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Go Green. Faster.

Do colleges and universities have a responsibility to Go Green at a faster rate than the rest of society? At least one funding body in the United Kingdom thinks so:

Launching a new consultation on how the higher education sector can reduce its carbon footprint, the Higher Education Funding Council for England (Hefce) said universities should aspire to cutting emissions 50% by 2020 against 1990 levels, and 100% by 2050. The 2020 aspiration is much tougher than the government’s legally-binding target of reducing national emissions by 34% in the same time frame. The consultation also reiterates the government’s previous proposal to link universities’ funding to their greenhouse gas emissions reductions from 2011.

Diana Warwick, chief executive of Universities UK, which also worked on the proposals, said: “We support this goal. Universities, as educators, have been playing a vital role in moving the sustainability development agenda forward, and seeking a reduction in carbon emissions is key to this.”

While the study and story in question involves the UK, which has a different but hardly alien academic (and political) culture, surely the question pertains to academia generally and to Williams in the particular.

[note: comments 1, 2, 5, 6, and 12 below moved over from separate emissions discussion on Speak Up! – Ronit]


Morty says “No” to Greater Financial Transparency: the Background

In a post on EphBlog (my first) on July 20, I recounted briefly how Williams President Shapiro said “No” to my suggestion that Williams  promote greater financial transparency by posting its annual Forms 990 on the college website.  The current post gives the background to the story and, of course, expresses the hope that Williams, under new administration, will “come around” and see the issue from a different perspective.

The Form 990, as data nerds know, is the annual information return filed by the majority of 501(c)(3) nonprofit, “charitable” organizations with the IRS.  Williams and other private colleges are among those organizations.  These forms are to be filed within 4 ½ months after the end of the nonprofit’s fiscal year which, in the case of most educational establishments, is end-June.  In certain circumstances a nonprofit can get up to six months additional time to file, but within at most 10 ½ months after fiscal year end, the 990s should be in hands of the IRS.

It is useful to note that a Form 990 is, by law, a public document.   The filing institution is obliged to make it available on request and/or provide a hard copy at cost, of the most recent three years’ reports.  The IRS will also furnish a copy if contacted using Form 4506-A, Request for Public Inspection or Copy of Exempt or Political Organization, the title of which is, yes, a bit of a mouthful.  For those “in the know,” recent Forms 990 can also be downloaded from (the nom de web of Philanthropic Research, Inc.) and a couple of other sites.  But, there are substantial lags before these documents make it to GuideStar, and in some cases they are not very timely when they get there.  In the case of Williams, it has frequently been a year to a year and half (measured from fiscal year end) before Form 990 filings make it to the GuideStar site.

Read more


Talk Architecture To Me


One part of the Conversation I’ve always enjoyed the most, whether online or in person, has been the discussions of the architecture at Williams and in Williamstown. I desperately need a pick-me-up. Talk architecture to me. Come educate my eye. Pull up a chair. I’ll spot you to a round of virtual cold drinks.


Geminis Only

Assume that you are a bad person and you want Williams student to self-segregate by astrological sign. You want all the, say, Geminis, to hang out together, take the same classes, form Gemini-only rooming groups and so on. This is hard to do because Williams students don’t like to be bossed around.

Solution: Invite all the Gemini members of the class of 2013 to five weeks of special Gemini-only activities at Williams this summer. Do not invite non-Geminis.

The natural result is that these Geminis, who may have had nothing in common besides their astrological sign, will bond. Cliques form, friendships grow and romance blooms. These Geminis will grow to like and trust each other. When school starts in September, they will already have made friends with each other. They will continue to seek each other out, share meals with each other, perhaps take classes together. It won’t be that they have anything against their non-Gemini entrymates who they are meeting for the first time. It is just that they will have already found friends to hang out with.

But the College, you say, would never do anything like that! Think again:

Incoming first-years from underrepresented minority groups spend five weeks in June and July at the Williams College Summer Science and Williams College Summer Humanities and Social Sciences programs. Assisted by current students, the participants take classes that emphasize the development of writing, study, and oral skills.

Say what you will about these programs, but there is no doubt that they increase the amount of student self-segregation at Williams. Are the benefits worth the costs? Perhaps. Yet the first step is always to provide an accurate estimate of the costs and benefits.

Further comments below:
Read more


Beer Summit


By Chan Lowe ’75. Previous EphBlog discussion here.


Besser ’81 to ABC

Via Larry George, this news and picture from Media Bistro:

Besser_7.30ABC News announced it has hired Dr. Richard Besser as Senior Health and Medical Editor and at the same time has promoted 30-year ABC News health veteran Dr. Tim Johnson to Chief Medical Editor.

