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State of AI

Want 159 slides about the what’s going in in Artificial Intelligence? Eph Nathan Benaich has you covered.

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Hopkins Forest

From the Eagle:

Amos Lawrence Hopkins, railroad tycoon and son of Williams College renowned president Mark Hopkins, aggregated modest holdings at the end of the 19th century and beginning of the 20th in order to create a gentleman’s farm on Northwest Hill Road in Williamstown. Some of the town’s most popular hiking trails cross his former estate, which is now managed by the college’s Center for Environmental Studies as a 2,600-acre experimental forest.

Buxton Farms, as he called it, was an agricultural show place, overseen for many years by Arthur and Ella Rosenburg, for whom the college’s classroom facilities, in the former carriage barn, are named. The main house, near the road, was demolished.

Maybe you should try a Moon-light walk. Adelia Moon and her husband, Andrew Jackson Moon, lived off the land in the midst of what Hopkins later acquired. When her husband died, she remarried another Moon, her nephew Alfred. He refused Hopkins’ offers buy their farm. The holdout was immortalized by the town’s American Revolution Bicentennial project, when Peter McChesney, other Williams students and townspeople dismantled Mr. Moon’s barn and reassembled it near the Rosenburg Center as an agricultural museum. The Moon house no longer exists.

Col. Hopkins died in 1912. His widow gave Buxton Farms to the college in 1934. The college deeded it to the U.S. Forest Service as a research facility. The Forest Service, having established research plots, turned the land back to the college in 1968. Williams has increased the holdings by buying, finally, the Moon lot — which had passed to the Primmer family — and others, as well as receiving gifts of land. It now includes land in New York and Vermont. The college continues the same research plots and other Forest Service studies, which explains the caution given to hikers to stay on the trails — and the colorful ribbons off in the woods.

Should EphBlog spend more time on history and less on (boring!) politics?

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student pronouns

Are my “friends” on the faculty punking me, sending me absurd parodies of Administration e-mails which make me seem stupidly naive for publishing them? Latest example:

From: “Buell, Denise”
Date: August 28, 2018 at 5:57:17 PM GMT+2
To: WILLIAMS-FACULTY@LISTSERV.WILLIAMS.EDU
Subject: student pronouns
Reply-To: “Buell, Denise”

Dear Colleagues,

Williams College is committed to building a community where everyone is a full member. Part of this commitment involves acknowledging gender diversity on campus and respectfully addressing our students and peers. How we practice language matters, and being attentive to what pronouns we use allows us to respect the multi-faceted identities of our community members. Everyone has the right to be addressed as they should be, and we leave that to each individual to determine.

With this in mind, we are pleased to announce that the Office of Institutional Technology and the Registrar’s Office are working to facilitate appropriate pronoun identification for faculty, students and staff. The first step in this process has been to give students the option to submit their pronouns in PeopleSoft, and to make student pronouns available to faculty on class rosters in PeopleSoft as well as to academic advisors in their Advisor Center/My Advisee section. (Please note that at this time, they will not be available via GLOW.)

The process for students is simple. Students will select pronouns per instructions provided to them by the Registrar’s Office. A student’s pronoun will be indicated on the class roster in PeopleSoft under a “pronoun” column. When or if a student changes pronouns at any point during the term (even after add/drop), faculty instructors and academic advisors will receive an email notification from PeopleSoft indicating that one or more students submitted a pronoun update, and they will be directed to their roster.

For now, this change will take place at the student level. The Office of Institutional Technology, Human Resources, and the Registrar’s Office are working diligently to ensure that the pronoun identification process can be made available for faculty and staff. This is an effort that will take some time, and that is greatly impacted by the technological limitations of our current systems. Faculty and staff will be notified of these forthcoming changes as they occur.

As Faculty, one of our key teaching responsibilities is to create inclusive learning communities. In our classrooms, we set examples for students everyday for how to engage each other with respect. As you know, the way we speak to others matter and can make a profound difference in someone’s life. As you consider strategies for pronoun use, you may find the accompanying list of resources below helpful.

If you have any additional questions or need additional information, please contact any member of the Offices of the Dean of the Faculty, Institutional Diversity and Equity, and the Registrar.

best,

Denise K. Buell

Office of the Dean of the Faculty

You may find the following resources helpful:

A guide to pronoun practices at Williams, which includes lists of existing pronoun choices, as well as strategies for pronoun use.

See also Some helpful information about Name Change Policies on the Registrar’s website.

And, many have found the “‘Ask Me’: What LGBTQ Students Want Their Professors to Know” to be an especially handy resource.

We would also like to share below the following information that the Office of the Registrar has provided to students to help guide them in their practices.

Why should I select a pronoun?

Informing the community of your pronouns helps everyone address you appropriately and respects everyone’s right to be addressed as they should be.

What are the pronoun choices?

The following list is not exhaustive.

she/her/hers
he/him/his
they/them/theirs
ze/zir/zirs
zhe/zher/zhers
name/name/name (e.g. Kris would like Kris’ things for Kris)

other (fill in the blank with your pronoun choice.)

