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Pamela Franks, new Class of 1956 WCMA Director now in place.

Pamela Franks

Class of 1956 Director, Williams College Museum of Art (WCMA)

After earning her Ph.D. in the history of art from the University of Texas at Austin, Franks started her career as a postdoctoral curatorial fellow at Yale University Art Gallery (YUAG) and became its first curator of academic affairs in 2004. Throughout her 14-year career at YUAG, she played a central role in shaping and carrying out priorities for teaching, exhibitions, public programs, community engagement, technology, and collaborations with other academic art museums. As the Director of WCMA, she remains passionately committed to the role of the museum in higher education and the inspiration art can bring all audiences.

In addition to new Williams president Maude Mandel, Pamela Franks becomes the new director of the Williams College Museum of Art. Ms Franks brings a long list of accomplishments from her career experience at Yale, as you may read above and here. (both courtesy of WCMA).

It is always a pleasure for me, an old art history major and member of the Class of 1956, to see the continuing importance to Williams of this area of the Liberal Arts!

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Haystack Monument Dirtied

From the Record:

Haystack monument defaced, perpetrators unknown

On or prior to Sunday afternoon, some unknown person or persons defaced the Haystack Monument and the surrounding grass area outside Mission Park. At 12:36 p.m. on Sunday, three Campus Safety and Security (CSS) officers responded to a report of the defacement from four visitors to campus, who stated that they were members of the clergy. Three concentric, semicircular trenches were carved into the ground between the Haystack Monument itself and the benches which face it. Additionally, dirt was smeared on the sides of the monument. On one side, a handprint of dirt was enclosed by streaks around it forming an oval shape. Besides the dirt, there did not appear to be any physical damage to the monument itself. CSS has not yet been able to determine who defaced the monument, when it occurred or the potential motive behind it.

“We are unsure if this is a prank or an act of vandalism and have no further information to share,” Director of CSS David Boyer said. The Haystack Monument commemorates the 1806 meeting of a group of Williams students who would go on to later found the American Board of Commissioners for Foreign Missions (ABCFM). ABCFM was a major Christian missionary organization throughout the 19th century, sending missionaries to China, India, South Africa, Hawai‘i and various North American indigenous nations. The name of the monument comes from a story of the students taking refuge from a sudden thunderstorm underneath a haystack. The name of Mission Park also comes from their meeting.

1) Solid reporting by Executive Editor, Nicholas Goldrosen.

2) A follow up article should put this action in context by reviewing other acts of campus vandalism over the last decade or so.

3) Is this really an act of defacement? Dirt is not paint, much less destruction of the stone itself.

4) Motives? This does not seem to be a “hate hoax,” a false flag in which a minority vandalizes something in an anti-minority fashion, as with Griffin Hall two years ago. Could it be just teenagers acting teenagerly, with no larger political meaning?

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Railroading …

… making way for a speedy ride.

See here for a purpled reference.

Later up-dates:

(an announcement at Union Station, Washington, DC)

We regret to inform you that the SCOTUS Special due to arrive at noon on Saturday September 29th has been delayed because of unexpected bad weather and an avalanche of public opinion.

https://www.theguardian.com/us-news/2018/oct/02/trump-mocks-christine-blasey-ford-at-mississippi-rally

(another announcement at Union Station, Washington, DC)

We are happy to inform you that the SCOTUS Special is now due to arrive at noon on Saturday October 6th (or not) (or with complications) (railroading is hard work!).

 

 

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Eagle Scout

How many Eagle Scout’s are there at Williams? At least one!

A local Eagle Scout received quite a surprise this week at a banquet in Marion.

William Johnson was named national Scout of the Year by the national Veterans for Foreign Wars. He was presented a $5,000 scholarship through local VFW Post 12124.

This is the first time that’s ever happened in the state of mississippi. Johnson had to write multiple essays about his time and accomplishments in scouting.

“It’s the largest scholarship I’ve been awarded actually, so it’s really exciting to have earned a scholarship,” said Johnson.

Johnson will be going to Williams College in Masssachusetts.

Congrats to Johnson. One (sleazy?) thing that he and the VFW may not realize is that, if Johnson is on financial aid, Williams will just decrease the amount of his grant dollar-for-dollar to account for this award. In other words, he and his family will be paying Williams the same amount as they would have if he had not won. Whether that is a bug or a feature of the current financial aid system depends on your point of view . . .

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Form 990 History

Purpose of this post, updated once a year, is to maintain our history of the Form 990s issued by Williams. (Thanks to John Wilson ’64 for leading the charge on these efforts over the years.)

Form 990 is an IRS requirement filed by all US non-profits. It is a confusing document that has changed significantly over the years. See here for background reading. Williams only provides versions going back to 2009. Future historians will thank us for archiving older versions: 1998, 1999, 2000, 2001, 2002, 2003, 2004, 2005, 2006, 2007 and 2008. In fact, because Williams occasionally hides things that it once made public, let’s go ahead and save the more recent filings: 2009, 2010, 2011, 2012, 2013, 2014, 2015, 2016 and 2017.

Should I spend a week going through the latest version?

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Growing Like Kudzu

From TechCrunch:

Lead Edge Capital, a New York-based venture firm, has been around since 2009, and it has been quietly growing like kudzu since. After closing its very first fund with $52 million back in 2011, it has been roughly doubling the size of its funds ever since, closing on $138 million in 2013 and $290 million in 2016 and today, announcing a fourth, $520 million fund. Altogether, including some special purpose vehicles it has assembled, the firm is now managing roughly $1.5 billion in assets.

How did the team, led by founder Mitchell Green, pull it off? Green’s background may have helped. The Williams College grad . . .

Green is class of 2003. More from the Wall Street Journal last fall:

Mitchell Green has a habit of speaking in machine gun-like blasts punctuated with wild-eyed excitement.

As the 36-year-old founder of Lead Edge Capital, a New York venture-capital firm with $1 billion under management, such frenetic energy and enthusiasm have helped score deals to crow about.

“It’s the energy, right? I have never met a guy that talks so fast and seems to make sense,” said Bill Grabe, a limited partner in Lead Edge funds and an advisory director for General Atlantic. “He’s made me a lot of money.”

Mr. Green’s passion for tech investments has landed deals in Alibaba, Uber and Spotify. People who know him say he is a force of nature who obsesses over things until he gets what he wants.

Getting a piece of Alibaba early was a pivotal moment for Mr. Green and the future of Lead Edge Capital.

“We returned about a billion dollars,” he said of the Alibaba stake.

The article ends with:

Unlike others in the industry, Mr. Green is unabashed stressing the importance of pumping the phones with cold calls. His team of six analysts—he’s adding two more—are cut from a Wall Street mold where relentless research is paramount and 80-hour weeks aren’t uncommon. “We are the only guys running a firm who have done the cold calling before,” he said.

