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JA: Junior Anonymous [Eph Diary #5]

Comings and Goings

It was 8:43 on November 14th when I heard the first rumblings.

“Mommy!!” they yelled (because they think it’s funny to call me that), “Wake up!!!”

“GRKAMFNBLABLLHHH” came my reply.

“It’s party time!!!!” the knocking on my door persisted.  I heard Razor scooters rolling down the hallway, and knew it was no use.

“We agreed on 9!  I still have fifteen minutes!” I protested.  In that moment, I knew exactly what it was like to have small children on Christmas morning (yes, I know I need to cool it on these Christmas morning analogies.  But this one is just so apt!)  Except instead of presents under the tree, my kiddies were looking forward to tailgating in the driving rain, wearing lots and lots of purple, and beating up on Amherst. Read more


Afford To Retire

An anonymous professor (call him Professor X) writes:

Just saw you want to hack into my salary, Dave. One aspect of the situation you may or may not have thought of (no one mentions it in comments that I saw): what hit the endowment also of course hit retirement funds of faculty members, so the question arises of when (if ever) a possibly quite significant number of faculty now in their 50s and 60s will be able to afford to retire. I’m thinking, for me, never, especially if I’m flatlining or worse on my salary, and I know others in this age bracket who are thinking the same thing. Is it good for Williams if lots of us hang on into our 70s? Our 80s? Our 90s? With no new faculty slots for youngsters, because we aren’t giving ours up? As one colleague put it, “Well, they can freeze my salary forever, and I won’t be able to retire, and they can start cutting my salary, and I won’t be able to retire….” The demographics could get ugly.


1) X is not the same anonymous professor who described visiting professor hiring procedures. EphBlog’s sources are legion.

2) Previous discussions of faculty salary here and here. And, yes, I have been writing on this topic for more than 5 years.

3) I have worried for years, as have other higher ed watchers, about the intersection of tenure and the end of mandatory retirement ages for faculty. Assume that you are, say (pdf), Lawrence Kaplan ($223,184) or Stephen Sheppard ($220,610) or Jay Pasachoff ($212,472). (Annual salary/benefits in parentheses.) Just what incentive do you have to retire? Sure, it might be nice to have some more free time, to not have to teach all those classes. But, if your savings are down, it sure is tempting to stay for another year or two or ten. After all, once you retire, you can’t come back. You lose the option of earning that fat salary.

4) When I have investigated this issue in the past, I have been told that Williams has never had a problem with faculty not retiring when they “should.” The College, by offering various incentives, has been able to get professors to retire when it wants them to. I just worry that this won’t always be true and, moreover, that it could become a big problem very fast. Right now, if a professor tries to stay on, Williams can point out (correctly!) that this just isn’t done. It isn’t the Williams way. Everyone before him retired at the appropriate time and so should he. But, as soon as one or two professors refuse to go, this sort of moral suasion via community standards disappears.

5) What should be done? First, end life-time tenure. Going forward, an award of tenure should be for an explicit time period: 25 years or however many years until age 65 or whatever. This, obviously, won’t solve the problem in the near term, but trustees like Greg Avis should always be thinking about positioning Williams 50 years from now. Second, bribe current faculty members into, voluntarily, swapping their current life-time tenure for the same fixed period contract. An extra $5,000 or $10,000 per year now (along with the (mostly) built-in raises to come) is probably more attractive to the typical associate professor than some hypothetical keep-teaching-even-though-Williams-doesn’t-want-me option to be used decades in the future.

6) If this professor really wants to protect his salary, then I would urge him to take the realities of the budget crisis much more seriously. The reason that Williams does not have enough money to pay him what he wants (and deserves!) is because it is wasting so much money on other stuff. Start here.

I would Cancel the Bolin Fellowships (200k) Close the Boston Investment Office (1 million), End all one or two year positions (1 million), Cancel Questbridge (200k), End Green Spending (2 million), Close the Office of Campus Life (200k), Stop Giving to Local Charity, (750k), Make Significant Cuts in High Salaries (2.5 million), Cut the Budget for WCMA (1.4 million), Cut Visiting Professors (500k) and Cut Faculty Benefits (200k). Total savings of about $10 million.

The best way to avoid cuts in faculty salaries is to push for cuts in other areas. As it is, all (?) that the Administration and Trustees hear from the faculty is a demand to not cut anything. The sooner you and your colleagues cancel the Bolin, for starters, the sooner they will take your opinions more seriously.

7) If I were a Williams professor, I would never retire. I would love teaching so much that they would have to drag my cold dead body out of the classroom.

8) I thank Professor X for sharing his views with us. The more that these important issues are discussed throughout the Williams community, the better.


Al Shaw

To the Williams Community,

I am saddened to report the death yesterday of one of the college’s most colorful figures, former basketball coach Al Shaw, at the age of 101.