Some pronouns dos and don’ts:

Do!

DO-If you would like to ask someone’s pronoun, start by offering your pronoun first, “Hi, I’m ____. I use the pronouns ____. What about you?” It is good practice to ask which pronouns a person uses, instead of assuming.

DO-Understand that some people are not comfortable sharing their pronouns. Some people would prefer that you call them by their name. This is particularly true for some people who may feel they are being asked to share information that they are not ready to share.

DO-Be patient with yourself and others. If you make a mistake, apologize, make the correction and move on.

Don’t!

DON’T-Refer to pronouns such as “they/them/their” or “ze/zir/zirs” as “gender-neutral pronouns.” While some people identify as gender-neutral, many don’t see themselves as gendered, but as gender nonconforming. Better language is “non-binary pronouns.”

DON’T- Describe the pronouns someone uses as “preferred pronouns.” It is not a preference. The pronouns that a person uses are their pronouns and the only ones that should be used for them.

DON’T-Say “male pronouns” and “female pronouns.” Pronouns are not necessarily tied to someone’s gender identity: some people use “he/him/his” or “she/her/hers,” but do not identify as male or female, respectively.

If Denise Buell is sending e-mails like this today, what sort of e-mails will she be sending in 15 years?

Also, what does President Mandel think about this topic?

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Paul on Gay Rights

Professor Darel Paul writes in First Things:

Culture wars are never strictly cultural. They are always economic and political struggles as well. Elites rule through an interlocking political-­economic-cultural system. The mainstream media certifies whose political ideas are respectable and whose are extremist. Hollywood, Silicon Valley, Wall Street, academia, and white-shoe professional firms are all part of the postindustrial “knowledge economy” that allocates economic rewards. As American elites become increasingly integrated and culturally ­homogenous, they begin to treat their cultural rivals as subordinate classes. The same thing happened nearly a century ago to the rural and small-town Protestants whom H. L. Mencken derided as the “booboisie.” Many would like to see it happen again, this time to anyone who challenges the dogmas of diversity and progressivism that have become suspiciously universal among the richest and most powerful Americans, dominating the elite institutions they control. If cultural traditionalists want to survive, they must not only acknowledge but embrace the class dimensions of the culture war.

Indeed. Is Professor Paul simply describing these dynamics or is he also a participant, doing his own small part to fight these battles at Williams?

Should we devote more time to Paul’s article? It is an interesting read throughout.

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Welcome Dula ’23, Cohn ’23, Altmann ’23 and Lynch ’23

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The Admissions Office was, undoubtedly, impressed by Dula’s essays and teacher recommendations.

Oh, wait! This was posted on July 5th. Dula has not written his application essays nor has he sought any teacher recommendations.

None of which is Dula’s fault. He does not make the rules. He is a subject of a system which expects him to create videos of his athletic performance while his family pays thousands of dollars to participate in various club teams and showcase events. The pay-off comes when Williams tells him, during the summer of his junior year in high school, that he has been admitted.

And I have no particular problem with this system, except with the hypocrisy which comes, not from Dula, but from Williams, from the College’s constant pretending that athletics is just one “attribute” among many, that Admissions treats exceptional violin players the same way we treat exceptional lacrosse players. We don’t.

And Dula is far from the only already-admitted member of the class of 2023. Congratulations, also, to Jacob Cohn ’23.

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Athletic admissions at Williams has very little to do with normal admissions. The vast majority of the 70 tips (and 30 or so protects) are told by a coach, in the summer after their junior year of high school, that they will be admitted to Williams if they apply early decision. No one cares about their personal essays or teacher recommendations.

Other examples of early athletic admissions this year include Nick Altmann and, lest you think this is only about male athletes, Emma Lynch.

The most offensive aspect to this whole process is how much time it takes away from under-paid high school teachers. Even though Lynch has already been admitted to Williams, the College will still require her to submit recommendation letters, so some poor Weymouth math teacher is going to get to spend an October evening writing a letter about her that no one will ever read . . .

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John McCain, an American hero, dies at 81.

 J. Scott Applewhite/AP

His like may not soon come this way again .

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Sorry, DDF … too busy catching up with the news:

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Anyone Home at the Record?

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Karabel on the History of Admissions

“Status-Group Struggle, Organizational Interests, and the Limits of Institutional Autonomy: The Transformation of Harvard, Yale, and Princeton, 1918-1940” (pdf) provides a useful overview of elite admissions between the world wars. Highly recommended for those too busy to go through his magisterial The Chosen. Williams College mentions include:

K1

K2

K3

K4

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Tenure Decisions

The College announced that four professors have been tenured: Phoebe A. Cohen, Laura Ephraim, Eric Knibbs and Gregory Mitchell.

Congratulations from EphBlog!

Would readers be interested in a close reading of their contributions to Williams so far and speculation about what we can expect from them in the future?