And his rule of thumb on cold calls is simple: If they call you back right away, they are a dog. If they don’t call you back, those are the ones you want to work with. “We have shown up at people’s offices completely uninvited,” he said. “Most people actually appreciate persistence.”

Mr. Green doesn’t like to hear ‘no’ when he wants in on an investment that makes a lot of sense from his research. He’s very creative at finding founders or angel investors who might like to get liquidity, said Mr. Grabe. “You don’t know where he’s getting all this stuff from,” he said. “Mitchell is like a ferret—he’s in every hole.”

This is not something that I will get on my tombstone . . .

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Eph Partner on Kavanaugh

Looking for a Williams connection to the Kavanaugh nomination fight? EphBlog has you covered!

On Thursday, Senate Democrats disclosed that they had referred a complaint regarding President Trump’s Supreme Court nominee, Judge Brett Kavanaugh, to the F.B.I. for investigation. The complaint came from a woman who accused Kavanaugh of sexual misconduct when they were both in high school, more than thirty years ago.

Reporter Ronan Farrow is the partner of Jon Lovett ’04.

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One African-American Phi Beta Kappa Graduate in 2016

In the Williams College class of 2016, there were 67 Phi Beta Kappa (PBK) graduates. One of them (Todd Hall) was African-American. (Full list of students available in the course catalog, and reprinted below the break for your convenience.) Comments:

1) There were 37 African-American First Years in 2012-2013 (pdf). Some of those students transferred or took time off. Some African-American students from earlier years ended up in this class. We don’t know the total number of African-American graduates in the class of 2016, but it was probably around 34.

2) Since Phi Beta Kappa is the top 12.5% of the class, we would expect about 4 African-American PBK graduates. Of course, there will be random variation. Perhaps this year is low but, in other years, African-Americans are over-represented? Alas, that does not appear to be the case; there were zero African-American PBK graduates in 2009, 2010 and 2017.

3) A relevant news hook is the “scandal” last spring over UPenn law professor Amy Wax claiming that African-American law students “rarely” graduate in the top half of their class. The difference between EphBlog and Amy Wax, obviously, is that we have the data. (Williams declined to confirm or deny our analysis.)

4) Should we spend a few days discussing the reasons for this anomaly? If the Record were a serious newspaper, it would investigate this statistic and interview senior faculty and administrators about it.

Williams 2016 Phi Beta Kappa graduates:
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Ephs Can Choose

WSO hackers like pizza. Thirteen years ago, they (jokingly) solicited PayPal donations for their pizza fund. I bought them $200 worth. This made them happy, since neither College Council nor the Williams Administration is likely to fund their eating habits. It made me happy because I got to contribute something small but tangible to a student group that I like and respect. Every Eph wins.

Why doesn’t this sort of interaction happen more often between students and alumni? The College wants to control the money. It does not trust students to ask for reasonable things. It does not trust alumni to refrain from funding unreasonable requests. It worries that student awkwardness will harm its relationships with alumni donors.

A decade ago, College Council co-presidents presidents Jeremy Goldstein ’09 and Peter Nurnberg ’09 sought to allow alumni (like me) to donate money directly to student groups (like WSO) — money that would fund specific purchases (like pizza) that the College has decided, for whatever reason, not to fund. This is similar in spirit to DonorsChoose, a non-profit organization that practices “Citizen Philanthropy” in public schools. Teachers submit requests for funding. Individual donors pick and choose among the requests. DonorsChoose spends the money and posts pictures/descriptions of the activities thereby funded, allowing donors to see immediately the good that their generosity has accomplished.

DonorsChoose is an excellent template for Williams, but one that the Administration will fight. My advice to those who seek to succeed where Goldstein/Nurnberg failed:

First, create a new organization. Call it EphsChoose. College officials will try to delay you, will insist that they are interested in working with you on this project. Trust me: they are not. They hate this idea. They will do everything they can to stop it, including every college officials’ favorite trick: smiling delay. If they can keep you busy with proposals and meetings for a few months, they know that you will lose interest and then graduate. You need an organization with an existence separate from Williams. After a few years, you might create a 501(c), registered in Massachusetts but that is not necessary at the start. If your plan is to work, you need a structure that will outlive your own time at the College.

Second, recruit an alumni board of directors for EphsChoose. Key criteria, besides a love for all things Eph, are wealth and a willingness to spend it on your cause. To get started, you don’t need a lot of money, but an initial donation of $10,000 would make other things easier. You need at least one lawyer on the board. Adding an alumnus from the faculty would provide credibility. Reach out to some of the prominent alumni who live in Williamstown.

Third, recruit a governing board of students. You need help. Ideally, your board will include students with the necessary skills: at least one technical whiz to run the Web site; one would-be lawyer interested in dealing with the documents; a treasurer to handle the finances; a photographer to document the projects; an operations person to keep track of all the details. Do not underestimate how much work will be involved. Recruit first-years.

Fourth, spread the word. What’s your motto? “Students ask. Alumni choose. Williams thrives.” would be one option, derived from that of DonorsChoose. Once your Web site is up and running, you will want to reach out far and wide. Many student groups have more projects than they have funds. Contact them. Reach out to alumni, especially those still in contact with student organizations. E-mail the officers of regional alumni groups. Use the Alumni Directory. Involve parents. Once your first few grants have been distributed, document the results.

Will it work? Maybe. Starting a new organization is not easy. Potential volunteers are busy. Paperwork is boring. Most importantly, the College will try to stop you — will insist that it is interested in your ideas and wants to “help” you. The Sirens of Hopkins Hall will claim that you don’t need a separate organization, that the Alumni Office is eager to assist you and that your effort falls naturally in the work that the College is already doing. Avoid those rocks.

Only a handful of students each year have an opportunity to change Williams in a permanent way. Few now remember the students of five or 10 years ago, not because they were bad people but because nothing they did has outlived their time at the College. You have a chance to fundamentally alter the relationship between Williams students and alumni, to draw the community of Ephs closer together now and forevermore. My pizza buying should not mark the high point of direct alumni donations to student groups. It should be just the start.

Original version published in the Record in 2008.

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Meet DDF and PTC!

I am available for coffee in Williamstown between 11:30 and 1:30 tomorrow, including at Weston at 1:00 for football kick-off. I am also available at 3:00. Leave a comment if you are interested in meeting up. That means you, PTC, Frank U and FemBot!

UPDATE: Now only available 11:30 to 1:30.

UPDATE II: PTC and I are holding court in the Purple Pub. Come join us!

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… on the other hand, analysis as offered by a Constant Contributor may be …

… of continuing consideration:

xkcd 19 Sep. 2018

https://xkcd.com/2048/

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Do Not Go To Law School

At least half the Ephs who attend law school are making a mistake. Their lives would be fuller, happier and, often, monetarily richer if they did something, anything else. I spent 30 minutes six years ago talking with a junior (and occasional EphBlog commentator) about why his ill-formed plans for attending law school were a bad idea. Below is a cleaned up version of what I told him. Other comments welcome.

