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A Shipping Container Prefab Lab Is Built in Only 4 Hours … 

Recycling! Efficient use of limited space. No bulldozers, backhoes, or long construction times!

A possible solution to the problems PTC points out? At least the containers are small scale. Perhaps more imaginative architectural answers are needed by Williams.

Read the full story in Dwell  by Lucy Wang, March 29, 2018.

 

 

 

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From: Faculty Steering Committee
Date: Wed, Apr 4, 2018 at 1:26 PM
Subject: April 11 Faculty Meeting Agenda
To: WILLIAMS-FACULTY@listserv.williams.edu

Dear Colleagues:

We look forward to seeing you at the next faculty meeting on April 11 at 4:00 p.m. in Griffin 3. The agenda and related materials are attached to this email.

Best,

Tiku Majumder, Interim President of the College
The Faculty Steering Committee
Safa Zaki (Chair), Division II
Colin Adams, Division III
Matt Carter, Division III
Annelle Curulla, Division I
Edan Dekel, Division I
Gregory Mitchell, Division II

Materials here.

Biggest change (I think) is from the current faculty handbook which says: “All faculty are in a position of power with regard to students; hence, sexual relationships between faculty and students are almost always inappropriate.” Proposal is to replace this with:

All faculty are in a position of power with regard to undergraduate students; hence, sexual relationships between faculty and undergraduate students are prohibited. Sexual relationships between faculty and undergraduate students put claims of consent in question. It is difficult for a student to be certain of the motives of a member of the faculty. A person in a position of authority cannot be certain that the student’s consent is genuine, rather than motivated by an unspoken fear of the consequences of not consenting. In addition, a sexual relationship with a student may raise questions of unfair academic advantage or of unwarranted negative evaluation. These questions may adversely affect the educational environment of other students, as well as the student directly involved. Should any of these questions arise, sexual discrimination is at issue.

I expect the change to pass and would vote Yes. I hope that the Record follows up on this:

The Dean of the Faculty may grant exemptions to this policy in reasonable cases of pre-existing relationships. Any faculty member who wishes to request such an exemption should submit a written statement to the Dean of the Faculty explaining the reasons for the request. The Dean of the Faculty shall provide a response in writing to the faculty member and the Assistant Vice President for Institutional Diversity and Equity/Title IX coordinator.

Does Professor Jim Shephard’s relationship with his wife (and former student) Karen Shepard ’87 require retro-active permission from the Dean of the Faculty? Just curious!

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Brown Dean of the College Maud Mandel begins her term as the 18th president of Williams on July 1. EphBlog welcomes her! We are pro-Mandel and hope that her presidency is successful. (Full disclosure, our preference would have been for an internal candidate like Lee Park or Eiko Siniawer.) Let’s spend some time discussing what we know about Mandel so far. Day 5.

EphBlog loves stories about mothers and their daughters. From The New York Times in 2009:

Like the Obamas’ new domestic arrangement, whereby Marian Robinson, Michelle Obama’s 71-year-old mother, will become a third head of household and the primary caregiver for two children born to two high-achieving parents, the linchpin of the Baker-Roby household is a grandmother. Theirs is an old-fashioned scenario that fell out of style as Americans drifted to the hermetically sealed nuclear family. Since the early part of the last century, academics have noted the waning of this arrangement in the United States, because of increased mobility, smaller families and even Freudian attitudes, rampant at midcentury, that described “too close” adult maternal ties as unhealthy.

It is a choice, however, that is cycling back into favor. . . .

And it looks as if one particular family relationship — that of adult daughters with their mothers — may be entering a period of more than just détente, as veterans of the women’s movement endeavor to help their own daughters achieve the work-life balance that may have eluded them.

Ruth Mandel is the director of the Eagleton Institute for Politics at Rutgers University, and former head of the Center for American Women and Politics there. One of her assignments in her course on women’s memoirs was to ask students to write autobiographies. “I was struck by how many would say their mothers were their best friends,” Dr. Mandel said. “I don’t know that they would have said that in my generation.”

Dr. Mandel’s mother, an Austrian Jewish refugee, worked reluctantly, Dr. Mandel said. “She wasn’t raised for it and her great dream in life was to stay home.” Conversely, Dr. Mandel’s daughter, Maud, is more like her: a professor.

Twice in the recent past, when Maud’s research required temporary residence in Paris, mother and daughter lived together, with Dr. Mandel maintaining daily e-mail and Skype contact with her office while caring for Maud Mandel’s two young children (Maud is a professor of history and Judaic studies at Brown and her husband, Steve Simon, runs an online business that allowed only intermittent time in Paris).

