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Commencement Week Round-Up

In honor of commencement, several stories of note from recent weeks related to this week’s ceremonies and/or the graduating seniors:

  • Be sure to read this Williams feature highlighting some of the future plans for this year’s graduating class.   Great to see so many seniors interested in serving their country and/or the world.
  • Another must read: this interview with senior Mopati Morake’11, who has clearly thought deeply about higher education.
  • Talented writer Andrew Triska ’11 will be finishing his novel after graduation.
  • Of course, for baby boomers, the most famous “graduate” of Williams is Benjamin Braddock (the novel was written by Eph Charles Webb shortly after his own graduation, and although Williams is not mentioned in the movie, he does wear a purple-and-gold tie).  Apparently a new adaptation hones closer to the novel.
  • One of my favorite Williams traditions is the Olmstead Award for Secondary School Teachers.  Read about this year’s recipients here.
  • Congratulations seniors, and enjoy what should be a wonderful weekend highlighted by tremendous Commencement speaker Cory Booker.
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Williams College women set to play 24 hours of rugby fundraiser for cancer research

The Williams College women’s rugby team will pull the ultimate all-nighter… (Courtesy photo)

Stephen Dravis writes in the  Berk shire Advocate on April 6:

Most college students pull an all-nighter at some point during their career.

Few will do anything like this.

On Easter weekend, the Williams College women’s rugby team will play a 24-hour match against Keene State that the teams hope will land them a place in Guinness World Records history and — more importantly — help in the fight against cancer.

The inaugural Scrum for a Cure will get under way at 8 a.m. on Saturday, April 23, at Cole Field and end, if all goes according to plan, sometime after 8 a.m. on Easter Sunday.

Twenty-four hours of running and bone-jarring tackles may not be the easiest way to raise awareness of breast and colorectal cancer research, but Williams captain Leah Lansdowne said her team is up to the challenge.

“I think rugby is a unique sport for women to play,” Lansdowne said. “It involves some strong women. I think there’s a solidarity to raising money for a cancer that affects primarily women.”

That’s why the Williams players immediately got on board when their friends at Keene State suggested a breast cancer fundraiser of some kind — possibly involving pink uniforms.

Lansdowne said it was Williams coach Gina Coleman who suggested the teams take their efforts to another level.

“Somebody in the group said, ‘How about something like the March of Dimes does where people would pledge for every minute played? If we go the distance, we can raise a lot of money,'” recalled Coleman, who also is the college’s associate dean of students. “I said, if it’s of Guinness proportions, you could raise a lot. That’s when the idea came about.”

Read the entire story! As EphBlog Prexy Whitney Wilson suggests, donations may be made here


Williams coach Gina Coleman ’90 adds this about the logistics:
“The event will happen on the rugby pitch. Sunbelt Rentals out of Latham, NY will be providing us with temporary lights for the event.

“Thanks for the support!”

 

 

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Do You Like LikeALittle?

Photo by williamscollege, Creative Commons license via Flickr

Notwithstanding Dick’s newfound interest in social media, Facebook and Twitter aren’t the only social networks neglected by EphBlog. WSO has a post about the latest bit of Internet seriousness/silliness, the social network service LikeALittle, a viral hybrid of Twitter and Craigslist’s “Missed Connections.” Examples from LikeALittle’s Williams page are illustrative:

At GoodrichFemale, Brunette

you are across from me, sippin’ on a Superfood odwalla. wish you’d sip on more than that ;)

At Basketball GameMale, Brunette

I see sitting on the bench looking all sexy. You may not hit the court all the time but you can score with me anytime ;)

Not that they’re all lacking in a certain geeky charm:

At Sawyer: Female, Blonde

You make my scatter plot form a strong positive linear trend

Readers of these comments can “like,” share on Facebook, and comment anonymously:

At outside of PareskyMale, Brunette

I said hi to you and regret not saying more.

Pomegranate says: Where was this?

