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Live Bloging and Twittering the Induction Ceremony

UPDATE:  President Falk’s speech is available here (text,  alas),  and a recap of the whole induction is available here. (Hat tip:  P’12).

Here is a live video feed (starting at 4:30) of today’s induction ceremony and awarding of Bicentennial Medals. Alas, I am coaching soccer, so can’t live blog the event. Perhaps our readers can help out? Add your observations in the comments. Or perhaps we can work out something in which we aggregate and display tweets about the event, as we did with Homecoming last year. Please use #ephblog as the Twitter hash tag.

If you are an EphBlog administrator (especially Ronit or Ken), feel free to reorganize this post in whatever way makes sense.


Hall of Fame Eph

Congrats to Kelli [McDermott] Nayak ’95 for her induction into the Worcester Public Schools athletic hall of fame.  Brain trauma researcher, star athlete, pediatrician, teacher, public servant, and mom of three?  Wow.  Nayak’s [former] name is still plastered all over the Eph softball record book.  Sounds to me like a stellar candidate for a Bicentennial Medal …


Bicentennial Medal Winners

SMALLgroup_sans_hatThe latest EphNotes (a monthly e-mail to all alumni and parents … and students? … and faculty/staff?) features this photo of the 2009 winners of the Bicentennial Medal standing with interim president Bill Wagner. My first thought on seeing the picture?

Wow! When was the last time that Williams awarded all the Bicentennial Medals in a single year to non-Hispanic Caucasians?


1) Am I a bad person for thinking that? What did you think when you saw the photo? Let’s follow the advice of Attorney General Eric Holder and stop being cowards about discussions involving race!

2) Needless to say, there is nothing particular evil in a lack of diversity in a single year of awardees. But, surely most of the people who run the college would prefer to have a class of awardees that “looks like Williams.” Perhaps this is a signal that Williams is moving beyond crass racial/ethnic nose-counting . . .

3) The list of past winners makes clear that, every year, there is at least one male and one female winner. A little bit of Googling reveals that there has never been a year without at least one non-white winner. Not that there is anything wrong with that!

4) Fun statistical exercise. Assume that the winners truly represent the cream of the Williams crop. What are the odds that the awards would be so nicely distributed in terms of gender/race balance if efforts at balance had not been made? This should only take a few lines of R code . . .

5) I have no problem with attempts at balance. There is nothing wrong with ensuring that the awardees “look like Williams.” And that made the photo all the more surprising to me . . .


John Raynolds 1951/ UDT Korea

John Raynolds was in UDT Class 6 which graduated in November of 1952. He was a part of the officer corps added to the Teams because of the build up of men to serve in the Korean War. The training for this unit included Hell Week, part 2, part 3, part 4, part 5 . They were the predecessors of the US Navy SEAL Teams.

The UDT men in Korea began to find themselves more and more operating on land in a series of commando raids. Their assignments included destroying a railway bridge and blowing up railroad tunnels to disrupt North Korean operations and supply lines. It was during the Korean War that UDT men pioneered in sneak inland penetration missions to gather intelligence data and to destroy specific strategic targets such as roads and bridges in the near-coastal area.  Night insertion and reconnaissance became important in Korea.

Kudos to John Raynolds and his honorable record of service to our nation!


How, exactly?

Paths Well Traveled

John F. Raynolds ‘51 This innovator devised strategies that led to development of the U.S. Navy Seals…

From his high school (Blake School) Outstanding Alumni award:

Mr Raynolds was a “co-founder of the U.S. Navy Seals…”

Both these claims are being challenged by members of the UDT/ SEAL Museum and Naval Special Warfare Archives.  Clarification, please?

UPDATE 9/11/09: The college webpage has been updated to reflect that Mr Raynolds was UDT during Korea, and that that unit, evolved into the SEAL Teams. UDT during Korea is no small matter. It was a highly effective combat unit involved in many high risk operations. John Raynolds was in Class 6 which graduated in November of 1952. He was one of those officers added to the Teams because of the build up of men to serve in the Korean War. There is very little on file for him, but he is in a couple of well known books about the Teams. He didn’t stay in the Teams after the Korean War ended.