1) The vast majority of Ephs who attend law school have little/no idea what law school or the practice of law are like. They have watched Law and Order. They know that successful corporate lawyers in big cities make a lot of money. They like thinking about constitutional issues in a class like PSCI 216: American Constitutionalism I: Structures of Power. But this knowledge provides almost no grounds for making a good decision. As Jeff notes:

The only definite advice I’d give is to figure out BEFORE law school one (or more) legal career paths that are of interest to you, and try to learn what a day in the life on those paths is truly like. Too many people pursue law school, and go into enormous debt, thinking that it will “open up doors.” 99 times out of 100, the only doors it uniquely opens are doors to traditional legal careers, typically in law firms, academia, or government.

Correct.

First, before you apply to law school, you should attend a normal (not staged for applicants) first year class in something like torts or civil procedure at Albany Law School or at a night school in your hometown over the summer. (Yes, I realize that this is a hassle. But don’t be stupid. You are about to spend $200,000 (at least) and devote three years of your life. You need to get a clue.) Find out what a real law school class is like. You will probably be shocked at how boring it is. Do you remember that annoying PHIL 102 class in which 2 or 3 dweebs prattled on endlessly about the most semantic/pointless disputes imaginable? That is what law school is like. If you do not enjoy detailed discussions about extremely minor points, you will not like law school.

Second, try reading some of the material from law school, like this set of cases about torts. Read at least 100 pages of cases and commentary before you apply. You will read thousands of pages in law school. Now is the time to find out if you want to. Just because you like the sort of readings assigned in a typical Williams class does not mean that you will like readings in the law.

Third, spend a day with a lawyer, a regular working attorney. There are several alumni in the Williamstown and Albany area who would be happy to let you shadow them for a day. Find out what their lives are like. It is not glamorous! Law jobs are varied, of course, but you owe it to yourself to learn about the profession before going into significant debt. (Note that pre-med students have much less to worry about in this regard. Their interactions with doctors growing up have been very representative of what most doctors spend most of their time doing.)

All of the above is the minimum you should do before applying to law school. Too many Williams students tell themselves some version of: “I like writing. I like reading. I like thinking. I was good at all those things before Williams and I have only gotten better at them. Lawyers seem to do a lot of writing, reading and thinking. So, I should go to law school.” This is faulty reasoning because law school (and law practice) are radically different from your Williams experience.

Even worse are the Williams students who think: “I get good grades at Williams. I like school and do well at it. I don’t really know what I want to do with my life. Getting a job doesn’t have much appeal. My parents will be happy if I go to law school. So, let’s apply!”

2) The vast majority of Ephs who attend law school have little/no idea what their likely career path in the law will be. At least 1/3 of the Williams students who apply to law school would not apply if they took the above steps. They would realize that law school and a legal career are not for them. But there are still many Ephs, even among the 2/3 who find tort law cases interesting and who were intrigued by the life of a lawyer, who are making a mistake in going to law school because they misestimate the odds of getting the law job that they want.

Consider:

It’s time those of us inside the profession did a better job of telling others outside the profession that most of us don’t earn $160,000 a year, that we can’t afford expensive suits, flashy cars, sexy apartments. We don’t lunch with rock stars or produce movies. Every year I’m surprised by the number of my students who think a J.D. degree is a ticket to fame, fortune and the envy of one’s peers — a sure ticket to the upper middle class. Even for the select few for whom it is, not many last long enough at their law firms to really enjoy it.

There’s something wrong with a system that makes a whole lot of people pay a whole lot of money for jobs that are not worth it, or that have no future. If we wanted to be honest, we would inform students that law school doesn’t keep their options open. Instead, we should say that if they work hard and do well, they can become lawyers.

Or:

Every year tens of thousands of wannabe lawyers enter law school. The majority will be extremely disappointed by their career opportunities.

Thus the title of this essay: law school is a big lie. People enter law school with the idea that a law degree is their ticket to a comfortable upper middle class lifestyle. In fact, just the opposite, law school for most is a ticket to a worse financial state than if they had not attended at all.

Read these posts. (What other links would Ephs suggest on this topic?) Now, to be fair, much of this advice is being given to students without a Williams IQ, students who are considering Tier II or Tier III law schools. Most Williams students attend highly ranked law schools. But even among the graduates of elite schools, the career paths are much more restricted then current undergraduates might suspect. The vast majority of Williams students who attend a highly ranked law school go in one of three directions. (And there is a great senior thesis to be written about the career paths and choices made by Williams students who attended law school over the last 50 years.)

First, they drop out of law altogether. Our lawyer readers can tell numerous stories about their classmates who no longer practice law. Almost none of those students go into a career that either required, or provides an advantage to those with, a legal education. They are just three years behind (and much more in debt) than the students who avoided law school. (If you and/or your family are independently wealthy, then, obviously, you can afford to spend three years in law school — or getting a Ph.D. in English Literature or sailing around the world or whatever — but almost all Williams students have money concerns.)

Second, they enter poorly paid government work. Now, there is nothing wrong with becoming a lawyer for the FDIC or HUD, but students need to be aware of the economic realities of those career paths. Most Williams students, to the extent that they want to work in government, are better off just going straight from Williams to those agencies. They will be in a position to climb the ladder faster without all the unnecessary debt.

Third, they enter BIG LAW, the elite law firms of the major cities in the US. Want to know what that is like? Read this:

Economically it represented a perfect reification of various Marxist theories. As associates we were wage slaves, members of a white-collar proletariat, objectively closer to the model described in Das Kapital than most nineteenth-century factory hands. It may seem odd to call someone a wage slave whose starting salary was $85,000 (though broken down per hour it was much less impressive). But the work of a junior associate, in reality, is being a clerk, a checker, the one whose job is on the line to make sure that the decimal points are in the right place. No one with an Ivy League education is going to perform this sort of drudgery for much less than 80 grand.

We were also faced with alienation from the products of our labor. You would work on the tiniest part of a huge transaction. You would never see the big picture, never know if your all-nighter made a difference, if your clauses appeared in the final documents, never even find out if the deal had gone through.

And this.

Biglaw women are more screwed because society expects more from mothers than “I pay the bills.” It’s BS, but it is where we still are. So on top of paying all the bills (to say nothing of actually carrying a child to term — you know, something that might get you laid off from K&L Gates), Biglaw women are also expected to invest the emotional and caretaking energy a family needs.

Which is impossible to do while billing the hours Biglaw requires. Not difficult, not challenging, it’s straight-up impossible. Biglaw women can break themselves in two and put on a cosmetically enhanced face and claim that they have the perfect job and family and life, but the only people stupid enough to buy it are younger women who want to be in Biglaw and aren’t yet able to deal with the fact that their career choices will have consequences in other areas of their lives.

What other articles about life in BIG LAW would readers recommend?