But, as always, what is unsaid is almost as interesting as what is said. We know who Williams tenured. We don’t know, precisely, who Williams turned down for tenure. Were there any? (Note that tenure denials are much less common than they were 30 years ago, so there may have been none.)

The only (?) other faculty hired in the 2012-2013 academic year on tenure track lines (in addition to the four newly tenured profs) were Jimmy Blair (Chemistry), Annelle Curulla (French), Ryan Coyne (Religion), Yong Suk Lee (Economics), Candis Watts Smith (Political Science) and Qing (Wendy) Wang (Statistics). It should not be hard to figure out what happened to them . . .

Worth discussing?

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Faculty Compensation

These charts from the Chronicle of Higher Education provide an update on faculty salaries at Williams:

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Previous discussions here and here. Worth spending a week on?

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Rafts and Rafts of Administrative Energy

A friend passes along the latest all-faculty e-mail (available in full below the break) which starts with:

It is with great excitement that I write to you on behalf of the Collaborative for Faculty Development (CFD) to invite you to the inaugural Faculty Essentials Fair, an expo event to be held on Wednesday, September 5th, from 9:30-11:30am in Sawyer Library.

The Collaborative for Faculty Development is a group comprised of faculty and staff that Rhon Manigault-Bryant began two years ago in her role as Associate Dean. CFD members are representatives from different “institutional branches” whose primary work is to interact with, program for, and support faculty at Williams College.

Our correspondent notes:

it has been interesting, over the years, to track the multiplication at Williams of events, meetings and the like with no clearly defined purpose or agenda. rafts and rafts of administrative energy, outstripping all need. also note how far into this email you have to read before you have any idea what it’s even about.

the idea that one can enter a drawing to have money added to one’s research account is, finally, really odd. if profs need extra money for research shouldn’t they ask the dean of the faculty? if they don’t need extra research money, should they be getting it in the first place?

Exactly right. But my complaint is different. Williams faculty members should focus on Williams students, on being in the classroom with them. Professors Rhon Manigault-Bryant (previous Associate Dean) and Katarzyna Pieprzak (current Associate Dean) are excellent teachers! They belong in a Williams classroom, teaching Williams students, every semester. All this administrative hoo-haw takes them away from that calling, from the fundamental purpose of Williams.

How might Maud Mandel help? Simple! Require that faculty administrators continue to maintain a full teaching load. There would still be a dozen or more Williams faculty who would love to start up administrative ladder, who would gladly accept the position of Associate Dean under those conditions, who would understand that their administrative work would come at the cost of their research output. There is no better way to signal that teaching is what matters at Williams — which is another way of saying that undergraduates matter most at Williams — then by requiring all faculty to teach.

Odds of Mandel doing so? Approximately zero.

Full e-mail below:
Read more

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Holding one’s water on Spring Street …

The piles of broken plaster, pilasters, and precipitate cluttering Spring Street may be subject to more immediate usage by male passers-by. Spring Street, unlike eg Paris, has never had cast-iron pissoirs to offer an immediate venue.

 

 

 

 

 

 

(L) Paris Traditional                                          (R) Paris Beta Test

Strangely, the Beta is receiving a mixed reaction from normally blasé Parisiens.

Perhaps those of the Williams-related male persuasion may wish to cast a watery ballot indicating their opinion of the constant construction disrupting The Village Beautiful !

 

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Bossong on Berkshire DA Candidate Forum

Meg Bossong ’05, director of Sexual Assault Prevention and Response, writes:

During the Berkshire County district attorney forum on July 31, the candidates for DA were asked about two campus sexual assault bills pending in the Legislature.

In his response, Paul Caccaviello chose to describe the complex problem of campus sexual assault by pointing to Williams College, specifically, for failing to report incidents of sexual violence to the criminal legal system and to advocate for the legal rights of student survivors of intimate violence.

Mr. Caccaviello’s assertions are patently and categorically false. His own predecessor, David Capeless, refuted this point in a lengthy interview with iBerkshires in 2014, saying “My understanding from talking to [Williamstown Police] Chief [Kyle] Johnson is that when [Williams] gets incidents, they report it to the police. Even when the victim doesn’t want to talk to the police, they tell the police just so they know. Unfortunately, there’s been a misunderstanding of what colleges are doing. It’s too easy to think that they have every reason to suppress the idea that there are assaults on their campus. But they’re not suppressing the information.”

To be effective in advocating on behalf of crime victims, advocates — whether on campus, in community-based agencies like the Elizabeth Freeman Center, or in the DA’s own victim-witness advocacy program — have to help victims understand their options, and the benefits and barriers to accessing them. Williams presents students with all their legal and disciplinary options, and supports them in accessing those, either directly or via connection with off-campus resources.

Survivors of violence often weigh whether they can endure the publicity and pain of a criminal proceeding. That self-searching, at the same time they are reacting to and trying to begin their recovery from trauma, has to include a consideration of whether a criminal complaint is likely to lead to a conviction.