It is very important that people maintain factual discipline and do not inflate military credentials.  Great to find he was a frogman.


Convocation ’09

Tomorrows convocation panel discussion sounds like a diverse mix of Ephs. The theme is “Inspired Lives- Paths Well Traveled”

Convocation event featuring Bicentennial Medalists in a panel discussion where they will share their life stories. Bicentennial Medals recognize distinguished Williams alumni for “significant achievement in any field of endeavor.” Medalists are:

The Honorable Karen Ashby ’79 The first African American woman appointed to the bench in the state of Colorado, she is a nationally recognized expert in matters pertaining to juvenile and family law.

Mika Brzezinski ’89 A television news journalist with star power, she is a familiar anchor on a host of NBC shows including MSNBC’s Morning Joe, NBC Nightly News, and Weekend Today.

Gary Fisketjon ’76 Vice president at Alfred A. Knopf, he has been honored for “discovering, nurturing and championing writers of fiction” and is considered an editorial master by established writers worldwide.

John F. Raynolds ’51 This innovator devised strategies that led to development of the U.S. Navy Seals and steered Outward Bound, USA, through its largest growth in history, all the while inspiring others through his speaking and writing.

Senator Mark E. Udall ’72 An accomplished mountain climber, the Senator from Colorado is nationally recognized for his steadfast commitment to addressing challenging environmental issues, including his early support for alternative energy.


Sounds good to me. I hope someone can report back.


Senator Udall ’72 Convocation Speaker?

udall-portraitAccording to this anonymous comment, Colorado Senator Mark Udall ’72 will be the Convocation Speaker next month and, presumably, a Bicentennial Medal awardee. Can anyone confirm? Can ’10 provide more details? There is nothing at the Williams website. Most EphBlog anonymous tips like this end up being true, so, if you are a Udall fan, make your reservations now.

UPDATE: Confirmed, as expected. See below for the e-mail that went out to all seniors more than two weeks ago. We need a senior to join us an an author at EphBlog, or just to pass along this sort of news. I will save my deconstruction of the descriptions of some of the Bicentennial Medal winners for another post.

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Mayda del Valle ’00 at the White House Poetry Jam

Click here for much larger HD version:


Self-Absorbed Art

I had assumed that Mayda del Valle’s ’00 Convocation speech would be excellent. She is a nationally recognized slam poet and has been entertaining young audiences for years. The Eagle reports:

And after Shapiro conferred the Bicentennial Award on the six recipients, Del Valle took to the podium, which is just slightly shorter than she is, which she jokingly pointed out.

She explained that she had agonized over her speech, holding up the nine page presentation that she had written. Of course, she said, she wasn’t going to use it.

Instead, she recited a piece of slam poetry that she had written during her senior year at Williams. Then she launched into a recounting of her years at Williams, her journey through several majors and questionable choices that left her depressed and confused by the end of the first semester of her senior year.

She told the audience that was when she intended to drop out.

“I was going to bounce — I didn’t like who I was,” she said.

But then she attended a performance at Mass MoCA with a friend that reminded her of her past in the south side of Chicago, where she had taken up performance art.

After that, Del Valle knew what to do. She proposed an independent study course on her love for the performance art form, and from then on her life’s path was clear.

In a voice loud with passion, clarity and a connection to the students in the audience, she said her plan made itself plain, that all her worry about what she should do with her life washed away.

“The plan appeared when I decided to do what makes me happy,” she said. “So don’t worry about the plan — it will appear. Do what you love to do. Listen to that little voice you have inside. It’s scary, and it’s not easy. You’re gonna have to do things that are difficult because you’re fighting to do what you love, fighting to be yourself.”

After another passionate and inspiring riff of slam poetry, the students, faculty, college officers and visitors treated her to a prolonged standing ovation.

Good stuff. The Record provides a similar report, but without quoting any students. Was everyone happy with the event? Alas, no.