Author says: In passing along the path from Paresky to Sawyer

Read more

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An Obvious Proposal: Make Weston Residential

I read with delight that the OCC is moving from Weston and integrating with the Alumni Office.  This makes sense in and of itself (and probably warrants a post of its own), but the bigger benefit, in my view, is reopening Weston to its natural and proper use: upper class housing.   In the article discussing the future of Weston, there was no mention of turning it into housing.  Failure to do so* would be, simply, an enormous mistake for the following reasons:

  • It just makes sense, from a campus planning perspective, to have an uninterrupted row of residential row houses.  These houses represent the heart of senior (and on weekends, campus social) life.  For decades, Weston has been the outlier, remaining dark on weekends while its neighbors are teeming with life.  Why keep it as such?
  • Williams has gradually and slowly increased its enrollment in recent years, with entering classes moving from around 529 to around 550.  Over four years, that is an extra 84 people on campus (or, say, 70, accounting for study abroad and attrition).  Yet, not only has Williams not built additional housing, it has actually eliminated a few coops, and about 12 years ago it turned Bascom, which used to be the single best dorm on campus, into the Admissions Office.  What does that mean?  Fewer seniors getting prime rooms, more sophomores in doubles, and less common space in campus dorms.  Turning Weston into housing would alleviate all of those issues.

More thoughts below the break Read more

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Satterthwaites’ remarkable map …

From PTC and referred to by Mark Livingston ’72, the creator of the map while under the muse of Satterthwaite:

PTC says:
From Mark Livingston ’72

Although the Stone Hill Map may’ve been more elaborate than most student projects (Art 201 projects did however tend to be multi-media and cumbersome—probably still do), it actually incorporates a fraction of what I learned making it. More to the point: my experience typified the sense of a blank check drawn on his time, the painstaking, ever thoughtful attention, and the polymathic wealth of knowledge that I’ve watched Sheafe lavish on his students one after another over the years: a whorl of learning synergy.

“Although the Stone Hill map may have been…” Love that part. The Stone Hill Map is the most incredible piece of local art I (and I suspect many others) have ever seen. From reading the comments on Sheafes teaching style, you can see how Sheafe helped Mark get there in 1972. A teaching style and mode of learning translated into art. Fascinating!

Ed note: Thanks to PTC for the photo of the remarkable map and its’ amazing details, and to Mark Livingston for creating his map and the timely recognition of the muse.

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Excentric Gyratory Coming to Campus

I noted a few months back that, thanks to the Class of 1961, the already impressive collection of campus sculptures will soon be augmented.  Apparently, next on deck is Double L Excentric Gyratory II.  Any guesses as to where on campus this will be installed? Any opinions on the art itself (I give it a thumbs-up)?  [Also, any updates / photos on the Holzer installation on the Science Quad?]

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Satterthwaite’s contract not renewed?!


I have just received the following news about Sheafe Satterthwaite, beloved eccentric lecturer in art history:

Sheafe’s contract has not been renewed for the coming year. Sheafe is 71 and has taught at Williams for over 40 years. He has always been a Lecturer on a four-year, renewable contract. This year, citing low student evaluations, he was told in late November that his contract would not be renewed.

For those who aren’t familiar with him, Sheafe is independently wealthy (at least, is rumored to be — ed.) and teaches because he enjoys teaching. All of his courses include a once-weekly “field seminar,” where he drives the class around in a large van to areas of interest in the countryside around Williams, and lectures while driving. He also takes all of his students out to dinner (in groups) at least once, and often invites them to his house. Rumor has it that he is paid something like $1 for the four-year contract, and Williams throws in free lunches at Driscoll (this last part is true; Sheafe told me).

Would you please consider writing a letter to the Dean of Faculty, Prof. William Wagner? His email is william.g.wagner@williams.edu. I think a lot of us never expected we would need to write such a letter — perhaps we thought we might show our appreciation at a retirement party someday. But we do need to write now and explain how Sheafe has influenced our lives, our teaching, our careers, our ways of understanding the world. We need to tell the administration about the gifts Sheafe gave us and continues to give students at Williams.

This missive comes from Mark Livingston ’72 and Belle Zars ’76. Full message from Zars below the break.

Sheafe’s classes are certainly some of the most unique at Williams, and when I look back at the experiences in class that I remember most from college, Sheafe’s class was certainly one of the most memorable. Please consider writing in on his behalf.
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Cooking with Steven: 2nd season

In September 2009, we released the first episode of Cooking with Steven, a Chinese cooking show for college students. Now we have grown. The second season has been just released, with one new episode coming up every two weeks. Today our cooking show is not just a collection of videos. It is an integrated platform comprising a website, a Facebook page, blogs, food photos and recipes, aimed at bringing to college students–Williams and beyond–a culture for simply, healthy and economical Chinese food.