Dr. Besser came to ABC’s attention during coverage of the swine flu outbreak. He was the public face of the CDC’s response to H1N1. “He is an incredibly talented physician, and I look forward to him joining our team,” said Dr. Johnson in a press release. Dr. Besser currently serves as director of the Coordinating Office for Terrorism Preparedness and Emergency Response at the CDC. He’ll join ABC in September.


1) Congratulations to Besser!

2) This is probably a win for EphBlog since it will provide a useful handle for discussing health news.

3) Recall my previous analysis about how media-savvy Besser is.

First, this story could only have come from Besser himself. How else would reporter Gardiner Harris know what CDC officials were “unhappy” about almost 20 years ago? Second, the story makes Besser out to be the hero, bravely ignoring bureaucratic concerns about “cost” to get to the bottom of a critical medical mystery. No amount of money is too much to spend on the investigation of (not the treatment for!) an outbreak that results in no fatalities. A less sympathetic reporter would have spun this as CDC officials pissed that Besser was taking so long on an investigation so that he could spend time with his new girlfriend.

Not that there is anything wrong with that!

4) Anyone have good DC gossip about how/why Besser was passed over for the top job at CDC? I wondered in April:

Not sure why President Obama named Besser acting head rather than giving him the job permanently. Is there something about his politics that makes him unacceptable to Democrats? Is the CDC job usually awarded to a dilettante, sort of like Ambassador to France?

Obama named New York City Health Commissioner Thomas R. Frieden as Director of the CDC in May.

UPDATE: The Washington Post story mentions that:

Acting CDC Director Richard E. Besser, who has steered the Atlanta-based agency through the current global swine flu outbreak, will return to his role as head of the CDC’s emergency response unit. Two sources with knowledge of the process said Frieden was on a shortlist of prospects long before Besser made a name for himself by his handling of the swine flu crisis.

Hmmm. Sounds like someone is getting spun, but I can’t tell the direction. What sources would provide this info to reporters Debbi Wilgoren and Michael D. Shear, and why would they provide it? My guess: Friedan was always the top choice of some insiders (who?) and they wanted to stop any discussion along the lines of “Why not Besser?” They try to do this by pretending/mentioning that Friedan already had the job locked up, more or less, months ago. The reporters want to protect/sweeten the sources so they don’t ask/report the obvious follow-ups: Was Besser on the short list? Was he ever considered? Why not?

The article ends with:

Some had expected Obama to name Besser as permanent head of the CDC. In his role as acting director, he has gotten high marks for his effective briefings at the height of the swine flu scare. In an e-mail to colleagues yesterday, Besser praised his successor.

“Dr. Frieden is a consummate innovator. He’s had dramatic success in New York City,” Besser wrote. “I know CDC will be in great hands with Dr. Frieden.”

Who are these mysterious “Some?” They sound pretty sensible to me!


Classic Pastry Art

Somewhat dated Bloomberg article on the financial crisis:

The shakeout in global banking has untethered more than a quarter of a million people, most of them in New York and London, who thought they were in secure, well-paying jobs. Some were investment bankers and traders who, with cheap credit and a gambler’s view of risk, raked in millions of dollars in annual bonuses over the past five years.

All are now displaced, forced to reflect on their fall and to find their way in a job market where the biggest U.S. and European banks may spill tens of thousands more workers before the carnage is over.

Some young bankers in London and New York have happily ditched plans for a future in finance. Elizabeth Woodwick, 24, joined Lehman Brothers’ debt capital markets group in July 2006, after graduating from Williams College in Williamstown, Massachusetts.

She worked 15-hour days, she says, and after a year moved into an apartment with a spiffy new kitchen. That’s when she began baking to relax, throwing cookies or muffins in the oven before and after work. In June 2008, as markets wobbled, she quit Lehman and signed up for the French Culinary Institute’s program in classic pastry art.

“I liked the people, but it was so intense,” she says of her stint in banking, taking a break from a class assignment for which she was making a chocolate showpiece of the Berkshire Mountains. She calls Lehman’s demise just three months after she left “surreal.”

Now, she’s contemplating moving back to Minnesota, where she grew up, to work in a restaurant.

Since Woodwick, unlike several other Ephs, left Lehman Brothers before it exploded, it is not clear that she is a good example for the article. It is common for analysts to leave after 2 years. But the printed article does feature a great photo of her in baking gear. Alas, it does not seem to be on-line.


Fun and Games with Human Misery

Ronit asks for “Posts on EphBlog that aren’t about EphBlog every once in a while.” Agreed! And the amazing resources that Ronit (with some help from others) has built (Eph Planet, Eph Twitter and so on) make it easy to come up with non-EphBlog content. Consider Ethan Zuckerman ’93:

Here’s a fun game to play with friends, particularly friends who work on social ventures or other world-changing projects. Ask each person what issues they’d work on if they were given $500 million, $50 million or $5 million dollars to spend. With thoughtful friends, you’ll get different answers for different funding levels. It’s not realistic to tackle huge global problems – curing malaria, building sewage and fresh water systems for villages worldwide – at the $5m level, but you often learn about fascinating problems that might be solvable with a small amount of concerted effort.