Unfortunately, it was Mayda Del Valle ’00, the 2001 National Poetry Slam winner, who was chosen to speak. Perhaps she was chosen because she is a celebrated entertainer. My question is: celebrated by whom? To the greatest degree, by herself. The speech consisted of a 25-minute improvisation that included barely-intelligible performances of two of her pieces, one written at Williams. She started out with a confessional high-school-esque prelude, about how she sleeplessly attempted to write a speech and how instead she had decided to “wing it,” perhaps believing her self-perceived entertaining personality would do the trick. She discussed her college application process and struggles at Williams, encouraging us to “know ourselves” and “follow our dreams.”

Del Valle’s career success, unlike that of the others on the stage, relied completely upon self-centeredness and self-promotion. Keeping with this theme, she lacked the humility to recognize her fellow recipients in her speech, all of whom were better educated and had spent many more years than she had building their careers. Most importantly, all of them had been working to directly improve the lives of large portions of society, and, as a result, society as a whole. Del Valle, on the other hand, practices a self-absorbed art, a form of entertainment that appeals to a few, in which she is recognized for “knowing herself” and speaking of her struggles. A proud Latina, she often referenced the struggles of her ancestors. Eugene Latham ’55, through his organization, helped to provide care for 25,000 orphans in Latin America (people without ancestors). Instead of pondering the struggles of Del Valle’s relatives, I found myself wondering what the other medalists might have had to say to the class of 2009.

Harsh! It is one thing for Fiona Worcester ’09 to not like Del Valle’s talk. I sit through lots of talks I don’t like. But to feel strongly enough to write a letter to the Record? Wow. Question: How did other readers like about the speech?


The Williams Medal

I wish that I had bid on this Ebay item.

Scarce Williams College

World War I Service

Large Table Medal

Engraved on the rim


all the issued medals were engraved this way

SGT Steward Entered service as Pvt. 1st Class in the 63rd Balloon Company U.S. Signal Corps on March 16, 1918; Sgt. 1st Class in the 50th Balloon Company at Ft. Omaha, Nebraska. Discharged January 15, 1919.

He was a member of the class of 1912

He was a member of the Enlisted Reserve Corps which was made up of technical experts which likely explains why he was not commissioned during the war. He was living in Ramsey County, MN at the time of his enlistment.


1) Does anyone know more about the history of these medals?

2) What current military mission will seem as out-of-date in 2108 as “Balloon Company” seems in 2008? My guess is manned fighter jets.

3) What does it say about the changes at Williams over the last 100 years that the College awarded a medal to every single veteran then but does not deign to award a Bicentennial Medal to an Eph veteran of the current war? (I nominated Kathy Sharpe Jones ’79 and Bunge Cooke ’98 this year. Neither was selected.)

I have written hundreds of thousands of words on EphBlog over the last five years, none better than these or these. Who will serve so that my daughters might sleep safely in their beds at night?


Bicentennial Medal Winners Announced

See here for the overview. Who will update our Wikipedia listing? Note that these awards are for “distinguished achievement in any field of endeavor.” Under what definitions of these terms does not a single Eph veteran of the Long War qualify while a renowned slam poet does? Just asking!


Running Scared

Another fine article on war, veterans and education from Wick Sloane ’76 writing in Inside Higher Ed. Read the whole thing, but here is the only Williams mention.

In helping a Bunker Hill Iraq veteran who will attend Dartmouth College this fall, I had communicated with James Wright, president of Dartmouth. Wright, an ex-Marine, has been visiting wounded veterans in Washington hospitals with James Selbe, another ex-Marine leading veterans’ issues for the American Council on Education. ACE last month had a two-day summit, “Serving Those Who Serve: Higher Education and America’s Veterans (see related essay). Dartmouth has wounded veterans attending.

The public institutions are in the lead. I rounded up the usual suspects from the privates, to see if any were following Jim Wright’s lead.

From Princeton: “The University has no records of current American students who are veterans of wars. While we have students who receive veterans benefits, they do so as dependents of service members, rather than as service members who served in the military. Our office of financial aid hasn’t processed any GI Bill benefits in recent memory (dating back the past two decades approximately).” Yale has not yet replied. Yale president Rick Levin and Joel Podolny, Dean of the School of Management, about a year ago, ignored my several queries asking if Yale was recognizing alumni or students who were veterans. From Williams: “As far as we know, we do not have any veterans of the Iraq war enrolled at Williams. We do have Iraq veterans working on staff — one who saw three tours of duty.”


