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Another Colonel to Williams

Chris_Gibson_2All good Ephs know that Ephraim Williams was a colonel at the time of his death on the Bloody Morning Scout. Trivia question: Who was the last colonel to teach at Williams? I don’t know. Perhaps after the Civil War? Regardless, the next colonel to teach at Williams will be Representative Chris Gibson, R-NY. Questions:

1) Gibson is a retired colonel, US Army. When he starts teaching in spring 2017, will he be the only veteran on the Williams faculty? I think so, but could be wrong . . .

2) Gibson is a registered Republican! How many other registered Republicans are there on the faculty? I assume that Jane Swift, former MA Governor, is still a registered Republican. But, among the tenured/tenure-track faculty, I don’t know of a single one, even among the less-than-five libertarian/conservative leaners. Any pointers?

3) It is unsurprising that Gibson is coming to Williams under the auspices of Leadership Studies, easily the most “right wing” — or at least non-progressive/non-leftist — department on campus. (This is also where Swift makes a home.) Kudos to all the professors involved.

4) What is the backstory? Who introduced Gibson to Williams? Who arranged funding for the position? Given that Gibson was, just a few months ago, a semi-serious candidate for governor, I am surprised by how quickly Williams made things happen. It is certainly convenient that Gibson lives just one hour from Williamstown.

5) Might Gibson’s visiting lecturer position turn into something more substantial and/or permanent? Perhaps. The first semester/year will give Williams a chance to judge him and him a chance to judge Williams. But he is certainly an interesting candidate because he has a Ph.D. from Cornell, experience teaching highly intelligent students at West Point and some (how well-regarded?) published academic research.

6) Perhaps he will inherit Bernard Moore’s old office? We can only hope!

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#1 Comment By student On May 10, 2016 @ 8:04 am

Michael Lewis is a Republican.

#2 Comment By Whitney Wilson ’90 On May 10, 2016 @ 11:10 am

This seems on its face like it should be a good hire. Hope it works out for both Rep. (Col.?) Gibson and the College and he wants to stay long-term.

#3 Comment By anonymous On May 10, 2016 @ 11:33 am

This will be the second vet on campus. The first being the current (and only veteran) freshman student.

The school had an attitude for a long time that veterans did not have the aptitude to do the work…

More will follow… still, Williams is far, far behind many peers.

#4 Comment By ’20 On May 10, 2016 @ 1:10 pm

As much as I retch at whatever “leadership studies” is supposed to be I’m glad that Williams is bringing notables that aren’t career professors to the Purple Valley.

While I’m still squarely against the idea of administrators teaching courses, I think visiting professorships for JDs, MDs & perhaps industry-oriented PhDs would strike the right balance between worldliness and academic seriousness.

That, and, seeing as how Williams sends plenty of graduates to law & medical schools, it might do the student body some good to interact with real doctors and lawyers.

#5 Comment By John C. Drew, Ph.D. On May 11, 2016 @ 12:19 am

I took my Ph.D. in government from Cornell University. It will be fun to compare notes with Col. Gibson regarding his experience as a registered Republican teaching at Williams College. It sounds to me like he is looking for time to put together another book. See, http://www.thedailystar.com/news/local_news/rep-gibson-i-m-leaving-politics/article_1dd31eb3-9c62-5a35-869f-3f104657c3f8.html

#6 Comment By Bradford Kendall 1977 On May 11, 2016 @ 9:09 pm

I’m fortunate to have Chris Gibson represent my town for the past 5+ years, He is a thoughtful person and Williams students will benefit from his experiences and knowledge.

#7 Comment By ’20 On May 12, 2016 @ 11:12 am

@anonymous

Are we really all that behind our actual peers? Which is to say Amherst, Swarthmore, et cetera — not merely all other selective colleges.

The lack of veterans at Williams is a structural failure and a tragedy but there’s not much we can do about it. We’re too small to operate an ROTC program, and too remote to have reciprocity with many other places. (I believe we do have Air Force ROTC with RPI or something but I’m plucking that straight from the wooly bit of my memory.)

Honestly, if you were someone just finishing a service commitment — let’s say you joined up at 18 and are now out at 21 — would you really want to be stuck in frosh dorms, with a bunch of people aged 17-18? Similarly, if you have any course work complete already, which presumably you would like to transfer, Williams will give you credit for exactly none of it.

I think a Williams education is a really exciting and worthwhile road to start down for those in the 17-19 age range, outside of that band, especially if you’ve been living independently, I can’t imagine many things more unpleasant.

Perhaps there would be ways to bolster somewhat the number of graduates going into military service, but, I don’t think we’re all that free to raise the number of people who have served in the student body.

If anyone has ideas, please, I’d like to hear them.

#8 Comment By No veterans at Williams On May 12, 2016 @ 4:27 pm

’20- Yes, you are far behind many of your peers. Yes, there is something you can do! Your generation at Williams can change this.

Williams has had one- this single freshman student this year- one, student Veteran since 9/11 2001.

Amherst has had five or more student veterans on campus for nearly a decade. They have graduated over a score of them by now. Dartmouth, a similar school to Williams (rural, small, elite and harder to get into than Williams) has 23. Will have over 30 next year. Has had veterans on campus for almost a decade as well. They too, have graduated many veterans at this point.

Vassar is in the Posse (40 veterans students), as is now Dartmouth. Wesleyan- also now in the posse- Thirty Veterans students on campus- forty next year.

Williams sucks at this because it has chosen to suck. You have been criticized for this potion for years.

http://williamsrecord.com/2013/04/10/where-are-the-veterans/

Read the article above from Wick Sloan, class of ’76. He explains it well.

#9 Comment By No veterans at Williams On May 12, 2016 @ 4:30 pm

… and why would they have to be stuck with a frosh in dorms? Who made that rule?

They are not traditional students. They are older, and veterans of a war. They are responsible adults. If they are looking at/ and can get into Williams then they will not need to be in a dorm.