Al earned induction into the New England Basketball Hall of Fame for his career here, which ran from 1949 to 1973. Before college athletics were separated into divisions, his 1955 team made the NCAA tournament, playing Canisius College in Madison Square Garden. Our basketball offices were long ago named in his honor.

He also helped coach football, baseball, and lacrosse here and served in the U.S. Navy during World War II.

For decades after retiring, he regularly trolled college offices for specimens to add to his expansive stamp collection. Until very recently, only a fool would challenge him to a game of H-O-R-S-E, so deadly was his nonagenarian two-hand set shot.

Our thoughts and prayers are with his wife, Marion, and son, John. We will relay information about a memorial service when it is known.

Bill Wagner
Interim President


Outside Consultant

If I were a trustee, I would wonder about spending like this.

Sign-up starting Monday at 8:30AM for the second workshop in a series titled The Working World, brought to you by the Office of Campus Life. The workshop will be, of course, over dinner on December 4th from 5-7:30PM with peers, faculty, and an outside consultant who will guide you through everything from greeting to eating. Spots are limited to 40 students, so it’s first come-first served. To sign-up, stop by the Office of Campus Life and see Tim or Schuyler. Students will also randomly have the opportunity to invite a faculty member of their choice, so sign-up early!


1) Rule #1 in cutting spending: Fire all the consultants! Does Williams have budget problems or not? There is nothing wrong with having an event like this. Indeed, any dinner which brings together students and faculty is a good thing. But there is no need to hire an outside consultant. John Noble, and many other Williams folks, knows more than enough about “The Working World” to run this event.

2) We discussed a similar business etiquette boon-doggle last year. The resulting thread is a wonderful example of Kaneian snark. I mention at least three fancy prep schools. Highly recommended!

3) Did anyone attend last year’s event? Will anyone be going to this one? Tell us how things go. Advice: Sign up and invite a faculty member who you would like to get to know better.


Athletics Round-Up: David v. Goliath Edition

In honor of Saturday’s David v. Goliath soccer game, here is a Goliath-sized athletics update:

  • The big sports news this week is, of course, men’s soccer going up against D-III Goliath Messiah, national champions in 2000, 2002, 2004, 2005, 2006, and 2008, in the Final Four on Friday.  Even in an incredible fall for Eph soccer, the men’s tourney run stands out: they toppled number eighteen RPI, number two York, and number four Christopher Newport in three straight games in by far the toughest quarter of the bracket, all on the road.  Of course, the biggest challenge is yet to come, as Messiah is ranked first and is the prohibitive favorite to take home another national title.  Stay tuned for more information on how to follow the game.
  • The first Director’s Cup standings are out and the Ephs are in second, nipping at the heels of first place Wash U.  Although Wash U. women’s soccer is in the final four, the combined success of the Williams men’s and women’s soccer teams will almost surely push the Ephs to their accustomed position at the top of the rankings at the conclusion of the fall season.  Considering that winter sports look stronger than last year (see below) that bodes well for the Ephs.
  • While last year was a spectacular one for Eph sports in the aggregate, one group of teams had a bit of a collective down year (by Williams’ insanely high standards): winter team sports.  Not so, this year.  Men’s hoops is off to a great 4-0 start, led by All-American candidate Blake Schultz ’10, who is likely to score his 1000th career point on Tuesday vs. Salem State.   The continued maturation of a crowd-pleasing duo, uber-quick Australian point guard James Wang ’12 and athletic big man Troy Whittington ’11 (known for crowd-igniting monster dunks and blocks — see accompanying photo from Sports Information — the likes of which are rarely seen at the NESCAC level), should help Eph hoops to its best season since the 2003-04 final four squads were rocking Chandler gym.  Whittington
  • In addition, women’s and men’s ice hockey, each of whom have benefited from stellar goalie play (for the women reigning NESCAC player of the week Sarah Plunkett ’10 and for the men, the dynamic duo of  Ryan Purdy ’12 and Marc Pulde ’10 ) both appear to be much improved, each undefeated to date at 3-0-1.  The men’s squad in particular has a shot at competing for its first NESCAC title and/or first NCAA bid, thanks to returning all-conference veterans Alex Smigelski ’10 (who scored a hat trick to help upset number four Manhattanville on Sunday) and Justin Troiani ’12 along with several strong newcomers, including D-1 transfer Ben Contini ’11.
  • Women’s basketball, let by sweet-shooting post player Chessie Jackson ’11 and speedy point guard Jill Greenberg ’12, has rebounded from a very rough year to start strong at 3-1.  The Ephs already have two road wins, which is two more than they had all of last season.
  • Williams-Amherst football rivalry gets a shout-out in the L.A. Times.
  • This article notes that Paul Steinig [’14?] “committed” to Williams, where he will play ice hockey.  This article features another prospective interested in athletics, Eva Wilson, who is applying Early Decision to Williams.
  • Check out this great feature which mentions the charity efforts of Eph softball coach Kris Herman, who is involved with the Friends of Jaclyn program.
  • Mike Bajakian ’96 is a finalist for the Broyles Award, which honors the top offensive coordinator in Division I football.  Bajakian’s Central Michigan squad plays Friday for the MAC conference title.
  • Men’s wrestling started off this season strong, and is currently ranked first in New England.  The squad is once again let by All-American Ryan Malo ’11.  Newcomer to watch: frosh Kaison Tanabe.   The wrestling squad is even more impressive academically.