Episode 1 of Season 2 – Mapo Tofu

More episodes, blogs and photos are found at http://www.CookingWithSteven.com.

Cooking with Steven is a Chinese cooking show created by two Williams students: Steven Cheng ’10 (host) and Danny Y. Huang ’11 (director and producer). The second season is edited by Juan Baena ’06.

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Dim Sum and Then Some

I was just checking out the Williams Schedule of Events and I can’t believe how many interesting choices there are, just for today.

Starting with Environmental Studies Lunch at The Log, to Math and Physics events, then a choice of a free film in the afternoon or French horn recital, on to dinner, another film or the Planetarium, the Theater, or dance performance. And from there one can wrap up the evening dancing to Latin music at Fiesta Dance Night. Who says there’s nothing to do in Williamstown?

Anyway, they all sound great, but I happen to love Dim Sum, so the dinner caught my eye. A little late to be posting about it, but nonetheless I thought I’d mention it as it’s put on by CASO, and will benefit Wokai, both of which I know next to nothing about, so I’m hoping some students will drop by and give us more information.

And, any Dim Sum lovers out there? My favorites are the little curry chicken empanada type tarts, chicken and rice wrapped in leaves of some sort, and those little gummy sesame plum balls. I don’t know the names for any of these tasty treats, so please someone, feel free to fill me in me.

Mmmm, might have to book a trek for Dim Sum very soon.

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Green Dot Event

I highly recommend that anyone interested in education reform attend tomorrow’s 4:00 campus event featuring Steve Barr, founder of Green Dot charter schools.  Barr’s work was featured in a lengthy New Yorker article (subscription required), which I also recommend.  Read more about Green Dot here and here.

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Updates re: Moore

From the Record:

Kolesar said the College only learned about the situation on Tuesday evening. The College had no knowledge of Moore’s prior convictions.

Moore has been unavailable for comment.

[…]

“From my standpoint the most important thing is that for the students in Political Science 303 [Black Leadership] there’s continuity one way or the other,” said Jim Mahon, professor and department chair of political science. “We’re coordinating that right now – it will continue as a college course and we’re working to make sure that it’s as good as it can be.” Mahon added that he and the department had no knowledge of Moore’s prior conviction and had only ever known him as Bernard, not Ernest, but that “it would be premature to characterize it as an alias,” he said.

[…]

Kolesar said it is unclear whether Moore’s suspension from the College will affect Monday’s panel, which includes Congressman John Conyers (Mich.) and activist and comedian Bill Cosby.

Check back throughout the day for further coverage.

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Ladybug horror

On WSO, there is a lengthy discussion on the infestation of ladybugs (and GERMAN COCKROACHES?) inside student dorms. This seems to be a regional national infestation. The Wesleying blog reports a swarm at Wesleyan University (with photos). In addition to Williamstown, MA and Middletown, CT, a look at Google News shows reports of ladybug swarms from New Jersey, Indiana, Middlesex County, MA, Urbana-Champaign, IL, NH and RI, Williamsport, PA, and Andover, MA

Parent ’12 asks: “Are these complaints familiar? And, any suggestions about how to get the problem remedied.”

I have not seen a ladybug infestation at Williams, but recent alumni will recall the caterpillar infestation that hit campus in spring-summer 2006. As the 2009 class history recalls: “It was the attack of the caterpillars in Billsville. You probably could have crossed the entire campus without setting foot on pavement or grass – that’s how thick the blanket of caterpillars was that spring.”

So, to current students: at least you don’t have strings of caterpillars dangling from trees, ending up on your face and clothes whenever you walk underneath a tree. They basically destroyed every green leaf on campus.

This is all probably the fault of global warming. Or secret government experiments.

Since Parent ’12 asks for remedies: I seem to recall that one enterprising student set fire to the caterpillars using a lighter and a can of either hairspray or WD-40. Something to consider, though the fact that the infestation this time appears to be indoors may complicate things.

Gross pictures of the caterpillar infestation here, here, and here.

Request to students currently on campus: Please post pics of the ladybug infestation!

UPDATE: They’ve hit Swarthmore. Is nothing sacred? (thanks to hwc!)

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Bubble Tea

So, now that I’ve got your attention, who here has experienced Bubble Tea? I have, and it is an utterly unique concoction.

