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Professor Matt Carter on Best College, 3

Let’s revisit our September discussion over the (infamous) claim that the mission of Williams is to be the best college in the world and that being the best college requires admitting (and enrolling) more of the best students. Professor Matt Carter wrote a letter to the editor in the Record in response. Today is day 3 of my 3-day reply.

In truth, we know that our colleagues in the admission and financial aid offices collectively work hard to admit exceptional students who each bring unique and lasting contributions to our community.

True. And I am eager to educate Carter about the gritty realities of how that work is done. In particular, the SAT plays a major role in who gets admitted to Williams. If Carter doesn’t think that it should, he should complain to Adam Falk and Liz Creighton ’03.

We want students who will excel beyond Williams and have an impact on the world after they graduate, not students whose sole purpose for attending Williams is increasing indices on the U.S. News and World Report rankings.

The naivete here is impressive. Just how does Carter propose to look into the souls of applicants? How will he determine their motivations? How can he tell which applicants have a “sole purpose” connected to US News rankings? Good luck.

All students should know that they deserve to be here, that they are exceptional in ways that standardized test scores can’t measure and that they make Williams an outstanding college because of their presence, not despite it.

Should we also tell students to believe in Santa Claus and the Easter Bunny? 8,500 students applied to Williams last year. You really think that a dozen admissions staff, as wonderful as they may be, had the time to look much beyond Academic Rating? Ha! Do the math! Each officer is looking at around 1,000 applicants! (Academic rating is calculated separately by two people.) There is no time to do much beyond that.

Ultimately, Professor Carter is a scientist so I hope he is ready to consider (and privately confirm with Liz Creighton ’01) some facts. Williams is, right now, considering a few dozen African-American applicants as part of early decision for the class of 2022. Virtually every single one of those applicants with an AR of 4 or above will be admitted, not because there is something “exceptional” in their application which “standardized test scores can’t measure” but because Academic Rating drives Williams admissions, especially within specific categories of applicants. Similarly, not a single applicant with AR 8 or 9, African-American or otherwise, will be admitted.

Williams, today, does not have an admissions system which, to any meaningful extent, looks at items “that standardized test scores can’t measure.” That is a fantasy. Instead, Williams decides, before it sees a single application, that it wants to “admit a class that reflects national populations,” which means somewhere around 100-125 African-American and Hispanic students. It then uses Academic Rating (which is about 50% driven by standardized test scores like the SAT) to determine which African-American and Hispanic students to admit.

I have few problems with Williams people who defend the current system. My issue is with faculty members like Matt Carter who don’t understand how Williams works and then spread their ignorance in the Record.

I can actually understand why some students feel like they snuck through a selective admissions process because I occasionally experience these same feelings myself. These thoughts are common, especially at high-achieving institutions like Williams. The key is to recognize the universality of these feelings, to realize they are unproductive and to ultimately ignore them. We should do the same with Kane’s unthoughtful article.

My position on Williams admissions is the same as it was a decade ago:

Admit that smartest, most academically ambitious, English-fluent students in the world. Some will be poor, some rich. Some black, some white. Some born in India, some in Indiana. Some can play basketball, some can’t. Some will have parents who went to Williams, some will have parents who did not graduate college. None of that matters. Ignore it for admissions purposes. Look at grades, look at scores. Summarize it in the academic rating. Admit and attract the best. Williams should have more internationals, more high ARs (many of them Asian Americans), fewer tips and fewer URMs then it has today. I suspect that the ideal class of a typical Williams faculty member is much closer to my ideal class than it is to the actual student body at Williams. So, I wish that the faculty were much more involved in admissions.

The fewer admissions preferences we give — whether to athletes, URMs or students from poor families — the less common/destructive will be the feeling that a student “snuck” into Williams or does not “deserve” to be here. To the extent those feeling are common, they aren’t my fault. They are the fault of Professor Matt Carter and everyone else at Williams who insists on putting so much emphasis on non-academic factors in admissions.

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#1 Comment By Ephalum On November 8, 2017 @ 7:29 am

This is just silly. Of course there are more dimensions to admission than just academic ranking. Think about it: Every year there needs to be enough students to fill in all activities: 200 or so athletes to fill the teams, 50 performing artists to fill the ’62 center, The oboe players graduated? Let’s hope to find an oboe player, etc.

Legacy preferences and various “diversity” labels are certainly helpful to your case. But so are community involvement and other creative aspects like prolific writing, scientific leadership, etc.

So yes academic competence is bedrock, but other things make the final decision between the many candidates seeking that one place.

[Apologies for the delay in posting this comment. I respond below. — DDF]

#2 Comment By JCD On November 8, 2017 @ 1:39 pm

It really is annoying to watch Matt Carter twist around the English language to defend liberal/leftist orthodoxy. How exactly does being the beneficiary of racial discrimination against objectively more qualified white or Asian applicants suddenly make an individual “exceptional?”

#3 Comment By abl On November 8, 2017 @ 1:47 pm

It really is annoying to watch Matt Carter twist around the English language to defend liberal/leftist orthodoxy. How exactly does being the beneficiary of racial discrimination against objectively more qualified white or Asian applicants suddenly make an individual “exceptional?”

Speaking of twisting…

Professor Carter nowhere claims or implies that any student is exceptional because they are “the beneficiary of racial discrimination against objectively more qualified white or Asian applicants.”

#4 Comment By PTC On November 8, 2017 @ 2:11 pm

David- You honestly believe that the college should ignore the fact that a parent of an applicant has given the school millions of dollars?

No school does that because they know if they did a large incentive for giving, known as legacy admissions preference, would be gone.

#5 Comment By PTC On November 8, 2017 @ 2:17 pm

People do not give to institutions because they feel disconnected from them: that such gifts give them no meaningful connection to a place historically or progressively.

Williams is a huge legacy school. Ephs often marry each other.

Would you also recommend this practice for hiring a person? Or giving a letter of recommendation for a job?

That’s just naive. It is not the way it works.

#6 Comment By ZSD On November 8, 2017 @ 4:34 pm

I found the “Old Boy” network very helpful in getting me my first job. Of course, there were “Old Boys” in those days and the bar at the Williams Club.

#7 Comment By JCD On November 8, 2017 @ 6:25 pm

That’s another thing I don’t buy at all. The idea that you are just as “exceptional” as all the other students admitted to the school merely because your grandparents gave it millions of dollars.

How in the world does a student gain higher self-esteem from knowing that?

Matt Carter and his ilk are never going to win this battle. You can’t persuade students that they are “exceptional” if they got into the school through unfair or illegitimate means including pre-illegal affirmative action ploys.

#8 Comment By PTC On November 8, 2017 @ 6:34 pm

ZSD- There are old boys everywhere. It’s the way life works.

Whether or not David thinks the school should give preferential admissions to the children of wealthy grads is irrelevant- the school will continue to admit some “otherwise would not have qualified” students because legacies give money.

The College has an entire society based on this theme. The school names the giving after the various mountains surrounding the school for Pete’s sake. You too, can give and secure your legacy. What on earth does David imagine that means?

THERE IS NOTHING WRONG WITH THIS.

Every donation for a wealthy student admit allows the school to accept less advantaged students with a different kind of affirmative action. It also allows Williams to build new dorms, a new hotel, new bookstore, etc.

This is how it works.

#9 Comment By frank uible On November 8, 2017 @ 7:41 pm

David, if the College follows your admissions advice, the student body would, of course as you know and of which it is presumed you approve, contain a huge increase in Asians, almost no blacks or Latinos and a moderate decrease in Caucasians.

#10 Comment By abl On November 8, 2017 @ 9:10 pm

You can’t persuade students that they are “exceptional” if they got into the school through unfair or illegitimate means including pre-illegal affirmative action ploys.

This is a ridiculous argument:

1. If students believe that they were legitimately admitted to the school — and, more importantly, that they deserve to be there — this problem isn’t going to materialize, irrespective of whether or not said students actually were legitimately admitted to the school or deserve to be there.

2. Most Williams students–and most students at elite colleges nationwide–believe in affirmative action programs. They believe that these programs are legal (“pre-illegal” is one of the more non-sensical terms I’ve heard this week), they believe that they are fair, and they believe that they are legitimate. Most Williams students–and most students at elite colleges nationwide–believe that beneficiaries of affirmative action programs were legally, fairly, and legitimately admitted.

Here’s an obvious illustration of this obvious point: Let’s imagine that we are in a parallel universe where one week ago a study came out that conclusively shows that, all else equal (IQs, work ethic, etc), a wealthy upbringing adds 300 SAT points and 0.3 GPAs on average. In this universe, the results of the study are unimpeachable: students who are raised wealthy, without being any smarter or any harder-working, have higher SATs/GPAs. Now, in response to this study, schools will universally start adjusting for these findings in admission, discounting the SATs and GPAs of wealthy students appropriately. The question is: did those wealthy students currently attending Williams who are only at Williams because of the adcoms’ prior mistaken belief that wealth played little-to-no role in SATs and GPAs — students who, judged by today’s better standards, do not “deserve” to be at Williams — did those students think that they were “exceptional” last year, before the study was released?