1) In our discussion last week on the Webb GI Bill, Frank Uible ’57 wrote:

I would like to hear a McCain supporter’s version of the reason for McCain’s opposition. It appears anti-intuitive.

I am not a McCain supporter, yet I can understand his opposition to this bill. Instead of giving more money to veterans that they can only spend on education, I would rather see us give them the same amount of money that they can spend on anything at all. Not every enlisted soldier wants to go to college; not every office wants a Ph.D. (What I used my GI Bill money for.) Moreover, the extra funding should not go to veterans in general but should be focussed on those serving in the most dangerous, combated positions.

2) Unlike Wick, I am not particularly upset that Williams does not do anything to (specially) recruit veterans. Of course, I would like to see more veterans at Williams and would vote in favor of the College seeking them out. But I recognize this as special pleading on my part. Doing what Jim Wright does for Dartmouth takes time and money, both of which are always limited. It would not be hard for Williams to do more (mainly reach out to the various programs/departments which help veterans transition out of the service), but it is not unreasonable for the admissions office to devote its energies elsewhere.

3) The main change that I would like to see is to have an Eph veteran awarded a Bicentennial Medal each year for the next 5 or 10 years. You can call this quota, if you like, but there is no doubt (in my mind) that Ephs like Bunge Cooke ’98, JR Rahill ’88, Kathy Sharpe Jones ’79 and others have demonstrated “distinguished achievement” in their fields of endeavor. Williams should honor them. Write to Secretary of the Alumni Society Brooks Foehl ’88 if you agree.


Meg Lowman ’76 Still Climbs Trees

KERA’s (Dallas)  Krys Boyd recently interviewed tropical field biologist Meg Lowman ’76 on Boyd’s always fascinating “Think” program.


The interview ranges over a variety of topics, from Lowman’s creation of the first tree canopy walks (she was the force behind the one in Hopkins Memorial Forest), being an international field biologist, teaching (she is a professor at New College of Florida, where she teaches undergraduates), life as the single mother of two boys while working in the field, and women in science. More than anything, I was struck by how much her identity as a parent shapes her worldview and values. She and her sons (who are now in their early twenties, and destined for scientific careers of their own) have collaborated in writing about life growing up in a field scientist’s family.


Those of you who are at Williams for reunions can try out a canopy walk for yourselves tomorrow (assuming the rain stops):

Sat., 1:30 – 5 p.m.  Hopkins Forest: Visit the Treetops on the Canopy Walkway

The walkway is a pair of tree platforms set 70 ft. above the ground and originally used for research. Platforms are linked by a cable bridge and accessed via a wooden ladder. Participants are harnessed to safety cables, and aided by guides. Space limited; long waits possible; first come, first served; no children under 12.

(It’s safe, but a challenge if you have height anxieties. Even if you don’t ascend, it’s worth walking over to HMF just to look at the structure. There will be an open house in the forest at the same time, so you could stop in at HMF headquarters and see the museum of farm implements, buy some homemade maple syrup, and view some of the other exhibits. And if you are outdoorsy, don’t miss the bird walk and the hike, both of which are also on the main reunion schedule.)

Listening to the interview or seeing the canopy walk might interest you in reading Meg’s books for the layperson:

Life in the Treetops: Adventures of a Woman in Field Biology by Margaret D. Lowman (2000)


It’s a Jungle Up There: More Tales from the Treetops by Margaret D. Lowman, James Burgess, Edward Burgess, and Ghillean T. Prance (2006) (written with her sons)


Lowman has a website, Officialy, her title is Margaret D. Lowman, Ph.D., Professor of Biology and Environmental Studies and Director of Environmental Initiatives, New College of Florida, but, if one just adds “Mom,” the subtitle of her website encapsulates it rather nicely: “Author, Adventurer, Tropical Rain Forest Canopy Biologist.”  She is very much a proud product of  the  Williams Center for Environmental Studies, and the College has celebrated her accomplishments by honoring her with a Bicentennial Medal.