Both my parents are lawyers and both my grandfathers were lawyers. (And happy birthday Mom!) I was accepted to law school and (almost) attended. I am the sort of person who would have (and does at EphBlog!) liked arguing about minor points in endless detail. I know people who are perfect for a legal career. Yet most Williams students who apply to law school are completely uninformed about what that decision implies about their future.

Summary: Do not go to law school just because you are good at school, it will make your parents happy, and/or you don’t want to start a real job. Those may all be true, but they are bad reasons. First, learn about what law school and the legal profession are like. Second, understand what sort of career you are likely to have. At least 50% of the Williams students applying to law school from the class of 2019 are making a mistake. Avoid their error.

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Obsequious Deference

Professor Susan Dunn writes at CNN:

By attacking our closest allies and their leaders and displaying obsequious deference to the virtual dictator Vladimir Putin, Donald Trump has repudiated American global leadership. He has replaced it with a hyper-nationalism and unilateralism that are less of a foreign policy and more the bullying tactics of a would-be strongman.

Trump’s “America First” isolationism is fast weakening and isolating the United States, undermining the stability of long-standing alliances, and allowing dictatorships to thrive unchallenged around the world.

Read the whole thing. But I confess to some confusion. Isn’t one of the central lessons of the last few decades that sometimes (often? always?) “allowing dictatorships to thrive unchallenged” is the best option among the set of bad choices? Does Dunn think it was a good idea to challenge the dictatorship of Saddam Hussein or Muammar Gaddafi or Bashar al-Assad? Those actions by prior US presidents seem, to me, to have resulted in immense human suffering. Wouldn’t most readers agree that, however monstrous Hussein/Gaddafi/al-Assad were, we should have not gone to war with them? Honestly curious!

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George H. Nash Presents at the Williams Faculty Club

Dr. Nash presents his remarks
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On the evening of September 13th, members from across the Williams community gathered in the Faculty Club to attend a private dinner lecture with renowned presidential historian George H. Nash. This event, organized by the Society for Conservative Thought and generously sponsored by the Department of Political Science, was attended by thirty students, five professors, administrators, and a representative from the Intercollegiate Studies Institute. Recently inducted Williams President Maud S. Mandel attended the reception.
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Dr. Nash is a leading intellectual of the twentieth century American conservative movement. His 1976 book, The Conservative Intellectual Movement in America Since 1945, was described by historian Forrest McDonald as “a masterful study that can be read for edification by people on the entire range of the political spectrum.” At the dinner, Dr. Nash articulated an overview of twentieth century American conservatism and explained the context and potential implications of populism as manifested in the Trump presidency. Video of his lecture is provided below:
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The Society for Conservative Thought earnestly thanks the Department of Political Science and the various College officials that were vital to the success of this event.
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A More Welcoming and Open Department

For more on pronouns, read this comment from S’18:

’m not going to wade into most of this because I think a lot of the arguing going on here is in bad faith based on some commenters thinking that the idea of someone identifying outside of the gender binary or using pronouns other than he/him or she/her is inherently ridiculous. That’s not an idea I know how to argue against because it’s simply an ad hominem based on a lack of empathy and respect for others.

I do, however, want to respond to the point Prof. Knibbs raised about gendered language, because I think this is a case where the email is poorly worded. The objection to referring to he/him pronouns as male or she/her pronouns as female is that male and female are nouns, and thus saying that someone uses male pronouns would imply that person is male. As an alternative, I (and literally every other trans person I know) describe he/him pronouns as masculine pronouns and she/her pronouns as feminine pronouns. Because masculine and feminine are adjectives rather than nouns, they simply describe the gender of the pronouns rather than label the person as being of a particular gender identity. As for the objection to referring to they/them pronouns as gender-neutral and instead saying they should be referred to nonbinary, I am a nonbinary person who uses they/them pronouns and have never heard that. Actually, I have some pretty strong objections to referring to them as nonbinary pronouns because that would imply that all nonbinary people need to use they/them pronouns (which they don’t), but the administration probably read a thinkpiece somewhere that made that point and decided to go with it…

This actually gets to the final point I’d like to make, which is that so much of this comment thread, and more generally discourse around trans issues, suffers from not talking to actual trans students about what changes we want and how we think about things. I know most of the trans students on campus (I was one myself until June), and none of us would want to harass or report people for making honest mistakes. Using pronouns different from the ones you are socially conditioned to assume, especially they/them pronouns, is really difficult for a lot of people, and we get that. I really can’t imagine any student going to the administration about being misgendered by a faculty or staff member unless it was something that happened chronically and with clear malice. What we want is to be able to just do our work and be respected by others in our community; to be referred to by the names and pronouns we feel comfortable with and not have it be the defining issue of our lives. When my department (in Division III, lest you think that all trans people are confined to the humanities) made the decision last year to have people introduce themselves with pronouns at the beginnings of classes, it was awkward at first and people were nervous about slipping up. Mistakes happened, apologies were awkwardly muttered, and then everyone moved on. By the end of the semester, it was second nature to everyone that the weekly department lunch started with everyone introducing themselves with their name, class year, and pronouns. The building did not burn down, and our academic work did not degrade. We simply became a more welcoming and open department, and it is my sincere hope that more of Williams can follow in that pursuit.

Good stuff. S’18 should join us as an author! Their perspective belongs on the front page of EphBlog, not buried at the bottom of an (interesting!) comment thread.

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Doctrine Propounded

Interesting comment on pronouns from Professor Eric Knibbs:

In 2015 it was still OK to refer to “preferred pronouns.” The same was true in 2016. Right now staff hiring guidelines still suggest asking after a candidate’s “preferred pronoun” (expand “Marital/Family Status” at the bottom).

Clarity from the office of the Dean of the Faculty on when “preferred pronouns” became prohibited would be very helpful.

The LGTBQ Life at Williams page has an entire discourse on pronouns that appears at points to use “non-binary” and “gender-neutral” interchangeably, contrary to the doctrine propounded by the Dean of the Faculty.

References to “male pronoun(s)” and (less commonly) “female pronoun(s)” are scattered across the web presence of Williams College.

Read the whole thread for interesting discussion. Knibbs should join us as an author. (What is the point of tenure if not to have fun on EphBlog?!) We need more contributions from faculty!

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Responsible employees and reporting responsibilities

From the Dean of the College to the Faculty:

Dear Faculty Colleagues,

We hope your summer has been a good one. We write to update you on some aspects of the college’s work on prevention of and response to sexual harassment and sexual assault, and in particular to share information on your reporting obligations if you become aware of such issues.

Williams College seeks to prevent sexual harassment and sexual violence of all kinds, and to act to redress any such incidents that do occur. That commitment requires that we know about incidents that happen on our campus, so that we can (1) ensure that those who experience sexual harassment or sexual violence receive immediate professional support and guidance as to their options for legal and campus processes and for counseling, no contact orders and other accommodations (2) act to address the behavior of alleged perpetrator, the safety of the individual affected and of the campus community (3) become aware of patterns of perpetration and intervene to stop them.

