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New Game

It’s hot outside. And that makes my thoughts return to winter fun in the mountains.

Sometime in the mid-50s, Williams students made this Winter Carnival sculpture. When I came across the photograph in a Williamstown Library file, I immediately thought of Dick Swart.

Here’s the game: name the sculpture or share memories or share the lyrics of the song the pianist is playing or tell us a story prompted by the picture   –  anything to bring back thoughts of cooler days…

Winter Carnival, mid-1950s


Congratulations to the Seven New Williams Full Professors

Williams has promoted seven professors to the rank of full professor: Daniel P. Aalberts, physics; Ronadh Cox, geosciences; William C. Dudley ’89, philosophy; Antonia E. Foias, anthropology; Kathryn R. Kent ’88, English; Robert M. Savage, biology; and Kenneth K. Savitsky, psychology.

Details on specialities, publications, and degrees are here.


Not To Be Missed

100 office public affairs

(graphic copyright Williams Office of Public Affairs)

Three members of the Class of 2009 (Hillary Betchelder, Donald Molosi, and Amanda Montano) compiled a list of things their classmates recommend that current and prospective students do before leaving Williams. The Office of Public Affairs has made a poster posting. There are plenty of things visiting alums can catch up on, too.

You’ll see a lot of EphBloggers’ favorites: adventures on Stone Hill, apple cider donuts on Stoney Ledge on Mountain Day, taking a math class, playing broom ball, and taking a tutorial.

What would you add?


Farewell to Thurston Greene ’29

Thurston Greene

The Poughkeepsie Journal reports that Thurston Greene ’29 has died at 101 at his Nantucket summer home. He was a long-time resident of Millbrook, New York.

A Harvard-trained lawyer, Greene was one of Thomas Dewey’s original anti-organized crime force, and the last of the group to die — they brought down “Lucky” Luciano amongst others. Greene practiced law until well into his 80s and published a volume on constitutional law at 82.

Rest in peace.

(photo copyright Poughkeepsie Journal)


Farewell to Richard Chapman Acker ’44

Richard Chapman Acker, 86, of New Canaan, formerly of Ogdensburg, has died. Here is his obituary.

At Williams, he was a member of Theta Delta Chi fraternity and various athletic teams including track and field. His love of music led him to the Glee Club, and, according to the obituary, he then “carried his love of singing and music with him around the world: As a member of the Gulberg Flats barbershop quartet in Lahore, in church choirs at Trinity Episcopal Church in Wheaton, Ill., and at St. Mark’s Episcopal Church in New Canaan. In New Canaan he was also a member of the Gentlemen Songsters singing group, which brought music to hospitals and nursing homes.”

Acker interrupted his college career to serve in the military, graduating with the Class of 1947. He then earned his M.S. in geology at Brown. He worked internationally, before settling in Chicago, during his long career as a geologist. He moved back east after retirement, enjoying singing and gardening.

Rest in peace.


Talk Architecture To Me


One part of the Conversation I’ve always enjoyed the most, whether online or in person, has been the discussions of the architecture at Williams and in Williamstown. I desperately need a pick-me-up. Talk architecture to me. Come educate my eye. Pull up a chair. I’ll spot you to a round of virtual cold drinks.


Faculty Notes

Faculty Notes

Did you know you can subscribe to Faculty Notes?


(No comments allowed for this post while we resolve the comment editing/ownership issue — see the editing and deleting post recently started by sophmom here.)

(Edited by the author to update the link to the editing and deleting post.)


Ephs Star on CBS 2PM EST July 4th

Step right up, ladies and gents, and see those amazing, incredible, sartorial splendors, the brainiac Eph women’s tennis and rowing squads on CBS at 2PM Eastern Standard Time (check local listings) Sat., July 4th.
More here.


New North Adams Eatery

Big Shirl's Kitchen











(photo credit

Looking for inexpensive, basic food in North Adams? Try Big Shirl’s Kitchen on Massachusetts Avenue, which has just opened in the old bus company building.

If you go, let us know how it is. It sounds like a great place to take a car filled with current Ephs. More here.