Reject Moderation

Derek Charles Catsam ’93 offers advice to Republicans.

If Republicans don’t want to consign themselves to irrelevance, they’d serve themselves well to look back to that most maligned of decades, the 1970s. In the years of Jimmy Carter, the Republicans were similarly divided, but they recovered and even flourished.

Desmond hotels
By 1977, after the triple blows to the American psyche of Vietnam, Watergate and an economic crisis that lingered into the 1980s, the Republicans appeared hopelessly divided. Internecine warfare threatened to tear the party apart. This division ran the risk of continuing indefinitely the Democratic ascendancy that began with Franklin Delano Roosevelt’s New Deal coalition and re-establishing liberalism’s place as the defining paradigm in American politics.

By 1976, President Gerald Ford, a member of his party’s moderate wing, found himself besieged by the GOP right wing. No critic was more vocal than Ronald Reagan, the former California governor with an amiable face but a deadly serious sense of politics. Many people, including Dick Cheney and Donald Rumsfeld, who by the end of the Ford years served as chief of staff and secretary of defense respectively, undermined Ford from within the administration.

But a series of funny things happened on the way to the Democratic stranglehold on American politics. By 1981, they were on the ropes, not the Republicans. It was the “Age of Reagan.”

Today’s GOP need not despair, and Democrats ought not to celebrate. Four years is a generation in American politics and a lifetime in political memories. But the lesson from the 1970s rings clear. It is fine for the Republicans to embrace conservatism. But in so doing they should not reject moderation.

Funny, but, if memory serves, Reagan’s nomination in 1980 was widely (universally?) perceived, by both Democrats and liberal Republicans, as a rejection of “moderation.” One of the reasons that I voted against McCain was precisely because I wanted to see the Republican Party become less moderate (immigration, cap-and-trade, torture, and so on).

In 1977, Reagan represented the GOP’s disenchanted, angry and ambitious right flank. In November 2009, that angry fragment of the party is embodied by Sarah Palin, Michele Bachmann, Joe Wilson and their ilk.

These politicians have mobilized the Tea Partiers with their Glen Beck-fueled rage, the Town Hall screechers with their vitriol and “death panel” talking points, the denialist “Birthers” with their tenuous grip on reality.

I can’t think of a single Republican who would take advice from someone who views the Town Hall protesters as “screechers.” Perhaps they should . . .

Derek is an EphBlog author so, if you make a substantive comment, he may reply.




Gregory Crowther ’95 can run a mile faster than you, even if he has just run 49 miles before.

In the deepest and fastest field in JFK 50 Mile history, Seattle’s Gregory Crowther staged a breathtaking rally to beat them all and win Saturday’s 47th edition of America’s oldest and largest ultramarathon.

Crowther, 36, passed Michael Arnstein, 32, of New York City, in the second-to-last mile and crossed the finish line in front of Springfield Middle School in 5 hours, 50 minutes, 13 seconds — the second-fastest time in JFK history.

Arnstein appeared in good shape when he turned off the towpath onto Dam 4 Road with 8.4 miles to go.

“At (mile) 42, I was going for the course record,” said Arnstein, who finished second in 5:50:58 for the fourth-best time in JFK history. “A mile later, I knew I didn’t have it, so I eased off.”

Little did he — or anyone else — know Crowther was surging. He moved into fourth place at 34.4 miles and was in third at 38.5 miles, 3:16 behind Arnstein and 27 seconds behind Matt Woods, 30, of Falls Church, Va.

Crowther was relentless, catching and passing Woods — who finished third in 5:54:10 for the seventh-best time in history — at the end of the towpath section, and reeling in a slowing Arnstein in the final five miles. Arnstein’s lead was 2:13 with four miles to go, but two miles later it was down to about 10 seconds, and Crowther made the pass with 5:40:35 on the clock.

“I was seven minutes behind the lead runners off the trail. I knew I’d be behind, but I knew I had 35 miles to catch up,” Crowther said. “It’s a cliché, but you try to run your own race, and that’s what I did. When I passed him, he told me, ‘Nice job,’ and it was basically a concession.”

Read the whole thing. More details at Greg’s blog.

“Where the hell did you come from?” That was Michael Arnstein’s question as I pulled even with him during the 49th mile of the JFK 50.