You can work as hard as you want to plant the seed of doubt in students’ minds. And you will undoubtedly sometimes be successful. You can feel proud that the fruit of your screeds on this thread and elsewhere is that you’ve caused several students–who may, in fact, be exceptional–to question their worth. Congratulations.

#11 Comment By JCD On November 8, 2017 @ 11:48 pm

– abl

I don’t see any evidence out there that says most college students support preferential treatment for blacks in the admissions process. I do know for a fact, however, that the policies of Williams College are perceived as illegitimate and deeply unfair by a broad swath of the population including many blacks.

In U.S., Most Reject Considering Race in College Admissions

The bottom line is that most people agree with my perspective. I hope this does not “baffle” you any more than necessary.

Perhaps, with the help of Matt Carter, a weak black student who benefited from racial discrimination against a stronger white or Asian students may psyche himself into believing that he really is “exceptional.”

Nevertheless, I can’t imagine that this brainwashing will stick around for more than a few hours in the real world, a world where most people think like me, a world where plenty of us will be on hand to quickly disabuse him of his imaginary “exceptional” status.

#12 Comment By abl On November 9, 2017 @ 12:25 am

The “bottom line” is nowhere clear as what you imply. See, e.g., http://www.pewresearch.org/fact-tank/2014/04/22/public-strongly-backs-affirmative-action-programs-on-campus/ (“Americans say by roughly two-to-one (63% to 30%) that affirmative action programs designed to increase the number of black and minority students on college campuses are a “good thing,” according to the survey conducted Feb. 27-Mar. 16. This was almost the same result Pew Research found in 2003.”).

Pew and Gallup are each reputable polling outfits. I suspect the disparity in their findings has something to do with how they ask the question.

In any event, the relevant question isn’t whether some or even many people agree with your position. (You can find support for virtually any conceivable position in a “broad swath of the population including many blacks.”) Nor is the question whether any of the people who agree with your position are themselves underrepresented minorities. Literally every single non-Williams person in the world could agree with your position and yet if everyone at Williams believed in the fairness of affirmative action, your statement that I excerpted above would be false.

Given that the Williams student body is predominantly liberal, and given that underrepresented minorities generally support affirmative action programs even more strongly than the general public, I think it’s a fair supposition that most underrepresented minorities at Williams–the only population that matters for proving the ridiculousness of your prior statement–believe in the inherent fairness of affirmative action at Williams.

#13 Comment By David Dudley Field ’24 On November 9, 2017 @ 6:16 am

David, if the College follows your admissions advice, the student body would, of course as you know and of which it is presumed you approve, contain a huge increase in Asians, almost no blacks or Latinos and a moderate decrease in Caucasians

Untrue! Please read the original op-ed:

A Williams whose student quality matched Yale’s would be halfway to meeting its mission of being the best college in the world. Such a Williams, at least in the short-term, would have about as many URM students as Middlebury, as many Pell Grant recipients as Colby and athletic team winning records similar to Hamilton’s. That seems a reasonable trade-off.

I am not proposing zero admissions preferences for URMs/athletes/poor families, et cetera. I am proposing decreasing those preferences enough so that the academic quality of Williams as a whole matched that of Yale.

#14 Comment By David Dudley Field ’25 On November 9, 2017 @ 6:28 am

Ephalum: Have you read our overview of Williams admissions? Please do so.

Once you have, you will better understand that, if Williams used only AR — which is not what I recommend! — it would have plenty of legacies and Oboe players and “community involvement and other creative aspects like prolific writing, scientific leadership.” You think every AR 1 is some soulless grind that never sees the outside of the library? False!

There are even scores of AR 1/2 students who were great athletes in college but can’t even make the team at Williams because of the heavy emphasis on athletic recruiting. We could cut athlete preferences in half and still field teams that would win about 50% of their NESCAC games.

#15 Comment By David Dudley Field ’25 On November 9, 2017 @ 6:35 am

So yes academic competence is bedrock, but other things make the final decision between the many candidates seeking that one place.

We agree! I am not proposing that Williams just admit the top 550 applicants using AR. I am proposing (roughly) that we no longer admit any AR 4/5 or below. (This is not different in kind from Williams current policy to (almost) never admit any AR 8/9 or below.)

When choosing among the 3,000 or so AR 1/2/3 applicants, we should, by all means, use athletics/race/wealth in making decisions. Coaches can still have 100 recruits, but only selected from this pool. We can still use Questbridge and Posse and any other program you like to find poor students. We can focus on writing and community service and anything else you desire. I am just proposing changing the level of the floor to:

Academic 3: top 10% of HS class / many A grades / very demanding academic program / 1390 – 1450 composite SAT I score;

Or maybe a touch lower, to somewhere between AR 3 and AR 4.

Would that affect the composition of the class? Yes!

#16 Comment By abl On November 9, 2017 @ 10:37 am

DDF —

If I’m reading you correctly, it seems to me that you agree that straight AR scores aren’t the best way to build a successful class at Williams. Is that because you recognize the value that having an interesting and diverse (I mean that in the broadest possible sense–economically, geographically, religiously, racially, etc.) group of students at Williams? [If not, why not?] Or, is it because you accept that AR scores don’t perfectly measure for academic potential and that to truly accept the strongest possible class, it’s necessary to make some adjustments to the AR scores? (For example, we would expect that very wealthy students will generally have higher SATs/GPAs than poorer students — all else equal (aptitude, work ethic, etc) — because very wealthy students are more likely to have value-adding tutors, are more likely to not have to work a second job to support their family, are more likely to live in households that allow them to get adequate un-interrupted sleep, etc.) [Again, if not, why not?] Or do you believe that it is some combination of these two things?

#17 Comment By PTC On November 9, 2017 @ 11:18 am

Abl- You go to law school?

#18 Comment By Hi On November 9, 2017 @ 2:32 pm

“..:because very wealthy students are more likely to have value-adding tutors, are more likely to not have to work a second job to support their family, are more likely to live in households that allow them to get adequate un-interrupted sleep, etc.) [Again, if not, why not?]”

And of course, we should rely on people such as abl to make these value judgements for us in a completely disinterested and transparent way (never mind the fact that the author uses a slight of hand where he purposely conflates family income by race).

Also, how does this graph jive with your hypothesis that main driver behind sat disparity is wealth and tutoring ( sat scores broken down by family income/race bucket):
http://1.bp.blogspot.com/-1a52vkpjans/UmjAc5fGxtI/AAAAAAAAA6U/EmUPxCtOsXg/s1600/sat+race+income+1995.png

If wealthy hiring tutors as an extra advantage is the only thing you worry about, how would the williams student body look if we gave affirmative action by wealth as opposed to by race?

#19 Comment By abl On November 9, 2017 @ 3:06 pm

And of course, we should rely on people such as abl to make these value judgements for us in a completely disinterested and transparent way (never mind the fact that the author uses a slight of hand where he purposely conflates family income by race).

I never said I should, or that people like me (whatever that means) should, be the ones to make this determination. My question is only whether or not DDF believes this to be true. Also, whether AR scores could be improved as an assessment of undergraduate potential by taking into account factors like income is not a “value judgment.”

Also, how does this graph jive with your hypothesis that main driver behind sat disparity is wealth and tutoring ( sat scores broken down by family income/race bucket):
http://1.bp.blogspot.com/-1a52vkpjans/UmjAc5fGxtI/AAAAAAAAA6U/EmUPxCtOsXg/s1600/sat+race+income+1995.png

I did not make any claims with respect to what I believe is the “main driver behind sat disparity.” The graph that you posted certainly doesn’t contradict my statement that “very wealthy students will generally have higher SATs/GPAs than poorer students – all else equal (aptitude, work ethic, etc).”

If wealthy hiring tutors as an extra advantage is the only thing you worry about, how would the williams student body look if we gave affirmative action by wealth as opposed to by race?

I never said that the wealthy hiring tutors as an extra advantage is “the only thing [I] worry about.” In fact, I explicitly note two other factors that I believe likely cause wealthier individuals to obtain better SATs/GPAs even when all else is equal and I note that this is a non-exclusive list by ending it with “etc.”

Regardless, I want to note that I am focusing on wealth in my posts because I think it is relatively easy to see the advantages that it confers, and not because I think that it is the only factor that influences SATs/GPAs in a manner unrelated to true aptitude. I do think that Williams should work harder to achieve an economically diverse class than it does. I don’t think that this should be the extent of Williams’ non-numbers-based admissions policy.