O.K., so a stint in Paris is not exactly a hardship, but it revealed to mother and daughter that theirs was a strong partnership. “It was wonderful to have time together again,” Maud said, “and also because my mother’s life was so complicated as she juggled her intense commitment to her work with her new role as primary caregiver to her grandchildren, I was both grateful and deeply touched.”

Good stuff. A healthy relationship with one’s family is a good sign in a Williams president.

As Dr. Mandel pointed out, “Working daughters need their mothers.”

So say we all. Recall EphBlog’s key advice to young men: Marry a woman smart enough to have a professional career and live in the same city as your mother-in-law.

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As long as the chairs are all pulled up for speculation of the new Prexy, have a shot at the opening of the baseball season.

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Brown Dean of the College Maud Mandel begins her term as the 18th president of Williams on July 1. EphBlog welcomes her! We are pro-Mandel and hope that her presidency is successful. (Full disclosure, our preference would have been for an internal candidate like Lee Park or Eiko Siniawer.) Let’s spend some time discussing what we know about Mandel so far. Day 4.

What might President Mandel bring to Williams from Brown? My favorite candidate is their open curriculum.

In 1850, Brown’s fourth president, Francis Wayland, argued that students should have greater freedom in pursuing a higher education, so that each would be able to “study what he chose, all that he chose, and nothing but what he chose.” A century later, this vision became the basis for a new approach to general education at Brown: the open curriculum.

Williams should copy Brown. There should only be two academic requirements: 32 courses and a major. Forcing students to take courses they don’t want to take accomplishes nothing.

How might Mandel accomplish this?

First, appoint a committee, led by (and made up of) people who share this view. Williams makes major changes via committees and this would be no exception.

Second, guide the committee toward making two recommendations: a) All extra academic requirements — three classes in each division, DPE, writing and quantitive courses — should sunset after five years. The faculty could re-instate them (or different requirements) in 2023, but doing so would require new votes. b) Randomly select 25% of the class of 2022 to be exempt from the extra requirements. These students would, obviously, be able to take whatever classes they want, including having the option of meeting the standard requirements. But they would also have the option not to.

The great benefit of such an experiment is that it would demonstrate clearly the effect, if any, of the requirements. Does the writing requirement make students better writers? Does the DPE requirement make them more aware of the importance of diversity? If these requirements have any effect, then they might be worth keeping. But I doubt that they do. More importantly, it is an empirical question that the College should investigate.

In 5 years, the College would be well-placed to revisit these requirements and decide which ones, if any, should be kept. Of course, even better would be to just get rid of them quickly, but I doubt that will happen. There are too many faculty members who think, incorrectly, that they are doing students a favor by restricting their course options. If Mandel wants to move more toward an open curriculum like Brown’s — and I hope she does — she has much work to do.

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Brown Dean of the College Maud Mandel begins her term as the 18th president of Williams on July 1. EphBlog welcomes her! We are pro-Mandel and hope that her presidency is successful. (Full disclosure, our preference would have been for an internal candidate like Lee Park or Eiko Siniawer.) Let’s spend some time discussing what we know about Mandel so far. Day 3.

From the College’s news release:

As dean at Brown, Mandel has been deeply involved in efforts to advance diversity and inclusion, including promoting programs to foster retention for historically underrepresented students in the STEM fields. She also led a collaborative process with students and staff to open the First-Generation College and Low-Income Student Center (FLi Center), the first center at any Ivy League school to be dedicated to first-generation students.

A strong proponent of the liberal arts, Mandel established the Brown Learning Collaborative, aimed at strengthening student learning in the core competencies of a liberal arts education, including writing, reading, research, data analysis, problem-solving and public speaking.

Most of the news release is the sort of fluff that we would expect in such an announcement. Mandel is wonderful! Williams is wonderful! We will all be even more wonderful together! The above paragraphs are the only substance. Possibilities:

1) Jim Reische is filling space with whatever material he has at hand. Those activities were part of Mandel’s CV, or at least the package that search firm Spencer Stuart prepared for her as they shopped her around the presidential market. But they aren’t, really, important to her or to the Williams search committee that selected her. They tell us little/nothing about what to expect over the next few years.

2) These achievements were among the primary reasons that the search committee selected Mandel. They felt that Williams was not doing nearly enough about problems associated with URM under-representation in STEM (and/or the other items) and wanted a president who would make tackling them her highest priority.

3) These projects were truly important to Mandel. She wanted the job as dean precisely because she saw certain problems at Brown. She identified and fought for these improvements. Since every school, including Williams, can do better along these dimensions, these will be her highest priorities as Williams president.

