Currently browsing posts filed under "Beyond The Log"

Follow this category via RSS

Beyond The Log: Delmonico’s Again

The 15th and final installment of our seminar series on “Beyond the Log: Williams Presidents in the Gentleman’s Era” (pdf).

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

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

And Adam Falk will?

And Adam Falk should?

Facebooktwitter

Beyond The Log: Mark of Patrician Gentility

The 14th installment of our seminar series on “Beyond the Log: Williams Presidents in the Gentleman’s Era” (pdf).

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

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

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

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

Which do you like the best?

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

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

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

Facebooktwitter

Beyond The Log: Not a Technical Institute

The 13th installment of our seminar series on “Beyond the Log: Williams Presidents in the Gentleman’s Era” (pdf).

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

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

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

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

What, indeed?

Facebooktwitter

Beyond the Log: Sitting on His Ass

The 12th installment of our seminar series on “Beyond the Log: Williams Presidents in the Gentleman’s Era” (pdf).

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

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

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

Indeed. How do you predict Adam Falk will handle this century-old dispute?

Facebooktwitter

Beyond The Log: Honors Program

The 11th installment of our seminar series on “Beyond the Log: Williams Presidents in the Gentleman’s Era” (pdf).

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Facebooktwitter

Beyond The Log: Institute of Finance

The 9th installment of our seminar series on “Beyond the Log: Williams Presidents in the Gentleman’s Era” (pdf).

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Facebooktwitter

Beyond The Log: Deriched Itself

The 8th installment of our seminar series on “Beyond the Log: Williams Presidents in the Gentleman’s Era” (pdf).

Fred Rudolph: At any rate, Dennett’s three years have always seemed to me to have shaped everything that’s happened since. The presidents who have succeeded him have had the job of fixing the problem that Dennett identified. In other words, the period we’re talking about brought about all of the things that helped to define Williams as a rich man’s college. But Williams College is no longer a rich man’s college. The story of how Williams deriched itself isn’t hard to tell, but that’s not our subject today.

Has Williams really “deriched” itself? I have my doubts. See here and here for this extensive background. Summary: There is not a lot of hard evidence that Williams has meaningfully deriched itself over time periods ranging from 10 to 25, 50, even 100 years.

Vaguely related comments:

1) Williams accepts 1/2 its students from private schools of various sorts, the same as it did 50 years ago. (I don’t actually have data for that, but this is true for Amherst so I suspect it is true for Williams.) Now, Andover students have always come from families with various levels of wealth. Perhaps (!) there are more “poor” students at Andover than there were 50 years ago. But, by almost all reasonable standards of “richness” — wealth, income, family stability, cultural capital, educational opportunities — Andover students are about as well off today as they were in 1960, at least relative to the US population as a whole. So, if 50% of Williams students came from such places before, and 50% do now, then just how much derichifying has gone on? Not much.

2) Even if there is more diversity in terms of family income (which, again, I dispute), that diversity is a lot more hidden than it used to be. Does it really matter if you are poor if no one knows? My sense, contrary opinions welcome, is that current students have less knowledge about their classmates wealth than they have about their classmates intelligence, much less their looks. (Side note: And wouldn’t most Williams students gladly give up some family wealth if it meant more intelligence and/or better looks?)

A hundred years ago, students bid on their rooms!. Rich students got the best rooms. Poor students got the worst. Now wealth has (almost) no influence on housing at Williams. Fifty years ago “scholarship students” served food and bussed tables in the fraternity houses. The difference in the daily lives between poor and rich students is much less today than it has been in the passed.

3) The most interesting senior thesis on this topic would examine whether or not family income has any connection to student rooming groups. I bet that it does not. That is, a student on financial aid is no more likely to live in a given rooming group than a student not on financial aid. [This is, of course, totally different from the influence of race and athletics. Students from a given racial group (or sports team) are much more likely to room with students of the same race (or on the same team).]

Facebooktwitter

Beyond The Log: Rich Man’s College

The 7th installment of our seminar series on “Beyond the Log: Williams Presidents in the Gentleman’s Era” (pdf).

John Chandler: You’ve told us a lot about how Williams became a rich man’s college, the various steps on the way. But a somewhat different question is why it got to be that way. What about Williams attracted rich students, and their parents who paid the bills and presumably encouraged them to apply?

