Katie Chatas ’88 and Ted Plonsker ’86, Co-Chairs of the Alumni Fund 2009-2010, e-mailed asking me for money. My reply is below. I’ve written trustees directly on these questions, now and in the past. If I were a trustee, I admit, I probably would not pay attention to internal Ephblog debates.

Reinstating student loans? Is this the Williams we want? Chiming in here alone won’t accomplish much.

Write on, but just here.

Kate and Ted —

Praise and blessings on you both for this work. Come to Cambridge, and I’ll take you to lunch any day. I couldn’t live without my Williams education.

I could easily, however, live without the current trustees. Can the College be asking for money when we still have no explanation from Greg Avis and all about how/why they lost so much money in the endowment? Money raised by the hard work of people like you both. Money earned by people out in their jobs.

I’m afraid on this one I know something. I have an MBA. I have worked in money management. I know about endowments and money management. The Williams endowment (and Harvard and many more) lost money because the trustees were taking more risk than they had any right to take with the endowments. These losses had little to do with the economy because the endowment had no need to have so much at such high risk. For years back, the risk-free rate of US Treasuries has been 4-5%. The Williams trustees have been chasing returns of 20% and more. True, the endowment has had high returns. But someone has forgotten that higher returns entail higher risks.

Greg and all have offered no explanation for their substantial midjudgements and errors. No one has stepped down. What’s worse, the trustees have reinstated loans as part of financial aid. I have been a university CFO. Even with the current endowment, there is no financial
reason for reinstating loans.

Williams raised about $400 million in the campaign for Williams, thanks to people such as the two of you. Williams then lost pretty much the same amount due to dreadful financial management by the trustees. Alumni of influence, such as yourselves, have to put these issues on the table at the College. Otherwise, what’s the point of your efforts?

Wick Sloane ’76

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