Read the whole thing, not the least for the mention of The Dogs of War by Frederick Forsyth. My answer: Teach sub-Sahara Africa English. Now, to convince the Gates Foundation, you would probably pick one very poor country and then randomize the districts/towns/counties into a control and treatment group. The control group gets nothing. People in the treatment areas get free English-immersion childcare from ages 1 to 6. Add all the feel good early childhood development stuff you want, but the key is that these children become fluent in English because their teachers (songs, videos, et cetera) are all in English.

As the call-center and back-office out-sourcing movement to India has demonstrated, their are huge returns to English fluency, whether you move to a first world country or stay in your own. Anyway, given that almost all other foreign aid programs in Africa have been failing over the last 50 years (see here and here), this plan could do no worse!


A thank you to Joe Cruz …

Professor Joe Cruz has served on the Board of EphBlog for a number of years as our link to the faculty and the campus. For this dedication, and the patience, forbearing, and belief in the potential of EphBlog that this dedication must have required, we thank you, Professor Cruz!

On a much more personal level based on my time with the Board, I would like to thank him for his continued input and support for the steps taken since October, 2008 to start EphBlog on a path to realize a more moderate position as perceived by readers and potential readers.

And in particular, a discussion with Professor Cruz, Sophmom, and me concerning the need for the disclaimer currently prominent on the masthead proclaiming EphBlog ‘Your UNofficial source for All Things Eph’’. This long-needed separation was approved by the Board shortly thereafter.

EphBlog desperately needs the input of students, parents, faculty and other members of the extended Williams family if it is to rise above being a somewhat mean-spirited blog of those to whom argumentation and long-winded diatribe are a life-essential.

Thank you, Joe Cruz, for your years of input towards helping us on the journey to achieving this.


Perception of the Facts

Letters to the editor must be short but Professor Steven Gerrard’s effort in the New York Times today (hat tip: Jeff) seems to do as little as possible with the space that he has.

To the Editor:

We are now moving from Stage 1 of a national spectacle (what do the events in Cambridge, Mass., tell us about America?) to Stage 2 (what do the commentaries on the events tell us about America?).

Says who? From the very start of the controversy, people have been writing about the meaning of other people’s comments. Doesn’t Gerrard read blogs? Consider this Crooked Timber thread, which I linked to last week. It is filled with discussion about what various commentaries “tell us about America.” The same has been true for blogs on the right and in the center.

Not only that, but there is still an active discussion about Stage 1, even about Stage 0, i.e., what actually happened that day. Why does Gerrard waste this valuable space with an untrue claim?

As a professor who years ago taught Henry Louis Gates Jr.’s autobiography, “Colored People: A Memoir,” in an ethics class,

Although Gerrard is not an EphBlog fan, I am a Gerrard fan and have heard nothing but good things about him from students over the years. Still, what sort of “ethics” class would include Gates’ autobiography? I am not sad to see that Williams no longer seems to offer this course.

I am struck by so many critics’ failure simply to put themselves in either Professor Gates’s or Sgt. James M. Crowley’s very different shoes,

Again, this is just not a factual description of reality. Virtually every critic I have read has tried, with varying degrees of success, to place themselves in the shoes of one or both protagonists. But don’t take my word for it! Look inside yourself. Didn’t you try to imagine what it would be like to be Gates, to have some police officer hassle you while you were in your own house? Didn’t you wonder what it must have felt like to Crowley to have someone screaming accusations of racism against you for no reason whatsoever?

I bet that every single reader of this blog tried the different shoes exercise.

as if our experiences had no bearing on our perception of the facts.

Danger, Ephraim Williams! Pomo storm clouds ahead!

Now, to be fair, Gerrard is correct. Our experiences do shape our perceptions. And, perhaps more importantly, our biology and genetics shape our perceptions. My color-blind brother perceives the world differently then Gerrard. My old eyes see much less well than my young eyes did back at Williams.

But we need to be very careful about what conclusions we draw from this fact. If we all perceive differently, is there no common reality that we inhabit? Are jury trials a farce? Justice impossible? Two decades ago, Philosophy Professor Lazlo Versenyi
used to (rhetorically) beat up we immature post-modernists as bleating animals, for that is what the denial of a common reality implied about our own position. I hope that Gerrard challenges his students with similar gusto, if not with such an amazing accent.

I am not denying the complexity of these issues, but Gerrard seems quick to conclude that these facts lead inevitably toward his preferred political positions. They don’t.