#20 Comment By Hi On November 9, 2017 @ 3:20 pm

“I did not make any claims with respect to what I believe is the “main driver behind sat disparity.”

– in other words, you made misrepresentation by omission (I am to polite to say that you lied by omission). Although ddf’s Post explicitly deals with race you chose to focus on income. The graph I posted clearly shows that when it comes to predict sat scores, race is of first order importance and income is of second order importance).
This tells me that you clearly have an agenda.
Also: you previously stated that you worked in admissions office. In other words, you are not some rando eph alum. So, I can only assume that you were intimately familiar with the graph I posted ( if this graph comes as a surprise to you, that is even more damning indictment of Williams admissions process, because it would imply that the office is run by innumerates.

#21 Comment By abl On November 9, 2017 @ 3:57 pm

– in other words, you made misrepresentation by omission (I am to polite to say that you lied by omission).

Really? Like, really? Do you even believe what you’re arguing?

Here’s what I said:

Or, is it because you accept that AR scores don’t perfectly measure for academic potential and that to truly accept the strongest possible class, it’s necessary to make some adjustments to the AR scores? (For example, we would expect that very wealthy students will generally have higher SATs/GPAs than poorer students – all else equal (aptitude, work ethic, etc) — because very wealthy students are more likely to have value-adding tutors, are more likely to not have to work a second job to support their family, are more likely to live in households that allow them to get adequate un-interrupted sleep, etc.) [Again, if not, why not?]

The sentence that you highlight, regarding the multiple reasons that wealth might impact SATs/GPAs in a manner unrelated to aptitude, is explicitly an example . I sincerely hope that you typed your answer quickly without reading my passage carefully, because there is no reasonable reading of this paragraph that would interpret my example illustrating one way that “AR scores [might not] perfectly measure for academic potential” to constitute a misrepresentation (or lie) by omission. I’m not even sure how whether that statement constitutes a representation , let alone a misrepresentation. (Misrepresentation of what? Of who?)

This, though, is a silly distraction. I really am curious how DDF will answer my two questions.

#22 Comment By Hi On November 9, 2017 @ 5:28 pm

if Adjusting AR scores for family wealth were the primariy “adjustment” admissions office was doing, racial composition of Williams class would look dramatically different to what it looks now. This is why your exhample and focus is disingenuous.
Adjustment for wealth is used as a fig leaf to railroad through all other kind of adjustments.

So, sorry. I Don’t think that williams adcom should have such discretion anymore. Ddf’s proposal can be best seen as limiting discretion of adcom to make ‘adjustments’

#23 Comment By PTC On November 9, 2017 @ 6:23 pm

Hi-

Huh? Admissions at Williams has the discretion that is granted to it.

It is not as if admissions is a “rogue department” making decisions about who is accepted as such that the power brokers of the school are not in agreement with it.

Williams admissions has no discretion in an instance when it is decided at higher level than admissions that someone will be admitted. That you can bet on. Admissions is not sovereign.

So, there is a wealthy donor’s child applying. How would admission know that without being told? The department would have no idea when to make such an exception “but for” being told to do so. There is nothing wrong with this- Williams would be MUCH LESS WELL OFF if it did not take into consideration legacy and money. Every rich donor’s child the college admits, means money for less advantaged applicants. This is a win win!

This is true at every school.

How is it disingenuous to point out that rich children are given special consideration that has nothing to do with their record?

Athletes and people who overcame hardship did that with their own drive and ability. The “but for” dad has a lot of cash admit did not.

There is a difference. The difference is meaningful. It is not a fig leaf.

#24 Comment By JCD On November 9, 2017 @ 6:38 pm

I think HI is making an important point. As a political scientist, I have no doubt that admissions officers are apparently implementing their own, unaccountable, politically correct bias into admissions decisions. abl’s comments here are a chilling (outrageous) reminder of what that creepy ideology looks like in real life.

A merit based system would be terrific protection against leftist admissions officers who are seeking to impose their own politically biased values on what should be a fair, clean, transparent process.

Right now, it appears that the “exceptional” status automatically awarded to a Williams College student by folks like Matt Carter is simply a side effect of an unfair, politically biased approach, the sort of approach which is anathema to normal Americans but apparently perfectly OK to former Williams admissions officers like abl.

#25 Comment By abl On November 9, 2017 @ 7:29 pm

Hi —

I don’t have much more to say to you. I honestly don’t know if you are deliberately misunderstand my question to DDF or if you really are confused.

In any event, you accused me of something with zero basis and, when called on it, were not person enough to admit that you screwed up. I’m more than happy to debate the substance of these issues ad naseum, and I respect the fact that we may not agree on that substance. I have little respect for someone who uses insults in lieu of logic and is unwilling to actually engage. If every time I respond to one of your posts, you badly mischaracterize some point that I make and/or shift the entire locus of the dispute, responding to you is a waste of time.

JCD —

How does you being a political scientist gives you any particular insight into what the Williams adcoms are, in fact, doing out of the limelight?

In any event, you and Hi are the ones who introduced the idea of adcom discretion–not me. It is entirely possible to implement any variety of affirmative action programs that leave no room for discretion. Whether or not adcom discretion is good is an entirely separate subject from whether admissions decisions should be made solely on the basis of AR ratings. (It’s worth noting that there’s a fair amount of discretion in how adcoms determine AR ratings currently.)

Finally, you are really good at using adjectives and conclusory statements in your writing (or at least very eager to do so). Friendly advice: your points would come across more effectively if you supported your conclusory statements with reasons and evidence. What, for example, makes my comments chilling or outrageous or creepy? I am genuinely interested in responding to the substance of your posts. But too regularly, there is little to which I can respond. I suspect you’ll take this defensively and continue to largely call me and others here names. But I hope that you’ll read this and, whether in anger or because something gets through to you, that you’ll start applying what was undoubtedly once a considerable intellect to posting meatier–and ideally less abusive–replies on ephblog.

#26 Comment By David Dudley Field ’25 On November 9, 2017 @ 7:57 pm

If I’m reading you correctly, it seems to me that you agree that straight AR scores aren’t the best way to build a successful class at Williams.

Yes. To cite the most trivial example, we must keep the gender balance of the class at 50/50, even if that does not match the top 550 AR scores.

My complaint is not with the need to look at other criteria besides AR. We must do that. My complaint is that we do too much of it. My proposal: Only select among AR 1/2/3. Value diversity/sports/whatever as much as you like, but only once an AR 3 minimum has been hit.

Or, is it because you accept that AR scores don’t perfectly measure for academic potential and that to truly accept the strongest possible class, it’s necessary to make some adjustments to the AR scores?

AR scores are not perfect. Nothing is. But they are better than anything you or I might devise.

because very wealthy students are more likely to have value-adding tutors, are more likely to not have to work a second job to support their family, are more likely to live in households that allow them to get adequate un-interrupted sleep, etc.) [Again, if not, why not?

These stories, while theoretically plausible, are largely garbage. If they were true, then, for example, an estimate of AR 3 for certain types of students — those without tutors or with second jobs or without quite bedrooms — would do systematically better at Williams (at least after first year) than those with AR 3 who did not have that mixture of disadvantages. But:

1) There is no evidence that this is true! The College has all this data. If it were really true that AR 3 was misestimated, they would change how they calculate it! They are not stupid! For example, imagine that we could divide all AR 3 students into two categories: privileged and normal. You are suggesting that the former do less well at Williams than the latter. No one at Williams has ever made that claim.

2) Even if it were true, there is almost no way for the College to know who is privileged and who is normal. You think rich kids always have quiet home lives? You think poor kids never get SAT tutoring?

If anything, I bet that the bias goes the other way. I bet that students from elite schools — whether for rich kids like Exeter or poor kids like Boston Latin — do systematically better than their AR scores would predict. But that is a debate for another day.

#27 Comment By Healthy Eph On November 11, 2017 @ 12:06 pm

JCD “is a political scientist” in the same way that I am a toddler. I once was, to be sure. To be a political scientist is to produce scholarship on political science and/or to teach political science.

#28 Comment By abl On November 11, 2017 @ 2:17 pm

David —

Leaving aside, for a second, the question of whether AR scores alone are the optimal available metric for evaluating the best students applying to Williams, why do you think Williams puts too much weight on non-academic factors?

Presumably, the benefit of this sort of non-academic weighting is that the Williams experience, both in and out of the classroom, is better when your classmates come from different backgrounds and experiences than yourself, have exceptional non-academic talents and skills, etc.

Correct me if I’m mis-stating anything, but you presumably accept that–at least to a point–the marginal value of some/certain diversity is greater than the marginal cost of losing a couple of points off of your average SAT/GPAs. That’s why Williams shouldn’t simply matriculate the top 550 AR students.