My guess is that 2) is not true. Virtually every dean/provost at every elite college/university can point to similar projects/achievements. Mandel’s tenure as Dean is completely typical in that regard. So, it is unlikely that these played a meaningful role in her selection. (I would feel otherwise if she had done something unusual and/or if the search committee signaled us more clearly. For example, if Mandel had come from Harvey Mudd it might have been because the search committee wanted Williams to create an engineering major.)

I don’t have a sense of how much Mandel truly cared about these projects at Brown — I am sure she was in favor, but were they the source of her passion for the job? — or how much of these she will bring to Williams.

What do readers think?

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The Williams Reads Committee and the Committee on Community and Diversity are proud to announce that the Williams Reads book for 2018-19 will be ‘Sing, Unburied, Sing’ by Jesmyn Ward. Stay tuned for details on programming related to this wonderful book. The kickoff event will begin on September 3rd, 2018 when first year students, JAs, faculty, and staff will join together to discuss the book.

Believe it or not, it is already time to think ahead to the 2019-2020 academic year! The Williams Reads Committee wants your help in selecting the book for the year after next. What should our community read together? Please share ideas for books via this Google Form.

Thank you,
Marlene J. Sandstrom
Dean of the College and Hales Professor of Psychology
Williams College
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Brown Dean of the College Maud Mandel begins her term as the 18th president of Williams on July 1. EphBlog welcomes her! We are pro-Mandel and hope that her presidency is successful. (Full disclosure, our preference would have been for an internal candidate like Lee Park or Eiko Siniawer.) Let’s spend some time discussing what we know about Mandel so far. Day 2.

There is no doubt that Mandel is highly qualified (CV) to be the president of Williams. Traditionally, elite colleges require two characteristics in presidential candidates: academic success (i.e., being a tenured professor) and administrator experience. The vast majority of NESCAC presidents have had such a background, including at least the last 5 Williams presidents. (Jack Sawyer ’39, with no administrative experience, is an interesting exception to this rule.) Occasionally, an elite liberal arts college will appoint someone who is not a tenured academic, like Barry Mills at Bowdoin, but such cases seem increasingly rare.

Mandel is a tenured professor and has spent the last 4 years as Dean of the College at Brown. Check and check!

Speaking very roughly, Maud probably does better on the academic dimension than she does on the administrative. Tenure at Brown is impressive! The last few Williams presidents have had less imposing academic pedigrees than that. But Dean of the College is generally viewed as less useful preparation for the presidency than Dean of the Faculty or Provost. So, net-net, Maud has about the typical background for a NESCAC president.

Side note: There is no better example of former President Morty Schapio’s menschness than his decision to transform Carl Vogt’s ’58 interim one-year presidency into an official Williams presidency. This is why Maud is officially the 18th president rather than the 17th. Vogt’s presidency should not really be counted, just as other interim presidents (Hewitt, Wagner and Majumder) are not counted. Vogt had no academic background, but I don’t count him as part of my “last 5 Williams presidents” claim above since he was not selected as a permanent president.

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After alumni and the efforts of the admissions office, the Williams website is perhaps our best marketing tool in attracting intelligent, talented, and motivated students to join our community in the Purple Valley. Unfortunately a considerable subset of these students most likely haven’t heard of Williams –  we only have so many alumni – far fewer than, say, Harvard – and our admissions officers can only visit so many high schools. For these students the Williams website becomes a powerful tool of discovery – it’s the first impression we give to show off what makes the College so special. How does it do? Part 1 of x.

Let’s start with www.williams.edu, the home page:

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1) For me the best parts of my time at Williams were the close relationships I had with professors, the research I did with them, the small and fascinating classes, tutorials, and the small sized community from which I’ve made many meaningful friendships. These are nowhere to be found on our home page (why?), and the biggest posts – attracting the most clicks – do not even allude to them. The closest one that comes to this is the post on Winter Study, under the unfortunate header “From the Archives”. What prospective student would go to the “Archives” when seeing what Williams is about today?

2) Stunningly, not a single professor is featured or even mentioned on the home page.

3) The boxed links on the lower right hand corner – meant to standout against the white background to attract attention – only cover “Admissions & Aid”, “Campaign for Williams”, “Varsity Sports”, and “Arts at Williams”. Naturally all are important, but where is “Academics”? Ctrl+F and typing “academics” yields 0 results. I would have to click “Menu” in the upper right hand corner – which has too many links – to find it.