My moral lesson at this stage is that President Obama was right about Judge Sonia Sotomayor: in order to judge well you need empathy.

A conclusion which has nothing to do with his premises. Empathy is the very last thing I look for in judges. Can Gerrard put himself into my shoes?


Local Swimming hole #5

The watershed

 The watershed

  This is the back up/ alternate reservoir for Williamstown. Actually located just across the border in Pownal, about 7 min from campus by car, it is fenced in, and not legal to swim there.

  It was a common location back before the fence in the 80s, and visitors were met with cold, cold water… and naked chases if the watershed managers/workers caught you skinny dipping.

  Location is left out due to trespassing considerations. You need to befriend a local to find this one.


Opposites Attract

3650269757_84343c8b55Kudos to the Alumni Office for posting so many great pictures of reunion on Flickr. Which are your favorites?

I am always a sucker for little Ephs and ice cream. More here.

Is it just me, or does it seem to you that the prettiest Eph women end up with the goofiest looking Eph men? Must be something in the mountain air . . .

It was five years ago that the Alumni Office, instead of posting such pictures for all the world to see, insisted on a ridiculous login/password system that was, as I predicted, a total failure. What current policies of the Alumni Office will seem similarly wrong-headed five years from now? My guess: Refusing to link to EphBlog and/or incorporate our content and writers.


Model High School

Kesi Augustine ’12 writes about her experience studying at Bard High School Early College. Bard is an NYC high school recognized by President Obama in his speech to the NAACP last week for its innovative approach which challenges students to complete high school and earn a free associate’s degree or college credit in just four years:

Because my fellow students and I were able to earn this Associate’s degree from Bard College, many of us saved money by entering college as sophomores and juniors. For others, the degree represented an opportunity to double major, or to skip intro and survey courses often required by many four-year courses.

The most rewarding part of my experience at BHSEC, however, was more than just the Associate’s degree. The school introduced me to critical thinking and writing about my place in the world. Our teachers did not give us the recipe for performing well on state-wide tests and SATs, although we performed well in that respect, too. Rather, our small classes thrived on student energy in open seminar discussions and debates about course material. The challenge, as President Obama called for in his speech, never ended. No one could be successful in Bard by slumping in a seat.

The typical night of homework included musing over the implications of W.E.B. DuBois’ theory of double consciousness, calculating anti-derivatives, and writing about the similarities between Toni Morrison and William Faulkner. During our junior and senior years, the professors expected everyone to read works by writers like Sophocles, Plato, Dante, Darwin, Marx, and Kafka. Those texts were our repertoire–we discussed them together and wrote about their relevance during their time period as well as our own. After taking a contemporary architecture class, my friends and I would walk the streets of Manhattan and jokingly remark, “That is so post-modern.”

Not every student could learn this way. A few dropped out over the four years despite the supportive network of teachers and faculty available. However, those students did not cop out. BHSEC was emotionally demanding. Those students simply realized that their destiny was in their own hands, as Obama said, and that BHSEC’s accelerated method of learning, while it stimulates the mind, requires a sense of maturity some teenagers do not yet have while in high school.

If we are going to strive for the educational equality Obama calls for, every American student should have the education I did. I was more than prepared for success in “real” college, largely owed to what I learned at BHSEC. As a rising sophomore at Williams College, I frequently refer back to my seminar experience at Bard. During my freshman year at Williams, I was not perfect, yet I knew how to approach reading a novel a week, how to write a formal 10-page paper, and how to ask for help when I needed it. I had professors from high school I could ask for advice. I was confident in my ability to survive a difficult class. In contrast, few of my new college friends had this advantage. Students at Williams have often said, “In high school, I didn’t even have to think. Now, it’s all about thinking. I don’t know if I even trust myself to come up with something good.” I wonder how much better they would feel about their schoolwork–and their selves–if their high schools had encouraged independent thinking and critical analysis as Bard did.

BHSEC students come from the five boroughs of New York City, from both high and low income families. They are the children of immigrants from all over the world. They identify as Christians, Muslims, Jews and atheists. They are hipsters, athletes, artists, musicians, liberals, conservatives, and, most importantly, eager students. My experience at BHSEC taught me that our similarities outweigh our differences. A Muslim and a Christian can be best friends. A gay and a straight can both believe in finding true love. A Latino and an African American can joke with each other about the stereotypes that exist in their communities. My friend Naim taught me to live my Christian beliefs, no matter how hard they are to follow, as he fasted during Ramadan. My best group of girlfriends and I proudly called ourselves “the birds,” a play on the slang term “bird” for a minority girl who embodies the stereotypes of loudness and ignorance. We were from these same minority neighborhoods, yet attended one of the best schools in New York City.