The DA’s office makes the final choice about whether to pursue prosecution in cases of sexual violence that occur in Berkshire County. This includes cases affecting students of the four colleges located here. Mr. Caccaviello needs to tell the voters of our county how many cases of peer-to-peer, alcohol-involved sexual assault and rape his office has chosen to bring to trial, and how many cases they have pleaded out to lesser, non-sexual offenses or agreed to continue without a finding.

With that information, the voters of Berkshire County can decide on Sept. 4 whose advocacy has come up short.

Hmmm. I confess to not following the politics of this closely. Thoughts:

1) Caccaviello does not strike me as the prettiest flower in the bouquet. Should we root against him?

2) Bossong is a friend (?) of EphBlog, so we are on her side in general despite (or because?!) she blocks me on social media.

3) Internal party politics are confusing. (Berkshire County is now a democratic stronghold, so whoever wins the primary will be the next DA.) Caccaviello may be smart to cast Williams College as the villain.

4) Who does Bossong favor? Who does Williams, as an institution, favor? Hard to know! The Berkshire DA has had very little to do with Williams, at least over the last few years (decades?). But a more activist DA, especially one who aspired to higher office and who wanted the (free) press associated with taking on the local giant, could be a giant headache for President Maud Mandel. Imagine a trial like Gensheimer/Foster every year . . .

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“Take a relaxing stroll through town,” they said. “It’s carbon neutral,” they said. Williamstown this day in 2018.

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No. Adams: PTC, this is a long way from DiLeggo’s Diner …

A follow-up story in DeZeen   paints an attractive picture of this imaginative addition to local color.

Of interest, if anyone recognizes any names:

Project credits:

Lead designer: Ben Bvenson of Broder
Architect: Hank Scollard
Interior design: Spartan Shop (Julie Pearson)
Landscape architecture: Reed Hilderbrand
Bridge designer: Tree-Mendous Aerial Adventures (Gerhard Komend)
Developer: Brody (Ben Svenson, managing partner)
Partners: Ben Svenson, John Stirratt, Scott Stedman, Eric Kerns, and Cortney Burns

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Berkshire County DA Candidate Forum

I confess that I did not watch this public forum featuring the three candidates vying to become the next Berkshire Country District Attorney. Did anyone? Previous discussion here.

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Best not to major in #business

Professor Jax Hidalgo tweets:

1) The Forbes article is garbage because it ignores inputs. Lots of less intelligent people — who probably shouldn’t go to college in the first place — major in “business.” Elite schools, like Williams, don’t even offer business as a major. So, it is hardly surprising that business majors do poorly.

2) I am embarrassed for Hidalgo that she does not seem to realize this.

3) There is a great senior thesis to be written about Williams majors and life outcomes. Who will write it?

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Not Being Welcomed, Included, or Accepted

Latest all-faculty e-mail:

From: Marlene Sandstrom
Date: Mon, Aug 13, 2018 at 2:59 PM
Subject: syllabus planning and student support
To: WILLIAMS-FACULTY@listserv.williams.edu

Dear Colleagues,

I hope this note finds you well. As we hit mid-August, many of you will begin the process of creating or updating your course syllabi. I’d like to take this opportunity to suggest a few topics for inclusion: (1) the honor code, (2) access to health/accessibility resources, and (3) inclusivity and classroom culture.


The honor code
:
Please consider including a statement about how the honor code (and academic integrity) applies to your coursework. The syllabus is a great place to introduce students to any specific requirements you have about citation, collaboration, use of resource materials, or other issues particular to your work. Even if you plan to provide specific instructions on individual assignments, including information about the honor code in the syllabus sends an important signal about the importance of academic integrity in your classroom.

In addition to outlining general expectations, consider including a statement that encourages students to ask questions if they are unsure about a particular practice or rule (e.g., “If you have any questions about how the honor code applies to your work, please come talk with me. I am always happy to have those conversations.”

One issue that has become increasing thorny for the Honor Committee over the past few years involves the nature of collaborative work. In many instances, faculty allow (and strongly encourage) students to collaborate in some ways and for some assignments, but not in others. The Honor Committee has been hearing a large number of cases in which students seem confused about what sorts of collaborative work are being encouraged, even when faculty believe they had been clear. The syllabus provides a good opportunity for clarity. Rather than providing students with a general principle (e.g., “Students may consult with other students as long as the work they turn in is their own”) you might want to consider being more specific about your expectations around collaboration. What you choose to write will vary depending on the nature of your assignments and expectations, but one example of more detailed language around collaborative work might be: “Students can exchange broad ideas or general approaches toward problem sets with other students, but may not engage in any joint writing or step-by-step problem solving. One way to be sure you are not violating the honor code is to refrain from writing/typing/crafting your response to the assignment with others. Rather, save the writing until you are on your own and working independently.”