Fred Rudolph: There are lots of reasons why Williams became a rich man’s college. I’m always fascinated with trying to figure out why Williams became The College for rich men. Not that rich men didn’t go everywhere else, but Williams was the one that got tagged, and clearly if you’re the last college in the country with a four-year Latin requirement, you’re limiting your pool to rich men who go to private schools. But how did they start coming in great numbers? There’s plenty of evidence in student letters, fraternity lore, and administrators’ experience that many rich kids came to Williams to belong to a fraternity, not to come to Williams. Certainly instructive on this score was the experience of the College’s great benefactor, Frederick Ferris Thompson, who transferred from Columbia in 1853 for the express purpose of founding a chapter of Delta Psi (he had wanted to take Delta Psi to Dartmouth but was denied admission because of his age).

Williams’ location, the scenery, the mountains, the resort element of its environment—all these factors were part of the appeal for rich families and their sons. Williamstown had resort hotels beginning in the 1840s, and you can imagine people coming to those hotels: the Mansion House, then Greylock, saying, “Wouldn’t it be nice if junior came to Williams?” Then there was the kind of nature worship that developed as the country became more urbanized, and that appealed to wealthy people.

But was Williams more or less of a “rich man’s college” than, say, Amherst and Swarthmore during this period? See also Eric’s discussion of the Social Register crowd.

Reasonable Ephs can differ about just how many rich kids Williams should want to have today. But I hope that we can all agree that, if a specific rich applicant has a choice between Williams and Amherst (or Princeton/Harvard/Yale), we all want that rich applicant to choose Williams, just as we want poor applicants or athletic applicants or any other kind of applicant to pick us over our competitors.

So, what would be today’s analog to fraternities? My suggestion: Every room a single. Williams should institute a policy in which every student is guaranteed a single. This would be highly appealing to rich (and poor!) applicants. It would make Williams dramatically different than our main competitors. It is an advantage that is easy to explain and understand. Williams already has significantly better housing than Harvard, although we do a horrible job of explaining that advantage to applicants, or Harvard does a good job of misleading applicants about their likelihood of getting a real single.

Giving very Eph a single is, of course, hard and expensive. The easiest way would be to, over 5 years, reduce the size of the class from 550 to around 480 or so. (This would also have all sorts of desirable side effects.) We should also continue to convert smaller buildings to co-ops. Trickiest issue would be dealing 100+ first year doubles. So, best plan would be to start with: Every student guaranteed a single after freshman year.

What would you do to attract rich students?

Facebooktwitter

Beyond The Log: Resort for Rich Men’s Sons

“Beyond the Log: Williams Presidents in the Gentleman’s Era” (pdf) is a product of the Williams Oral History Project, led by Bob Stegeman ’60. It features a discussion with Professors Fred Rudolph ’42 and John Hyde ’52, along with former President John Chandler about Williams presidents from Paul Ansel Chadbourne (1872-81) to Tyler Dennett (1934-37). Each day this week, I will quote selected portions of the interview and provide comments. What do you want to know about Williams history? Ask your questions in the comments.

Fred Rudolph: My impression is that the College has always had somebody who would get up and, referring to scholarship students, say, “This is not a rich man’s college.” And then proceed to do what he could to make sure that it was. Carter at one point said, “Williams College is not a resort for rich men’s sons.” But it was Carter who went out and persuaded Gov. Edwin Morgan of New York to give the money to build Morgan Hall (1882). Morgan Hall was the poshest college dormitory in the country. It was the first building at Williams with running water. And how did a student get a room in Morgan? He bid for it; the rooms went to the students with the most money. Soon after Morgan was built, Lasell Gymnasium went up across the street. There you have it. Two statements about what Williams was about. And soon thereafter the fraternities started scrapping their little hovels and began to erect significant buildings.

Indeed. Interim President Bill Wagner was the most recent Williams administrator to “say, “This is not a rich man’s college.” And then proceed to do what he could to make sure that it was.”

Recall my commentary on Wagner’s changes in financial aid policy.

Assume that I am evil, that I seek to minimize the number of poor students at Williams and that I have mind-control over Bill Wagner and the Trustees. What would I do?

