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Invitation to Baccalaureate

Dear Seniors,

As you rack up more and more “last time at Williams” experiences, please accept my heartfelt congratulations and good wishes for all that lies ahead in these next couple of weeks. And, as you make plans for the final hours of your undergraduate career, I want to extend an invitation to attend your Baccalaureate service in Chapin Hall on the day before Commencement – Saturday, June 3 at 5 p.m.

Each year lots of students ask what Baccalaureate is; of all the pieces of Commencement weekend tradition, it seems to be the least familiar. It’s a quieter, more reflective occasion than Commencement itself. I would say that gratitude is really the hallmark of the occasion: it’s a time to steep yourself in what this place, these years, these people have meant to you or made possible for you. If the Commencement ceremony is a time to celebrate the accomplishment of it all, then maybe Saturday afternoon’s “pre-ceremony” can be a time, just before you have your degree in hand at last, to ponder the meaning of it all, for one last time together.

By tradition Baccalaureate is steeped in spirituality – but not in any narrow sectarian sense. Our service will be broadly reflective of the diversity of your class, and of the depth of your reflection about the meaning and purpose of your education and your life. For some of you, an event that brings together many different forms of spirituality may be quite unfamiliar: it’s still a pretty rare thing in this world for people of different religions and no religion to sit respectfully and joyfully side by side at an occasion of prayerful reflection. That makes the fact that we do it here that much more significant.

The speakers at Baccalaureate tend to be at least as good as the speakers at Commencement. This year’s Baccalaureate address will be given by a former Poet Laureate of the United States, Billy Collins – whose wry and insightful poems I commend to you in suggesting that we’re in for a fine speech. President Falk will also offer you his parting reflections, which are always heartfelt and eloquent. The readings, music and prayers from many traditions will be given by your classmates – sealed with two great pieces of choral music sung by the Baccalaureate Choir (in which some of you are singing – thanks!) conducted by Nathan Leach and Jordan LaMothe. So your class’s fingerprints are all over everything – as well they might be, given who you all are. I hope Baccalaureate will add perhaps a little depth to all the breadth and height of your celebrations on the final weekend of your undergraduate career.

I hope you’ll be with us at Baccalaureate. I will always consider it an honor and a great joy to have been here with you – to have overlapped with you in this time and place. It’s already hard to imagine Williams without you. May these final weeks of final accomplishments and joyful spring be a time of wide blessing and deep satisfaction for you and all your friends and family.


Rick Spalding,
Chaplain to the College

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Comments Disabled To "Invitation to Baccalaureate"

#1 Comment By Williams Alum On May 16, 2017 @ 4:17 pm


This blog would be a significantly better place without JCD. You should ban him from commenting. He is a bad guy.


#2 Comment By Whitney Wilson ’90 On May 16, 2017 @ 4:57 pm

The first comment here is really inappropriate, in my view.

[EDIT: The comment I complained about has been removed. This was the correct action in my view]

#3 Comment By Dick Swart On May 16, 2017 @ 5:52 pm


You have submitted a totally inappropriate comment to the words and spirit of Baccalaurate as written in this invitation to the Senior Class.

I have had the pleasure of meeting Rick Spaulding on several occasions and I am mortified and dismayed at the tack-on to this message from the respected Chaplain of the College.

While I respect your work in helping worth-while groups write applications for funding and grants, I never cease to be amazed by your personal observations.

#4 Comment By anonymoustoo On May 16, 2017 @ 11:27 pm

What more do we need, Dave?

The first comment on this post is pretty much JCD in his platonic form: He is a self-promoting shitbag with the vaguest affiliation to Williams, and that based on his manifest failure while at OUR alma mater.

The current graduating class at Williams is likely to produce Muslim lawyers and doctors and teachers and bankers and artists and (successful) academics. There is NO record of violence from Williams’ Muslim students that I am aware of — more violence and vandalism in Williamstown comes from white students on a typical weekend than will come from Muslim students in an entire year. (Of course the same thing can be said about America writ large.)

No one has wrung more out of less than JCD and he has poisoned the well of Ephblog for too long while almost single-handedly driving away some of the more respected long-term members of this sub-community. At what point do we get to determine the community membership here? At what point has he gone too far? If it is not this inflammatory nonsense, what do we require?

#5 Comment By David Dudley Field ’25 On May 17, 2017 @ 8:39 am

I have removed the first comment.

JCD: Please keep your comments in the future more on topic. There is little need to link to outside stories with no Williams connection.

If the authors of some of the other comments above would like me to remove them, I will do so, since they make little sense without context. Just let me know in this thread.

#6 Comment By Tom Foolery On May 17, 2017 @ 8:40 am

Why don’t you rename this site EphBore while your at it. Hope no one above complained about Falk stopping Derbyshire or any other speakers being stopped because of “offensive” views. Hypocrisy can be so much fun though.

#7 Comment By Auberon Good On May 17, 2017 @ 10:20 am

JCD can always write a post about his views on Muslim violence. I hope he does–it might prove to be an interesting conversation.

#8 Comment By anonymoustoo On May 17, 2017 @ 6:08 pm

Why would JCD’s views on Muslim violence — an area on which he has NO expertise — be welcome on Ephblog? All things Eph is really being stretched to its crediblity point if anyone with even the loosest (unsuccessful) affiliation with the college can just pontificate on any damned thing they please — especially when the since deleted comment exposed JCD as being a rank bigot.

#9 Comment By Dick Swart ’56 On May 17, 2017 @ 7:07 pm


#10 Comment By Auberon Good On May 17, 2017 @ 11:21 pm

This isn’t the comment thread for this discussion, but I will say I couldn’t care less even about JCD’s supposed bigotry.

This Baccalaureate sounds like a well-meaning attempt at communion. I don’t think many people are that attuned to spirituality here, and the campus’s culture discourages that mindset. Still, it’s worth some kudos.