While the nation still struggles with issues of race– we hear about segregated proms in Mississippi and about African American children turned away from a private swimming pools in Philadelphia–BHSEC students considered our differences a means of learning from one another. During my senior year at high school, an Asian peer told me that I “smell Black.” Her comment opened up a discussion between the two of us and a school counselor about approaching one another. She apologized and said, “I didn’t even know you would take it that way.” We became friends. Without a non-confrontational discussion, neither of us would have understood our intentions. To me, President Obama’s support for BHSEC means he also supports these same approaches to racial issues among adolescents.

Link to complete article


In Praise of Sophmom …

who elected to leave the Board and EphBlog yesterday.

Sophmom was the first woman member of the Board and the first parent to be a Board member. Her voice on the Board was as a champion for doing things right and doing the right things. She was an active member with suggestions for improvements and the gumption to get them started.

Sophmom’s contributions to the blog will be remembered for her post series on Kirk Varnedoe and her posts on the art holdings of the WCMA. Her comments were particularly reassuring to first-time posters, many of whom she had encouraged to participate.

Surely, her voice was a voice for the Arts and artists and parents. Her views and comments will be greatly missed. They were an integral part of the attempt to bring a new tone to EphBlog.

In the past few months, her attention had turned much more to the inequities of EphBlog and her energies to setting things right. For readers, this meant less content on the liberal arts and more focus on the issues inherent to any blog but that seem to be particularly rife on this blog.

What is there about EphBlog that brings feelings that would not normally be shared to a state of venomous diatribe? How does this happen among a community of civilized graduates, parents, and members of the Williams’ extended family. Certainly, this is not the voice of Williams that graduates would choose to have represent the college.

After a tremendous enthusiastic start as Froshmom, Sophmom’s ultimate disillusion with and departure from this blog are a sad example of the poison that can seep into the most energetic and that emanates from this blog itself.


Global Meritocracy

Professors Gordon Winston and Cappy Hill ’76 provide their usual excellent research in “Low-Income Students and Highly Selective Private Colleges: Searching and Recruiting” (pdf). But, for now, leave aside the substance and consider the opening sentence.

Low-income students’ access to the best of American higher education is a matter not only of individual equality of opportunity, but of social efficiency, of fully utilizing the nation’s talents.

Really? By default, we all assume that it is a good thing that Williams, and other elite institutions, scour the earth for the best and brightest. The smartest kid in Nowhere, Kansas should go to Williams, not to Kansas State. But is this really a good thing? Is it best for society if the most talented individuals are whisked away from their local communities at age 18, fated to, in all likelihood, never return? Sometimes, I am not so sure. Consider some opposing arguments.

Indeed, with regard to higher education, we might think of meritocracy as the equivalent of the practice of strip-mining. For the meritocratic system is a method that uses impersonal technology (e.g., the SAT) to help us identify valuable natural resources (bright kids), and then pitilessly removes them from their ecological contexts (local communities), never to return them, thus creating cultural landscapes just as ravaged as the denuded mountainsides of Kentucky coal country.

In other words, in an irony not often enough noted, modernity, whose distinctive political philosophies have stressed equality, has led to greater inequality than ever, precisely because it has equalized opportunity — that is, because it has unleashed talent either to sink or swim — more than had ever previously been done. To put it yet another way, modernity has created many more opportunities for the expression of inequality than ever. And it has made inherent inequality more important than ever in determining social and economic distinctions.

For my part, I prefer to accept the critics’ assertion that the meritocratic ideal is itself mistaken. Mistaken because it leads to social resentment. Mistaken because it has disturbingly anti-democratic consequences. Mistaken because it further rewards those already favored by nature and further punishes those who have been relatively disfavored. Mistaken because it is deeply anti-communal and anti-familial. And mistaken, perhaps most fundamentally, because it is premised on the lie that we are our own, the lie that we all can make and remake ourselves into whatever we want to be, and the lie that our achievements and failings could ever be fully “merited,” rather than, as a Christian might say it, the gifts of grace or the unfortunate consequences of the Fall.

Then there is a vast interconnected network of public and private scholarships, grants, loans, and subsidies, not to mention ranking and testing systems, designed to identify and support the smartest and most able young men and women in reaching the highest positions possible in our meritocracy. Fine and good, except that it is all done without regard for the consequences for the communities and regions from which they spring. Indeed, those who are selected from the ghettos and hinterlands are typically taught only one major in college, says Wendell Berry: the discipline of upward mobility. They are encouraged to question and reject the values and loyalties and histories of their home places for the more enlightened substitutes offered by the global meritocracy.

Indeed. Obviously, I would not expect Williams to change its current admissions practices because of these concerns. I want us to find the most academically talented and ambitious 18 year-olds in the world and bring them to Williams. If that hurts the small towns they come from, too bad.

But the more firmly you hold belief X, the more you should seek out the smartest arguments against it.