Health/Accessibility resources:
Both students and faculty have asked about ways to ensure that students know the resources they can turn to for disabilities and other health issues that affect their academic work. We are continuing to work on improving outreach from our office directly to students regarding these resources. You may wish to include a brief pointer to appropriate resources in your syllabus. Some sample language to consider: “Students with disabilities of any kind who may need accommodations for this course are encouraged to contact Dr. GL Wallace (Director of Accessible Education) at 597-4672. Also, students experiencing mental or physical health challenges that are significantly affecting their academic work or well-being are encouraged to contact me and to speak with a dean so we can help you find the right resources. The deans can be reached at 597-4171.”

Inclusivity and classroom culture
:
You might want to consider including a statement in your syllabus that underscores your commitment to a respectful and inclusive classroom climate. Some sample language to consider: The Williams community embraces diversity of age, background, beliefs, ethnicity, gender, gender identity, gender expression, national origin, religious affiliation, sexual orientation, and other visible and nonvisible categories. I welcome all students in this course and expect that all students contribute to a respectful, welcoming and inclusive environment. If you feel that you are not being welcomed, included, or accepted in this class, please come to me or a college administrator to share your concern.

Many thanks to the faculty members who have contributed to the suggested language provided here. Please use whatever you find helpful, and feel free to share additional ideas with me, so that I can pass them along to others.. Also, feel free to get in touch if you’d like to discuss any of these issues further. Meanwhile, I hope you enjoy the rest of your summer. May time slow down for these last few weeks, and may late August be restorative!

All best wishes,

Marlene

Marlene J. Sandstrom
Dean of the College and Hales Professor of Psychology

1) Isn’t it pretty stupid for every single syllabus to include the exact same language about these issues? Don’t we have a student handbook or some other common means to cover these topics?

2) Put yourself in the shoes of a junior faculty member. The Dean of the College asks you to “consider” using this in your syllabus:

If you feel that you are not being welcomed, included, or accepted in this class, please come to me or a college administrator to share your concern.

Emphasis added. What choice do you have but to include this sniveling invitation to every trouble-making snitch?

3) We have some faculty readers. Will you be including this (newish?) language in your syllabi? Do you think your junior colleagues feel compelled to?

4) What are the standards by which we might determine if a student is, objectively, being “accepted” in a class? Is it possible to be welcomed and included, but not accepted?

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Zach Wood ’18 in Washington Post

From last month:

When I came to Williams, none of my classmates knew about my mother’s illness, my family’s poverty. At the time, I thought that if I told someone, they would see me differently, in a light less positive than I desired.

Ashamed of my past, I pretended it didn’t exist.

But after two semesters, something happened. I was taking a course called “Challenges of Knowing,” when my professor explained that his study of the Holocaust, particularly the stories of survivors, had led him to the conclusion that anecdotal evidence serves a unique purpose: It humanizes facts, figures and abstract ideas in ways that allow us to cultivate empathy and compassion.

He said that as a quantitative social scientist, he valued reliable metrics and good data, but that stories about people’s lived experiences often give texture and meaning to the more technical knowledge surrounding complicated issue areas, particularly for those outside of academia. He went on to discuss the power of confronting trauma, and how, in the context of the Holocaust, the stories of brave survivors help many of us to think about that period of history in a more detailed and complex way.

I’d read many novels and memoirs, and I believed as strongly as anyone that literature could be quite powerful. To me, learning about other people’s stories was fascinating and enlightening.

Yet I hadn’t thought much about how confronting pain and speaking openly about traumatic experiences could strengthen those who mustered the courage to do so.

After listening to my professor speak about the power of vulnerability in the context of the Holocaust — whose survivors had endured the unimaginable — I started to think about my past in a different light.

Read the whole thing. Who was the professor? Kudos to them for having such a positive effect on Zach. And kudos to Jim Reische for tweeting out a link to this article, even though Zach has not always brought Williams the kind of press it would prefer . . .

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Beyond The Log, 15

“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 15.

(King1893NYC)_pg245_DELMONICOS,_BEAVER_AND_WILLIAMS_STREETSFred Rudolph: Now, let’s go back to that evening at Delmonico’s in 1871. Both Bascom and Garfield were charting the future course of the College. Bascom, alert to developments in higher education, knew that the Williams of Mark Hopkins was going to have to meet the challenges posed by the new president of Harvard, Charles W. Eliot, who was using electives to open up the curriculum to new learning, and to the opening of Cornell in 1867, whose founder Ezra Cornell had announced: “I would found an institution where any person can find instruction in any study.” James A. Garfield, on the other hand, while not denying Bascom’s challenges, reminded his audience that the center of an institution of learning was the relationship between a talented teacher and a willing student. And he gave the College an aphorism with which to remind itself across the years when it grappled with the realities represented by Eliot and Cornell.

In the presidents considered this morning we found Chadbourne holding the future at bay, and Carter transforming Williams into a gentleman’s college that Harry Garfield would clarify and rationalize and that Tyler Dennett would challenge and rethink.

And Maud Mandel will?

And Maud Mandel should?