4) I don’t know if this is just me, but it seems odd that under “Innovation” is a photo of a typewriter featuring a month were Williams students used one. Is this really the best example of innovation at Williams? What about our upcoming Science Center? Or groundbreaking research by professors and students?

5) The news that a Williams senior won the Watson Fellowship is relegated to the bottom of the landing page – why? Don’t we want to boast this?

6) The Featured Events section, also relegated to the bottom right, leaves much to be desired in terms of diversity of what’s actually featured. The three right now all lean politically, but in the events.williams.edu page, there are math talks by students, sports games, and new acquisitions by the Sawyer and Schow libraries. Why don’t we feature these too? For that matter, who decides what events to feature…?

7) The most interesting part of the home page is at the bottom, only seen after scrolling down, under the banner “Williams Life” (for that matter, why is the font of these banners so small?). There are so many stunning photos highlighting Williams – professors working with students, our dining staff, the beautiful location – but all, for some reason, are without any caption and link to nothing else of relevance in the website. A prospective student might get excited at seeing a professor and a student working in a lab, but upon clicking it would find a dead end – no caption, no link as to what they might be doing. Are they just posing for the camera? Also and oddly enough, the photo featuring our new President has no name attached to it. What would a prospective student make of that, and our home page in general?

What do readers think of our website?

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Brown Dean of the College Maud Mandel begins her term as the 18th president of Williams on July 1. EphBlog welcomes her! We are pro-Mandel and hope that her presidency is successful. (Full disclosure, our preference would have been for an internal candidate like Lee Park or Eiko Siniawer.) Let’s spend some time discussing what we know about Mandel so far. Day 1.

Start with the acknowledgments from her 2014 book Muslims and Jews in France: History of a Conflict:

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Beautiful stuff. How could we not like Mandel after reading such obviously heart-felt prose?

The modernists among our readers will insist that we have it all backwards, that we should start with Mandel’s CV, the dry listing of her professional accomplishments. I disagree. Although a stable marriage and loving family are not a requirement to be the president of Williams, they are a very good sign of character, judgment and stability. After our experience with President Working-on-Wife-Number-3, it is nice to know that Mandel will not be concerned with the dating scene in Williamstown.

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Harvard genetics professor David Reiche‘s op-ed and interview in the New York Times is making waves.

Williams professor Phoebe Cohen tweets:

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EphBlog is here to help! The key issue with Reich is that he believes that there are important genetic differences between human population groups.

It is likely that a few stereotypes will be validated by findings from genetics — even if it is also certain that a great majority will be disproved. … So how should we handle the eventuality that for a few traits, average differences among populations arising from genetics will be discovered? I do not think that the right approach is to pretend that scientific research has shown there can be no meaningful average genetic differences among human populations, because that message is contradicted by scientific facts. … Given that all genetically determined traits differ somewhat among populations, we should expect that there will be differences in the average effects, including in traits like behavior.

I suspect that this is not a point of view that Cohen has come across that often among her Ph.D. peer group. But she should get out more! Indeed, there are professors now at Williams who have published along these lines. Start with economics professor Quamrul Ashraf. Consider his paper, “The “Out of Africa” Hypothesis, Human Genetic Diversity, and Comparative Economic Development”:

This research advances and empirically establishes the hypothesis that, in the course of the prehistoric exodus of Homo sapiens out of Africa, variation in migratory distance to various settlements across the globe affected genetic diversity and has had a persistent hump-shaped effect on comparative economic development, reflecting the trade-off between the beneficial and the detrimental effects of diversity on productivity.

Key message is that one of the reasons Peru is poor and Japan is rich is that the genetics of Peruvians differs from the genetics of Japanese in ways that influence economic growth. This is not a popular opinion in the academy and I am occasionally surprised by the lack of controversy at Williams about Ashraf’s extensive (and impressive!) research effort along these lines.

Psychology professor Nate Kornell is almost certainly a alt-right fellow traveler when it comes to the topic of the reality of IQ and its genetic component. His puckish side comes out when he likes tweets like this which highlight the almost religious nature of the opposition to Reich.

Modest Proposal: Professors Cohen, Ashraf and Kornell should organize a panel at Williams to discuss Reich’s views about the genetics of racial differences. (EphBlog has covered this topic before.) Williams is an college, not a madrassa, so an open-minded professor like Cohen has nothing to fear from a discussion about the views of a scholar from Harvard . . . right?

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From Dezeen 28 March, 2018

The Vatican City will make its debut at the Venice Architecture Biennale this year, by building a series of chapels by architects including Norman Foster (above), Eduardo Souto de Moura and Teronobu Fujimori.