1) Seems like standard stuff, in this day and age.

2) What is the best way to make trouble on this topic? I still want answers about this accusation.

Entire letter below the break:
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Do Not Go to Graduate School

An interesting forum from back in 2010:

If you’ve considered going to graduate school in history, come to a History Graduate School Panel discussion on Tuesday at 7:00 pm in Griffin 7. Professors Dubow, Fishzon, and Kittleson will speak about their own graduate school experiences, and will answer any questions you might have.

Good stuff. Kudos to the professors involved for taking the time to participate. Comments:

1) Relevant discussion here and here. I second Professor Sam Crane’s remarks:

In fact, I tell them the academic job market is horrible, has been bad for a long, long time, and is getting worse. I tell them that getting a job like the one I have is unlikely. I tell them that they should go on for a Ph.D. only if they truly love the learning, because that is something they will be certain to have for a lifetime, regardless of what job they find themselves with. And for some of them, that is what it is about. Love of learning, regardless of whether they get an ideal academic job.

This was true in 2010 and is even more true now. It is true, not just in history and political science but in almost every academic field. If anything, areas like physics and biology are even worse, mainly because of the volume of Ph.Ds which they produce.

My only quibble with Sam’s comments might be to clarify that a love of learning is not enough of a reason to justify graduate school in history. With the internet as your oyster, you can pursue learning as much as your free time allows without going to graduate school.

2) Read Derek Catsam ’93:

[G]raduate students and those looking at entering this competitive world need to be cognizant of the realities. If you are planning to enter a field like, say, US history, it is probably incumbent upon you to know the odds. Further, it seems to me that it is pretty irresponsible of those of us with the ability to advise students if we emphasize the great aspects of intellectual life within the academy and do not point out the reality — your odds of getting the PhD are smaller than you think, your odds of getting a job are slighter still, and your odds of getting tenure at a place yet smaller, and then all of this happening at a place you would otherwise choose to live? Infinitesimal.

Also Swarthmore Professor Tim Burke:

Should I go to graduate school?

Short answer: no.

Long answer: maybe, but only if you have some glimmering of what you are about to do to yourself. Undergraduates coming out of liberal arts institutions are particularly vulnerable to ignorance in this regard. …

Just don’t try graduate school in an academic subject with the same spirit of carefree experimentation. Medical school, sure. Law school, no problem. But a Ph.D in an academic field? Forget it. If you take one step down that path, I promise you, it’ll hurt like blazes to get off, even if you’re sure that you want to quit after only one year.

Two years in, and quitting will be like gnawing your own leg off.

Past that, and you’re talking therapy and life-long bitterness.

Burke is right. I hope that the panelists back then, whether or not they agreed with Burke, made sure that students know what some historians believe. I worry that such an event might too easily have degenerated into a “You are all smart Williams students who should dream big and live large!” Nothing wrong with that advice when a student asks if she should try a difficult upper-level seminar, but Ephs need a more reality-based answer when leaving the Purple Bubble. Large numbers of students in the class of 2019 who are going to graduate school are making a mistake. Professor Sara Dubow is, no doubt, a wonderful, hard-working professor. But there is also a sense in which she won the lottery . . .

3) Key data would be a listing of all the Ephs who went to graduate school in, for example, history from 1990 through 2000. Where are they now? What happened to them along the way? If there were 50, I bet that fewer than 40 made it to Ph.D., fewer than 20 got any tenure-track jobs at all, and fewer than 5 got tenure. How many got tenure at a place that pays as well as Williams? I don’t know. In fact, I have trouble coming up with many Eph historians of that era, other than our own Derek Catsam ’93, Sara Dubow ’91 and Eiko Maruko Siniawer ’97. Pointers welcome!

4) There are some fields — like economics, statistics and computer science — in which supply/demand are more in balance. There are still nice academic jobs at places like Williams and plenty of opportunities in industry.

5) Never attend a Ph.D. program which is not fully funded.

6) The 2010 comment thread includes excellent discussion. I miss the old EphBlog!

7) Still want to get a Ph.D. even though you are fully aware of the likely outcomes? Cool! EphBlog fully supports informed decision-making. Our main point here is to encourage you to be fully informed. Graduate school in history can be fun and rewarding! Just be sure to have a back-up plan . . .

UPDATE: First version of this post went up 8 years ago. What is the academic job market like? Consider what happened to the professors who participated in the panel.

Roger Kittleson was already tenured at the time of the panel. Life at Williams is (I hope!) good. What sort of advice does he give to history students today?

Sara Dubow is now a full professor of history at Williams. She is our lottery winner.

Anna Fishzon is listed as a “Adjunct Assistant Professor at Columbia University in the City of New York.” But she still lists her Williams assistant professor position at the top of her profile, so it is not clear how much substance there is to the Columbia position. Even though she did great work in graduate school — which is the only way she got hired by Williams in the first place — there is no (stable) job for her in academia. Is there one for you, Dear Reader? Probably not.

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34 Honor Code Violations

A letter to the faculty:

Dear Colleagues,

Most of you heard Nick Goldrosen, the student chair of the honor committee at yesterday’s faculty meeting.

More transparency, please. Were there slides? A printed report? Share it with the community. Faculty Meetings are, essentially, public events, with Record reporters generally (still?) in attendance.

As faculty chair, I’d like to add a few words as well. After all, the committee heard 34 cases in 2017-18 (!!! for comparison, ten years ago the number was 15), many of them resulting in sanctions of failure in the assignment or failure in the course.

There were also 34 incidents in 2012-2013. Shevchenko is being sloppy (misleading?) to pretend that there has been a steady increase over the last decade. If the latest number is exactly the same as the number 5 years ago, there probably isn’t a crisis . . .

We would love to do all we can to bring the number of violations (and thus, affected students) down this year.

Would we? (And I am not just referring to the poor writing suggested by the desire to bring down affected students.)

The easiest way to bring the number down is to stop enforcing/investigating incidents. See no evil! Of course, I am against this, but how do we know the increase this year is because the underlying rate of cheating has gone up as opposed to an increase in enforcement efficacy. Maybe cheating at Williams has been constant for 10 (or 100 years) but its detection has varied over time.

As you know, all Williams students sign the honor code before they can register for classes. They also likely read a statement about the honor code on your class syllabi. However, it appears that this is far from sufficient as a deterrent from honor code violations.

D’oh! Who ever thought it was? The fear of punishment is the deterrent that will work best on Williams students. Read excerpts from past Honor Committee Reports to your class. That will lower cheating.

If left at that, the honor code may inadvertently come across as a mere formality, which does an enormous injustice to the values it is designed to uphold, and to the students themselves.