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“A New Hotel Comes to the Berkshires, Challenging the Catskills for Coolest Mountain Escape”

Check out the article in vogue about the new motel in North Adams. Wilco

You should also check out Fresh Grass , which is mandatory for all Ephs. Don’t miss the best party of the school year!

Williamstown is old and inaccessible in its lack of diversity and monopolization of both intellectual and monetary form, while North Adams is an open book to be explored. College students are well advised to step out of the bubble and see the world next door. Take a breath of Fresh Grass September 14-16.

 

 

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Beyond The Log, 14

“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 14.

John Chandler: Fred, take us back to the period right after Carter’s twenty-year tenure ended and the trustees apparently were having difficulty appointing a successor. The New York Times reported that the trustees were unable to select anyone. The vote was split about five different ways, and no candidate came close to having a majority. That’s when Hewitt became acting president. And then after Hewitt, Henry Hopkins was chosen at the age of sixty-four, which even today would be extraordinary. What was going on that they apparently were having such a hard time agreeing upon Carter’s successor?

Fred Rudolph: Hewitt was even older than Henry Hopkins, and that may be why he wasn’t named permanent president. In any event, my guess is that the trustees had to decide whether they wanted another Carter or needed breathing time while they decided how they were going to deal with the clear ascendancy of the American university. During that period Dartmouth, under the leadership of William Jewett Tucker (1893-1909), decided it was not going to be a small college any more. Williams, by contrast, decided that it was going to be a good, small, Christian college and, I would say, one that catered to rich men’s sons. Nothing much happened during the Henry Hopkins era. It was a holding operation. Whether the trustees were considering Harry Garfield at that time I don’t know. When Garfield was chosen president in 1908, he had been on the Princeton faculty only four years. When Henry Hopkins was named president in 1902, Garfield was a politician in Cleveland. But he also taught law at Western Reserve, and some people may have viewed him as a possible president of Williams when Hewitt and then Henry Hopkins were chosen.

The speeches at Hopkins’ 1902 induction made clear that the College was sensitive to the challenges it was being asked to meet. The retiring acting president, Hewitt, assured the audience that Williams had no university ambitions and did not believe all studies were equal. The trustee speaker, apparently reassuring an audience that was aware of all the new fraternity houses on Main Street, asserted that Williams was not an aggregation of social clubs nor a pleasure resort. The alumni speaker declared as how the future of the small college was about to be determined: a liberal arts college or a university prep school. Whatever the future, the student speaker was pleased to applaud Franklin Carter for having given Williams “the mark of patrician gentility.” Henry Hopkins himself came down on the side of “the well-rounded man,” on the side of athletics and Christianity. Above all, I believe, the trustees thought they had to be very careful. The big question was, “How are we going to define ourselves in this new environment?” The eventual choice of Garfield seems to me to be a decision to move forward in important ways.

Here are the speeches given at Hopkins inaugural. (When/why was the terminology changes from “inaugural” to “induction?”)

UPDATE: Alas, the link is broken. Does no one at Williams care about our history?

Which do you like the best?

The student speaker, George Frederick Hurd ‘1903, began his speech:

It is not often that the undergraduate perceives the institution of the College in its real proportions. We see one part of the structure, one manifestation of its life, and think that we are in touch with the whole. Our interest in the curriculum asserts that this department of activity is supreme in its usefulness and importance. The exultation of the athletic triumph cries that proficiency in the sports is, after all, the greatest thing to be achieved, and that to this end we owe our first duty. It is only on some great occasion, when the several elements which compose the real College are brought together, and each appears in its proper place and relation, that there rises before us as a novel thing a concept of the largeness and dignity of the institution. It is then that we are moved with a great enthusiasm and a great spirit of loyalty; and so on this great day, in this gathering of the officers, faculty, alumni, and students, all the elements which together make up the unit Williams College, we are profoundly moved, and the words which we speak come from our hearts.

Will there be a student speaker next month? (I hope so.) What should she say?

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Beyond The Log, 13

“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 13.

John Chandler: Let’s look at the argument between Bascom and Garfield in the context of what was going on in higher education nationally during that period. I’m referring to movements and trends that you’ve written a lot about—the creation of the land-grant colleges, the development of research universities, debates about whether the Oxbridge classical model was still relevant, and growing interest in German higher education, with its emphasis on research and publication. New places like Johns Hopkins and Cornell were very different from Williams, and even nearby Union College developed a dual-track curriculum that enabled students to follow either the classical model or focus on science and modern languages. Were these matters being discussed at Williams?

Fred Rudolph: That kind of discussion did go on at Williams, but Chadbourne did not encourage it. In fact, one of the remarkable statements Chadbourne made in the context of what you’re talking about was, “You know, I could teach every subject in the curriculum.” When Ira Remsen, a newly appointed professor of chemistry and physics, asked if he could have some space for a laboratory, Chadbourne cautioned, “You must remember that this is a college and not a technical institute.”