Eph Pulitzer Winners II

The goal of this post is to catalog all the graduates of Williams who have won a Pulitzer Prize. It is a follow up to this post. (Thanks to readers for various pointers.)

John Toland ’36
James McGregor Burns ’39
Bernard Bailyn ’45
Hedrick Smith ’55
John Kifner ’63
Edward Larson ’74
Sonia Nazario ’82
Stacy Schiff ’82
Eric Schmitt ’82
Dan Keating ’84
Greg Jaffe ’91

Are there any others? All of these Ephs have won Bicentennial Medals except for Jaffe, Keating, Schmidt, Larson and Smith. Surely they should be near the top of the list for next year. For those who care about such things, both of the female winners have been awarded Bicentennial Medals. Four of the nine male winners have been so honored. That’s just a coincidence, of course. Nothing to see hear. Please move along.


Who is a Peabody Winner?

Don’t care about who is and who is not a Peabody winner? Don’t read this post! (But if you know any Ephs who have won a Peabody, please tell us in the comments. As far as I can tell, there is not a single Eph who can honestly claim to be a “Peabody winner.” Correct me if I am wrong!)

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Gender Disparity in Bicentennial Medal Standards

My friend Jeff claims that I have been “soundly trounced” on the issue of whether or not the same standards apply for male and female Ephs in the awarding of Bicentennial Medals at Williams.

[Previous discussion here. Strictly speaking there are two separate issues. First, are the standards lower for female Ephs and for male Ephs in general? Second, does any particular Eph, male or female, deserve to win? The second questions is much more difficult and contentious than the first. Here, let me focus on the former. Only those naive to the ways of places like Williams and to the unyielding reality of the underlying demographics believe that standards for men and women are the same.]

Jeff provides a handy “proof” of his claim, illustrating, in his view, that there are female Ephs with credentials more distinguished than Earl Potter ’68 who have not won Bicentennial Medals.

By the way, Catherine Hill has better than “the same” achievements (President of a more prestigious institution, Vassar, as well as years of service to Williams) … she has not (yet) been awarded a medal. QED.

I do not think that QED means what you think it means.

First, Catherine Hill was awarded an Honorary Degree in 2006. An Honorary Degree is much more prestigious than a Bicentennial Medal. As a rule (counter-examples welcome), the College does not award both to the same person. Consider Nobel Prize winner Robert Engle ’64, awarded an Honorary Degree in 2007. We all agree that he has displayed “distinguished achievement.” Why no Bicentennial Medal for Engle? Because the College awards honorary degrees to the real stars.

Second, even if you want to compare Cappy Hill to someone, the natural comparison is to Steve Lewis ’60. Both are Williams graduates, Williams economics professors and Williams provosts. Both became presidents of elite liberal arts colleges. Why does Lewis only get a Bicentennial Medal after a decade of being a college president while Hill gets an Honorary Degree just as her college presidency begins?

But these are quibbles. The Lewis/Hill outcomes might have nothing to do with gender. Morty might just like Cappy and not like Steve. Instead, of looking at this difficult case, let’s take a simple test. Here are neutral descriptions of three alums in the same field.

1) Successful in business and owner of a minor league baseball team.
2) Successful in business and owner of a major league baseball team.
3) Successful in business and commissioner of Major League Baseball.

Which one of these three alums has most displayed “distinguished achievement” in his/her field? Now, it would be reasonable to say that none of them have, that baseball is such a trivial part of human endeavor that none of these Ephs deserve a medal. It would also be reasonable to think that baseball is so wonderful that all three Ephs should win.

But there is no possible objective criteria by which you can prefer Eph #1 over #2 and #3. What if I told you that, in fact, #1 had been awarded a Bicentennial Medal in 1994 while Ephs #2 (George Steinbrenner ’52) and #3 (Fay Vincent ’60) had never been so honored? What would your first guess be about the gender of Eph #1? That’s right! Eph #1 is female.