Exactly. And this is the faculty’s fault! Contemporary syllabi are so jammed full of required junk that, almost by definition, the importance of any one bit has to decrease. If you spend more time on pronouns and diversity, then you have to spend less time on the honor code. There is no free lunch.

In order to make sure the honor code does what it is supposed to do, i.e. ensures academic integrity of the work done at the college, all of us need to take time in our classes to convey to students (a) how the specific parameters of our assignments relate to the honor code (that is, the details of our expectations regarding the use of outside sources, group work and citation format for each individual assignment), and (b) just how much is at stake, for them individually and for Williams as a community, in upholding these.

Blah, blah, blah. If you want to reach college students where they live, if you actually want to change their behavior, then you need to avoid soporific tripe like this and focus on the concrete. Read them this:

A junior was brought to the Honor Committee due to concerns about plagiarism. The professor noted that sections of several papers appeared to come directly
from online sources. Following the Honor Committee’s hearing and deliberations, they determined that the student violated the honor code on multiple occasions by using ideas and direct quotations from other sources without citation. The committee recommended a sanction of failure in the course.

Read a couple of these and . . . pause . . . and say, “If you cheat in my class, I will catch you and you will fail the course.

Faculty who do this (certainly?) face less cheating than faculty who prattle on about “how much is at stake.” Most Williams faculty, sadly, are unwilling to confront students so directly.

Back to the letter.

Our students come from a range of academic backgrounds, and many are working on a steep learning curve as they develop the command of academic language and conventions.

This is strange. Does Shevchenko mean to suggest that many/most cheating cases result from different “backgrounds?” This is not implausible. Andover teaches you not to cheat because its faculty teach thoroughly. Perhaps, at a lousy high school, students don’t really learn how to use information from the internet correctly/honestly?

But Shevchenko never says this directly and, reading between the lines of the annual reports, it looks like the vast majority of cases are not caused by differing “academic backgrounds.” The cheaters know that they are cheating.

The attention you give to the code of academic integrity in your class helps them all to arrive at a shared understanding of the honor code’s purpose and of their role in upholding it.

This is a testable hypothesis! Randomly assign some professors to make a big deal about cheating and some to do whatever they normally do. Does giving the honor code more “attention” cause a decrease in cheating?

If Williams were an actual “leader” in undergraduate education, these are the sorts of questions that we would be exploring — carefully and rigorously — each semester.

Oftentimes, honor code violations occur because the students are caught in the trees so much that they fail to see the forest: they are freaking out about a grade, running out of time, or dealing with external stress.

Does this metaphor work? “Caught in the trees?” Anyway, this suggests that the problem is not differing backgrounds. The cheaters know. They just feel compelled to cheat because of these pressures. (By the way, it would be good to collect and distribute anonymous interviews with punished students.) Again, the best way to deter such “calculated” cheating is by demonstrating that it will fail.

To prevent these scenarios, it is our role as faculty to remind them of the larger purpose of the honor system. It’s also helpful to make sure the students know that consequences of cheating far outweigh the elusive gains they may be hoping to achieve by cutting corners. Speaking about academic integrity in class proactively and specifically, and giving them the tools to do the right thing early on sends the students a signal that you take academic honesty seriously, and ensures that they do too.

Shevchenko needs an editor. How is this any different than what she wrote above?

We wish you all a great semester of teaching and learning, and thank you for taking action to help your students uphold the values of academic integrity in your classes. Don’t hesitate to contact me if you come across something that looks like an honor case, or simply if you have any thoughts or concerns pertaining to the honor system.

Olga Shevchenko, on behalf of the Honor Committee.

More transparency, please.

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Integrative Global Studies

This seems fishy to me.

The Board of Supervisors accepted a bid on the Lucerne Hotel, also known as the Lucerne Castle, for $2.5 million from the Romero Institute at their Tuesday, Aug. 21 meeting.

The Romero Institute is a social justice-focused nonprofit law and public policy center based in Santa Cruz.

The Romero Institute proposal states that they intend to turn the Lucerne Hotel into a four-year educational institution which will offer a Bachelor of Arts degree in Integrative Global Studies and a University Extension Program.

The institution is a partnership with the support of the University of San Francisco, Williams College, Rice University, Kansas State University, Loyola Marymount and the University of Manitoba.

Either the folks at the Romero Institute are making a bs claim about our involvement (which would be illegal, especially in the context of a public bid) or someone at Williams, for silly or nefarious reasons, has gotten us involved with a boondoggle on the other side of the country. Let’s hope for the former!

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George Will meets DDF ’25 for coffee …

From George Will’s column in today’s Washington Post.

The beginning of another academic year brings the certainty of campus episodes illustrating what Daniel Patrick Moynihan, distinguished professor and venerated politician, called “the leakage of reality from American life.” Colleges and universities are increasingly susceptible to intellectual fads and political hysteria, partly because the institutions employ so many people whose talents, such as they are, are extraneous to the institutions’ core mission: scholarship.

Writing in April in the Chronicle of Higher Education, Lyell Asher, professor of English at Lewis & Clark College, noted that “the kudzu-like growth of the administrative bureaucracy in higher education” is partly a response to two principles widely accepted on campuses: Anything that can be construed as bigotry and hatred should be so construed, and anything construed as such should be considered evidence of an epidemic. Often, Asher noted, a majority of the academic bureaucrats directly involved with students, from dorms to “bias-response teams” to freshman “orientation” (which often means political indoctrination), have graduate degrees not in academic disciplines but from education schools with “two mutually reinforcing characteristics”: ideological orthodoxy and low academic standards for degrees in vaporous subjects such as “educational leadership” or “higher-education management.”

I am very leery of social engineering applied to a campus of 2000.

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Eph in the news

Apparently Ken Marcus ’88 has made headlines again.  Per the New York Times, the Department of Education under Marcus is wading into questions of anti-Semitism at U.S. universities:

The new head of civil rights at the Education Department has reopened a seven-year-old case brought by a Zionist group against Rutgers University, saying the Obama administration, in closing the case, ignored evidence that suggested the school allowed a hostile environment for Jewish students.

The move by Kenneth L. Marcus, the assistant secretary of education for civil rights and a longtime opponent of Palestinian rights causes, signaled a significant policy shift on civil rights enforcement — and injected federal authority in the contentious fights over Israel that have divided campuses across the country. It also put the weight of the federal government behind a definition of anti-Semitism that targets opponents of Zionism, and it explicitly defines Judaism as not only a religion but also an ethnic origin.

It appears that this might be a case of trying to fit a square peg into a round hole, as the Department of Education does not have authority to investigate religious discrimination, only “discrimination on the basis of race, ethnicity or national origin.”

I wonder if Williams will catch his attention?

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Treason

From iBerkshires:

protest

Mother Nature was not the only one who may have made revelers at the town’s annual Fourth of July celebrations a little uncomfortable.

A group of nine young people turned out at the parade and annual reading of the founding documents with thought-provoking signs that provided a balanced perspective to a day that, for some, is all about patriotism.

