swain ’01 (pictured above), who co-captained the team to its first national championship in 2001 and coached the Eph players to the 2008 championship in her first year at the helm, second-ranked Williams is looking for revenge against a top-ranked Amherst team that has beaten them in two of their three encounters this year, denying the Ephs the NESCAC title.

The match begins at 1 P.M. The weather is unsettled: overcast with the chance of rain increasing and temperatures starting in the 70s with the heat expected to rise until cooled by rains. The Ephs had a relatively easy semifinal against Emory yesterday morning. Chicago gave Amherst a tough fight in the afternoon. 

If anyone finds a way to follow the match, please let us know. Is there anyone down there who could tweet about it?

Go Williams!



Barack Obama:
My stepfather Lolo said, “Guilt is a luxury only foreigners can afford. Like saying whatever pops into your head.” Mother didn’t know what it was like to lose everything, to wake up and feel her belly eating itself. She didn’t know how crowded and treacherous the path to security could be. He was right, of course. She was a foreigner, middle-class and white and protected by her heredity whether she wanted protection or not. She could always leave if things got too messy. That possibility negated anything she might say to Lolo; it was the unreachable barrier between them. –Dreams from my Father

In the Purple Valley, we are almost all foreigners. Most of us can leave if need be, and we are taken care of in the pursuit of our studies. Our status – Williams student – gives us huge power on this campus. The reality, though, is that the real world is not so accommodating. Injustice happens, war breaks families, and over 15,000 children die every day from hunger (1), (2).

In this context, trayless dining tends to diminish a bit, along with many of the concerns that this blog spends so much time discussing. Yet these issues do matter, and in fact matter immensely to us. I took PSYC 101 this semester, and we went over how much material goods and conditions change a person’s happiness. In the short run, people are more happy – I can personally attest to what a three year euphoria feels like. But in the long run, everyone returns to the mean.

This means, I think, that because our conditions are so good, small problems become inflated in our eyes. A long line at Snack Bar here might be equal in some fashion to a much worse problem in a place of true strife. Because let’s face it: a debate over how best to allocate housing doesn’t really compare to problems in a country with hyper-inflation under a dictator.

However, objectively knowing that something isn’t a big problem in worldwide context doesn’t change how much it does matter to some people. We do have the luxury of guilt, and can devote time and resources to all sorts of minor problems. I didn’t actually need to spend any money to throw an election event in Goodrich last November, but I was able and encouraged to do so.

Is the fact that people care about these problems enough of a reason to think about them? How should we decide where and how to devote our attention?


Keep It Up, Ephs!

  nikki-reich-113 The women’s defending National Champion tennis team takes on Emory in Atlanta in an NCAA DIII semifinal that starts at 9 AM. At 2 PM, the number-one ranked Amherst team will make its bid for the final in the other semi-final. It’s overcast and about 60 degrees now in Atlanta, with the temperature expected to reach a high of 76 later, so the weather shouldn’t be too hard on the northern teams. Our women have a tough job on their hands, especially in the midst of a hometown Emory crowd, but let’s hope their victory yesterday, pulling it out from the clutch, inspires them to great things. Go Ephs! Here’s an article about yesterday’s competition, highlighting cool closer Nikki Reich ’11 (pictured above; photo copyright Williams College). Go Ephs!


The Freshman In Finals Season

Juliana Stone ’12 wraps up the year with a couple of great columns. Go read them.

Self-diagnosing swine flu right before finals blues:

I think I have swine flu.

I called my radiologist dad at Torrance Memorial Medical Center seven times the other day to tell him I thought I had swine flu and to make him explain how he knew I didn’t have swine flu, and what would happen to me if I did have swine flu and it went undiagnosed.

He told me to stop calling.

I went to the campus health center recently because I actually was sick, and the nurses did a strep culture. But they wouldn’t test me for swine flu – even though I’d diagnosed myself online – because I didn’t have a fever. Or any of the other symptoms. And they probably didn’t want to encourage my totally out-of-control hypochondriacal tendencies. They told me to stop going on WebMD.

But the administration, dining services, all of the custodians and everyone else at school are making such an extraordinary effort to take care of us.

There are automatic Purell hand-sanitizer dispensers every 2 1/2 feet on campus, and I think the custodians are wiping down all of the door handles every five minutes. All of the dining halls have completely changed from buffet-style – where everyone touches everything and gets germs everywhere – to having the always-gloved dining services staff basically do everything for us.

And even when I bug them for an extra spoon, or have them scramble my eggs separately because I don’t want cheese in them, or ask for half a pack of Splenda and just a little bit of nonfat milk in my coffee – because we’re not even allowed to do that ourselves – they’re friendly and helpful and never annoyed.

Finals and term papers get in the way of reality (TV):

Maybe it’s because it’s finally beautiful and warm and New England spring-y outside, or maybe because the year has been so long that we’ve all just decided that we’re already done. Which we’re not. My mom keeps reminding me.

And I still need to pack up my room into boxes and ship everything home. It’s going to be a nightmare. I have to schlep the 1 1/2 minutes to the post office and get a million boxes because I fit more junk into my room – and I have more clothes in my “closet” that I never wore. It’s gross.

I need to start putting things into boxes just so I can navigate the floor again.

That’s going to seem so weirdly final, I think. And even though I feel totally ready to be done with my freshman year and start all my fantastic summer stuff, I still can’t believe I’m actually going to be. In like a week.

Sometimes I still feel like I should be taking my practice SATs – and that someone who’s going to be a sophomore in college still seems too old to be me.

But I’m almost done. It was kind of weird having my last classes recently. I almost cried and told my history teacher that I loved him, but I thought that would weird him out.

I’m going to his office hours to discuss my final paper later, though. I’ll tell him then.


Older Posts »