Another University President

Congratulations to Dr. Hans Giesecke ’78, the new President-Select of Greece’s Anatolia College. He begins his term in the fall.

Anatolia, founded in the Ottoman Empire by Boston Congregationalist missionaries in 1886 and uprooted in 1924 to Greece, today comprises the U.S. and European-accredited American College of Thessaloniki (ACT) and its graduate school of business, the Anatolia College preparatory school (an International Baccalaureate World School), and Anatolia Elementary. Almost 2500 students pursue their studies on its 45-acre campus overlooking the northern port city of Thessaloniki and the lofty peaks of Mt. Olympus.

 More here.

There are two other Williams connections in this story. 

Like Anatolia’s first President, Charles Tracy, Giesecke is a graduate of Williams College….

“For me it is no small coincidence that Anatolia still treasures its founding connection to the Haystack Movement, which was begun at Williams College in the early 19th Century. I hope to continue building on that special spirit of connectivity between North America and Greece during my service as Anatolia’s President,” says Giesecke.


Cycling News

Here’s an article from Valley News highlighting Ben Grass ’07, a (former and future) Dartmouth Medical School student who is undertaking a century ride to raise funds for a cancer research center, after recently having cancer surgery there himself.

Grass …  said he’s received “incredible support” from the Williams College cycling team, many of whose members will join Grass for his Prouty trek. (Look for the folks in the purple, cow-spotted uniforms.)

Go Ephs!

[h/t Williams Cycling]


Summers Long Ago

Charles Stewart Maurice Class of 1861











photo credit Jekyll Island Museum

A Jekyll Island website gives a glimpse into the life of Charles Steward Maurice, Class of 1861, who went on to become an engineer. He trained at RPI, accelerating his studies and joining the U.S. Navy in 1862. After the war, he went into private practice, building a number of impressive bridges. For many years, Maurice summered in Georgia with his very large family, and he seems to have been actively involved in the life on Jekyll Island despite being a Yankee.

When I saw the blurb for the link, I thought of the powerful changes Maurice’s generation, both North and South, lived through.  The books are about to close on the fiscal year for the endowment, the belt will have to be tightened further, and things will still be very difficult for many Ephs, but Williams survives and her sons (and daughters) continue to excel. I pause for a moment and am grateful to all who have made that possible.


Williamstown Theatre Festival Is 55

vintage poster from Adams Memorial Theatre













and facing a shorter season than usual, mainly due to budget constraints, according to an article highlighting the approaching season and summarizing WTF’s history.

This is a shorter season than Williamstown audiences are used to — four Main Stage productions instead of five and only three in the Nikos instead of four. The season also is starting two weeks later than usual. And while available space at Williams College for the Festival’s technical and support staff is part of the reason for the late start, the chief reason is the sagging economy, Martin said.

“The only other options we faced were to either significantly trim our production budget or the size of our productions.

“It seemed to me that of all the options, this (a shorter season) was the least noxious.”



Playwright A. R. Gurney ’52 Brings It Home

photo credit Williamstown Theatre Festival

A. R. Gurney ’52 has a play, Children, on the boards at the Williamstown Theatre Festival.

“It’s always a special pleasure for me to come back (to Williamstown),” Gurney said. “Williams was where I first discovered I wanted to be a playwright. (Stephen) Sondheim was two years ahead of me, and when he left the mantle fell on my puny shoulders. I couldn’t write a note of music, but I found people who could.”

More here on him and on his work.

Break a leg.

(photo credit Williamstown Theatre Festival)


The Mountaintop Gets Gussied Up










This article provides a lot of details about the plans for Bascom Lodge on top of Mt. Greylock. Parts of the lodge will open on July 1st. A community barbeque will fete the reopening on July 4th. As the article makes clear, what’s planned is not just a renovation but a restoration combined with considerable upgradings.

I was up there earlier this month, when they had a very long way to go. It’s not clear from the article and what I saw then whether the new lessees are just opening the cafe, or will have more of the lodge ready.