Is your issue, then, with the types of diversity that Williams is adding? E.g., do you believe that the marginal value to the college community of admitting students who “identify as African-American” is zero, or close to zero? Or is your issue with the way that Williams is valuing specific categories of diversity? E.g., you accept that the marginal value of “identifying as African American” is significant–but you believe it to be less significant than Williams currently acknowledges. In that case, for example, you would argue that the marginal value added to the overall Williams experience by matriculating an additional White student with a 1500 SAT is greater than the marginal value added by matriculating an African American student with a 1400 SAT–e.g., that the value added by having a student who has scored 100 points higher on her SAT is greater than the value added by having a student who is African American? Or is it that you believe that Williams is currently undervaluing the benefit of admitting students with marginally higher SATs/GPAs (and is therefore, across the board, relatively overvaluing all categories of diversity)?

I am curious which of these various factors you believe, and, if so, why.

I understand that you’d like the Williams’ admitted class profile to more closely resemble schools like Harvard. But unless Williams dramatically increases its applicant pool and/or its yield, doing so will come at a cost: Williams can’t admit a class that is both as interesting and talented as Harvard’s and has SATs/GPAs as high. Increasing the focus on AR ratings, as you propose, will make the Williams class worse in some material respects even as it makes it better numerically. There is going to be some balancing and trade-offs that have to be made, regardless. I’m just trying to get a sense of what specific trade-offs you’re looking to target, and why you think Williams is not making those trade-offs in an optimal manner.

#29 Comment By JCD On November 11, 2017 @ 3:47 pm

– Healthy Eph

Do I get credit for being an active political scientist if I starred in a movie last year?

The Enemies Within (2016)

#30 Comment By Healthy Eph On November 12, 2017 @ 3:18 pm

Are you asking me if you get credit for being a political scientist for being in a hackish documentary (starring in? Really?) about your brief encounters with Obama thirty years ago? Um, no. You don’t get credit for being a political scientist for doing something unrelated to political science.

#31 Comment By JCD On November 12, 2017 @ 3:50 pm

– Healthy Eph

If you want to be intellectually serious you should watch the film before you critique my contribution to it. It is now available on Amazon Prime. Last time I checked, they gave it 4 out of 5 stars.

The Enemies Within (2016)

I spoke with the producers last weekend (at a cast party in Malibu) and they told me over 300,000 viewers have seen The Enemies Within on Amazon Prime. It is doing so well that they are planning to do an updated version.

You can read a short review of the film by Paul Bond of The Hollywood Reporter below.

Hillary Clinton “Mentor” Saul Alinsky Explored in Two New Films

#32 Comment By Healthy Eph On November 12, 2017 @ 7:16 pm

Given that you think that your being in the film validates your status as a political scientist, does running a marathon validate one as an MD?

I’ve read plenty about your little piece of agitprop and am unimpressed by the planted reviews on an easy-to-game Amazon reviews system and cherry-picked positive reviews. Meanwhile it literally has nothing to do with you being a political scientist, which would be verified by publishing political science in, say, this decade.

#33 Comment By Robert Thomas On November 20, 2017 @ 10:03 pm

Some people just can’t let things go. David Kane, you graduated 29 years ago! The world is a different place, and Williams doesn’t really care too much about one alumni who seems to have a huge problem. John Drew is a disgraced professor who was fired because he had a victim complex and seems to have published little works of scholarly repute. This is the 21st century and the school has left you behind. Go home! Take your twisting agenda elsewhere. No Ephs want or need this except you.

#34 Comment By JCD On November 21, 2017 @ 3:48 pm

How exactly was I a “disgraced” professor? I was an excellent teacher and an extraordinary scholar. The doctoral dissertation the school dissed has been routinely cited by other scholars and was eventually published as chapters in a book.

Forgiveness and the Shack: Remembering My Old Antagonist, The Late Timothy E. Cook

It would be nice for oppressors if they people they harmed and discriminated against went away peacefully and never bothered them again.

In the real world, however, the people harmed by sex, race and ideological discrimination don’t just forget about it and move on. Perhaps the leaders of institutions like Williams College should take that fact into account next time they decide to treat someone unfairly and belittle the quality of their academic work.

#35 Comment By Healthy Eph On November 21, 2017 @ 6:05 pm

Sigh. Williams did not “dismiss” your dissertation, as you claim in the linked article or “diss” it as you claim here. Your dissertation is irrelevant. No one gets tenure based on their dissertation. They get hired based on it.

You did not publish any journal articles at Williams. You certainly did not publish any books. You published chapters of your dissertation in an edited collection long after you were not renewed at Williams. Indeed, your entire scholarly output since you received your PhD would not earn you tebure at a place like Williams, or at most institutions in the US.

You did not face “discrimination” — you were a white male in an overwhelmingly white department. professors are judged by the work they produce as professors. You produced none. Your dissertation, excellent though it must have been, never appeared autonomously as a book or as articles. The inclusion in someone else’s book is fine. But even that took a decade after you left Williams and never received another tenure track job in the interim.

You’ve been given a thousand chances in the last year (and I’m assuming longer) to provide a bibliography of schaolarship from your dissertation. You are blaming everyone but yourself for the lack of scholarly productivity that ought to have followed from an excellent dissertation. Not only did that scholarship not follow, you appear never to have developed any substantial research after.

So disgraced? Maybe not. But maybe.

#36 Comment By JCD On November 21, 2017 @ 6:31 pm

Don’t be silly. No one expected me to publish my dissertation in the year and a half between when I finished it and Williams decided to take me off the tenure track. I was never once told that publishing an article over that year and a half was a requirement for staying on the tenure track either.

Instead, I was told their decision was entirely based on the quality of my dissertation. (This is why I’m still so pissed off years later.) As far as I’m concerned, it is pure evil to tell a young scholar they are doing low quality work when, in truth, they are doing some of the very best work in the nation at the time.

In reality, I was the wrong sex, the wrong race, and the wrong ideology. The school is poorer for its mistreatment of me and all the other young conservative scholars it has discriminated against. As I say, I took the school’s former prestige with me when I left.

#37 Comment By abl On November 21, 2017 @ 10:58 pm

JCD or Healthy Eph —

What are the tenure standards in a polisci department like Williams? How many articles does one need to publish and in what sort of journals?

The source I was able to find notes that, of the schools surveyed:

67% of the Ph.D. programs indicated that they expected candidates to publish at least one article in the most prestigious journals in their field, and 44% said they wanted two or more such articles. . . . 85% wanted at least two articles [published somewhere per year] and 65% called for at least one article [published] per year. Indeed, 41% of the Ph.D. respondents stated that they expected more than one article per year, either because they wanted two or more articles per year or because they required some type of book or books in addition to one article per year. Looking at books, Table 8 reveals that 38% of the Ph.D. programs expected at least one book and 11% wanted two books.

http://saramitchell.org/rothgebburger.pdf.

I can’t imagine that Williams’ standards are less than this, and it’s easy to believe that they exceed the standards of an average PhD program (I am more familiar with other areas of academia, and in the areas in which I am familiar, Williams’ publication standards exceed the standards for all but the best ~20 PhD-awarding programs. Given that polisci is an area of relative strength for Williams, I just don’t see the department slacking in this regard.)

So this seems to me to be a relatively easy debate to settle. JCD: how many articles did you publish per year while at Williams? How many articles did you publish in the most prestigious journal in your field? And did you publish your book while at Williams?

I genuinely don’t know the answer to this, but would be curious to hear what you each have to say.

#38 Comment By abl On November 21, 2017 @ 11:13 pm

JCD & Healthy Eph —

I also went to look at Williams’ PhD faculty to see if its composition supported JCD’s claim that the department apparently chose non-white (and/or non-male) candidates over him for reasons unrelated to merit.

Williams has 19 tenure or tenure track or emeritus professors in JCD’s former department. By my count, 11 of them present as white males. There are 3 men of color. There are 5 women (1 of color). So the department is 74% male and 58% white male . That hardly seems like a department “stricken” by diversity–and it certainly does not appear to be a department in which being a white male is a disadvantage.

Counting all affiliated polisci professors, the department–broadly defined–appears to be 18/24 male (75%) and 14/24 white male (58%).

These numbers obviously aren’t dispositive to the question — I think JCD’s publication record will be much more indicative of the truth of the matter — but they are obviously probative to the question.

See https://political-science.williams.edu/faculty-staff/.

#39 Comment By Healthy Eph On November 22, 2017 @ 1:59 am

JCD had no publication record. None. He literally has spent more than three decades of grievance based on having published ZERO articles while at Williams and never having published his book. Indeed, I bet he has nor published five articles in his entire career.

By the way — he is pretending that ONE article in a year-and-a-half is a burden. (And he never published that one article.) Worldcat and EBSCO have no articles published by him — not in the 80s, but ever.

Oh, and I believe JCD did not get a year-and-a-half, he did not get renewed after his third year.