Dressed in plain black T-shirts and holding placards with messages like, “End Prison Slavery,” and, “No One Is Illegal on Stolen Land,” the group stepped onto Spring Street a little ahead of the parade as the American Legion Color Guard made its way around the corner from Main Street.

The protesters, who appeared to be college- age, then walked the parade route as a group before circling back individually with their signs displayed — making sure their messages were delivered even as parade units ranging from the Williamstown Select Board to the North Adams SteepleCats waved to the crowd in the background.

Later, the same group of protesters filed into Williams College’s Sawyer Library just before the traditional reading of the nation’s founding documents and held the same signs silently at the front of the audience gathered to hear actors from Williamstown Theatre Festival perched on the walkway above.

The president of the Williamstown Chamber of Commerce, who organizes the parade, said she was not sure whether the group had asked to be included in that event, but she welcomed its presence.

“Isn’t that what America is about?” Victoria Saltzman said. “This is an example. It’s quintessentially America that we can celebrate and protest at the same time.”

From this tweet, we find these flyers, presumably (?) distributed by the same group:

DhRvHwAXcAEDhp9

Below the break are more photos:

001-070418_williamstown_parade--001

002-070418_williamstown_parade--003

003-070418_williamstown_parade--004

Are they all students?

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There All The Time

As long as there is an EphBlog, there will be a remembrance of the three Ephs who died on 9/11: Howard Kestenbaum ’67, Lindsay Morehouse ’00 and Brian Murphy ’80. Previous entries here and here.

murphyBrian Murphy ’80 died 17 years ago.

The bookshelves inside Judy Bram Murphy’s light-drenched apartment on the Upper East Side of Manhattan are filled with photographs from before: a wedding portrait, a baby picture, a snapshot of Judy, her two daughters, and her husband, Brian. Looking at the photographs, you can almost pretend that September 11, 2001, never happened, that the two jets never flew into the World Trade Center towers. You can almost pretend that Brian came home from work that day.

But Bram Murphy has no desire to pretend. Brian’s death left her a young widow and a single mother to Jessica, who was then five years old, and Leila, who was not quite four.

Jessica and Leila are now 22 and 20, almost the same ages as my daughters. My wife, eldest daughter and I were at Ground Zero a few years ago, visiting my parents, whose office was nearby. My wife pointed out the site but my daughter did not remember 9/11. Do Jessica and Leila remember their father? How can they? Time steals all our memories, especially from the children.

For Judy Bram Murphy, Brian is most alive in their children, in Jessica’s thoughtfulness and Leila’s adventurous nature. Because of this, her daughters triggered a sadness in her during the first six months after the attacks. Gradually this sadness began to subside, and she is now able to cherish the memories her children evoke. “They bring life and spirit to my life,” she says.

She takes every opportunity to help her daughters remember their father. The three talk about him all the time, reminding one another of things he used to say and do. Sometimes the girls will say, “I miss him” or “I wish he were here.” Other times they will declare, “Daddy’s here watching my concert” or “Daddy’s proud of me” or even “Daddy’s eating all the butter on the table.”

What would your family remember if you were snatched away from them one clear sky morning? Is whatever else you are doing right now as important as that?

“I’m not sure if I said it first or if they said it first,” she says, “but they feel he’s there all the time.” Bram Murphy takes comfort in that. She believes that such a sense helps the girls to feel safe and secure. “I don’t always feel his presence,” she adds, “but if I think about him, I feel he’s there in some spiritual way. He’s a part of me.” She chooses not to shield them from her own emotions, believing it important to show them that it is permissible to be sad and to cry. She shows them that the sadness passes.

Heartbreaking. Sadness passes but never disappears. I hope that every father in the Murphys’ community kept a special eye out for Jessica and Leila as they grew up. They are all our daughters now.

When Bram Murphy runs into acquaintances who want to know how she’s been faring over the past two years, she doesn’t know how to answer. People tend to assume one of two things: that she is perpetually upset or depressed, or that by now she should be feeling better. “It’s one of those situations that is not linear,” she says. A clinical psychologist, she is a particularly astute and articulate observer of her own emotions. She has good days and bad days, she says; there are moments when she feels content and others when the sadness and the loneliness are crushing. “People in general,” she says, “have trouble understanding that I’m not one thing for having this one thing happen to me.”

I read these stories every year, and every year I cry. Do you?

Like many others who lost someone they loved on that clear, late-summer day, Judy Bram Murphy is finding her way in this new post-September 11 world. She reminds herself that it was her husband, not she and her children, who lost the most that day. “So many people complain or are dissatisfied, and he felt so lucky to have what he had,” she says. “It just seems that he should have lived longer.”

Indeed. Why was Brian Murphy taken from both his own family and the community of Ephs? We should all be more thankful for what we have. We are all so lucky.

For most people the death of a spouse is a personal loss, but the entire nation — and much of the world — feels somehow connected to the grief of the September 11 families. Many, Bram Murphy says, reached out with a kindness and generosity that she could never have imagined and that went far beyond anything she would have received had Brian died of a heart attack or in a car accident. Her yoga studio, for example, gave her two years of free instruction. Grief counselors this spring organized a day of activities for the children of the victims. Perhaps most touching, a woman last year asked for an assortment of Brian’s T-shirts and ties and meticulously crafted them into three patchwork quilts–one for each of the family’s beds. The gifts are comforting but also sometimes painful. “It’s a double-edged sword,” Bram Murphy says, pointing out a small sculpture in her living room. The sculpture is made from the metal debris at Ground Zero. “You have no warning. You open the door and there’s this sculpture. You’re happy, but you’re also upset to get it.”

I neither sew nor sculpt. What can I do? What can you do?

This summer Bram Murphy threw a party in Bedford for Jessica’s seventh birthday. “The parties are still hard for me,” she admits. She has become accustomed to Brian’s absence on special occasions and she adjusts to it, but it still hurts. A few weeks after the party, the girls’ day camp held a visiting day for parents. As has become typical for Bram Murphy at events like that, she found herself with a mix of emotions: happy, excited, and proud of her children; comforted that Brian was in some way present; sad and lonely that he was gone. “Those sorts of days,” she says, “are the most difficult — when both parents are supposed to be there.”

Brian Murphy should still be there. Perhaps the lesson for all of us to be there, wherever we are, today.

Condolences to all.

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Breaking News: USN&WR Rankings are Out! Purple #1.

A new system tried.

 

… however, new results seem strangely familiar.

 

Your observations?  I call your attention to ‘Best Value Schools’.

 

 

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Zach Wood ’18 in the New York Times

Zach writes:

Lessons From 2,000 Hours on a Public Bus

I used to be ashamed about what it took for me to get to school every morning. Now I realize it was an education of its own.

During my high school career I spent more than 2,000 hours on public transportation. Two hours to and from the elite suburban prep school I attended for three years. Four hours total for each of the 180 days of the school year. And that was only if there was no traffic.