In addition to the cafe, the plans include an evening fine dining option (what a romantic option that could become), a shop purveying both hiker-type necessities and local crafts, and eventually reopening the lodging components. Hostel accommodations will be retained for hikers (including the Appalachian Trail long-distance types) but a large part of the lodging will be given over to more luxurious facilities meant to, and priced to, compete with local bed and breakfast and inn offerings. The rooms are being restored/renovated to a 1930s look (the lodge was built in that era by the Civilian Conservation Corps).

When the project is complete, the lodge will be available for weddings and conferences, in addition to general use by the public. The new lessees also plan to hold community cultural events there on Wednesday nights.

It’s a grand vision (with the Devil being in the details, as always). The principals, who have a 25-year lease, are a chef and a textile designer. I hope they succeed. It’s going to be hard in this economy, especially with a short season (the lodge will not be open in the winters), but it could take off into something very popular with the warm weather sets.

Maybe PTC will check it out for us when he’s back in the county next week.


MOO! Congrats to All the Williams Student Athletes: 11 in a Row

directors cup

(Thanks to Dad’13 for pointing this out on Speak Up!)

Williams 1, Middlebury 2, Amherst 3

From the NACAD site:

“Division III

Williams (Mass.) has clinched its 11th consecutive Division II Directors’ Cup with 1066.50 points after competing in 16 post season championships earning points in the maximum nine women’s sports and in seven men’s sports including the national collegiate skiing championship. The Ephs took home the women’s tennis and women’s rowing championships and placed third in women’s and men’s cross country and women’s soccer, fourth in women’s swimming, fifth in women’s volleyball and men’s tennis, ninth in women’s lacrosse, 10th in men’s wrestling, 14th in national collegiate skiing, and men’s outdoor track and field, 15th in women’s outdoor track and field, 21st in men’s swimming and 48th in men’s and women’s indoor track and field.”

Complete standings are here.


A Third Career, As Artist

dining:conference table

An article in a small town Maryland paper caught my eye. Robert Brandegee ’54 has designed furniture that was then fabricated by self-taught Cumberland, Maryland folk artist Donald Dicken. “Well Worn and Usable Art,” an exhibit of their art, is being presented through July 19th at the Gilchrist Gallery in Cumberland.  Dicken has realized Brandegee’s designs by fashioning the furniture on exhibit from hand-hewn parts of antique barns and log cabins. During a long career in marketing, Brandegee was also a collector and dealer in folk art, and branched out into furniture design in 1998. For more information on this Eph’s work and to see more of his designs, check out his website.


Sounds of Silence

WilliamstownJazzFestivalDue to budget-cutting at Williams, its major source of funding, the Williamstown Jazz Festival has ceased operation. The annual multi-day spring program had included music, dance, film, and an intercollegiate jazz competition, and was run as a collaboration amongst Williams, the Chamber of Commerce, MASS MoCA, and the Massachusetts Cultural Council, with additional venues provided by St. John’s Episcopal Church and the Clark. Some events had free admission; others had an admission charge, but that did not bring in nearly enough to keep the festival going once Williams ended its subsidy.

For more about the festival, go here. (A link at the top of that site opens up a sampling that includes snatches from Williams jazz and gospel choir groups and a faculty jazz group.)

This is a true loss to Williams, to music groups from many colleges, and to Williamstown and the surrounding communities. I am grateful to the people who had the vision to start the Jazz Festival and to those who made it happen every year. My heart goes out to them and to the people who had the difficult task of deciding whether to continue the funding from Williams.

May more abundant times return soon.

(Thanks to Frank for alerting us to the festival’s demise via a post in in Speak Up!)


MASS MoCA shop?

UPDATE  – Turns out MASS MoCa has opened a shop on Spring Street (read below for details), but in the Images building, not at the former site of the cleaners. I’ll leave the photo of the cleaners’ old site up, anyway, in hopes of inspiring someone else to open a Spring Street business.

Kudos to MASS MoCA for pulling this off in time for reunion weekend. I hope that the store will have a strong beginning and a shiny future.


Original post (with an added link, thanks to Ronit):

Rumor has it that MASS MoCA may be opening a shop/information center here (the cleaners have moved to Rt. 2):

MASS MoCA store

Update from RB: The MoCA blog has more details.