I had it in Singapore many years ago. It is a drink, although you need more than a straw to finish it off. There are lots of variations of the recipe. Mine was milky and sweet, with shaved ice, tapioca pearls and  even beans. My travel partner thought me a brave soul for ordering it, would not consider even a taste, and was horrified when I slurped the whole thing down.  

Bubble Tea is only one of the many delights of the Global Feast being served tomorrow evening at Greylock Dining Hall. If I was on the Williams campus, I would not miss it. The International Club and Dining Services has teamed up to give you curry, and sticky rice, and spring rolls and much more. Yum! 

So, go and have a taste of somewhere else. If you can’t get off campus for a change of pace, this might be the next best thing.

P.S. What strange and exotic food would you like added to this menu?

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M4W on Craigslist

Unfortunately, the listing has been flagged for removal, but last night Jimi Morales, ’10, discovered something both hilarious and horrifying on Craigslist and lovingly decided to share on WSO in a post adeptly titled, “alumni.”

A “Boston exec” in his thirties offered $1000 for a female “friend with benefits” for his frequent (monthly? I can’t quite remember the listing.) two- to three-day visits to Williamstown.

Any guesses as to whom this generous alumnus might be?

UPDATE from dk: Here is the original Craig’s List post. (Click for larger version.)

alumni

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College prepares for H1N1 outbreak

Reposted from the Record website to save you a lengthy wait (note to Record writers/editors – please consider posting important stories here on EphBlog or on WSO while your website undergoes rehab):


College prepares for H1N1 outbreak

By Laura Corona – News Editor

After the swine flu scare last spring and the precautions it prompted, College administrators spent the summer increasing institutional knowledge of the H1N1 virus and developing protocol in preparation for its arrival on campus. Though there were no cases on campus in the spring, one student has been isolated with the flu as of Monday.

According to Health Services Director Ruth Harrison, the administration expects more cases and is preparing accordingly. “We think it’s inevitable that it will happen on all college campuses,” said Dean Merrill. “I don’t see how we can escape it, given that the flu hits the young population, that students live in close quarters and that winter will have us inside. It’s a very contagious virus.” The New York Times reported last week that, according to an American College Health Association survey, over 2000 U.S. college students have been victims of H1N1. At institutions such as Emory, Carnegie Mellon and St. John’s, houses and gymnasiums have been set aside and outfitted for large numbers of ill students. At Cornell, over 450 students have been infected and one student died last week after contracting the virus.

Much has been learned about H1N1 since the original outbreaks last spring. It is believed to be very similar to the seasonal flu, both in its symptoms and transmission. It is a short-lived and mild illness for most people, although it presents more complications for some, particularly those with underlying medical conditions such as respiratory disorders, cardiac disorders, immunosuppressant disorders and diabetes. In addition, H1N1 spreads quickly and easily. “The virus is still mild, but is incredibly infectious, and it can just wreak havoc,” Harrison said.

Attempting to minimize the potentially chaotic impact of the virus, the Health Center has now developed a plan for diagnosis, isolation and treatment of ill students. If a student comes to the Health Center with flu-like symptoms, he or she is immediately given a mask and asked to wait in a room designated solely for flu patients. A nurse then visits the ill student with an eye for symptoms characteristic of H1NI. These include a fever of over 100-100.4 degrees Fahrenheit, a cough, a runny nose and a sore throat. “If they’re all present, especially the fever, we presume that to be H1N1,” said Harrison.

The College, like the state of Massachusetts, has stopped testing for H1N1, as epidemiologists expect that the virus will in most cases replace the seasonal flu. Taking flu-like symptoms as indicative of H1N1, as opposed to something less serious, is an important precaution, explained Harrison. “It could be a cold, but because it’s circulating in the community, we don’t want to take a chance,” she said. According to Harrison, flu and cold symptoms can sometimes be similar, but the flu is generally more severe and develops more suddenly than a cold. Flu symptoms often include body aches, tiredness and a dry cough, she said.

For students, being diagnosed with H1N1 prompts a mandatory isolation period. Health Center staff first determine whether the student can go home without using public transportation, and students who cannot do so are directed to self-isolate in their rooms. “We give them a mask and disposable thermometers and tell them to stay put,” Harrison said. The masks are to prevent spread of the virus for when infected students leave their rooms for the bathroom or medical treatment.

Isolation becomes more complicated for those with roommates, as two people are only allowed to stay in the same room if both have flu symptoms. In the case where only one person is infected, the College plans to use unfilled rooms to move the uninfected student out, while the ill person remains in isolation. Members of the College’s pandemic planning group are still developing protocol for an event where large numbers of students need to be moved out of roommate situations.