Six Degrees of Williams College

We need a fun diversion / team-building exercise.  In the spirit of Williams Trivia, I hereby issue a challenge: who can link Williams in the least number of steps (or in the most creative fashion) to:

(1) Carrot Top

(2) A capybara

(3) Rick Astley

(4) Stonehenge

(5) Jesus Quintana (last second of video NSFW)

(6) And of course …

To the winner: I’m not going to give you any money, but on your deathbed, when you die, you will achieve total consciousness …


Williams Forms 990: Available History

This post updates the Available History on Williams Forms 990 with the 2008 report, recently obtained by Ronit Battacharyya from the Treasurer’s Office (hard copy, yuk!) and kindly provided for posting purposes.  Scanned by Ronit; OCR’d by myself.  (Hard copy requested from the IRS with Form 4506-A, mailed on 7/20/09, arrived on 8/13/09.)

The purpose of the current tabulation is to make available in one place the Forms 990 filed with the IRS by Williams in recent years.   At the present time, those for the period 1998-2008 are available, but as of 8/15/09 the 2008 filing is not yet on Guidestar.   Guidestar presently provides 3 years of Form 990s to “non-premium” members; the rest in this collection come from my private archive.  As new filings become available on the Guidestar website ( ), or from Williams directly,  it is proposed to add these, so that the time series of recent filings is gradually extended   This post is marked “no comments” to preserve the presentation from accumulating clutter.   EphBlog users are welcome/invited to provide their own posts/comments on the contents of Williams’ Form 990 filings as separate contributions in the Form 990 Category of the EphBlog.

Williams College is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization under the IRC and, as such, files a Form 990 information return annually with the IRS.  These are public documents.  Nonprofits are required to make their returns available for public inspection on request, or provide copies of them, at cost, for a period of three years.  The IRS requires nonprofits to file their returns within 4 1/2 months after fiscal year end, with the possibility of an automatic extension, on request, for 3 months and a further 3 month extension, at IRS discretion thereafter.   Thus, within ca. 10 1/2 months after the end of the nonprofit’s fiscal year, reports must be in the hands of the IRS.  As noted below, Williams has been filing electronically for the last few years.  The IRS also recommends that nonprofits post their Form 990s on their websites.

The forms tabulated below are in the more or less stable format in use up until 2007.   Beginning with reports filed for 2008ff (after several years of deliberation) the format of the Form 990 was revised and expanded in certain respects.   Williams Form 990s for this new regime are not yet available.  The 2009 Form 990 presumably will be in the new format.

Note that each Williams Form 990 covers the fiscal year from July of the previous year to June of the current year so, e.g., Form 990 for “2007”  is the report for the period July, 2006 through June, 2007.  It is typically more than a year before the Williams Form 990s show up on Guidestar (some institutions are a good bit faster!).   This has to do with submission deadlines, sometimes delayed by requested extensions, and scanning/processing as nonprofit results are conveyed to Guidestar (aka Philanthropic Research Inc.)

Each of the Forms 990 included below should be in “searchable pdf” format — produced from IRS scans by the OCR in Acrobat 8 — for those who like to go right to some issue or other.  In this update of the post, I have included indications of when each Form 990 was signed by the Treasurer’s Office at Williams, when it was stamped as received by the IRS Office in Ogden Utah, and when it was scanned for subsequent transmission to Guidestar.  Signature dates on the last few Williams submission suggest they were filed right up against the final deadline.  The path from the IRS to Guidestar is a bit convoluted, and may be covered in a subsequent post.  Note that, as from the 2006 reports, Williams’ submission has been electronic, so therefore the signature and receipt dates are effectively  the same, and there is no longer any need for separate scanning.  Without further ado, here they are.


WilliamsForm990 2008

(copy provided by IRS on 8/13/09 signed 5/15/09; electronic submission.)

Williams Form990 2007

(signed 5/15/08; electronic submission)

Williams Form990 2006

(signed 5/15/07; electronic submission)

Williams Form990 2005

(signed 5/11/06; received 4/27/07 [ sic !]; scanned 6/1/07)

Williams Form990 2004

(signed ? – blacked out; received 5/9/05; scanned 6/7/05)

Williams Form990 2003

(signed ? – blacked out; received 4/19/04; scanned 4/30/04)

Williams Form990 2002

(signed ? – blacked out; received 3/6/03; scanned 3/27/03)

Williams Form990 2001

(signed 2/14/02; received 2/21/02; scanned 3/13/02)

Williams Form990 2000

(signed 3/8/01; received 3/15/01; scanned 3/27/01)

Williams Form990 1999

(signed 3/31/00; received 4/10/00; scanned 4/13/00)

Williams Form990 1998

(signed 2/12/99; received 2/16/99; scanned 3/9/99)


Addendum:  EphBlog readers may wish to note the following.   The Panel on the Nonprofit Sector’s Principles for Good Governance and Ethical Practice:  A Guide for Charities and Foundations, published in October, 2007, stated the following about “Legal Compliance and Public Disclosure:”

Section 7:  A charitable organization should make information about its operations, including its governance, finances, programs and activities, widely available to the public….

