“Beyond the Log: Williams Presidents in the Gentleman’s Era” (pdf) is a product of the Williams Oral History Project, led by Bob Stegeman ’60. It features a discussion with Professors Fred Rudolph ’42 and John Hyde ’52, along with former President John Chandler about Williams presidents from Paul Ansel Chadbourne (1872-81) to Tyler Dennett (1934-37). Let’s spend three weeks discussing it. Day 3.

John Chandler: Harry Garfield (Class of 1885) was president from 1908 to 1934, a remarkably long tenure—second only to Mark Hopkins’. It encompassed World War I and a big chunk of the Great Depression. The New York Times story about Garfield’s inauguration claimed that the audience was probably the largest and most distinguished collection of American educators ever assembled. Why did he draw that kind of crowd?

Fred Rudolph: Probably by sending out a lot of invitations. And by giving fifteen honorary degrees. And, of course, as the son of a slain U.S. president he had a newsworthy name. He was also the friend of a future president, Woodrow Wilson. Garfield was known far beyond Williams, both nationally and then abroad after he founded the Institute of Politics. Meanwhile, he accomplished a lot at Williams. Like Woodrow Wilson, Garfield was a progressive politician. During his administration his concern was for good government and young men taking up lives of public service. In a way, that was a slightly secular version of what a number of speakers were saying at the Centennial celebration, and it was consistent with the direction and tone set by the Williams Christian Association when it made Jesup Hall its headquarters and the symbol of what it was about.

Williams was no longer telling students that they needed a dramatic conversion experience and then go out and become preachers. It was telling them to go out and be public servants and responsible citizens.

1) A century later, what do you think the message will be at Maud Mandel’s induction? What do you think the message should be?

2) The event for Mandel on September 8th is currently labeled an “induction.” Why that terminology? Anyone gotten an invitation yet? What events would you like to see?

3) To maximize the success of Williams over the new few hundred years, the most important message for graduates is one which causes them to center (a portion of) of their lives around Williams as an institution. We want them to care about their families and careers, of course, but we also need them to care about Williams, to donate their time, energy and money to the College. Assume for second that you agree with this goal, how would you go about doing it, above and beyond what Williams already does?

4) Amusing that Garfield was concerned about the role of the role of athletics! Perhaps this is where Morty got the idea from . . .

In any event, my opinion on athletics is the same as a (vast?) majority of the faculty. Williams should provide extensive athletics opportunities for students but it should stop giving so much preference to athletes, qua athletes, in admissions. Background reading here.

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