Isolation ends when an ill student has been free of fever for 24 hours without fever-reducing medication. The College’s plan provides for meals to be delivered to isolated students, and for a dean to be assigned to each sick student so that the academic repercussions of isolation are mitigated. “We’ve learned from other institutions that many concerns revolve around academic work, so a dean will know which classes ill students are in and contact professors, acting as a kind of go-between,” Merrill said. “Depending on when a student is sick, the dean may be more necessary in helping students to organize extensions, and so on.” Harrison stressed that concern over academics not keep students from isolating themselves. “The faculty knows about the possibility of H1N1, so they will work with the deans and students,” she said.

While having developed a plan to control the spread of the virus, the College is simultaneously working towards prevention, particularly by encouraging all students to get flu vaccines. The Health Center will offer seasonal flu vaccines in a clinic on Oct. 7 and plans on offering the H1NI vaccine after its release later that month.

The College will likely be a site for vaccine distribution, as college students are fourth in the list of priority groups, behind pregnant women, caregivers for children younger than six months of age and healthcare personnel.

Though the College is attempting to prepare for the worst, Harrison doubts the flu will prompt drastic measures such as closing the College. “The flu generally lasts only three to five days, so we hope that everyone won’t be sick at the same time,” she said. “We anticipate not having to close.”

Merrill confirmed that closing is an unlikely option, but emphasized the importance of planning for every possible outcome. “It’s going to be an evolving situation,” she said. “We need to have a set of responses we can go to.”

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New York, New York…

Start spreadin’ the news, I’m leaving today
I want to be a part of it: New York, New York.

Williams Transport introduces Friday shuttle to New York City
By Laura Corona – News Editor

In response to student calls for more ways to get off campus, Williams Transport is expanding its operations, most notably by offering weekly shuttles to New York City. Beginning this Friday, vans will depart from Mission Park at 3 p.m. and drive students to 8th Avenue between West 30th and 31st street in Manhattan. The vans will make a return trip on Sunday, departing from New York City at 3 p.m.

The ticket price for the weekly shuttle is $32, but students who purchase tickets three or more weeks in advance receive a $5 discount. The direct shuttle offers an upgrade from the Peter Pan bus, which costs $50 and takes close to five hours. Departing daily from the Williams Inn, the Peter Pan bus has been the only regular local service to New York City available in the past.

Rachel Hudson ’10, executive director of Williams Transport, explained that strong student demand prompted the move. “In our June 2008 survey, we found that many students were eager to travel to New York on the weekends but found the existing travel options to be too expensive and time-consuming,” she said.

In addition to the New York City service, Williams Transport will offer a shuttle to Secaucus, N.J. before and after breaks, expanding its list of destinations. A free shuttle will also run to Berkshire Mall every Sunday.

*Special thanks to Parent ’12 for this great news!
(from the Record)

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Misc News Round-up

This is a summary post of various news items from Speak Up. 

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RIP, Lobster Dinner

Banned from WilliamsOne of the most anticipated days of the year at Williams is the annual harvest dinner, where they served, among other things, lobster. This seems to have come to an end. A comment left by an ’09 on Speak Up led me to WSO:

Show Me The Lobster

…tomorrow night, harvest dinner.

Whatever happened to tradition? To honor?! To liberty?!?!?!

A look at the Dining Services website confirms it. Lobster is off the menu:

Locally produced cheddar cheese and crackers
Green River fresh apple cider
Pickled vegetables from Peace Valley Farm
Peace Valley greens with balsamic vinegar
New Englad clam chowder
Peace Valley green bean salad
Mystic haddock fresh baked with lemon garnishing
Hudson Valley chicken
Sea Vegetable Stew made from Peace Valley and local farm crops
Fresh and locally grown corn on the cob
Peace Valley harvested fingerling potatoes
Williams College freshly baked rolls
Williams Bake Shop fresh apple crisp made with Apple Barn apples
Williams College homemade vanilla Gelato

Now, I have never really cared for lobster, considering it an icky bottom dwelling sea bug. But non-lobster eaters such as myself always had the option of a strip steak instead, which left more lobster for our lobster eating brethren. However, the steak has also disappeared from the menu. The only proteins on there seem to be chicken and baked haddock. Baked haddock?! You might as well cancel Harvest Dinner altogether at this point.