Tracy P. Lewis
Class of 1983
Awarded the Bicentennial Medal in 1994.

Business woman and entrepreneur – first woman to own a minor league baseball team.

I am happy to grant that Tracy Lewis is a wonderful person (more wonderful than me) who has achieved a great deal (more than me). But if she had not been a woman, she would not have been awarded a Bicentennial Medal.

One example not enough? Fine. Let’s play again! Which of these four Ephs deserves a Bicentennial Medal?

1) Elected District Attorney in Middlesex County, Massachusetts.
2) Elected Congressman from 2nd District of Hawaii.
3) Elected Congressman from 2nd District of Colorado.
4) Elected Governor of Minnesota.

Again, maybe all of these Ephs deserve medals because elected office is so important. Maybe none of them do because politicians are venal. But there is no objective criteria imaginable by which a fair committee would choose #1 over any of #2, #3, or #4.

Who won? Surprise! It was Eph #1 in 1999.

Martha M. Coakley
Class of 1975
Awarded the Bicentennial Medal in 1999.

Middlesex County District Attorney

Neither Eph #2 (Ed Case ’75) nor #3 (Mark Udall ’72) nor #4 (Arne Carlson ’57) have won Bicentennial Medals. If any were female, they would have.

I am happy to play this game all day long, but, please, just think about the demographic reality. Women have only been at Williams for the last 30 years. Bicentennial Medal winners tend to be older because it often takes a lifetime to demonstrate “distinguished achievement.” Many/most female Ephs take substantial time off from their careers for family reasons while very few male Ephs do the same. Given all these facts (and without even entering the wonderful world of Larry Summers), there is no way that objective criteria would produce a 50/50 split between male/female medal winners.

What would the split be if the committee were gender-blind? Excellent question! I don’t know. There is already more male than female winners. A rough guess would be that 25% of the winners are female. If there were not a concern to make the winners look like Williams, the percentage would be much lower.

And, as always, this discussion should take nothing away from the female winners who would have won even if they were male. For example, it seems (counter-examples welcome) that every Eph Pulitzer Prize-winner has won a Bicentennial Medal. Sonia Nazario ’82 and Stacy Schiff ’82 fully deserved their medals. The same can not be said for some other female Eph winners. They were chosen, not for “distinguished achievement” among all Ephs, but for success in comparison to other female graduates of Williams.

It is an empirical fact that the standards for awarding Bicentennial Medals for women are lower than those for men. That may be a good thing. (I don’t really object much, if at all.) That may be a bad thing. But people like Jeff who would prefer that reality were other than it is should try to do that pretending elsewhere. They will have better luck.


Yacht Club

Add Earl Potter ’68, president of St. Cloud State University, to the list of Eph college presidents. Is this news story a compliment or an insult?

But behind those achievements lie a man whose history is as complex and diverse as the list of schools he’s studied at and led.

Potter grew up in a small, waterfront town in Rhode Island along with his parents and younger brother and sister.

Potter described his past as one full of choices, of trying to fit in with the various social circles that ran rampant in his life in North Kingstown.

Church, high school and the yacht club were just some of the many directions the young Potter was pulled in.

But though it could be difficult at times to sort through those various circles, Potter said he learned to make up his own mind on what was right and wrong, and gained an independent streak which helps guide him through decisions he continues to make.

Ah, the pull of the yacht club. Beware the infernal temptations of youth!

To be fair, Potter seems like an interesting fellow. He spent many years in the Coast Guard, not dodging his military obligations like so many Ephs of his generation. Will the College be awarding Potter a Bicentennial Medal anytime soon? Maybe. A female Eph with the same accomplishments would be a shoe-in.



Convocation is today.

Thomas Payzant ’62, professor of practice at the Harvard Graduate School of Education, will be the featured speaker at Williams College’s Convocation, Saturday, September 8. The event will be held in Chapin Hall, beginning at 11 a.m. Professor Payzant is the former superintendent for the Boston Public Schools.

Convocation is the traditional celebration of the new year at Williams, when the Class of 2008 is recognized as they begin their senior year. The public is cordially invited to attend what is considered a highlight of the college’s academic year.

