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Latest News on Marcus ’88 Nomination

Here are the latest news articles on the (stalled?) nomination of Ken Marcus ’88 to be the assistant secretary for civil rights in the Department of Education.

Kenneth Marcus, nominated for the head of the Office for Civil Rights within the U.S. Department of Education, evaded questions about racially disparate school discipline in January. The Office for Civil Rights receives complaints about racially disparate student discipline. National data shows that that students of color are often disciplined far more often and more severely than their white peers.

Marcus said, “Senator, I believe disparities of that size are grounds for concern, but my experience says that one needs to approach each complaint and compliance review with an open mind and a sense of fairness to find what out what the answers are. I have seen what appeared to be inexcusable disparities that were the result of paperwork errors. They just got the numbers wrong.”

Marcus founded the Brandeis Center in 2011. In 2012, it filed an amicus brief opposing race conscious admissions in the Fisher v. University of Texas at Austin case.

Should we be following this story more closely? If confirmed, Marcus would be the most senior Eph in the Trump Administration.


Heartless Marcus ’88

Ken Marcus ’88 gets a brief mention in an article about down-sizing at the US Office for Civil Rights.

The Denver and Kansas City offices are being closed to help make up for a shortfall of more than $135,000, said Kenneth L. Marcus, the agency’s staff director. Marcus also recommended releasing a total of four staff members from the four remaining field offices, in Los Angeles, Chicago, Atlanta and the District, a proposal he withdrew after objections from Capitol Hill.

As always, one of the reasons that student groups at Williams like the Finance Committee of College Council are valuable is that they give students real experience with budgets, priorities, politics and the like. A smart guy like Ken probably only wanted to close down the 4 offices, but also recommended the dismissals so that he could have something to back down on when the complaints came in.

The earlier in life that Ephs learn how to maneuver in these situations, the better off they are.


Marcus ’88 Appointment

Ken Marcus ’88, my entrymate 20 years ago, has been appointed Staff Director of the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights. For those not steeped in the ways of Washington, the Staff Director is the guy who really runs the show — think general manager in baseball or artistic director in ballet. Of course, the 8 commissioners will be the ones who are ultimately in charge, but they will look to Ken to actually get things done.

Non-political junkies may not have any idea what the USCCR does. Mostly, it writes reports. But the real fun of the commission lies in the controversies that it has started and starred in over the years. With any luck, we will see more of the same with Marcus there.


Reunion Tidbits

Outgoing class secretary Mike Harrington is looking for reunion tidbits for his last column. You should all e-mail him something. But, for immediacy (and arbitrary length) of publishing, nothing beats the blog. Here are my thoughts on Williams C, 15 years later (apologies for any mistakes, spelling and otherwise).

There were 24 freshmen (as we were called then) in Williams C in the fall of 1984. Here is an update, floor by floor, as best I know. Starting from the top, we have Chris Jones, Kurt Oeler, Charlie Kaplan and Blake Robison. Only Chris made it to the reunion. He is married to classmate Cecilia Malm (also at reunion) and they have a lovely daughter named Emma. Chris continues to teach math at Horace Mann High School in NYC. We threw around the frisbee a bit although, just as it was 15 years ago, he throws much better than I. I did not see Kurt or Charlie or Blake at the reunion. Kurt (at CNET) and Blake (teaching theatre at the University of Tennessee) have made appearences in the blog before. According to Chris, Charlie is working as an architect in New York City.

On the third floor were, in one suite, Ken Marcus, Dan Pyror, Stan Macel and David (DJ) Johnson. I only saw Ken at the reunion, with new fiancee/wife (not sure which) whom I was happy to regale with tales of Ken’s somewhat unusual philosophical past. She claimed to be fuly informed on the issue. Ken is the Deputy Assistant Secretary at HUD and still manages to get mentioned in places like National Review. Dan graduated ’89, I think. DJ went on to medical school and is now a high speed surgeon somewhere, but my information is spotty on this. In the other suite were me, Ed Leung, Cary May (let him rest in peace) and Josh Mellon. Unfortunately, I did not see Ed or Josh at reunion. Ed also ended up graduating with the class of 1989. When last we exchanged Christmas cards, he was married, living outside Boston and the proud father of 3 boys. Josh is married with a young son and living in Tennessee.

On the second floor were our JA’s Sarah Suchman and Annie MacDonald along with Jean Janson, Sonja Lengnick, Janet Mansfield and Ellen Lee. I didn’t see any of these folks at the reunion. I occasionally run into Jean in the Boston suburbs. She is married to a class of ’87 alum (Davis somebody or other). Sonja made an appearence in the blog (lawyer in Seattle) and, according to her e-mail, is on maternity leave.

On the first floor were KK Roeder, Lisa Klem, Julie McGuire, Willa Morris, Julie Cranston, Sara Hansen, Virginia Demaree and Anne Carson (who ended up graduating with ’89). I caught up with Lisa, Julie McGuire and Willa at reunion. Julie Cranston lives in the Boston suburbs (see here Eph Blog for more details). Sara Hansen (now Wilson) is a lawyer in San Francisco. Lisa told fascinating stories about working as a federal prosecutor in NYC, specializing in organized crime cases. She flew off to stange cities to meet ne’re-do-wells in the witness protection program. Julie McQuire is still running her coffee house (Zanzibars) in Des Moines, Iowa. It is always great fun for me to talk with Julie about the nuts and bolts of running a small business.

Certainly the award for most read-about (in some sense) member of Williams C must go to Willa Morris. Fans of John Grisham will have noted that Willa was thanked in the acknowledgements for A Street Lawyer, a recent Grisham bestseller. She has been active n social work in Washington DC for many years. She provided Grisham with much of the background material for how DC operates. Attentive readers of the book will have noted that the love-interest for the hero is clearly modeled on Willa, both in terms of job description (running a women’s shelter) and even physical appearence.

Now, if at least one member of each entry could provide a similar update. Mike and Russ would have things to write about for a long time to come . . .


Marcus ’88 Statement

Here is a statement by reunion attendee Ken Marcus, who is (at least at the time of this statement) the General Deputy Assistant Secretary Fair Housing and Equal Opportunity, the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development. And here is a picture of Ken (on the far left):


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