JCD has STILL never published anything of significance. he is basing his scholarly awesomeness on a dissertation award in one of the fields that awards dissertation awards for numerous subfields. And it is this dissertation award, granted in the 80s, that allows him to claim to be an “award-winning politicl scientist” — he has won no other awards in political science.

Thirty years after getting his PhD his claim to being an “award winning” political scientist is that he won a dissertation award.

As someone JCD admires might say: Sad.

#40 Comment By JCD On November 22, 2017 @ 2:29 am

I had fun looking at the faculty in my old department.

I’m most interested in comparing my case to that of the four young assistant professors. In my case, I was hired as a tenure track assistant professor at age 29 in the Fall of 1986, I finished my Ph.D. in the Spring of 1987, was taken off the tenure track a year and a half later, in 1989, supposedly because of the low quality of my doctoral dissertation. Over the summer of 1989, the American Political Science Association awarded me the William Anderson Award for my thesis.

For comparison, let’s first look at the black female assistant professor, Nimu Njoya. She started at Williams College in 2011 about a year after she completed her Ph.D. in 2010. Curiously, she started out spending two years as a visiting professor, a non-tenure track position. Then, in 2013, she was hired as an assistant professor which is a tenure track position. This is about three years after finishing her dissertation.

As far as I can tell, she has no books or articles to her credit. I googled her full name and could find no publications or awards at all, certainly nothing that would be the equivalent of an article published in the American Political Science Review or a dissertation honored by the American Political Science Association.

If you are comparing her to me, I think it would be fair to say that she had a lot of advantages compared to me in that she started at Williams after her thesis was complete, she spent two years at Williams as a low-stress visiting professor, and only got on to the tenure track in 2013 which is about three years after she completed her dissertation.

It is now four years into her assistant professor position and apparently she hasn’t published any articles or books at all, at least nothing that could be found on the internet with Google.

I think it is fair to say that her story is a good example of the great things that can happen for a young scholar at Williams College if they really are the right sex, race and ideology.

#41 Comment By JCD On November 22, 2017 @ 3:18 am

Laura D. Ephraim is the other female assistant professor in the political science department. Like Nimu Njoya, she is a political theorist who finished her doctoral dissertation in 2010 too. Reportedly, she is a 39 years old, single Democrat.

She started as an assistant professor at Williams College in 2012 or about two years after she completed her thesis at age 34. To her credit, she does have a new book which came out in November 2017 called Who Speaks for Nature?: On the Politics of Science. It was published by the University of Pennsylvania Press.

This would be about five years into her experience as an assistant professor and about seven years after the completion of her thesis.

As far as I can tell the topic of her book appears to be identical to the work she completed in her doctoral dissertation which was focused on “tracing the influence of rhetorical sensibilities upon dominant understandings of ‘science’ among early-modern political thinkers.”

Ironically, I was the same age as Dr. Ephraim is now, 39, when my doctoral dissertation was published. As far as I can tell, she didn’t seem to face the same demanding standards that were apparently applied to me when I was taken off the tenure track only a year and a half after completing my award-winning dissertation.

#42 Comment By JCD On November 22, 2017 @ 3:45 am

The third assistant professor is Matthew Tokeshi. He graduated from Berkeley in 2006 and took about ten years to complete his doctoral dissertation which he finished up in 2016. He does have, as far as I can tell, a single publication, an article he wrote with the help of one of his political science professors at Princeton, Tali Mendelberg. He was Mendelberg’s teaching assistant in 2013. You can see the article here:

Countering Implicit Appeals: Which Strategies Work?

Unlike Ephraim or Njoya, it is pretty easy to find a CV for Tokeshi on line at https://scholar.princeton.edu/sites/default/files/mtokeshi/files/tokeshi_matthew_cv_9-18-15.pdf I’m guessing he is about 31 or two years older than I was when I started as an assistant professor at Williams College.

It is fascinating to read his biography when he started at Williams College in 2016:

My work has won two American Political Science Association awards: the Timothy Cook Award given to the best paper presented by a graduate student on political communication and the best paper on race, ethnicity, and politics (honorable mention).

I received my Ph.D. in politics and social policy from Princeton in 2016. I’m originally from the Los Angeles area and hold a B.A. in political science and psychology from the University of California, Berkeley, but I have lived on the East Coast (Brooklyn, NY or Princeton, NJ) for the last ten years.

Outside of political science, I enjoy cooking, traveling, sports, and playing with my dog Calvin, a cuddly 12-pound terrier mix.

I finding amazing that he won an award as a graduate student named after the late Timothy Cook who was the Williams College colleague who was perhaps most openly hostile to me while I was at the school. All in all, he seems to be a much stronger candidate that the two female assistant professors. He is certainly doing more of what we traditionally think of as political science work. It will be fun to watch his career develop.

#43 Comment By JCD On November 22, 2017 @ 4:12 am

Finally, it is fascinating to review the credentials of the fourth assistant professor, Mason B. Williams. He’s the white guy, a native of West Virginia. He became an assistant professor at Williams College in 2017 and he seems to be something of a prodigy. His accomplishments clearly speak for themselves:

B.A. Princeton University, History (2006)
M.A. Columbia University, History (2009)
Ph.D. Columbia University, History (2012)

My research focuses on the intersection of political economies and democratic politics. My first book, City of Ambition: FDR, La Guardia, and the Making of Modern New York (New York: Norton, 2013), examines the relationship between progressive reform in New York City and the national New Deal. It received the Bancroft Dissertation Prize and was named an Editor’s Choice by the New York Times Book Review. My next book, City of Fortune: Urban Democracy in the Age of Inequality, examines the political economy of affluent cities (especially New York, but also London and San Francisco) in the late 20th century. It will also be published by W.W. Norton.

I’m also working on two edited volumes: Political History Unbound: Governance and Citizenship in 20th Century America (with Brent Cebul and Lily Geismer); and Protest, Politics, and Ideas in the American Century: Essays in Honor of Alan Brinkley (with David Greenberg and Moshik Temkin).

Some shorter essays/features:

“Warnings from the Age of Marble,” The Atlantic (2015).

“53 Historians Weigh In on Obama’s Legacy,” New York Magazine (2015).

“What Made the Roosevelts the Roosevelts?” The New Republic (2014).

Like Dr. Njoya it appears that Dr. Williams started out as a visiting assistant professor at Williams College in 2014 which is about two years after finishing his doctoral dissertation and after his first book was already published.

Ironically, he is a history guy with apparently no training in political science.

This is sweet to me, in part, because one of the digs leveled against me was that my research was “too historical.” I expect they will pull that attack on Dr. Williams some day soon.

I do remember reading his article about the 53 historians who weighed in on Obama’s legacy. Maybe Dr. Williams is interested in one of my stories? Either the one I tell about Barack Obama or the one I tell about Williams College.

#44 Comment By sigh On November 22, 2017 @ 10:34 am

this is pathetic, dragging faculty who were in elementary school when JCD briefly worked at Williams into a 3 decade old grudge.

It’s only more pathetic when one realizes that:
1. JCD misrepresents how much work they’ve already published (I found published works with one google scholar search that he did not for multiple
2. Assuming a professor went straight from BA to grad school to insinuate they took a long time to finish their degree (they probably didn’t)
3. Claiming a book is the same as the dissertation (no, it isn’t. same research but written practically from scratch most of the time)
4. thinking that one can, from the outside, judge the scholarship of current assistant professors (hint: a TON of it is in process and not searchable at that stage)

shame.

#45 Comment By abl On November 22, 2017 @ 11:01 am

JCD –

This does seem mean … and also irrelevant. The only operative question for these individuals is what sort of record of accomplishments they have amassed at the point they are granted tenure . We know that Williams does not grant tenure to every tenure-track faculty member, so it is a fair inference that not every single one of these scholars will be granted tenure. The publication record of these scholars (which you have not accurately described), therefore, is not yet relevant. The question for you is: what sort of publication records do the tenured faculty at Williams have — and, more importantly, what did that record look like at or near the time that they were granted tenure? So far all you have established is that Williams will hire tenure-track folks based on the quality of their dissertation — which is something we could have inferred based on your experience, and something that doesn’t in any way imply that you were not granted tenure for prejudicial reasons.

Also, the relevant metric is going to generally be what quality/quantity of work a scholar does while at Williams — and not whether they published an article 1 year after finishing a dissertation or 3. Likewise, I have never heard anyone imply that the length of time it takes someone to finish their dissertation is in any way a factor in that person being granted tenure or not — so why highlight stats of this nature?

Really the only question for you is: do you disagree with the tenure expectations that I posted. If so, why: what is your evidence that the tenure requirements at Williams are different? Also, how much did you publish while at Williams? Did you publish one article per year? Did you publish a book? Did you publish any articles in the top journal in your field?