Michael’s surprise was understandable, for he had been gliding toward an apparent victory for quite some time while I slowly reeled in the people behind him. After a cautious traverse of the 15.5-mile Appalachian Trail section of the course, I was in about 15th place, seven minutes behind the leaders. It wasn’t until mile 25 or so that I broke into the top ten and mile 35 or so that I entered the top five. I finally overtook 2nd place (Matt Woods, running his first-ever 50-miler) at mile 40 or 41. I was three minutes behind Michael at that point, and when told at mile 44 that I was still three minutes behind him, I gave up on the idea of winning. I was working really hard to run 6:50 miles over rolling country roads, and without a target in sight, I couldn’t go any faster.

Then at mile 46 I was told that the lead was down to 2:11, and the chase was on again. I accelerated, brought Michael into view, accelerated some more, and hunted him down like the cold-blooded killer I can be in such situations. Poor guy. I wound up with the narrowest margin of victory in the 47-year history of the race, 45 seconds, and the second-fastest time in race history, 5:50:13. It was undoubtedly the most exciting ultramarathon finish of my life, and I think the photographic evidence will confirm that I broke the tape with a huge smile on my face.



There must be a million captions for a picture like this …

Nixon Bush Turkey
Just when you thought Thanksgiving was over!

Nixon, Bush, and a turkey. A handshake and a close encounter. Politics and animal rights. What ever happened to kissing babies?

Your submission wanted! A prize for the best caption!

Decision of the judges is gobble!


In The Bag

Kim Daboo ’88 tells us what’s in her bag. What’s in yours?

By the way, links to cute kids in Williams paraphernalia are always welcome!


Holiday Cards – for Deployed Eph !

If you have an extra holiday card, please consider sending it to our only deployed Eph, Bill Couch ’79, who is serving in Iraq.

It only takes a regular 44 cent stamp!

Just put the undecipherable military address on the envelope and drop it in any mailbox.

Capt. W. S. Couch
APO AE 09348

Thank You for your Great support of our Deployed Eph(s)

Stewart Menking ’79
Williams College Adopt An Eph Program



Dan Blatt ’85 questions the honor of fellow Eph Katie Couric.

Katie Couric asked far tougher questions of Sarah Palin than she did of Joe Biden. And that’s fine. But, if she’s going to hold the Republican and Democratic nominees to the same office to two different standards, she shouldn’t put herself forward as a non-partisan journalist, but as a partisan one.

Had she acknowledged her biases, she might see her audience share drop far more rapidly than it has been dropping. And she would have had as much chance to interview Sarah Palin as I have of interviewing Barbara Boxer.

Ah, there are perils of acknowledging your political inclinations. But, at least, we have our honor, something that doesn’t seem much of a concern to Katie Couric.

How do you judge the toughness of interview questions? A good topic for a senior thesis in political science.


“This is going to sound weird, but do you have any sage?”

Students bond during dinner – By Jenn Smith
“This is going to sound weird, but do you have any sage?”

After posing the question to Dodd Dining Hall manager Molly O’Brien, Jackie Pineda, a sophomore at Williams College, explained that she was stuck on campus for Thanksgiving. She had joined forces with her classmate Kim Stroup to prepare a vegan and vegetarian holiday supper for an estimated 19 other students who replied to a Facebook online invitation. They needed a few extra ingredients.



Loved this comment on Dick Swart’s ’56 amazing Houses of Williamstown series.

I was just googling family names, and noticed someone saying that they couldn’t find much on Harry Leslie Agard. He was my grandfather. He was a gifted teacher, by all accounts. He loved golf, and I have childhood memories of tagging after him around the golf course in Williamstown in the 1950’s. He also loved motoring, as they called it in those days. He and his wife and teenaged son (my dad) took quite an adventurous cross-country road trip to California in the 1920’s when the roads were not yet paved all the way. He and my grandmother lived with us in Amherst during the last years of their lives, and he passed away in the late 1960’s, at the age of 80.

There are thousands of stories like this about the men and women who have made William so special. Tell us yours.


Taoist Thanksgiving

A moving post from Professor Sam Crane:

It is a perfect Thanksgiving morning here in Northwestern Massachusetts: a light snow, about 2 inches on the ground; a chill air; great conditions to be inside and cooking and eating all day. Aidan and I are here by ourselves, however. Maureen and Maggie are down in New York City, attending the famous parade. So, we will do the whole feast thing tomorrow. Today will be just about pie baking: I have a couple of small pumpkins to bake and make into a pie. If I feel ambitious, perhaps an apple pie will follow. That will make the house warm and comfortable.

We are supposed to be thankful today, and I am. But as I give thanks I can’t help wondering: for what am I giving thanks and to whom? As is my want, I fall back on Taoism to help clarify my thoughts. And, through that exercise, I come to a somewhat startling realization: I give thanks for Aidan and his profound disability. I know that sounds a bit bizarre – how could a parent be thankful for a child’s disability? – but, as I think through it, I am happy to say that I am.

Read the whole thing. Aidan left us three years ago, but his memory and spirit live on, not just in those who knew him personally but in all those touched my Sam’s writing. Try as hard as I might, I worry that I will never be half the father to my daughters that Sam was to his son.