This is the most serious casualty of the cost-cutting, by far.

UPDATE: Hey Dining Services – lobster’s a bargain right now. Prices are down by almost 50% from two years ago.

(thanks to hwc for the image. Original here.)

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Amazing Fireflies

Fireflies

 

 

In my next lifetime, I want to be a math geek. In particular, one like Steven Strogatz, who has managed to make a career out of studying events like this one:

Every night along the tidal rivers of Malaysia, thousands of male fireflies congregate in the mangrove trees and flash on and off in silent, hypnotic unison.  This display extends for miles along the river and occurs spontaneously; it does not require any leader or cue from the environment.

Wow. Sounds like something worth witnessing. And attempting to understand. Strogatz focuses on “feats of synchronization [that] occur throughout the natural world”… 

… whenever large groups of self-sustained oscillators interact.  This lecture will provide an introduction to the Kuramoto model, the simplest mathematical model of collective synchronization.  Its analysis has fascinated theorists for the past 35 years, and involves a beautiful interplay of ideas from nonlinear dynamics, statistical physics, and fluid mechanics.

But, since I am so very far from being Steven Strogatz, I would at least like to hear him speak about such things, which he will be doing, on September 16th at Bronfman Auditorium. If I could, I would be there. To me, it sounds like getting one tiny step closer to understanding magic.

The lecture on September 15th sounds wonderful as well. The focus of that one is “of his extraordinary connection with his high school calculus teacher”.

It’s about the transformation that takes place in a student’s heart, as he and his teacher reverse roles, as they age, as they are buffeted by life itself.  It is intended for a general audience, and especially anyone whose life has been changed by a mentor.  (It also includes some nifty calculus problems.)

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Farewell to Fred Stocking ’36

Fred Stocking, copyright iBerkshires.com

UPDATE from Larry George: Reminding the community that the memorial service will be on August 16th at the Faculty House.

FUNERAL NOTICE — A memorial event for Mr. Stocking will be held on Sunday, Aug. 16, at the Williams Faculty House at the corner of Park and Main streets in Williamstown. This celebration of the great, good gift of life will begin at 11:30 a.m., and a reception will be held afterward at the same location.

Contributions can be made in his name to VNA & Hospice of Northern Berkshire, 535 Curran Memorial Highway, North Adams, MA 01247 or to the Quoddy Regional Land Trust Inc., U.S. Route 1, P.O. Box 49, Whiting, ME 04691-0049. Flynn & Dagnoli-Montagna Home for Funerals, West Chapels, is in charge of arrangements.

Obituary from iBerkshires.com, in toto: Read more

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The Telos

A recent revision to the Williams College page on Wikipedia mentions “The Telos, a journal of Christian thought.” I see no mention of such a publication at Williams. Can anyone enlighten us? We would love to link to and/or publish some of this work.

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Events Tomorrow

As mentioned previously, I am on campus tomorrow. If you don’t want to listen to me lecture on regression (and who would?!), you can join me at a roundtable about the future of Ephs On-Line. This is meant to be wide open discussion, not just about EphBlog. It looks like we will have, at least, Professor Joe Cruz, Chris Warren from OIT (lead developer behind the Williams Blogs), and several students (at least Aaron Schwartz) from WSO. Good conversation is guaranteed.

And, on a personal note, I am hoping to relive my youth by playing some pick-up or intramural soccer in the afternoon. Does anyone know where those games are? Does anyone on an IM team want to invite me to join them? I promise to stay out of the way!

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Friday Meet Up

I will be around campus this week-end and would like to organize a meet up with any and all Ephs interested in the future of Williams on-line. EphBlog is a part of that future (we hope!), but I am also interested in the broader topic. Idea is to pick a time (say 3 or 4 in the afternoon?), a place (meeting room in Paresky?) and get together. EphBlog regulars are welcome of course (and who would want to miss a chance to chat with Frank Uible in the flesh?) but I hope to convince others to come as well. Comments/suggestions are welcome. Other topics:

1) I am giving a lecture for STAT 346 on Regression in Finance from 12:00 to 1:00 in Bronfman 106. All are welcome, and I am told that pizza will be provided. Although the main audience is the students in the class, my talk will be accessible to anyone who knows what “regression” is.