#46 Comment By abl On November 22, 2017 @ 11:31 am

Because I’m a masochist, I looked into the publication record of each of Williams’ associate professors in the department — which is the only way to get some sort of insight into the department’s tenure requirements.

Justin Crowe, a Williams alum, has three published articles and a book. Based on the timing of his joining Williams, it appears highly likely that all of his publications were, at the very least, accepted works at the point that he came up for tenure.

Ngonidzashe Munemo has three published chapters of a book and a book of his own. Based on the timing of when he joined Williams, it appears similarly highly likely that all of these publications were, at the point that he came up for tenure, accepted works.

Neil Roberts has published thirteen articles, two books that he co-edited, one book that he sole-edited, and one book that he sole-authored. Based on the timing of when he got tenure (2014), it appears that the vast majority of these publications–including most likely his sole-authored book–were accepted or at the very least in polished finished form at the point that he came up for tenure.

The pattern seems pretty clear to me: to get tenure in Williams’ polisci department, you need (1) to have published a handful of articles or article equivalent (in addition to your dissertation) over the past several years; and (2) have a book. That seems to be reasonably consistent with the link I posted: you should be publishing around an article a year and be on track to finish a book before you’re up for tenure. I suspect that article- and book- quality (as determined by the department and not by outsiders) also plays a role in this. I also suspect that student surveys play a role in all of this: a teacher who is killing it in the classroom is going to be given more leeway with respect to his/her publications (which could reasonably manifest as more time or lowered standards). Finally, curricular need almost certainly influences these decisions: a professor who teaches a set of courses that Williams wants to offer, in an area without as many strong candidates, is likely going to have an easier time of getting hired and getting tenured.

It’s impossible to evaluate the current tenure-track faculty: we don’t know what sort of articles each of these scholars have in-progress (their department likely does know); we don’t know what sort of teaching reviews anyone has gotten; we don’t know the curricular need calculus at Williams or at schools more generally; and we don’t know whether any of the current assistant professors have been told that they will need to find a new job in the near future.

#47 Comment By abl On November 22, 2017 @ 11:40 am

JCD —

Incidentally, there are a great number of conservative-leaning higher ed institutions (many of which are roughly in the same league as Williams academically). If you were truly Williams tenured-professor material, why didn’t you get a job at Davidson or Washington and Lee or Duke — or one of the countless other conservative-leaning schools with lower expectations than Williams? Not getting tenure somewhere is far from the kiss of death: it’s routinely the case that elite academic prospects get hired at Williams, don’t get tenure, and move on to (eventually) a tenured position at a slightly lower-caliber but nevertheless respectable institution. In your case, if you are correct that you were the victim of irrational discrimination–and that a clear-headed evaluation of your record would have put you clearly in the “deserving of tenure” category–you should have had no trouble whatsoever obtaining tenure at any number of schools.

#48 Comment By abl On November 22, 2017 @ 11:50 am

One final note: the department has 15 tenured professors. 12/15 of these professors are men, and 10/15 of these professors are white men. (And 13/15 of these professors are white.) It is simply not believable that Williams is discriminating against white men in deciding who gets tenure in the polisci department.

#49 Comment By Healthy Eph On November 22, 2017 @ 12:23 pm

JCD has been given the opportunity to answer a simple question and instead he just deflects: What did he publish while a Williams. Let’s be even more generous: What did he publish while at Williams and in, say, the three years after (which is to say, had he lasted lng enough to get considered for tenure)? I am willing to bet that it is less than every single person he tries to smear up above, because the answer, by all accounts, seems to be zero. Not a single publication.

#50 Comment By JCD On November 22, 2017 @ 2:13 pm

I think this little research study is an ideal demonstration of what I have been saying as far back as when I taught at Williams College myself: Affirmative action lowers the quality of the faculty and reduces the prestige of teaching there.

1. The Longer Runway: It is clear that the department has moved from hiring the youngest and brightest candidates, to hiring older people who have already completed their degrees and have been given many years to upgrade their scholarship prior to showing up at Williams College as an assistant professor. All of the assistant professors I researched obtained their Ph.D. between 1 and 5 years prior to their first job as an assistant professor. This approach obviously gives weaker scholars, like Nimu Njoya, more time to get their research in shape prior to their tenure renewal. Under the more competitive system I faced, I suspect many of these folks would not have been hired at all.

2. Lower Expectations: After all the crap I get on this site for not publishing my thesis or a bunch of articles in the year and a half after I finished my thesis, it is kind of a pleasure to see how little publishing is expected from assistant professors in real life today.

Only one of the assistant professors, Matthew Tokeshi, has even a single article (at least one that I could find with my Google research). He completed and published this article with the help of his more well-known mentor. The article itself doesn’t seem all that interesting or path-breaking to me. Even in the summary, the author point out that their results are not very strong.

The most published individual, Mason B. Williams, is obviously the most talented of the bunch, but he is not a political scientist. The failure of these assistant professors to produce much political science scholarship is particularly glaring when we factor in that they came to their assistant professor jobs with their dissertations already completed and many years older than I was when I held a similar rank.

3. Less Proven Talent: As I have pointed out elsewhere, no one before or since has gotten so much recognition and honor for their early scholarship as I did when I taught at Williams College.

For example, Dr. Tokeshi is sort of stretching the truth when he says he received an APSA award. This is only partially true. In reality, he received an award from an APSA section, of which there are at least 47. This is not comparable to winning a true APSA, as I did, where you compete against all graduate students, not just those in your tiny section.

Likewise, Mason B. Williams stresses the fact that he won the Bancroft Dissertation Prize. Although this sounds prestigious, in reality it is an award that is only given to a graduate student at Columbia University in the field of American history. It is the equivalent of having written the best thesis at your grad school in your topic area.

4. Outright Discrimination: The study above also demonstrates a profound level of reverse discrimination. Not one of the current assistant professors is a white male political scientist. Not one. None of them are Republicans either.

5. Variations within Class: Finally, it is perfectly clear that the accomplishments of these assistant professors are consistent with what you would predict from affirmative action programs. Both of the female professors are clearly less qualified and less talented than the two male assistant professors. The white assistant professor is the most outstanding scholar due to the speed with which he rushed through his formal schooling and his amazing productivity as a writer and researcher. The black female assistant professor has the least amount of published research and has not won any prizes at all.

All in all, I think I was right to quit the college teaching profession in 1989. It disgusts me that all these folks probably earn the same pay even though some of them are apparently being compensated, in large measure, for their contributes as a minority, a woman, or both.

#51 Comment By Healthy Eph On November 22, 2017 @ 3:09 pm

What did you publish while at Williams?

#52 Comment By Healthy Eph On November 22, 2017 @ 3:11 pm

I’m finding it amusing to watch you dismiss people’s careers who are demonstrably more productive than you were or have been for your entire career.

What did you publish while at Williams?

#53 Comment By sigh On November 22, 2017 @ 3:18 pm

blog moderators/authors/owners/David,

JCD is now defaming the reputations of current williams college professors without even a modicum of trying to find out the truth (Njoya has two articles and a book chapter that are easily found via a quick search. I similarly could find additional publications for Ephraim. Nevermind the fact that books can be in process but wouldn’t be online). you cool with this? This is what this site does? ok.

“all things eph”. lmfao.

#54 Comment By JCD On November 22, 2017 @ 4:46 pm

– Sigh

If I’m mistaken, please set me straight. I tried Google Scholar and I got nothing of substance on Njoya. I don’t see anything at all that looks like an article in a noted journal. It has been seven years since she finished her dissertation and about six years that she has taught on campus.

https://scholar.google.com/scholar?hl=en&as_sdt=0%2C5&q=Nimu+Njoya&btnG=

Similar story with Laura Ephraim. She published an introduction to an edited volume where she shared credit with two other authors. (That doesn’t count.) To her credit she does have a single Sage Journal Political Theory article which was published in 2013. This came out three years after she finished her dissertation.

https://scholar.google.com/scholar?hl=en&as_sdt=0%2C5&q=Laura+Ephraim&btnG=

As a practical matter, however, Laura Ephraim’s Sage Journal article has been cited only 3 times by other authors. Dr. Tokeshi’s article has been cited only 3 times. In contrast, my unvarnished, difficult to access, unedited doctoral dissertation has been cited at least 10 times.

If the quality of the assistant professors has increased since I left in 1989, I would certainly like to know what evidence you might have to back that claim up. For now, however, it looks like the tenure process is substantially less demanding than it was back when I was an assistant professor at Williams. Nowadays, you don’t even have to be a political scientist to work there…

#55 Comment By Williams Alum On November 22, 2017 @ 5:26 pm

Dr. John C. Drew PhD what did you publish while employed by Williams? I’m too lazy to scroll through the above posts so I was just hoping you could quickly outline what you published while you worked for Williams. Thanks Dr. John C. Drew PhD.