The Thanksgiving Parade …

Thanks parade stamps 2009

My old roommate Rechtal Turgidly, Jr has passed along this new issue honoring Thanksgiving Parades with his best wishes to one and all for a happy Thanksgiving.

Rechtal notes that the artwork was created by Paul Rogers of Pasadena, CA, who based the style on American advertising and poster art from the mid-20th century. Rogers, he goes on, used a combination of airbrush and digital media to create the colorful and nostalgic images featured on the stamps.

Although, Rechtal adds, he is reluctant to express appreciation for stamps that involve techniques other than traditional engraving, he found this series colorful and evocative of the event.

Happy Thanksgiving from Quark Island, Maine and Hood River, Oregon!

(and as a special treat of thankfulness –


The Mary J. Blige of Acoustic Folk …

… not quite sure what that means, but that is the moniker attributed to Molly Venter ’02 in this effusive profile.  You can listen to some of her music here and here … kind of an Ani DiFranco vibe.  You can also find numerous videos of her performances on YouTube.  The multi-talented Venter was an All-American field hockey player as an Eph.


Book Grant?

From WSO:

what’s up with this? I was under the impression that this grant would be beneficial to students, but it seems like they just reduced my need by $400 and now my books are free… i’ve never even come close to spending $400 on books so this seems like a financial aid cut! in which cases will this actually help students financially?

I just came to the same conclusion. I’ve never actually spent a penny on books but have still needed every freaking penny I’ve been given. Where the hell am I going to come up with an extra $400 between now and my bill????!!!

Good questions. See the thread for further discussion and sensible points from Will Slack. See here for background. My previous (slightly edited) comments still apply.

How does anyone know whether or not this change will be “cost-neutral?”

1) Even if it isn’t, it may still be a good idea.

2) Let’s just focus on financial aid students. This semester, the College budgeted $400 for each of them. Call that $400,000. Now, did $400,000 really leave the bank account of Williams in September? I am not sure. The students on full rides did get a check. (But isn’t that a very small percentage of the student body?) But even students who are expected to pay as little as $1,000, did not get money from Williams for their books. They were just charged $1,000 instead of $1,400 because the College assumed that they needed the $400 for books.

But, next semester, things change. Put students in two different groups.

a) Those who got checks from Williams this time. Those students will just get checks that are $400 lower, but they get to buy books. How can the College possibly know that they will spend, on average, $400 at Water Street? (I am happy to believe that smart Ephs like Finan and Winters can come up with all sorts of spreadsheets that estimate such an outcome, but I have real doubts about the accuracy of those forecasts. More below.)

b) Those students who send checks to Williams, every amount from $1,000 to $45,000. Those checks will rise by $400.

3) Let’s consider some reasons why the 1,000 students on financial aid might spend much more than $400 per student now that books are free.

a) Why not buy all the recommended books as well as the required ones? They are free! Program only applies to required books.

b) Why not buy new books rather than used books? They are free!

c) Why wouldn’t professors significantly increase the number/price of required books and reclassify some recommended books as required? Right now, I (and other Williams teachers) try to take care in selecting books. We don’t won’t to screw students, especially students on financial aid. (Although we know that the College is supposed to provide enough aid to cover textbooks, we recognize that the aid may not be enough and, more important, that any leftover money can be used by students for whatever they want.) Now, books are free to half the students. And the other half of students almost all come from extremely rich families, at least relative to Williams professors. No need to worry about their book expenses! And if making a book (officially) “required” rather than just “recommended,” makes it free for half the students in the class, then I will be sorely tempted to do so.

In fact, does this apply for Winter Study? I suspect that a majority of my students are on financial aid. Why not just order up some books, call them “required” and help these students out? I may just do that . . .

4) To be clear, I have no opinion yet as to whether this is a good idea. I just have serious doubts about its cost-neutrality.

I would not be surprised if the 1,000 students on financial aid spent much more than $400 on books next semester. Anyone want to bet?

It would be fun to compare the forecasts which were made a few months ago with what actually happens. If anything, it looks like the program might save the College money since it is taking $400 away from students who have not in the past (and won’t in the future?) spend anywhere near $400 on books. And, to reiterate, I am sure that Ephs like Winters and Finan did a much better job in constructing a forecast than I could have in their place. I just think that these sorts of specific problems in management and estimation are educational for all concerned.


Recruiting Video

From Jo Procter:

This satirical recruitment advertisement for Harvard University, spotted on the Ivygate blog, got us thinking about the feel-good promotional videos that colleges run during football bowl games and the March Madness basketball tournament.

If your college or university were being candid about itself, what would it say in one of those ads? Shoot your own video . . .

Assigned to Danny Huang and the Ephs at Purple Valley Films. Do us proud!


For the Heavyweight Title …


Well, this has been an exciting card that promoter Will Slack has put together and one that I’ll bet he never knew would run the full 15 rounds with blood and sweat drenching the ring.