2) I would especially like to meet some of the faculty and staff who comment here anonymously. As Professor Joe Cruz ’91 can confirm, I am a charming companion for coffee. Just e-mail me (dave at kanecap dot com) and we can set something up — off-the-record of course! No particular agenda, but face-to-face meet ups are always fun.

3) There is an alumni event on Saturday evening. If you are an alum who reads EphBlog, let’s get together there and chat. Not sure on the easiest way to arrange that, but Dick has published enough picture of my face that I hope you will just come up and introduce yourself.

UPDATE: 4) Although I am not hiring Williams interns this year (Damn you, Financial Crisis!), my friends at Geode Capital are (with similar preferences to my own). It’s a cool place with several Ephs currently working there, several hired by me. I will post something at OCC and be available for chats at some point. Contact me if interested.

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Spring Family Days

spring-williams1

I noticed, with great nostalgia, that Spring Family Days are about to begin in Williamstown. In one way, it seems eons ago that I was packing a bag for my trip this time last year, and in another way, it’s hard to believe that my son is already nearing the end of his sophomore year.

Williamstown is a fun place to visit. I have been there several times now, but it was particularly memorable during Family Days. There’s an interesting energy in the air, no small part of which is the campus-wide excitement that the late Berkshires spring has finally begun to break.

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Adam Walsh Act Moot Court

Today’s student moot court in Griffin Hall, judged by an extraordinarily eminent panel of federal judges, is one of the best campus events in years.  Read more about the preparations for the event here.  Kudos to visiting lecturer Bernard Moore for taking the time to put together such an impressive event, which surely involved a tremendous time commitment on his part.  I hope audio of this event is eventually available via podcast.

I could add something snarky, Kane style, related to some of DK’s past comments on visiting profs, but I’ll resist the urge.  Ooops, too late …

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Bone Marrow Drive

This week at Williams:
Williams College will be hosting a Bone Marrow Registry Drive on Thursday, April 9th from 11am-2:30pm in Paresky, Friday April 10th in all the open dining halls at lunch, and Saturday, April 11th from 7-9am on Paresky lawn during the breakfast for the Great Day of Service.
This drive is in memory of Katharine C. Eckman, a senior at Hamilton College who passed away in October from leukemia. The goal of the drive is to recruit as many new donors as possible from Williams and the surrounding community. Increasing the number of donors gives hope to blood cancer patients around the world in need of a peripheral blood stem cell or bone marrow transplant. Registering is quick and easy, and requires filling out a registration form and swabbing cells from the inside of your cheek. Registrants must be 18-55 and in general good health. Every sample costs $65 to test, so voluntary donations are accepted and encouraged. Please consider taking advantage of this amazing opportunity to give someone a second chance at life.

This drive was organized almost single-handed by Susannah Eckman ’11 in honor of her sister. (See her Record article) From what I saw today, it is seeming to be pretty successful.
However, this event on campus brought to light for some people on campus the realities of donations of this sort for gay men. Although I understand the reasoning for the exclusion, it seems that if there is such a shortage for institutions such as the Red Cross and the National Bone Marrow Registry would work towards removing the prohibition on gay men donating. The Eph Rainbow Alliance also set up a table with a petition asking for a change in policy (not sure how much good it will do, but I understand their point as well).

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Purple Bubble

Kudos to Peter Drivas for getting published on Huffington Post, one of the most (if not the most) widely-read blogs on the internet (although Ephblog is catching up fast!).  Peter’s description of the “Purple Bubble” has accurately characterized Williams for many generations.  I am slightly saddened, but not at all surprised, that folks’ interest in current affairs waned after the election.  There is a heck of a lot to occupy college students, between their own heavy work-loads, extracurricular commitments, jobs, community service, and social calendars, not to mention the never-ending temptation of 2000 generally fun, intelligent, well-rounded peers to procrastinate with in common rooms and dining halls.  Plus, even for the most politically engaged among us, a certain degree of political fatigue is natural after months of intense obsession over all things politics.

Nevertheless, count me as one who is always happy to see Williams do more to encourage campus discourse on issues of national import.   In my view, Williams has best accomplished this goal in recent years via the super-awesome Williams College Debate Union (for those who don’t know, the Union sponsored a series of extremely well-attended debates in Chapin that would feature a prominent outside expert, a student, and a faculty member teaming up to debate a similarly-composed trio).   If I am ever rich enough to affect a specific aspect of campus life via a substantial targeted donation to Williams (note to any alumni fund volunteers reading: don’t hold your breath) I would definitely support reinvigorating this initiative before all else.  Alas, I haven’t heard of any major events sponsored by the WCDU for several years.