Here was the drill: I’d wake up at 4:50 a.m. in the dilapidated duplex in Ward 8 of Washington that I shared with my father, grandmother, uncle and younger sister.

It was too early for me to be hungry, and our kitchen rarely had much food anyway. So skipping breakfast became a habit. After willing myself out of bed, usually on three to four hours of sleep, I’d take a shower to wake myself up, get dressed and head out to catch the Metrobus at 5:15 a.m.

Finally, my commute taught me humility.

I don’t doubt that there were people in my neighborhood who could have done more to help themselves and set a better example for their children. But I also know that there were many young men and women whose attitudes toward life, family and education would have been vastly different if they’d benefited from a fraction of the opportunities I’d found thanks to an extremely hard-working father and the luck of an excellent education. My experience has taught me that pulling yourself up by your bootstraps is a myth: Achieving social mobility requires far more than will and ability. It’s nearly impossible to rise without other people helping you pull yourself up.

Read the whole thing. Zach’s memoir, Uncensored, is at its best in his descriptions of the realities of poverty in America.

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Mandel Induction

Today is Maud Mandel’s induction as Williams President. The speeches start around 4:00 PM. Any readers interested in a live-blog stream of consciousness commentary accompanying the live-stream?

UPDATE:

1) No one does? Sad!

2) Dean of the Faculty Denise Buell is always good for a new word of nonsense. In this case, “minoritize.” You’re welcome.

3) We need to have a betting pool about whether or not Mandel will use the same almonds-Mark-Hopkins joke as several previous presidents have done. I hope she does! It is a guaranteed laugh and a fun bit of history. I bet she does. Any takers?

4) There will certainly be discussion of Mark Hopkins and the Log. But will Mandel mention Robert Gaudino and “Uncomfortable Learning,” as Adam Falk did 8 years ago? I hope so! Obviously, she won’t directly mention the Derbyshire-banning, but a nod toward open discussion of uncomfortable ideas would be much appreciated.

And Maud Mandel takes the stage! No more updates from me . . . unless you follow EphBlog on Twitter!

Whoops! Spoke too soon . . .

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Purple Yet Again! Now as a ‘Quartz Obsession’ …

Yes! Quartz has dedicated its’ Obsession corner to the color PURPLE (please excuse me for shouting).

Along toward the very bottom, a school famed for the cost of text books, over-building on Spring Street, and generous allowances for vacation homes, is cited along with Burgess the Bovine Be-Spyer.

This is a follow-up to the post announcing Pantone Ultra Violet as the color of the year 2018.

 

 

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Gonzalez as Director of the Office of Human Resources

If we are going to hire more administrators, then I much prefer that they are promoted from within, as in this case, rather than brought in after pseudo “nationwide” searches. Congrats to Gonzalez!

From: Fred Puddester
Date: September 5, 2018 at 3:05:10 PM EDT
To: WILLIAMS-PERSONNEL@LISTSERV.WILLIAMS.EDU
Subject: Human Resources Director
Reply-To: Fred Puddester

Dear Williams Community,

It is my pleasure to announce that Danielle Gonzalez has accepted the offer to become the next director of the Office of Human Resources.

Danielle has been with the college for more than a decade and has served in many roles during her time here. She started at Williams as our Employment Manager and has been promoted into positions of increasing responsibility over her time here. She currently serves as Deputy Director of the office.

Shortly after arriving at the college, she was the staff administrator of the search committee that selected President Falk. That experience provided important insights into the entire Williams community, including trustees, faculty, students, staff and alumni.

Also, early in her career she co-facilitated workshops focused on building an inclusive and diverse community. More than 500 staff members attended these meetings and they provided an important foundational learning experience for staff about how they could foster a more inclusive community.

In 2013 and 2014 Danielle served as co-chair of the Committee on Diversity and Community. During her tenure, the committee made recommendations regarding improving performance evaluations and finding ways for the staff to have more influence in decisions on campus. More recently she has worked closely with colleagues in HR to establish a process for on-boarding individuals who identify as transgender or gender non-binary and currently serves on the Trans-Inclusion Working Group. She has a deep and abiding passion for supporting staff in every way, as well as recruiting and engaging historically underrepresented individuals.

Danielle’s influence extends beyond the Williams campus. She led a group to create the 1Berkshire Youth Leadership program, which engages high school juniors in career exploration and leadership skill development. She also served as a board member and scholar mentor for Greylock ABC, whose mission is to support young people of color through education opportunities. And Danielle currently serves on the Board of Directors for 1Berkshire, the primary advocacy group for the economic, civic, and social welfare of Berkshire County.

On a personal note, over the past seven years I have seen, first hand, Danielle’s dedication to staff, her deep commitment to diversity and inclusion and her passion for recruiting and developing the best people to come to Williams. She excels at developing strong strategic partnerships on campus and is someone department heads routinely seek out for advice. I’m delighted that she will continue her career here at the college in this important leadership role.

I want to thank the members of the search committee — Toya Camacho, Keli Gail, Barron Koralesky, Rhon Manigault-Bryant, Lisa Melendy, G.L. Wallace, Bob Wright and Bob Volpi — and all the faculty and staff that assisted in this search.

Please join me in congratulating Danielle and supporting her in this new role.

Fred

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A million dollars a year in textbooks

Just received this request for a donation to Williams:

Dear Diana,

Did you know that Williams provides a book grant to cover all required texts and course materials for students receiving financial aid?

Prior to 2010, financial aid students would queue up before dawn with the hopes of borrowing textbooks from the 1914 Library. For decades, the 1914 provided financial aid students access to textbooks without having to purchase them outright. […] All of that changed in the spring of 2010: no more standing in line, no more choosing courses or majors based on the availability of textbooks. Since 2010, the Alumni Fund has made it possible for the college to help purchase approximately $7.5 million in textbooks for financial aid students. […]

Perhaps you’d like your Alumni Fund gift to buy the books for students taking “MATH 150: Multivariable Calculus” this semester. (You can read more about the course here.)

Thank you so much for all you do for Williams!

Lisa Russell-Mina ‘79
Co-Chair, Alumni Fund

Thoughts:

  • It’s 2018, and 50% of Williams students (so, about 1000 per year) receive financial aid. By my calculations, that means Williams is spending about $1000 per student per year on textbooks. Wow! That seems like a lot.
  • I appreciate their suggestion to check out Math 150, since I was the one teaching it three semesters ago. In fact, I wrote my own materials and printed them out for the students for free. I wish more people would do the same.
  • Knowing that my hundred dollars might go towards half of a $200 textbook actually makes me less likely to send a hundred dollars to Williams. Financial aid, wholeheartedly yes! Textbooks, hard no.

Some problems I wrote about Mount Greylock, the Mountain Day T-shirt, Cricket Creek farm, and the Williams Outing Club are below the break. The whole textbook is here.

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