Four years later Remsen was on his way to a distinguished career as a chemist, and later president, at the new Johns Hopkins University. Specialization was the new order, but at Williams deciding how to deal with it was pushed forward into the twentieth century. John Haskell Hewitt was named temporary president (1901-1902) and the trustees brought Mark Hopkins’ son Henry (Class of 1858) out of a Kansas City, Mo. pastorate to be president (1902-1908). The trustees were getting nervous about what the future of a place like Williams should be, given what was going on in the rest of the world. Williams became a wealthy college in the 1880s during Carter’s administration, and it might have chosen to go in different directions, but the Hewitt and Henry Hopkins appointments suggest that the trustees did not yet know in what direction they wanted to go.

Whatever you think of fraternities, they were intended to be instruments for fostering gentlemanly conduct. The Mark Hopkins era was still principally about students becoming good Christians. There was always an internal war at the College over the question, What are we here for?

What, indeed?

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Beyond The Log, 12

“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 12.

Fred Rudolph: James A. Garfield’s remark about Mark Hopkins and the log was in response to a speech that Bascom had just made to Williams alumni at Delmonico’s Restaurant in New York. That event in 1871 set the stage for the main story of the Williams presidents in the era that we’re discussing today. In effect, John Bascom said to the alumni, “You may love the place, but it’s in a mess. It’s got a president who’s sitting on his ass. The place is too close to Pownal, too far from New York and Boston, where the action is. There’s no library, there are no laboratories, the trustees are too old. The place really needs attention.”

That upset Garfield, and he got up and said, “Well, but the ideal college is Mark Hopkins on one end of a log and a student on the other.” That was the beginning of the argument over whether the future of Williams lay with Bascom’s vision or Garfield’s aphorism.

Chadbourne paid hardly any attention to Bascom, who soon left for the University of Wisconsin, where Chadbourne himself had been president before coming to Williams in 1872. Bascom would like to have been president of Williams, I think. There’s some interesting correspondence in the Library of Congress between Bascom and Garfield about what they both said that night, and what they meant. Garfield said, in effect, “I didn’t mean that we shouldn’t have libraries and laboratories.” I don’t think Bascom ever said anything to suggest that he didn’t mean what he said. No president since 1872 including Adam Falk, who has yet to take over, has been free from the questions raised by that evenings’ contest between Bascom and Garfield over just how much and in what ways an old New England liberal arts college should accommodate itself to challenging developments in society and learning.

Indeed. How do you predict Maud Mandel will handle this century-old dispute?

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Eph in the New York Times

Read the article:

https://www.nytimes.com/2018/08/02/education/learning/wrong-fit-for-college.html

DDF: I am adding the picture from the article and quoting the Williams-specific text:

Last fall, when John DiGravio arrived as a freshman at Williams College — a private, liberal arts institution in the Berkshires — the conservative from Central Texas expected to be in the political minority.

He did not expect to be ridiculed.

But in the winter, when he returned from an anti-abortion rally with the school’s Catholic student group in Washington, the college’s usually harmonious Instagram account, which featured a photo of the trip, received numerous enraged comments. Some posters booed the group. One called it “embarrassing.” Another suggested the students should “start a better club.”

At first Mr. DiGravio was taken aback. Then he took his outsider status as a calling. A few months earlier he had started a small, conservative club. He decided to make it bigger. He invited a speaker to give an evening talk on “What It Means to Be a Conservative.” Dozens of students showed up.

“I think I really hit a chord,” he said.

These days, elite students like Mr. DiGravio, who can financially and/or academically choose from an array of colleges, are often obsessed with “finding the right fit.” Surveys like ones conducted by EAB, an education consulting firm in Washington, routinely indicate that for this group, “fitting in” is one of the top factors when deciding where to go to school.

But some students, like Mr. DiGravio, 19, are discovering the pros and cons of being an outsider.

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Beyond The Log, 11

“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 11.

Fred Rudolph: He [President Garfiled] deserves credit for important curricular reform. He delegated leadership on that front to Professor T.C. Smith of the history department. A case can be made that Garfield’s style was to delegate. That’s one way to get things done. When he went to Washington he turned the running of the College over to Professor Carroll Maxcy, giving rise to the student ditty “Maxcy of Hoxsey, prexy by proxy.”

Great ditty! Longtime readers will recall that I quoted Professor Maxcy here, perhaps the best of my 5,000+ 10,000 posts at EphBlog.

To our faculty readers: Professor Maxcy is still being read and quoted 50 years after his death. Will Williams students and alumni be quoting you in 2060 2068? If not, why not?

The 1911 curriculum that Garfield and T.C. Smith created was a significant moment in the history of higher education, because it packaged subject matter into divisions, it created the requisites and sequences and made room for new subjects without obliterating the old ones. The departmental major of sequence courses was topped with a unique double-credit senior seminar. The Garfield curriculum was an effort to make clear that if you came to Williams you could get an education. You didn’t have to. You could come to Williams and concentrate on being a fraternity member, and some students did. In conjunction with the new curriculum was an honors program, so the best students could define themselves on a higher level of intellectual activity than had been true earlier. Interestingly, the 1911 curriculum and the honors program (which Garfield proposed in his inaugural address) were still operating when I entered in 1938. It was still there after World War II, and indeed even into Jack Sawyer’s administration. That curriculum never got the PR that it should have had.