Peter will, however, be happy to hear about an upcoming series of campus events focused on Iraq and Vietnam, including a lecture by occasional Ephblog contributor Marc Lynch.    At least there shouldn’t be any last-minute cancellations …

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Commencement Speakers and Honorary Degrees 2009

I know a lot of (most?) people don’t actually pay attention to the sidebars, so I wanted to call this one to your attention.

Today the college announced the 2009 Commencement speakers and honorary degree recipients.  You can read the whole thing for the long background, but here is the quick and dirty version:

Clarence Otis ’77 – chairman and chief executive officer of Darden Restaurants – will be the principal speaker at the college’s 220th Commencement exercises on Sunday, June 7.  Anne Garrels – senior foreign correspondent of National Public Radio – will be the Baccalaureate speaker on Saturday, June 6.

President of the College Morton Owen Schapiro will confer honorary degrees on both of them as well as to astronaut and Senator John H. Glenn, writer Tracy Kidder, historian James M. McPherson, and musician James Taylor.

Quite the eclectic group this year:  businessman, journalist, astronaut, author, professor/scholar, and musician.  Should be a fun group.  Hopefully there are other side events where the honorary degree recipients can speak/perform.  Having James Taylor join in the Ivy Exercises singing of The Mountains would be pretty cool.

In various committee/meet the alumni settings I had the good fortune to meet Otis a handful of times.  He seemed like a great guy.  I hope he’ll give an interesting speech – commencement addresses are a notoriously difficult balance.

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Go To This Event

I am excited to see that origamist Robert Lang will be giving a lecture at Williams later this week.  Lang was the subject of a fascinating New Yorker feature by Susan Orlean.  If you can’t make the event, I highly recommend at least reading the article.  (Or, for that matter, any article written by Orlean … I only hope I can someday do something quirky and cool enough to warrant her attention).

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Buses to Inauguration

An Eph mom writes:

Did you know that Williams is sending coach buses to the inauguration? Nothing has been posted on EphBlog. They are sending 100 students. There was a lottery for the seats and my daughter won a seat. I think they are leaving Williamstown at 8 p.m. tonight.

Sounds like a good time. Background:

We are pleased to announce that the College will arrange for limited bus service for transportation to and from Washington, D.C. for the Presidential Inauguration.

Seats are limited to 100, and students will be selected by lottery. You may select as an individual or as a two-person group. To sign up, go to mcc.williams@gmail.com write your name, ID#, and t-shirt size. If you are selecting as a group of two, include also the name, ID# and t-shirt size of your partner. A $20 fee will be required for each person. The deadline to sign up is January 7th. Notification will be on Jan. 8th. The fee will be due on January 12th. This is open to all students. Only one entry per student.

Buses will leave campus promptly at 7 p.m. Monday, January 19th traveling overnight to arrive in Washington, D.C. on Tuesday, January 20th approximately at 5 a.m. Buses will depart Washington promptly at 4 p.m. following the inauguration and arrive back on campus at approximately at 1 a.m.

You will need to bring your own snacks, beverages, and/or money for the trip as we will make only short restroom breaks. However, a boxed dinner from dining services will be available at the departure from campus only. There will be no alcohol allowed on the buses. Inauguration t-shirts will also be available for no extra charge to those riding the buses. …

This service is made possible through the Office for Strategic Planning and Institutional Diversity and the Multicultural Center at Williams.

At first, one might be tempted to note that there is a financial crisis going on and that Williams should be trying to save money. But this seems like a worthy event and, I think, the money is much better spent on this than on most of the programming by the MCC. If there is high enough demand, I wish that they would send more buses.

Does anyone know how much this costs? How many people signed up?

More importantly, I big part of binding people to Williams for a lifetime consists in arranging events that Ephs will remember for decades. That is hard to do. But the subset of Ephs who really want to go to the inauguration will remember forever that Williams made it possible. This will serve as a hook for reunions and fund-raising appeals for decades to come. So, the money is well spent. Make sure that the Alumni Development Office has a list of students who attended.

Do we have any readers on the bus? Tell us how it goes! Surely there will be at least one cell phone on the trip that could be used for sending comments and updates. Let us know how the trip is going, especially those of us who wish we could be with you.

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