Keep in mind: 1) Unfortunately, I need to be sneaky! I just can’t fire Admissions Director Dick Nesbitt or order the Admissions to start favoring rich kids. 2) Any family that doesn’t make at least $200,000 per year and have substantial assets is, as far as I am concerned, “poor.” 3) I don’t mind poor students as long as they have a burning desire to be rich, to head to Wall Street or Silicon valley after graduation and make a fortune. 4) I have already laid the groundwork by endlessly complaining about financial constraints (and conveniently ignore that Swarthmore and Amherst are holding steady to their stated policies).

Given these constraints, we can maximize the number of rich students at Williams in five easy steps:

First, I would end the no-loans policy. I can’t prevent Dick Nesbitt from admitting all those poor kids, but I can do my best to make poor kids go elsewhere. The best way to do that is to end the no-loans policy. What poor kid would ever choose Williams over Amherst/Swarthmore/Princeton/Davidson/Haverford and so on if doing so required an extra $10,000+ in loans? Few would, and none should! See our prior discussion. Only rich students will choose Williams over no-loans schools.

Second, I would end need-blind admissions for international students. I don’t mind non-US citizens as long as they are rich (or want to be rich). I just don’t want too many poor (or plan on staying poor) international students. Williams is for the rich of all countries. Although I can’t force Dick Nesbitt to actively discriminate against poor students, I can limit his budget enough that he has no choice but to do so.

Key in both ending no loan and need-blind is that it makes Williams much less desirable to both students coming from non-rich families and to students thinking of lower paying careers in teaching, social work and so on. And that is the point! I want those students to go to Swarthmore and Amherst instead. Rich students and future investment bankers won’t be deterred by loans or need-awareness admissions. If anything, they will be looking for elite schools that “provide a better fit” for them and students like them. These two policy changes both decrease applications from poor students and make it more likely that admitted poor students will go elsewhere.

Read the rest of that most excellent rant. If Williams wanted to maximize the number of rich students, it would have made exactly the set of financial aid changes that it has, in fact, made.

And, as Fred Rudolph points out, this is not the first time a Williams administrator has said ““This is not a rich man’s college.” And then proceed[ed] to do what he could to make sure that it was.

Facebooktwitter

Beyond The Log: Creese (1975)

“Beyond the Log: Williams Presidents in the Gentleman’s Era” (pdf) is a product of the Williams Oral History Project, led by Bob Stegeman ’60. It features a discussion with Professors Fred Rudolph ’42 and John Hyde ’52, along with former President John Chandler about Williams presidents from Paul Ansel Chadbourne (1872-81) to Tyler Dennett (1934-37). Each day, I will quote selected portions of the interview and provide comments. What do you want to know about Williams history? Ask your questions in the comments.

Fred Rudolph: There’s no question about what Dennett didn’t like about the place. In a 1975 honors thesis on the gentleman’s Williams, Guy Creese ’75 documented the background of the student body that disturbed Dennett: In the Class of 1929, thirty-six percent had traveled in Europe; 1930, twenty-nine percent; 1931, thirty-six percent. That’s a pretty fancy group. In 1930 there was a Chapin Library exhibit of rare books to which seventeen students contributed. In 1935, thirty-seven percent of the upperclassmen had cars. In 1938, almost eighty percent of the freshmen families had servants. In 1938 only twenty-five percent of the students had summer jobs. Fifty-five percent came from families with two or more cars. In 1934, forty-four of the 775 students were in the New York Social Register, and four in the Boston Social Register. The Williams Record had fashion issues dealing with men’s clothing. There were three men’s clothing stores on Spring Street for a student body of less than 800. The Stork Club ran ads in The Williams Record.

When Dennett arrived as president, Lehman Hall had just been built. It had beautiful pine paneling and big fireplaces. And the top floor had modest little rooms for scholarship students. The other student rooms—handsome and spacious—commanded the highest rents on campus. At the end of Dennett’s administration, the squash courts were built. What a symbolic statement! I don’t know how many colleges in the United States had squash courts in 1938, in the midst of the most serious economic depression in history. Tyler Dennett knew that Williams didn’t need them, but the people who gave them insisted. Well, that’s the environment that Dennett hoped to do something about, the environment that he perceived as having little connection with the real America.