An evening fans won’t be forgetting soon!

Now here are the figures from ringside. 131 exchanges!

Some fighters who had potential but were beaten before the semifinals and never really drew the sellout crowds:

nuts 1
10er 1
jg 1
dan 1
dick 3
aparent 3
will 4
frank 4
david 4

Yes, as you can see, these are the participants in the welter weight division. A punch here, a jab there, but not enough stuff for a real combination that’s going to send the other man to the floor. Nice work, guys. Keep in training, use that heavy bag, and read Angelo Dundee.

So lets get to the heavy weights!

Participants (in the white trunks, weighing 205 pounds, from Aberdeen, South Dakota and always a credit to his race):

with 15 appearances in this ring to his credit – Derek Catsam, Catsam!

and with 20 times in the ring – Jeff Zeeman, Zeeman!

But topping the card, the ever-popular Battlin’ Townie – PTC, PTC. with a record-breaking 41 scuffles on this canvas.

But, fight fans, this is one of those cases where just sheer appearances on the canvas weren’t enough to win the crown.

The referees were counting words landed as well.

And the winner this evening on points with 4916 words is that Texas Tornado, that Pugilistic Perfessor, the Victor of Vituperation – Derek Catsam! The New Hypothetical Sports Analysis World Champion !

Well, that’s it from ringside for tonight. Tune in next week when Gillette will bring you Dave ‘I’ll iterate your face off” Kane versus Ronit ‘Nerds of Steel’ Bhattacharyya in 15 rounds of statistical error with winner take all!


Chasing Mr. Bernard Moore

The Orwellian removal of all vestiges of former Professor Bernard Moore’s time at Williams continues. Consider some current pages and their Google caches:

1) New faculty 2009–2010: now and cached.

2) Political Science: now and cached.

3) Faculty Notes: now. The cache is gone.

4) No one has removed Moore’s page at Africana Studies. Calling Jim Kolesar! (Permanent copy here.)

Copies of some of this text is below the break. Future historians will thank me.

Read more



Lora Kolodny ’96 writes in the New York Times.

The chance to go pro frequently entices college students to drop out of school. It worked for the basketball legend Magic Johnson and, more recently, the golf upstart Rickie Fowler. Now, it’s happening for entrepreneurs on the collegiate business plan competition circuit.

The 20-year-old chief executive Max Hodak and the 23-year-old finance chief Jason Mueller dropped out to start their business as a “temporary” move, following a competition season in which they won $4,500 and some honors but never took a grand prize. That dropout status is likely permanent now that their company,, has received venture capital financing and is operational, says Mr. Hodak, who would have been a junior biomedical engineering major at Duke this year. Mr. Mueller would have been a senior business major at North Carolina State.

MyFit seems unlikely to succeed but it would be interesting to know the algorithm that they use to predict an applicant’s chances at Williams. Jaded observers will recall the hype over Unigo.

Speaking of which, here is Unigo on Williams.


“One more turn, then on to The Record …

1 more turn ..
there are only two things more pleasurable: nail-pulling, water-boarding, and Professor Moore. Three things, three things more pleasurable …”

(See below. No one expects …)


Cultural Thing

Few things are more fun than trolling the Record archives for housing related discussions from a decade ago.

From 1999:

In fact, in January, Dean Peter Murphy created an ad hoc committee to create possible solutions to the housing crunch. If study abroad and off-campus numbers did not register high enough, the administration knew they would be faced with a housing shortage. The committee included Dean Charlie Toomajian, McEvoy, and former College Council Co-Presidents Kate Ervin ’99 and Will Slocum ’99.

Because making random doubles seemed like it would isolate sophomores, Ervin said, they narrowed the options down to the Mission common rooms or doubles in Brooks. After much debate, both students and faculty agreed that Mission was the better option. “Generally, people want to be in singles, and generally people want to be in Mission. A big factor in enjoying your Williams experience is being in Mission,” said Ervin.

“It’s a cultural thing at Williams: this desire to live in Mission Park,” agreed McEvoy.

As I have commented many times, the sophomores class, as a whole, wanted to live together, even before the extensive renovations. They created Mission as a central housing location, first, via the mechanism of trading and then, naturally, via Free Agency. Give them a chance, and they will be just as happy (pdf) in the Berkshire Quad.


It’ll be tough with smashing pumpkins …

smashing pumpins
all over the blog, to get ready for Thanksgiving. Don’t you just hate it when Halloween lingers?


Here’s your weekly Brzezinski post

Here’s something about babies and work and stuff. I think there’s something in there about how women who step out of the career track to raise their kids become less “mentally and physically interesting” to their life partner.


Whack Essay

Fun interview (mp3) with Wick Sloane ’76 at The Story.

Community colleges are experiencing record enrollments in the recession. Some have responded by adding classes at all hours of the day. Wick Sloane teaches English at Bunker Hill Community College in Boston – at midnight.

