This post continues our month-long seminar about President Adam Falk’s Induction address.


Second, we must develop a deeper understanding of what it means for Williams to be an international institution. We must simultaneously be local and global, building a very specific, Berkshires-based Williams that could only be found in this valley, while reaching out far beyond to prepare our students to be effective citizens not only of this country but of the world. Many pieces of this process seem obvious – bring international students to Williams, send Williams students to study abroad – but our conception of a global strategy is still emerging. We are, after all, not a sprawling multiversity but a small college of two thousand students, each here for four years and some thirty courses. We cannot simply add every desirable experience to our curriculum or to student life. We must become global within our existing scale and scope, and without chasing fashions or being driven by our shifting anxieties about America’s geopolitical position. Grappling with this question will require the engagement of our entire community, as our strategies will encompass the curriculum and extend into so much of what we do. And we must think of the internationalization of Williams as something that happens here in Williamstown, capitalizing on what this campus and region can offer.


I love Adam Falk! This is exactly the vision that I have for Williams, the fundamental change that I have pushed and pushed and pushed for many years. I think that future historians will mark this as the most important paragraph in the speech.

1) Recall our previous discussion about how Falk might make Williams “a college for all of the United States, and of the world.” Falk is, I think, explicitly rejecting the Middlebury Model of a global liberal arts college with facilities and programs all around the world. Reread these key phrases: “Berkshires-based Williams that could only be found in this valley” and “global within our existing scale and scope” and “happens here in Williamstown, capitalizing on what this campus and region can offer.” Falk has no plans to expand programs like Williams-Exeter Programme at Oxford.

2) If you reject the Middlebury Model of offering facilities/programs everywhere and if you realize that there is no way — without tilting admissions toward dramatically more wealthy students — to enroll US applicants than are more “global,” then your only option “for Williams to be an international institution” is to dramatically increase foreign student enrollment. Reasonable people might disagree with that goal, might think that a Williams with 8% non-US citizens and quality study abroad options is international enough. But if you really believe Falk’s rhetoric, then your only choice is a major change in admissions.

3) Again, this dramatic change is made possible by ending need-blind admissions for international students. Jeff and I have a bet about the percentage of international students in the class of 2121. I think that it will be 20% or more. What do you think it will be? What do you think it should be?


Holy mother of false dichotomies,   David!  I don’t even know what the Middlebury model is– I thought Falk was saying we can’t follow the NYU and Columbia models!

Really!  You can’t follow– what you are saying,  is that because Williams cannot follow the model used by Centre College,  it must certainly do what Ken Thomas wants for Williams!

(Except I have no such vision,  unlike you).

This is absurd.   At it’s most base,   what Falk is saying here,  is that Williams must engage these issues,  and begin to confront them in earnest and to plan– we might get some clues from the above,  some hints for direction,  but that is all.

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