Greylock from Stony Ledge

A YouTube video:

Greylock from Stony Ledge

sign on Bascom Lodge


Purple Cows of America – Entering the Purple Valley


from an old publication for first-years (copyright Williams College)


Purple Cows of America, Reunion Encore

photo copyright Williams College

photo copyright Williams College


On Top of Old Greylock

bascom-lodge-postcard-1930s(DK – no tips “musings” today, please, as you have a post from someone else.)

The roads to the summit of Mt. Greylock have been reopened. The surfaces have been redone and problem spots reengineered. Last Saturday, that smooth new ride was being enjoyed by everyone from drivers to cyclists to bikers and even the stray hiker. The lookouts have been trimmed, giving glorious views.

Visitors can now, once again, go into the Peace Lighthouse in the War Memorial. After stopping in the memorial chamber at the base, they can climb the spiral stairs up to the lookout and see vistas spreading all the way to New Hampshire and Connecticut, and including great swaths of Massachusetts, New York, and Vermont.

According to the signs and the ranger, Bascom Lodge itself will reopen on July 4th, serving food and drinks. The rooms in the lodge are being restored to their 1930s style (about the era of the postcard, above) and will open sometime later. So, in the not-too-distant future, people will again be able to stay in the lodge, either in a bunkroom or in a private room.

For more information on the restoration project, see this website for Bascom Lodge.


Hey, Brother, Can You Spare A …


I was talking with a current Williams parent yesterday. She came over to thank me for the alumni-sponsored internships. (I told her, of course, that they were a joint effort by a lot of classes.) Her son was awarded one for this summer, and that $400 a week is going to allow him to undertake a project that should make a big difference when he applies to graduate school in the fall. He’ll be working on the side in a paid (non-career track) weekend job but he couldn’t get in enough hours doing that alone to contribute his part of what the family needs to make the bottom line of that last year of Williams. The student has done very well at Williams and his family thinks that, with this internship project, he should stand in good stead of getting scholarship money for grad school. What his mother said made me very glad that my class had decided to give reunion class money to help endow the alumni-sponsored internship project several years ago.

As far as I can tell, there are very few paying summer jobs out there compared to prior years. What work is there often goes to laid-off older people or, in specialized fields, to graduate students rather than college students. On the internship front, you’d be wrong if you thought people were falling all over themselves to hire unpaid interns. With severe budget and/or staffing cutbacks, many non-profits don’t have the staff to supervise interns and devise helpful, meaningful projects for them to do, and there is a general understanding that even unpaid bodies raise operating costs (lights, copying, use of telephones, etc.).

Even where there still are good internships, families are finding it harder and harder to cover the costs of supporting the children over the summer plus paying all those extra bills even students on full financial aid must meet.

If you work for or are involved with a non-profit, is there some meaningful work, even part-time and unpaid, that you could make into an internship that could at least provide skills, helpful contacts, and a rewarding experience for an Eph? And could you take that student into your home, water your soup a bit, and feed her or him, in return for all the joy a college student can bring into a family? Could you provide some paid work around the house (child care, sports lessons, tutoring, painting, gardening, running errands, companionship for an elderly family member…) to help a student underwrite an unpaid internship or part-time paid work? And if you work in or run a for-profit business, is there some sort of meaningful work, even part-time, you could hire a college student to do?

It’s very late in the season for this summer, but, if you know of anything, please contact the Williams Office of Career Counseling, talk to current Williams families you know, or figure out how to have an announcement posted on WSO.

I can’t really help this summer, but we are planning things in the hope of being able to offer housing and some paid weekend work to one or two students working in marine biology or ecology two summers from now when we again have a spare bedroom. If you, too, can’t help this summer, maybe you can start planning something for next summer. And if you are involved in a regional alumni association, maybe you can figure out a way to collect up housing and job offers (including one-time “extra cash” jobs like tending bar for a party or moving some furniture) and get them out to current students.

Let’s double our efforts to help our younger brother and sister Ephs.