WA

#56 Comment By abl On November 22, 2017 @ 6:56 pm

JCD —

The only insight we can get as to the current tenure process at Williams is by looking to the tenured professors. Had someone in 1989 evaluated Williams’ tenure standards based on your cv, they would have drawn incorrect inferences about what is or is not required — because, despite being a tenure track faculty member, you were not given tenure.

What did you publish while employed by Williams? You’ve been incredibly critical of the not-yet-tenured faculty in the department. Healthy Eph has claimed that you actually published less than they have during the relevant period. If that’s true, your position is stunningly — embarrassingly — hypocritical. I’m genuinely assuming that can’t possibly be true. Stop dodging the question: what did you publish while employed by WIlliams?

#57 Comment By Healthy Eph On November 22, 2017 @ 7:28 pm

My understanding is that he published NOTHING at Williams, nothing in the three years after Williams that would have been tenure-track years for him, and he has fewer than five (and maybe only two) articles at all in three decades as an “award-winning political scientist,” both in an unindexed journal (of management, not Poli Sci).

#58 Comment By JCD On November 22, 2017 @ 7:48 pm

– abl

Neither Laura Ephraim or Nimu Njoya published anything in the 1.5 years after they finished their doctoral dissertations either. Why are you harping on me?

In terms of academic investment, it seems that Williams College might have been wiser to wait a few years and give me a reasonable chance to turn my excellent dissertation into an outstanding book.

That is, I suspect, what would have happened if I had been a liberal, a woman, a minority, gay or sophisticated enough to successfully disguise my conservative perspective.

#59 Comment By abl On November 22, 2017 @ 8:20 pm

JCD —

These decisions are generally made based not just on what is published, but what is in the pipeline. That’s going to be as true for white males as it is for underrepresented minorities.

I agree that potentially looking just at your 1.5 years (it was that quick of a period?) at Williams is probably unfair — what did you publish at Williams or in the ~2-3 years after Williams?

And you really need to stop harping on the minority thing in this context: your department remains — 20 years later — mostly white male. Clearly, this is not a department biased against white men.

#60 Comment By abl On November 22, 2017 @ 8:32 pm

Also, again, though, you are comparing yourself to the wrong people. We don’t know if any of the current assistant professors at Williams will get tenure — it’s probably unlikely that all of them will We also don’t know if any of these assistant professors have already been notified by Williams to look elsewhere (it’s relatively common now, even if it wasn’t at your time, for professors to be given a period of time to find a new job in academia). As a result, comparing yourself to assistant professors who may or may not be granted tenure isn’t going to answer your question: your complaint isn’t that Williams failed to hire you to begin with; your complaint is that you deserved to be given tenure. So compare yourself to the people at Williams who got tenure.

This should be an easy question to answer:

(1) what did you publish while at Williams?; (2) what did you publish in the immediate 1-2 years following your time at Williams; and (3) what did you publish over the entire duration (7 years?) that would have constituted your period of tenure consideration.

Then, compare those publications to the publications of the recently tenured faculty at Williams. If your record is less impressive than theirs, the best inference to draw is that you weren’t granted tenure for purely merit-based reasons. If your record is equal to or more impressive than theirs, then you might have a point.

Is there anything about this with which you disagree? Stop dodging the questions.

#61 Comment By JCD On November 22, 2017 @ 9:20 pm

– abl

You don’t get it. I quit college teaching in 1989, after spending three years at Williams College. I went to work in real estate and later fundraising and grant writing for local charities. I ran for the state assembly seat in my hometown, qualified a ballot initiative, and tried my best to get myself elected to Congress.

Not everything I did worked out. Nevertheless, I now work as a management consultant for large, faith-based charities and I’ve raised about $40 million dollars for them.

After the negative, abusive experience I had as a young conservative at Williams College, I lost all interest in a career as a political scientist. I certainly considered it unethical to lend my good name and academic achievements to help prop up an institution which, in my view, was systematically harming young white students and young white faculty members with its discriminatory and frequently hostile practices.

If you read me closely, masochistically, you will notice that I have never once argued that I deserved tenure.

I have only argued that it was evil for the folks at Williams College to condemn the quality of my dissertation, when this condemnation was only a convenient way to hide a much uglier truth, that truth being I was the victim of race, sex and above all ideological discrimination.

My main objective now is to shine a light on the anti-white, anti-conservative policies which remain in place at Williams College and other institutions around the nation. My expectation is that donors and alumni will see how far off the rails things have gotten and then push for reforms which will restore academic excellence, the sort of excellence which attracted me to an academic career in the first place. I expect that students who are on the fence will learn about my story and avoid attending schools like Williams which are actively hostile to their best interests.

As for me, however, I could never return to the academic world despite my interest in writing, publishing and commenting on contemporary politics. I could never work for an institution where a white man is paid to do the hard work of researching and writing books, while his black female colleague is getting paid simply because her presence makes the campus more diverse.

This is unfair and unjust. It is simply unsustainable and it has to come to an end.

#62 Comment By Healthy Eph On November 22, 2017 @ 10:29 pm

NO ONE DISMISSED YOUR DISSERTATION. Your dissertation is what got you hired. You can tell this lie all you want. It is not true.

And your strawman about how the “white man is paid to do the hard work of researching and writing books, while his black female colleague is getting paid simply because her presence makes the campus more diverse” is a perfect embodiment of your racism. You are drawing assumptions by creating these false archetypes that do not exist at Williams. The fact is, when you were at Williams YOU were not doing “the hard work of researching and writing books.” You have STILL never written a book. You had 1.5 years, you say, to be assessed and yet in three years you did not publish a single article and certainly made no progress toward a book. And while you did enter another profession, you still claim “award-winning” political scientist everywhere you turn.

Your having been hired completely obliterates your assertions of bias against white males at Williams. The racial and gender composition of the Williams Poli Sci department (and I’d guess 95% of all departments at Wiliams) further makes your assertions absurd.

It is always amazing to see the blaming culture that right-wingers, allegedly voters in the party of personal responsibility, will engage in to justify their own failings.

You did not publish anything at Williams. All the rest is diversion and projection and race baiting.

#63 Comment By Williams Alum On November 23, 2017 @ 12:29 pm

I don’t know if you helped prop up Williams College, Dr. John C. Drew PhD.

WA

#64 Comment By JCD On November 23, 2017 @ 3:21 pm

– Healthy Eph

Please. You are seldom right, but never in doubt. Not once did anyone in the political science department at Williams College say to me that I was expected to publish anything in the 1.5 years between when I finished my dissertation and when they made their decision to take me off the tenure track.

I remember I was told by the department chair, Raymond Baker, that the problem was the quality of my thesis. This is why winning the Williams Anderson Award from the American Political Science Association was such an incredibly significant moment in my life. This award provided independent confirmation that the tenured faculty in the department – at least that portion of the tenured faculty who voted against me – were dead wrong or more likely deceitful in their assessment of my work.

If Baker had told me that I was taken off the tenure track because I hadn’t yet published an article, I would have remembered that statement and winning the Williams Anderson Award would not be such a thrilling, empowering turning point in my life. In fact, I might not refer to myself as an award-winning political scientist at all (which started when I first got on Twitter) if I had been taken off the tenure track for simply not publishing an article.

The reality of my situation as a young scholar is that Baker and his allies were gas lighting me, trying to make me think that denying me an opportunity to compete for tenure was my fault, the repercussions of perhaps doing a poor job in researching my thesis, or for picking a less significant topic, or for not adding more quantitative analysis to support my theory.

In retrospect, I think it is beyond question that the tenured faculty who sought to separate me from the school were motivated entirely by the facts that 1) I was a consistent and reliable vote against all of their affirmative action hires and 2) I was responsible for empowering a growing, conservative, Republican student base, a base which was also opposed to affirmative action hires.

(Baker himself requested that I no longer vote on the hiring decisions after I was taken off the tenure track. I refused.)

The present political science department and the college are still scarred by the decisions it made regarding me almost 30 years ago. The political science department radically unbalanced and does not contain a single Republican or conservative. There is little to no active Republican or conservative student activity on campus. Not one of the department’s current assistant professors is a white male political scientist. Weak minority and female assistant professors – mainly in the non-quantitative field of political theory – have dragged down the quality and prestige of the department.

As far as I know, there is absolutely no one in the department (tenured or not) who has shown – as a young scholar – a more precocious skill and ability to do creative, original, game-changing work in political science.

My thesis helped inspire a renaissance of scholarship on the Progressive Era mother’s pensions programs and changed the way we think of the causes of welfare programs in our country. It is still cited by contemporary scholars. It is a telling, historically significant hint of what a powerful and intellectually exciting place Williams College might have been if it rewarded excellence over diversity.

#65 Comment By abl On November 24, 2017 @ 11:35 am

JCD —

I read the article you posted (and wrote). By your own account, it sounds like your dissertation was controversial. There are some who read it and were impressed. Others–like Cornell–didn’t buy what you were selling.

