Currently browsing the archives for December 2011

Another Christmas Song

Need help getting into the holiday spirit? Be sure check out Stephen Colbert’s Another Christmas Song … co-written by very clever Eph Adam Schlesinger ’89. The Christmas album won a Grammy for best comedy album:

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Kent ’88 on Talkies

Great advice from Professor Katie Kent ’88 on how to deal with “talkies,” students who tend to dominate class discussions.

I swear that Katie was using some of these tricks on me during Gargoyle meetings 22 years ago . . . ;-)


Endowed Chairs

From the Record:

The College administers well over 50 endowed professorships, each of which provides a professor with funds for research or education, often with use guidelines set by the original donors. The president and the dean of the faculty recommend appointments for approval by the Board of Trustees.

It would be useful if the College maintained a centralized list of these chairs, their current holders, and the funding/guidelines associated with each. Does it already? As always, transparency is a good thing. Moreover, this would allow students searching for funding for special projects a guide for whom to contact. It would also highlight for (rich) alumni the donation possibilities.


Treating Germans Badly

From reader BHC:

In the early 1980s, there was an old stone bench somewhere on Stone Hill, dedicated to the memory of man with a German name who had died circa 1917. As I remember it, the story was that the bench commemorated an instructor in German at Williams. After the US entered World War I, he was treated as a pariah by the Williams community, and he committed suicide as a result.

Don’t know if the story is entirely accurate, but Google found the following in a reference to Stone Hill:

“A gravel road leads through a fence to a stone bench, placed there by local citizens in memory of a resident as an apology for treating him badly during World War I because he was of German ancestry.”

Do any readers know the full story? Writing the history of Williams and Williamstown during World War I would make for a great senior thesis.


Repackaging of Inside Information

Naked Capitalism comments on the business model that made Michael Gerson ’94 rich.

So What Is Insider Trading? Andrew Ross Sorkin. This story bothers me. Why is the SEC cracking down on this pair, and not on Gerson Lerman, which pays low and mid level employees to sell information about corporate activity, usually shipment and inventory levels? Gerson Lerman has institutionalized the use and repackaging of inside information. But it would take time and effort to develop a case against Gerson and its competitors.

Recall my discussion of Gerson’s business from five years ago.


Fancher Nicoll ’99

From Ron Gallagher:

Several years ago when I was the President of the Faculty Board of Governors there was a large modern painting (cubist form? clouds?) poorly juxtaposed on the wall of the lovely great room (living room) where you enter the Alumni Center/Faculty Club.

As fate often intervenes someone (?) discovered a wonderful oil painting of a beachhead in France found in the basement of a campus dorm.

The painting was a blessed mess but upon reading the little brass plaque attached to the frame it was evident that the painting was commissioned by a father of a Williams alum to honor his son who died in France during the Great War.

With Claire Ann Oakley leading the charge The Board voted successfully to fund the restoration of the painting. The inscription on the plaque which now hangs in it’s prominent place in the Alumni Center reads:

“Presented to Zeta chapter a.d. 1918 from J.C. Nicoll as a memorial to his son Fancher Nicoll member of the the Class of 1899 who was killed in France”


Study Abroad

Great essay on study abroad from Swarthmore. Does Williams provide similar guidance? If not, just use this.


Wikipedia at Williams

From Inside Higher Ed:

Some professors believe Wikipedia has no place in the footnotes of a college paper. But could it have a place on the syllabus?

The Wikimedia Foundation, the nonprofit organization that does fund-raising and back-end support for the popular open-source encyclopedia, says yes. So do the nine professors at prominent colleges who have agreed to make creating, augmenting, and editing Wikipedia entries part of their students’ coursework.

“We’ve known for a long time that students are the fuel of Wikipedia,” said LiAnna Davis, a Wikimedia spokeswoman. “…We feel there is a place for Wikipedia in the classroom.”

Indeed. Read the whole article for details. Wikipedia should have a bigger role at Williams:

For starters, move all the Williams history material on to Wikipedia. For example, instead of maintaining our own page about Ebenezer Fitch, move that material onto the Wikipedia page devoted to Ebenezer Fitch. College Archivist Sylvia Brown is wonderful and intelligent but, like too many people at Williams, she seems to think that the more control she has, the better. Alas, the exact opposite is probably true.


Yamamoto Weds

Christopher Yamamoto was married over a year ago, but this commentary is still funny.