0) Here (pdf and pdf) is New York Times coverage.

1) Guy is an Ephblog author.

2) People are still reading and talking about Guy’s thesis, more than 35 years after he wrote it. Want your thesis to live as long? Write about Williams.

3) Bob Magill Jr. ’65 wrote:

QUESTION c. 1990, a book was out that tracked the top 5 college preferences of the children of the social register in large cities on the East Coast, from the years 1900 to 1950. The only college, besides Harvard Yale Princeton that was in the top 5 in more than one city was Williams (Boston and NY). The authors stated that Williams was considered “the national liberal arts college” and an exceptional alternative to HYP with the best educational facilities for a small liberal arts college. I only have some of my notes on this book — does anyone know the title, the author(s), etc? I asked Fred Rudolph over the weekend at the reunion and he could not remember either.

Can anyone help Bob?

4) I think that having students from extremely rich families want to go to Williams is a very, very good thing. If the Hollander twins had not wanted to go to Williams, we would not have Hollander Hall. How much admission preference, if any, should be given to such “development” admits is an open question. (Such cases used to be called “Morty Specials” by the admissions office. Has the nomenclature changed yet?)

Facebooktwitter

Beyond The Log: Nice Boys

“Beyond the Log: Williams Presidents in the Gentleman’s Era” (pdf) is a product of the Williams Oral History Project, led by Bob Stegeman ’60. It features a discussion with Professors Fred Rudolph ’42 and John Hyde ’52, along with former President John Chandler about Williams presidents from Paul Ansel Chadbourne (1872-81) to Tyler Dennett (1934-37). Each day for the next two weeks at noon, I will quote selected portions of the interview and provide comments. What do you want to know about Williams history? Ask your questions in the comments.

John Chandler: We all know that Dennett’s presidency from 1934 to 1937 was stormy and brief. What happened?

Fred Rudolph: Well, as you know, in 1937 Dennett gave a speech to the Boston alumni saying there were too many “nice boys” at Williams. My sense is that he meant there were just too many graduates of private schools and not enough diversity. Williams had the highest percent of private school graduates of any college in the country. A big reason was the four-year Latin admission requirement, and Garfield was adamant about keeping it. He’d gone to St. Paul’s School, and that had something to do with the kind of college that he wanted to be president of.

But by the time Dennett was made president, even in the prep schools there were many students who did not take four years of Latin. And remember that Harvard, Yale, and Dartmouth were also competing for the prep school graduates. The result was that the Williams applicant pool was damn small. Williams was probably taking one out of every two applicants, and it was accepting applications from weak students, just as long as they’d taken four years of Latin. (Interestingly, the trustees reduced the Latin requirement to three years just as Garfield left and Dennett arrived.)

1) For more on the “nice boys” speech, see Guy Creese’s ’75 senior thesis: “The Concept of the Gentleman at Williams College: 1929-1939.” Guy wrote a series of three posts about his thesis starting here. Highly recommended. But I really want to read the whole thing. Why isn’t it on-line?

2) Do you think that Williams gets too many or too few nice boys (and girls) today? If you could change one thing about Williams admissions, what would it be?

I would go to more of a Caltech or Olin model in which race, athletic ability and socio-economic status play much less of a role in admissions. Bring the most academically talented and ambitious students to Williams regardless of the color of their skin, the strength of their backhand or the educational credentials of their parents.

Facebooktwitter

Beyond The Log: Induction

“Beyond the Log: Williams Presidents in the Gentleman’s Era” (pdf) is a product of the Williams Oral History Project, led by Bob Stegeman ’60. It features a discussion with Professors Fred Rudolph ’42 and John Hyde ’52, along with former President John Chandler about Williams presidents from Paul Ansel Chadbourne (1872-81) to Tyler Dennett (1934-37). Each weekday for three weeks, I will quote selected portions of the interview and provide comments. What do you want to know about Williams history? Ask your questions in the comments.

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

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

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

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

2) The event for Falk on September 25th is currently labeled an “induction.” Why that terminology? Anyone gotten an invitation yet? What events would you like to see?

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

4) Here (pdf) is the New York Times story.

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

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

Facebooktwitter

Currently browsing posts filed under "Beyond The Log"

Follow this category via RSS