That’s pretty standard–even for the top articles in a given field in a given year. It’s a rare piece of academic work that wins over everyone. I believe that your dissertation was good and was very well-liked in certain circles. I believe that, even twenty-years later, it has retained some influence. That’s genuinely an accomplishment. I do not believe that it was so good as to transcend the general rule and achieve universal acclaim. (And again, that’s neither a shameful thing nor an unusual thing.)

When, in academia, we talk about publishing articles in the best journals being a prerequisite, that’s often a lazy shorthand. The best departments at the best schools — and I suspect the Williams’ polisci department falls into this category — trust their own judgment over the judgment of the articles editor or prize juries. As a result, schools like Williams (probably including Williams), will regularly make tenure decisions based on the department’s evaluation of publication quality — which sometimes lead tenure/hiring decisions to apparently depart slightly from what would otherwise be expected based solely on a candidate’s paper credentials. There’s nothing inherently discriminatory about this practice, and it’s widespread throughout academia. The fact that your article won a prestigious award but did not blow away the Williams faculty is not a sign that you were discriminated against: it’s a usual occurrence throughout academia.

By all reasonable measures, you do not appear to have been a productive scholar. Whether or not anyone ever set you down and explained the department’s expectations to you, the department undoubtedly had certain expectations around how much you would need to publish to be granted tenure. By all reasonable measures, you do not appear to have been on-track: after three years at Williams, you had published no articles and do not appear to have been on the path to finishing a book. (I’m assuming as much, as you’ve dodged the question far more than would be reasonable for any other answer.) If you had articles-in-progress, Williams might have cut you more slack. If people liked your thesis more, it’s possible Williams might have cut you more slack. Heck, I suspect that if you got along with the department better–your posts suggest there was some animosity–Williams might have cut you more slack.

None of these things constitute discrimination. Based purely on the quality and quantity of your scholarship, you had not earned the right to continue in the tenure-track position.

Look, the Williams faculty plainly liked your dissertation enough — you were hired for a tenure, track position, after all. Williams knew you were conservative coming in, and they knew that you were a white male coming in. The department’s not going to hire people for tenure-track positions to whom it is unwilling to grant tenure. If Williams discriminated against candidates for any of the reasons you claim, you simply would not have gotten a tenure track position (and there may have been other schools that passed over you for those reasons). In that important sense, your years of criticism are unfounded: it is possible, even likely, that you felt the real consequences of discrimination (for being conservative at least) in academia. Ironically, though, Williams represents a school–potentially one of only a few schools–that was willing to invest substantially in your potential irrespective of those things. In other words, there may be villains in this story; but Williams is not one of them.

Your sole grievance with Williams appears to be that you feel entitled to have been given an easier route to tenure than what would have otherwise been merited because your dissertation was just that good. The problem is: Williams didn’t agree. (Nor, for that matter, did Cornell–or likely a slough of other schools.) This is not because you were conservative, and not because you were a white man: Williams appears to have filled your position with a different white man — and then gone on to continue to grant tenure predominantly to white men for the next 20 years. Instead, in the range of reactions to your dissertation, the Williams faculty just happened to be less impressed than average–and were not willing to cut you any breaks accordingly. That’s not unusual, that’s not improper, and that’s not discrimination.

#66 Comment By JCD On November 24, 2017 @ 4:58 pm

Aren’t you getting tired of attacking me with your uninformed, misguided, undocumented comments and idle speculation? You are boring me and a lot of folks at Ephblog. Nevertheless…

1. About Cornell: I was a graduate student at Cornell University. I never applied to teach there. My peers and professors at Cornell University were deeply impressed with my academic achievements including the fact that I got hired at Williams College on the basis of my M.A. thesis proposal.

2. Unusual Circumtances: As far as I know, no one at Williams College has ever taken off the tenure track before or since. Normally, all assistant professors are given a fair opportunity to compete for tenure. I was not.

3. Academic Productivity: I was quite productive at Williams College and routinely had papers accepted in multiple panels at the APSA annual conference and other regional conferences. I had taken substantial action toward publishing my thesis by submitted my book proposal to a number of high quality academic publishers who were interested in political science works with a historical focus. I had also received instructions from the publishers on what changes needed to be made to turn my thesis into a book.

4. Book Potential: Ironically, my thesis was so good that it was eventually published – as book chapters – almost in its entirety with virtually no changes at all. It was so good that it is still cited by contemporary scholars.

5. Knowledge of My Ideology: No one in the department knew that I was a conservative when I interviewed for an assistant professor job. I only changed my party registration to Republican in the the Spring of 1988. The decision to take me off the tenure track was made about nine months later.

6. Initial Hiring: I was not the department’s first choice for the assistant professor position. They initially offered the job to a female candidate who ended up accepting another offer. Since I was second in line, I was offered the job. I have no doubt that the department went to great lengths to avoid hiring me in the first place simply because I was a straight white male.

7. History of Discrimination: As far as I can tell, there is no one in the department today who is a registered Republican and no one who is a vocal critic of affirmative action, a key center piece of conservative ideology. Not a single one of the current assistant professors in the department is a white male political scientist. I think it is perfectly obvious that the department has a history of discriminating against young white men and of providing black females with unprecedented opportunities and advantages.

Lonely Days and Lonely Knights: OC Resident Dr. Drew Was Once a MA Republican Political Science Professor

I hope my comments satisfy your curiosity, answer your sincere questions, and bring this discussion to an appropriate end. Happy Thanksgiving.

#67 Comment By Dick Swart On November 24, 2017 @ 6:17 pm

RE: JCD:

May this be the last time a defence of his career at Williams and its’ aftermath appears on Ephblog.

And may our responders hold their ripostes, recognizing that all of these same words have appeared on the blog over many years. There is no resolution forthcoming other than a decision to ban JCD from these pages.

JCD and other writers seems to write longer and longer screeds although in the face of history any satisfaction derived is illusory.

#68 Comment By Healthy Eph On November 25, 2017 @ 2:26 pm

As long as JCD continues to both brag about his marvelous career as a political scientist and to blame Williams for all of the ills that confronted him I’m afraid countering his drivel is going to continue to be necessary.

This is a guy who got hired at Williams and now claims with a straight face that he was not told that he would gave to publish while at Williams and THEN blames his plight for nonexistent discrimination despite Williams’ Poli Sci department being disproportionately white male. And hsi never having reeived another tenure-track job.

This crap needs to be countered until JCD is no longer here. Your false equivalence between the so-called “screeds” reveals a remarkable ability to sustain neutrality. But there are some issues where neutrality is both childish and harmful. This is one of them.

#69 Comment By Dick Swart On November 25, 2017 @ 2:39 pm

@ Healthy Eph:

“This crap needs to be countered until JCD is no longer here. Your false equivalence between the so-called “screeds” reveals a remarkable ability to sustain neutrality. But there are some issues where neutrality is both childish and harmful. This is one of them.”
November 25th, 2017 at 2:26 pm

I am not neutral at all. I consider both JCD and the Pavlovian refuters to be both guilty of writing “screeds” …

a long speech or piece of writing, typically one regarded as tedious.

I banned JCD when I had my aging hands on the wheel.

I wish David would do the same in order to allieviate at least one of the sources of bloviation that sap the life out of this blog.

#70 Comment By Dick Swart On November 25, 2017 @ 2:42 pm

Please strike one of the “both”s from my comment above. Your choice … the sentence will read either way.

#71 Comment By Healthy Eph On November 26, 2017 @ 1:13 am

Huh. I tend to think words have meaning. You are equating JCD, who is full of crap, with those who are refuting him, who are not. You are saying that what he has to say and that what his critics have to say are of equal value. You are accusing his critics of writing screeds when they are responding to screeds.

Jesus. Where did YOU prep to have such an untethered sense of false equivalence? People are writing truth in the face of untruth and to you they are both the same? Where DID you prep?

#72 Comment By Healthy Eph On November 26, 2017 @ 1:22 am

“Could people stop writing screeds of equal annoyance to me?” — Dick Swart, Nazis versus allies, 1942

“Could people stop writing screeds of equal annoyance to me” — Dick Swart, Civil rights workers versus white supremacists, 1963

“Could people stop writing screeds of equal annoyance to me?” — Dick Swart, ANC versus National Party, 1990

“Could people stop writing screeds of equal annoyance to me?”” — Dick Swart, 2016 Election

“Could people stop writing screeds of equal annoyance to me?” — Dick Swart, Hansel and Grdtal versus Witch, nd

“Could people stop writing screeds of equal annoyance to me?” — Victims of Child Slavery versus Perpetrators of Child Slavery

“Could people stop writing screeds of equal annoyance to me?” — JCD versus literally every other on-asshole on the planet, who also happens to care about Williams.