Today’s Warriors





(photo copyright Williams track & field)

Going into the final day of the DIII Track & Field NCAA National Championships, the women are 7th, with a total of ten points. The Ephs have some strong contenders on both sides of the aisle. Here is today’s finals schedule for Williams participants:

1:20 PM — Men’s 1,500 (Macklin Chaffee)

1:30 PM — Women’s 1,500 (Olga Kondratjeva)

1:55 PM — Women’s 100 Hurdles (Elise Johnson)

2:10 PM — Men’s 400 (Taylor Fitzgerald)

3:00 PM — Women’s 800 (Lizzie Danhakl)

4:20 PM — Women’s 5,000 (Lauren Philbrook)(ranked #2)

4:45 PM — Men’s 4×400 Relay (Fitzgerald, Alex Hoerman, Viktor Nagy, Deividas Seferis)

May the wind be in their sails and all their hand-offs perfectly efficient.

And congratulations to the Williams spring NESCAC All-Academic honorees. And to the ten Williams NESCAC sportsmanship honorees.


Women’s Tennis National Championship Today


copyright Williams College

copyright Williams College

UPDATE: The Ephs storm it, coming from behind to present Coach Alison Swain ’11 with another National Championship. Congratulations on a well-played, tough contest (made even sweeter by taking revenge on the Jeffs for winning the NESCAC title).

Some details here.




Good luck to the woman’s tennis team, who face Amherst in Georgia today for the NCAA Division III championship. Led by Williams’s own Alison Swain ’01 (pictured above), who co-captained the team to its first national championship in 2001 and coached the Eph players to the 2008 championship in her first year at the helm, second-ranked Williams is looking for revenge against a top-ranked Amherst team that has beaten them in two of their three encounters this year, denying the Ephs the NESCAC title.

The match begins at 1 P.M. The weather is unsettled: overcast with the chance of rain increasing and temperatures starting in the 70s with the heat expected to rise until cooled by rains. The Ephs had a relatively easy semifinal against Emory yesterday morning. Chicago gave Amherst a tough fight in the afternoon. 

If anyone finds a way to follow the match, please let us know. Is there anyone down there who could tweet about it?

Go Williams!


Keep It Up, Ephs!

  nikki-reich-113 The women’s defending National Champion tennis team takes on Emory in Atlanta in an NCAA DIII semifinal that starts at 9 AM. At 2 PM, the number-one ranked Amherst team will make its bid for the final in the other semi-final. It’s overcast and about 60 degrees now in Atlanta, with the temperature expected to reach a high of 76 later, so the weather shouldn’t be too hard on the northern teams. Our women have a tough job on their hands, especially in the midst of a hometown Emory crowd, but let’s hope their victory yesterday, pulling it out from the clutch, inspires them to great things. Go Ephs! Here’s an article about yesterday’s competition, highlighting cool closer Nikki Reich ’11 (pictured above; photo copyright Williams College). Go Ephs!


Go Ephs!







(photo copyright Williams College)

The men’s tennis players take on their perennial rivals UC Santa Cruz in California in the NCAA Division III quarterfinal today.

The women, who are the current national champions, go up against Dennison in Georgia in the women’s quarterfinal.

On Thursday, 11 Ephs from the combined women’s and men’s track and field teams will compete in the beginning of the DIII championship meet in Ohio. The contingent of six men and five women includes Lauren Philbrook ’09 (pictured above), who is ranked #1 in the 10,000 meter run and #2 in the 5,000 meter run.

At the end of the month, the women’s crew will defend their Division III national championship in New Jersey, looking for an unprecedented fourth straight title.

Meanwhile, theses are being presented and defended, the student senior art show has opened, recitals and concerts abound, departments hold end-of-year festivities, papers are being considered for prizes, students frantically search for boxes and seek storage options, and exams loom.

Go Ephs!


Advice for Prospective Applicants

Here is what I just told two high school juniors who plan to apply early decision to Williams:

Generally, it helps to apply early — Williams likes seeing that an applicant knows and loves the college and is committed to attending if accepted (caution might be appropriate on applying early if, for example, the applicant needed to and expected to get grades and/or scores up over the last few semesters of high school, was shaping up to be a newly-flourishing late bloomer, or had had some sort of serious setback in the junior year). In addition, the application season is new, there’s excitement in the air, and there are fewer applications to be read in the earlier pool.