A bunch of Ephmen got married this weekend. This sounds like maybe it has to do with gays too but actually it’s just the unfortunate team name for teensy liberal arts powerhouse Williams College, a fact you did not know because you are a vulgar state school oaf. In addition to Ralph Lauren bedding designer and Blackstone M&A associate Caitlin McGauley and Christopher Yamamoto, two notable couples feature grooms who graduated from the hallowed halls of the “Potted Ivy”.

Read the rest for more Eph weddings, you vulgar state school oaf.

Congratulations to all.


Klass on MMA

Most surprising confession by a Williams administrator in 2010.

So, my friend Will Dudley’s been after me to post some thoughts about the UFC/mixed martial arts (MMA) since he found out that I’ve been a fan for the past several years. First of all, a modest disclaimer – I’m a fan of the sport (more to come on my use of that term)…I watch most, if not all, of the monthly pay-per-view fights, I attended the first Fan Expo in Boston a couple of months ago, and I’ve attended regional entry-level and international top-level sanctioned professional tournaments. But, I’m not a fan in the same way that I’m a fan of the Yankees or in the same way that all three of my sons are fans of MMA, i.e., I don’t memorize all the fighters’ stats and can’t tell you who won the third fight of UFC #68 and I can’t catalog every submission move. I’m a fan of the athleticism, technical expertise, strategic focus, and overall intensity of MMA that isn’t reflected in many other professional sports of which I’m aware.

Good stuff! Like all (?) ex-Marines, I am an MMA fan as well.

Klass ought to teach a Winter Study class on MMA.

A slogan of the Marine Corps is: Every Marine a rifleman, meaning that every Marine, regardless of his major job (pilot, logistics, intelligence, et cetera) is, forst and foremost, a member of the infantry.

A comparable slogan for Williams would be: Every Administrator at teacher. Although Klass, like the dozen or so other senior administrators at Williams, has a busy “day job,” he still ought to teach part time because it keeps him in close contact with the central mission of the College.


Johnson ’09 and Fort ’07 Wed

We need more wedding posts at EphBlog.

Mr. Thomas Johnson and Ms. Patricia Reilly of Melrose announce the marriage of their daughter, Catherine Johnson, to Christopher Fort, son of Mr. Jeffrey Fort and Ms. Diane Locandro of Wilmette, Ill.

The wedding was held at Gibbet Hill in Groton on Friday, Aug. 27, 2010, at 5:30 p.m. and was officiated by the Rev. Sarah Butter of Wilmette, Ill. The bride was escorted down the aisle by her father.

The maids of honor were the bride’s sisters, Elizabeth and Susan, and the best men were Spike Friedman and Alex Matthews, friends of the groom.

The bride’s brother, Daniel; and the groom’s sister, Elizabeth, were also members of the wedding party.

After their honeymoon in Santorini, Greece, and Paris, the couple will reside in Chicago, Ill.

Congratulations to all.


Ginsberg Weds

A wedding from last June featuring Stephen Ginsberg ’95.

Congratulations to all.


Heekin ’71: Red Hot Grey

Is Jim Heekin ’71 the most important Eph in the advertising world?

Jim Heekin received a very early industry lesson during tackling practice at a South Orange, N.J., football clinic. He and the other kids had to pair off in facing lines, but whenever he was partnered with boys his size or smaller, his father, a Madison Avenue ad exec who was standing on the sidelines, moved him opposite much bigger players.

That sense of competition still serves Heekin well. At a point when his contemporaries are bowing out, the 60-year-old Grey Group chairman and CEO has taken on his biggest adversary yet: the cultural legacy of former longtime head Ed Meyer, an enigmatic autocrat who spent nearly 50 years at Grey and left behind a place in urgent need of modernization.

Heekin, who began at Grey in 2005 as president of the Grey Group’s advertising agency, says his motivation is simple: It’s most likely the last stop in a career that saw him rise quickly through the ranks of traditional U.S. multinational companies like WPP’s J. Walter Thompson and Interpublic’s McCann Erickson.

He now finds himself at the helm of remaking what may have been the most traditional of the lot. At Grey, he’s tearing down walls, literally in its new space, and metaphorically as he dismantles the siloed culture. His goal: to create a creative and digital profile at an agency known for taglines like “Choosy Moms choose Jif.” Predictably, skeptics are doubtful Grey can modernize, but less in dispute is the momentum established over the past two years.

I don’t know enough about the advertising business to offer informed commentary. Help us out Dick Swart ’56!