As he tells Dick Gordon, Wick thinks students in community college are among the most energized and inspiring he’s ever met. He pointed us to Tremare James, a 19-year-old woman who has made back into the classroom despite debilitating sexual assaults. Wick and Tremare talk with Dick about the 12 a.m. to 3 a.m. class, and what they’re liking about the experience.

Highly recommended.

I never got around to answering Vicarious’s ’83 question about community college enrollment. (The census data I was looking at was both dated and tough to work with.) Fortunately, this article tells the story. Key graphic:


Basic point: Lots of people go to college, both 4-year and community. Lots more go now then have gone in the past. Whatever small up and down movements we see this year or in future years will be almost imperceptible in this chart. The interviewer in this story pushes the line on exploding enrollments. Don’t believe the hype.

Too many people go into too much debt to go to college. They would be better off doing something else. Background reading here.

Tremare James was mentioned, without being named, in our previous discussions as the “Dunkin’ Donuts cashier who wants to be a homicide detective.” What odds would you give on James achieving her dream?

Becoming a detective starts with becoming a police officer. Here is how you do so in Boston. No college degree required. Perhaps someone could let James know.


The Houses of Williamstown: Knitting Club (Kappa Chi) …

A special addition to the 16 part series.
KX Secret


Moore/Record Round Up: Part 2

moore1Let’s continue our discussion of the Record‘s (excellent) coverage of former Professor Bernard Moore. (Part 1 here.)

From College dismisses visiting professor mid-semester by Lina Khan:

Hiring visitors

Since news of Moore’s financial fraud first emerged, details about his false credentials and numerous fictitious identities have raised questions as to how the College found itself among the list of institutions he deceived.

Indeed! And EphBlog has provided a wealth of information on that topic (here, here, here and here), with more to come. The Record should be praised for finding out more/other details, but they ought to use our information as well, perhaps after confirming it with the quoted individuals.

Moore joined the faculty in September 2008 as a visiting lecturer in political science and taught five courses over that academic year, specializing in areas of constitutional law, race in politics and the judicial system. Moore applied for a tenure-track position in the department a few months after he began teaching but was rejected and instead eventually appointed as the W. Ford Schumann ’50 Professor in Democratic Studies for the following year, another visiting role.

We need more details! What committee initially hired Moore and when did they do it? Who brought Moore and Williams together? (My guess is that Bill Spriggs ’77 met Moore, was impressed and passed his name on to Morty, who then alerted the Political Science Department. But I have zero real evidence for this. And that is why I want the Record to figure out the history.)

1) The key person to interview is not James Mahon, chair of the political science department now, but Cathy Johnson, chair of the political science department in 2007–2008. She would know all the details of how Moore came to Williams. The Record ought to ask her. If she refuses to discuss the details . . .

2) Was there a position open to which Moore applied or was a position created especially for him? Again, there is no plausible reason for the College not to reveal this background, other than abject embarrassment and a desire to sweep everything under the rug move forward. I have been unable to use my Google-fu to compile a listing of Williams job openings in political science that were advertised in 2007–2008. Can anyone?

3) One clue to the hiring history in political science is that Paul McDonald was hired in 2008, after competing against Boaz Atzili, Michelle Murray and, perhaps, Joshua Rovner. This was probably the one job search that was authorized in political science that year. So, where did the money/position for hiring Moore come from? Thin air?

4) More clues can be found by looking at the history of visiting lecturers (what Moore was, as a non-Ph.D. in 2008-2009) and visiting assistant professors (what Moore was this year) in political science. Consider:

2007–2008: Visiting Assistant Professor: DOLGERT
2006–2007: Visiting Assistant Professors: BONG, A. SWAMY, R. SKINNER.
2005–2006: Visiting Assistant Professors: BONG, C. COOK, GROFF, A. SWAMY.
2004–2005: Visiting Assistant Professors: GROFF, A. HIRSCH, J. LEE, T. LEHMANN.

Notice any patterns? That’s right. No visiting lecturers. How did the Political Science Department magically have the money for a visiting lecturer for 2008–2009? (By the way, Moore is listed as a visiting assistant professor is his first year, but I am pretty sure that this is a mistake.)

5) The other clue that Moore’s hire was “special” lies in the courses he taught and in the professors who were not on leave in 2008–2009. The typical reason for hiring a visiting assistant professor is that you need either a) someone to help out with the intro courses because too many permanent faculty are on leave or b) someone to teach specific upper level courses because of leaves taken by specific senior faculty. But the only political science professors on-leave in 2008–2009 were: MCALLISTER, SHANKS and MELLOW, none of whom teach the sort of upper level courses that Moore would teach. Only Shanks was on-leave for the whole year.

If anything, 2008-2009 was a period of less than normal leave activity in the political science department. Assuming that this was known in the spring of 2008 (as it almost certainly would have been), the department would have had a great deal of trouble convincing the Dean of the Faculty that it needed money for a visiting lecturer in 2008–2009.