If I were in your shoes, I’d download a copy of the 2008-2009 Common Application now (it won’t change much, and the new version will be available over the summer in plenty of time for applicants to take into account any changes), and get all the details assembled over the summer if I could. If you are going to be applying online, become familiar with how the forms work and their limitations (note, for example, that only the simplest of formatting will be preserved but there’s still a lot you can do with formatting; also, some answers are space limited, so it can help to think ahead about paring down and using fewer, but very well-chosen, words). Assembling details and filling in the information accurately can take longer than one might expect and it’s good to have the information at hand so that more important things, like the essays (and your school work and extracurricular commitments), can get the attention they need in the fall. Senior year will be very busy, and the application process can become as demanding as pasting an additional course into an already tough schedule would be. Try to get whatever you can done over the summer.

The summer is often a good time for stepping back and thinking. Who are you? What are your strengths and interests? What are you looking for from getting a college education? What do you want to convey to the admissions people? What’s the best way to do that? Making lists and jotting down seemingly random thoughts can help. Try not to spend the summer obsessed with college admissions but also recognize that applicants can often craft a much better application with forethought and planning, rather than through stumbling to complete the paperwork during the hectic fall of senior year.

I haven’t heard yet whether Williams plans to use the same prompt for the Williams essay. I wouldn’t try to write that one until I was sure of the prompt, unless I just wanted practice in writing a college admissions essay.

Depending on your school’s policies about this, it might be a good idea to alert teachers that you will be asking them for recommendations, and to give them a resume or list of your activities and accomplishments to make writing the recommendations easier (or at least assemble such information over the summer so that you can give it to them as soon as school starts in the fall). They may want to get a draft done over the summer, knowing how crazy October can become. In any case, if you have a recommender in mind, don’t wait to mention it to him or her — many of them have to limit the number of recommendations they write, and you won’t want to miss out and have to rely on someone who doesn’t know you very well.

If you might be doing an arts or athletic supplement, the summer is the time to learn how to do it, and to start planning what you might include. It’s also a very good time to check on what has to go where when, and to make a rough schedule of interim deadlines. Look into the processes at the other schools where you’ll stand ready to apply, and check out the details, such as deadlines, whether they use the Common Application, and whether there are special school-specific requirements such as an additional essay.

If you are, or may be, applying for financial aid, the summer is a good time for your family to get samples of the forms, figure out what details you’ll need to supply, and make a plan for assembling the information. Parents often find it very helpful to understand the process in advance, especially when they find themselves assembling the information, trying to do their taxes, working, and trying to enjoy their senior’s last few months of high school, all at the same time. It’s a scary year financially. If you aren’t already talking about paying for college, the time of the more relaxed “summer mode” may be a much better time to broach and explore the subject than during the more hectic academic year schedule. You can probably borrow a decent book about the financial aid process from your public library.

Keep learning about Williams. Keep feeding your enthusiasm. Have a fun summer, relishing the big years ahead and the chance to enjoy your family and friends.


Thank you, Dick Swart

…and I very much hope you will return.

For those of you who have not realized it, Dick has resigned as President of EphBlog. He was generous with his time and was truly committed to trying to make this site a sort of Log House for the whole Eph community. He brought much to us, including his signature sometimes goofy and always thought-provoking Photoshop art. He also helped link many of us to earlier times at Williams and in commerce and the arts, and to the northwest. Dick reached out and tried to encourage new voices. He fought to maintain standards of collegiality, a fight that was difficult and that I particularly appreciated.

I mourn the loss of Dick from this place. I’ve benefited from his voice and his efforts.

I want to scream “Have you no decency?” to those who haven’t even bothered to thank Dick for all he has tried to do for EphBlog.
We should all be trying to get him back.

I will start: Dick, if you are reading this, please come back. I miss, and deeply appreciate, your voice, your contributions, your standards, and your aspirations for the Williams communities (including this one).


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