Another source of transparency and accountability and a key method for communicating about the organization’s work is a website, which can be maintained independently or through another organization. A website should feature the same information recommended for annual reports, with links directly to or instructions on how to request the organization’s most recent IRS Form 990 return and other financial statements (emphasis added)….  (page 12)

End of post.


I’ll take Manhattan …

no one has chosen The Bronx and/or Staten Island 2.

At #62 under The Palace of Malaise, he/she contemplates other names for this blog.

Here are three that have come to what is left of the Board’s attention:
New Heads

Other suggestions are more than welcome!


What should we ask Presidential candidates?

hat tip to JeffZ for the idea (see previous post here)

It’s time, ephbloggers, for Williams to undergo a rare reformation by hiring a new President. Professor Macgregor Burns describes two types of leadership, transformational and transactional. What type of leader do we want for Williams? Why? And, more importantly, what questions would we pose to a Presidential candidate for Williams?

Also, to make the exercise more interesting, why not try to answer your own question were you a presidential candidate? I take a shot at it below

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First Impressions of Williams

By this I actually mean the campus, not the school generally (nor anything one would glean from the absurdity of recent Ephblog posts).  The previous, ahem, “discussion” about buildings and the various architectural styles, as well as running through the Facilities Property Book made me think about my first trip down Route 2 and into town.

I was coming from the Boston area and out along Route 2 in mid-late August.  Some bits of leaves were already beginning to change color, and I have to admit it was one of those picture perfect New England afternoons.  I loved the varied styles of the buildings, the (to my naive eyes) adorable quaintness of having essentially one street of business in town, the iconic Congo Church.  And as quick as anything, we were already through town and passing curving southward down toward the Clark.

I remember being charmed, intrigued, a bit surprised there weren’t more obvious “foresty” areas given that I had read about Hopkins Forest in the catalog (my recall of the campus map was less than perfect – hey, I was 16).

I forget where we stayed, but the woman recommended Hobson’s Choice for dinner; Mom & I had a  great dinner.  It remains one of my favorite Billsville restaurants.  The next morning we wandered around campus, shopped on Spring St. (had to get something from Goff’s of course), and had breakfast at the Cobble Cafe (sadly, no more).

What do any of you remember about your first trip to Williams?

Can I make this post take up any more space to move other things down the page?

Yes. ;)

** Portions of this may have appeared in an earlier comment to another post, I can’t remember.


Local Swimming hole #4

Williamstown swimming hole 4

 Linear Park

Center of town, right near the corner of Latham and Water St. A playground with park benches and a really nice sandy swimming hole with a depth of about 8 ft. The tree rope for jumping has been taken down… but this one, is an easy walk.  Linear Park.

  Spots posted thus far are:

   Hole #1-  Dorset Quarry 

   Hole #2- The Hopper

   Hole #3- The Tubs (or Tubbs)

   Hole #4- Linear Park

  Hole #5– The Watershed

  Hole #6– Stockbridge Quarry

*refer to “Stick around for summer” for links to the above places, and more!


Quarry Info

Our friends at WSO are looking for information on local quarries. Could someone please post this link there?


Ephblogger Silver Medalist

Congrats to Diana Davis ’07!


Not One to Put on Airs

Nice article on Lindi Von Mutius ’03.  This passage illustrates the power of the Williams alumni network for those who take initiative:

She also worked her contacts. One of those was a Flaster Greenberg lawyer named Kevin Greenberg who also had gone to Williams and whom von Mutius met at a local reception for Williams alumni. When von Mutius appeared to be getting close with another firm, she e-mailed her Greenberg contact to ask him about the firm.

She also mentioned that she was intensely interested in bankruptcy law, which she had developed a taste for while working for a Chapter 13 trustee as a student at Vermont law.

“He said, ‘Wait a minute. We’re looking for a bankruptcy associate,'” von Mutius said.

Suddenly, there was an embarrassment of options.


Sotomayor Questions

Emeritus Professor James MacGregor Burns ’39 suggested these questions for Supreme Court nominee Sonia Sotomayor.

1. The Constitution is “not a static but rather a living document,” Barack Obama wrote in “The Audacity of Hope,” echoing Thomas Jefferson, “and must be read in the context of an ever-changing world.” Do you agree? If so, how would you apply this idea to specific cases?

2. Do you believe that the Supreme Court has the constitutional authority to declare acts of Congress unconstitutional? Would you be in favor of a constitutional amendment establishing or rejecting once and for all the power of an unelected Supreme Court to veto acts of our elected Congress?

