Brown Dean of the College Maud Mandel begins her term as the 18th president of Williams on July 1. EphBlog welcomes her! We are pro-Mandel and hope that her presidency is successful. (Full disclosure, our preference would have been for an internal candidate like Lee Park or Eiko Siniawer.) Let’s spend some time discussing what we know about Mandel so far. Day 5.

EphBlog loves stories about mothers and their daughters. From The New York Times in 2009:

Like the Obamas’ new domestic arrangement, whereby Marian Robinson, Michelle Obama’s 71-year-old mother, will become a third head of household and the primary caregiver for two children born to two high-achieving parents, the linchpin of the Baker-Roby household is a grandmother. Theirs is an old-fashioned scenario that fell out of style as Americans drifted to the hermetically sealed nuclear family. Since the early part of the last century, academics have noted the waning of this arrangement in the United States, because of increased mobility, smaller families and even Freudian attitudes, rampant at midcentury, that described “too close” adult maternal ties as unhealthy.

It is a choice, however, that is cycling back into favor. . . .

And it looks as if one particular family relationship — that of adult daughters with their mothers — may be entering a period of more than just détente, as veterans of the women’s movement endeavor to help their own daughters achieve the work-life balance that may have eluded them.

Ruth Mandel is the director of the Eagleton Institute for Politics at Rutgers University, and former head of the Center for American Women and Politics there. One of her assignments in her course on women’s memoirs was to ask students to write autobiographies. “I was struck by how many would say their mothers were their best friends,” Dr. Mandel said. “I don’t know that they would have said that in my generation.”

Dr. Mandel’s mother, an Austrian Jewish refugee, worked reluctantly, Dr. Mandel said. “She wasn’t raised for it and her great dream in life was to stay home.” Conversely, Dr. Mandel’s daughter, Maud, is more like her: a professor.

Twice in the recent past, when Maud’s research required temporary residence in Paris, mother and daughter lived together, with Dr. Mandel maintaining daily e-mail and Skype contact with her office while caring for Maud Mandel’s two young children (Maud is a professor of history and Judaic studies at Brown and her husband, Steve Simon, runs an online business that allowed only intermittent time in Paris).

O.K., so a stint in Paris is not exactly a hardship, but it revealed to mother and daughter that theirs was a strong partnership. “It was wonderful to have time together again,” Maud said, “and also because my mother’s life was so complicated as she juggled her intense commitment to her work with her new role as primary caregiver to her grandchildren, I was both grateful and deeply touched.”

Good stuff. A healthy relationship with one’s family is a good sign in a Williams president.

As Dr. Mandel pointed out, “Working daughters need their mothers.”

So say we all. Recall EphBlog’s key advice to young men: Marry a woman smart enough to have a professional career and live in the same city as your mother-in-law.

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