The event is also the occasion to award the college’s Bicentennial Medals to alumnae/ni of distinction, as a way for students to see the important ways in which Williams graduates contribute to their world.

In addition to Professor Payzant, those receiving medals will be Margaret Kim ’91, award-winning director of historical programming for The History Channel; Reed Zars ’77, environmental lawyer; Steve Lewis ’60, president emeritus of Carleton College; H. Ward Marston IV ’73, Grammy award-winning musician and pioneer in the field of audio restoration; and Alice P. Albright ’83, who pioneered finance mechanisms to deliver vaccines and immunizations to the world’s poorest countries.

EphBlog readers know Lewis and Marston. The merit of some of the other awardees is a bit more hidden.

Now, in keeping with the new and gentler EphBlog, I ought to tone down my comments a bit. Some might say that my past complaints on the topic have been out of line.

But let us start today with looking at both what is seen (the awardees) and what is unseen (the Ephs who could have been so honored but weren’t). For example, my classmates Mark Solan and Rich Gardella have both won Emmys. Pretty impressive! Did the College decide to award them Bicentennial Medals? No. Instead, an award goes to Margaret Kim ’91, whose main claim to fame is that she was nominated for an Emmy.

Now, maybe Kim was selected because she is a helpful alum and has a friend on the committee. Maybe the committee wanted to find a woman. Maybe they wanted an Asian-American. Maybe the committee did not know that there were other Eph Emmy winners. But there is simply no way that the main selection criteria was achievement in the media business.

And that is OK! There is nothing particularly objectionable about the College selecting Bicentennial Medal winners with an eye toward how much, as a group, they “look like Williams.” But rather than giving awards to Emmy-nominated women instead of to Emmy-winning men, the College ought to think more broadly about what categories it honors. More on that later.


The Bicentennial Medal Presentation — Highly Recommended

On Saturday, Williams will present Bicentennial
Medals to six alumni:

  • Bernard Bailyn, Pulitzer Prize-winning
  • Edgar M. Bronfman, president of the World
    Jewish Congress
  • A. R. Gurney, Jr., playwright
  • Glenn D. Lowry, director of New York’s
    Museum of Modern Art
  • Inigo Manglano-Ovalle, artist
  • Marisa E. Reddy Randazzo, threat assessment

This ceremony will be special for me, as one of the major reasons I attended Williams was because Bernard Bailyn had gone there.  I was quite a History aficionado in high school, and I figured if Williams could turn out great historians such as Bernard Bailyn and James MacGregor Burns, that was the place for me.

If you can make it, I would highly recommend
it.  I’ve attended around six presentations so far, and it’s always fascinating to see what tortuous and interesting paths Williams graduates travel.  Morty changed the venue last year — to Chapin during the day so students could attend, rather than at night in Lasell for alumni only — and the students seemed to take a lot of inspiration from what they heard and saw.

The college’s summary of the recipients’
accomplishments is
following is further background on what they’ve done.

Read more


Bi Medals

The College is giving Bicentenial Medals to a simply outstanding set of alumni tomorrow.

Williams College President Morton Owen Schapiro will present five of the college’s Bicentennial Medals during the college’s annual Convocation ceremony Saturday, Sept. 11, at 11 a.m. in Chapin Hall. Established in 1993 on the occasion of the college’s 200th anniversary, Bicentennial Medals honor members of the Williams community for distinguished achievement in any field of endeavor. The college awarded 23 Bicentennial Medals in 1993 and has added five to seven in each year since.

I think moving the ceremony to Convocation — in front of the seniors — is an especially nice touch. The winners include: Felix Grossman ’56 (father of Dave Grossman ’87 and father-in-law to Jen (Morris) Grossman ’89 — roomate of my lovely wife) and Sonia Nazario ’82, Pulitzer Prize winner.

If you read nothing else Eph-related this week-end, read Nazario’s Enriques Journey.

Kudos to whoever selected these winners and decided to switch the event to Convocation. I assume that Morty and Steve Birrell ’64 deserve much of the credit . . .


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