3. Throughout the court’s history, it has often lagged behind the times, as lifetime appointees adhered to outdated ideologies and attitudes. Would you be in favor of requiring justices to retire at the age of 70?

How should Judge Sotomayor answers these questions? What questions would you ask her?

Mine would harken back to this EphBlog discussion about the black performance in football.

There has not been a starting white cornerback in the NFL for more than 10 years. There are hundreds of thousands of white high school football players who would love to play cornerback in the NFL. Is this racial disparity a sign of disparate treatment? Would a white cornerback cut by an NFL team have a cause of action, either against that team or against the NFL as a whole? What legal strategy would you recommend to the attorney hired by the white cornerback?

I think that my question would generate more headlines than Burns’.


Update on Williams track book

I just returned from Williamstown where I interviewed Peter Farwell, distance running coach, and spent a couple days in the school archives doing research (thanks to Linda Hall). I will relay highlights of interviews with national champion Rebecca Brooks ’00 and Peter.

Rebecca – Training became more focused her last two years when her brother Fletcher became asst. coach. Practices would extend from 1-7 PM (as long as there was no conflict with classes) and there was a weekly, month and season schedule with the goal being outdoors nationals. This helped Rebecca improve in consistency so she would be able to perform in the bigger meets as well as others. “Williams track was a specifically unique experience. Williams draws you in. That sport pushed me in ways more than soccer and basketball. I am much better off for it.”

Peter Farwell

Peter believes that currently there is too much emphasis on nationals, that there needs to be a balance between team and individual goals. He believes the Division Three New Englands is a good meet because it can involve more athletes who can contribute either by earning a seventh or eighth place or running a relay. Peter focuses on process rather than performance, valuing traits such as teamwork, having fun, and cultural values. He also focuses on such strategies as increasing stride frequency while maintaning stride length to improve speed and adjusting the athlete’s stride so the foot hits the ground below the runner’s body, to allow for more explosive power. Peter admires his predecessor Tony Plansky for not being super competitive but casual and well-rounded. He believes, “Being a coach is a good life- it’s meaningful – you can make a difference in people’s life.”


Meet Enthusiastic Faculty Advisor…

Ephblog regulars will note the Athletics RSS feed in the lower right column. When I read the latest headline, Meet Enthusiastic Faculty Adviser to Women’s Tennis Brent Heeringa, I simply had to click through.

There is no written job description for the role of Faculty Adviser. Asked about how he sees his role as the women’s tennis team adviser, Heeringa noted, “Mostly I see it as a recruiting tool for the computer science major! No, honestly, I view my role very simply: be a supportive, attentive, and approachable member of the faculty. Often, this boils down to attending matches, sending a few encouraging emails, and pointing the players in the right direction or toward the right person when they have an academic question.” […]
“Before advising the women’s tennis team, I didn’t really grasp how well athletics, and in particular team athletics, fit into a holistic view of the liberal arts,” noted Heeringa. “The students push themselves mentally and physically in ways that complement but are distinct from the ways they push themselves in the classroom.

Comments after the jump. Read more


134.79% Return!

Fun smackdown of Jim Cramer, P ’13.

Recently, my email has been full of all sorts of Cramer-Spam, with stories about all these great stock picks he made. Here’s a sample of bullet points from emails from “Jim Cramer (”:

* Model Portfolio Outperforms S&P 500: 134.79% Total Average Return*
* On January 20th, I bought Goldman Sachs at $60. When it hit $85 on January 28th, I trimmed my shares, locking in a 41% gain

Notice his example picks have an average return well above anyone’s hurdle rate, with returns of 30% to 134.79% (love than .79). It’s funny when people sell penis enlargement pills online for $50 because its silly and not a lot of money, but as John Stewart noted, the stock market isn’t a game. This is disgraceful and CNBC should be aware this makes them part of his scam. It simply isn’t plausible that 30%+ returns are representative, and they know that, and suredly would say they didn’t mean every return is this high, but it’s like lottery ads saying ‘anyone can win’—true enough, but highly misleading.



Obama Complains About Eph Arrest, contd.

Discussion continued here. On-topic comments have been moved here from the other thread. Please play nice.

APTOPIX Harvard Scholar Disorderly

President Barack Obama said that Cambridge police officer Sgt. James Crowley “acted stupidly” when he arrested Harvard Professor Henry Louis “Skip” Gates, Jr., a Williams honorary degree recipient, for disorderly conduct.

How’s that for the best start to an EphBlog post this year? As PTC notes, the case has race, class, town-gown and US politics all rolled up into a tight little ball of wonderfulness. More below.
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Obama Complains About Eph Arrest

Discussion continued here.
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