Indeed. There are two separate (I think) issues here:

First, the honors program. Faculty often complain that students do not progress to a “higher level of intellectual activity.” I agree. The Swarthmore Honors program is widely effective and popular. Why not institute something like that at Williams as an optional track for the most intellectually serious students?

Second, the curriculum. In retrospect, it is easy to see how Garfield’s reforms were part of the leading edge of higher education, that almost all elite schools now have similar programs (leaving aside outliers like St. John’s and Olin). But the future is far less clear. What changes will the next 100 years bring? What movements should Williams try to lead, or at least try not to get left behind by? My guess would involve a curriculum in which almost all student work is public and which involves a much closer engagement with the outside world. What is your guess?

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Being a Williams professor is not a bad deal . . .

If Professor Iris Howley is trying to make us jealous . . . she is succeeding!

By the way, we had some technical problems — thanks to loyal readers for pointing them out — but they are now fixed. (Be careful about PHP upgrades when running very old WordPress installations!) Comment away!

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Beyond The Log, 10

“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 10.

John Chandler: It’s often remarked that Dennett enlivened the faculty with new appointments.

Fred Rudolph: Yes, Dennett really did some interesting things with faculty. In 1938 Howard Mumford Jones in the Atlantic Monthly referred to Williams’ faculty as the liveliest in New England. Tyler Dennett recruited people who were being kicked out of other places because of their politics. Among that group you get people like labor economist Bob Brooks from Yale, economist Robert Lamb from Harvard, and political scientist Fred Schuman from the University of Chicago. Dennett was bringing in exciting new faculty members such as Max Lerner, a well-known liberal and contributor to The Nation and the New Republic. At the same time Dennett was trying to get rid of deadwood.

Would anyone today call the Williams faculty the “liveliest in New England?” Probably not. And that is a good thing! The more that Williams faculty focus on Williams students — and the less they focus on the opinions of, say, the readers of the New Republic — the better for Williams.

Do you think that Maud Mandel will try to “get rid of deadwood?” Do you think she should?

When was the last time that Williams recruited a (tenured?) professor from Yale, Harvard or the University of Chicago?

I think that the most prominent (expensive?) senior appointment in the last few years was Joy James. The resulting disaster is a clue as to why senior appointments are often problematic.

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Beyond The Log, 9

“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 9.

Bob Stegeman: Do you have anything further to say about the Institute of Politics?

Fred Rudolph: I think the students resented it because it had nothing to do with them, except that it took the president away for a couple of months each year as he was lining up the program. It was a summer operation that started in 1921 and lasted until about 1932 or 1933. It attracted about 800 to 900 people, which was a great boon to the Williamstown economy. People paid to come. It was a chance for countries to explain themselves and argue for their policies. Mussolini sent people from Italy. Like Chautauqua, the institute was a good way to combine a vacation with intellectual stimulation. It was undoubtedly good PR for Williams and Williamstown. According to Garfield’s account, the idea came to him one restless night at the President’s House. So he talked with his old college roommate Bentley Warren (Class of 1885), chairman of the Board of Trustees. Warren liked the idea. Then Garfield talked with Bernard Baruch, who said, “Let’s do it. I’ll pay for it.”

1) There is a great senior thesis to be written about the Institute of Politics. If you are a political science major, you ought to write it.

2) In some sense, the Summer Institute in American Foreign Policy, led by our own Professor James McAllister, is a direct descendant of the IOP. Did any readers attend this year? How did it go?

3) The single most important thing that Maud Mandel could do to ensure the future wealth (and, therefore, success) of Williams 200 years from now is to make Williams the best undergraduate college in the world for students interested in finance. We need a finance concentration, followed by a finance major and then a finance department. Along with that, we ought to establish an “Institute of Finance,” modeled directly on the history of the “Institute of Politics.”

Invite Ephs in finance for a week or two meeting each summer in Williamstown. Much time would be spent on golf and hiking (just as at Herb Allen’s ’62 annual Sun Valley meeting). There would be panels and discussions, featuring both alumni and faculty. Several dozen students would be invited to spend the summer in Williamstown, preparing for the meeting, working with professors on finance-related research and so on.

Over time (and with much hard work), this event could grow in significance and importance, even if most/all of the attendees were Ephs. It would make Williams famous for the quality of its finance education and more likely to appeal to applicants interested in finance, especially those that we currently lose to Harvard/Yale/Princeton. An Institute of Finance would bind the community of finance Ephs — students, faculty and alumni — together and more tightly to Williams as an institution.

Perhaps the only question is: Which (rich) finance Eph can play the role of Bernard Baruch? I nominate: Greg Avis ’80, Andreas Halvorsen ’86 or Chase Coleman ’97.

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