Consider the classes Moore taught:

PSCI 201(F,S) Power, Politics, and Democracy in America
PSCI 304(F) Race and the Criminal Justice System
PSCI 217(S) Constitutional Law II: Rights
PSCI 307(S) Black Politics
PSCI 320(S) Judicial Politics

In other words, of the five courses Moore taught, three were, for all practical purposes, brought to Williams by him. They were not courses that the department would have expected to have someone teach. The other two (201 and 217) were classes that are taught each year. (Ask Alan Hirsch why he wasn’t teaching PSCI 217 that spring.)

To be fair, Moore’s hiring might be connected to the departure of assistant professor of political science George Thomas. He seemed to only be at Williams for two years, before leaving for Claremont Mckenna. Still, I don’t see a connection, other than Moore teaching PSCI 217, a class that Thomas had taught before.

Summary: I bet (75% chance) that Williams was not hiring a visiting lecturer and/or assistant professor in the spring of 2008 in Moore’s subfields. Not enough faculty were on leave and those that were taught other subjects. Instead, Williams found out about Moore somehow, decided that he was a catch, and created a position for him.

6) Besides wondering how Moore came to Williams, we need to determine how he was reappointed. Who was on the committee that selected him as W. Ford Schumann ’50 Professor in Democratic Studies? When did they make that decision? (Sounds like it would have been well into the spring of 2009.) Were they concerned about Moore’s “horrific” teaching? If not, why not?

7) I bet that the folks in the department who fought against Moore being appointed to a tenure track position are feeling fairly proud of themselves! Would be fun to have a transcript of that meeting!

8) The Record needs to do a better job of describing its sources. How does it know that Moore applied for a tenure track job and was rejected? It just can’t assert something like that with zero evidence. It needs to cite someone with specific knowledge, either named or anonymous.

9) Recall what the Record reported in the fall of 2007:

While the student body becomes more diverse with each year, increasing faculty diversity remains a priority and a challenge for the College as it struggles to find and attract eligible candidates.

“This is an issue of little supply and huge demand,” said Mike Reed, vice president for strategic planning and institutional diversity. “Even though I want to increase in a certain area, you’re limited by where you have opportunities. Not only are there not that many PhDs, we probably would not accept half of them because of the degree-granting institution.”

Reed’s office targets five academic departments in particular for recruitment: English, political science, psychology, biology and athletics. Chosen based on size and the opportunities available, these departments will be the special focus of faculty diversity in next two to three years as greater networks are formed in these areas.

Six months later, Moore was offered a position at Williams by the Political Science department.

Still think that Moore’s race isn’t going to enter the picture at some point? Don’t say I didn’t warn you . . .


Waregem (2)

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11222009(029)_Pruf-1_Q 11222009(031)_Pruf-1_Q 11222009(037)_Pruf-1_Q

Et dulce et decorum in ager vlaanderi.


Better Solution Than Penalty Kicks

UPDATE II: Williams wins on PKs! Ignore all my PK complaints below . . .

UPDATE: Game is going to penalty kicks after 1-1 tie. Williams dominated play, outshooting their opponent 25-5

Go here for video on mens soccer in the NCAA eliite 8 game starting at 1:00 at York.

Penalty kicks are a stupid way to end a soccer game. Mens soccer coach Mike Russo agrees.

Yet in the end, the result was the same as York’s quest for the school’s first national team championship fell short and the Ephs moved on to the Elite Eight after a 1-1 game was decided by a marathon, 7-6
York College goalkeeper Ryan Hock reaches over the head of teammate Adam Good and Williams College’s Connor Smith (2) to punch away a corner kick during Saturday’s NCAA Division III tournament match at Graham Field. (Daily Record / Sunday News — Jason Plotkin)
penalty kick battle.

It marked the fourth time in five seasons coach Mark Ludwig’s squad had been eliminated from the NCAA tournament in PKs. The game is considered a tie, making the Spartans’ record 17-1-5, but it sure felt like a loss.

“It is what it is. It’s the rule of the game,” Ludwig said.

Despite being on the winning end, Ephs coach Mike Russo isn’t a fan of penalties.

“I’ve been at this a long time and been on both sides. It’s a terrible way to end a game, especially such a great game,” he said. “I feel bad for York. They have a fantastic team. The best team we have played all year.”

I have a simple solution. First, overtimes should include the golden goal rule. If a team scores, the game is over. Second, the first overtime should feature no offsides. This would dramatically open up the field and increase the chance of a goal. Third, in the second overtime, remove two players from each side every five or ten minutes. So, first you would play 9-on-9, then 7-on-7 and, finally 5-on-5. With no offsides and 5 versus 5, you are guaranteed (?) to have a goal eventually.

Is no offsides or 7-on-7 real soccer? No! But it is a much better way to end a soccer game than penalty kicks.

Watching the video of the game (with no sound)? Tell us what is going on in the comments to this post. (If anyone is at the game and wants to Twitter updates, let us know.


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