London-based Foster + Partners has imagined a tent-like structure made from wood, built around three symbolic crosses. “Our aim is to create a small sanctuary space diffused with dappled shade and removed from the normality of passers-by, focussed instead on the water and sky beyond,” 

Curated by architectural historian Francesco Dal Co, the Holy See Pavilion will feature 10 chapels, designed by prolific architects from around the world.

The architects were asked to base their design on a chapel in Stockholm designed by Swedish architect Gunnar Asplund in 1920, featuring a striking triangular roof supported by slender columns.

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“With this small masterpiece Asplund defined the chapel as a place of orientation, encounter and meditation, seemingly formed by chance or natural forces inside a vast forest, seen as the physical suggestion of the labyrinthine progress of life, the wandering of humankind as a prelude to the encounter,” said Dal Co.

A ‘chapel’ is a private place of worship serving a residence or institution for meditation, prayer, or small religious services. It is interesting that The Holy See would recognize the chapel  “as a place of orientation, encounter, and meditation”. The ‘chaplain’ is a member of the clergy attached to this private chapel, or ship, or as some may remember, their military unit. It is assumed in most cases that the chaplain will serve those who come seeking advice, consolation, or other problems they may encounter.

In an institution with diverse religions, nationalities, races, sexual orientations, and philosophies, I can imagine a chaplain helping many through their personal encounters in new situations with which they must now deal.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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imageFrom Sports Illustrated:

There was this thing that Duncan Robinson would do, four years ago, when he was a 19-year-old freshman basketball player at Williams College, a tiny, elite Division III liberal arts school, with a student population of just over 2,000, in the Berkshire Mountains of rural, northwestern Massachusetts. Williams freshmen, like D-III freshmen everywhere, are asked to help with menial support duties, and before away games, Robinson took it upon himself to carry trainer Lisa Wilk’s heavy bag of supplies from the bus to the locker room, along with his own bag. After games, he would carry it back to the bus. It was a heavy bag, about 50 pounds of tape and wrap and other supplies. Sometimes Robinson would fight off fellow freshman Dan Aronowitz to carry the bag. This muling was a small act, but something that everyone at Williams seems to recall as quintessential Robinson. When he decided to leave Williams after his one season, some of his friends made a funny, “Please Stay, Duncan” video in which they put little water droplets on Wilk’s face to make it appear as if she was weeping.

This weekend Robinson, a 6’8″ senior forward, will play for Michigan in the Final Four, first against Loyola-Chicago on Saturday evening and then, potentially, in the national championship game on Monday night. The Final Four, past and present, is a cascade of remarkable stories. Michigan’s next opponent, for one, is this year’s Cinderella. Robinson’s personal tale is well-known enough that announcers can dispense with it in four words: The Division III transfer.

But it’s more than that. Robinson is a unicorn: A player who transferred from D-III, not just to D-I, but to the highest level of D-I, a contending program in a power five conference, and with a full scholarship in hand from the beginning. He then became a starter in his first year of eligibility and has scored more than 1,000 points. When he steps on the court Saturday, he will become a subset of one—the first player to participate in both the Division I and Division III basketball Final Fours. (And he won’t just participate; he will be the first Michigan player off the bench, averaging more than 25 minutes and almost nine points a game in the tournament.)

Read the whole thing.

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From the Record in November 2015:

Over the past couple weeks, we have seen numerous articles about politics on campus, especially concerning Uncomfortable Learning. Ironically, though, other than from sources external to the College, there seem to have been few opinion pieces from conservative students. I would like to respond to previous opinions while also looking at some data.

It seems that a point mentioned in an opinion piece for the Williams Alternative, but glossed over as just matter-of-fact, is much more important than it appears. I am referring to how politically-concentrated the faculties and administrations are at most colleges. There exists a substantial amount of literature regarding this bias, but it is not something to just write off – these people determine most of the curriculum and rules for their respective colleges. Therefore, I decided to investigate how political donations break down among recent faculty and administration hires here at the College to get an idea of the diversity.

One can find public information on donations through the website of the Federal Election Commission (FEC). I used the FEC’s “Advanced Transaction Query by Individual Contributor” for political committees, including joint fundraising committees, to search for employees of the College.

After checking whether the employee was a professor, lecturer, instructor or administrator (rather than a student or member of the staff), it appears that of 111 considered political donations since 2007, 108, or 97.3 percent, went to Democratic and liberal organizations. Of 41 contributors, 40, or 97.6 percent, gave to liberal groups. By dollar amount, this is $39,210 out of $39,960 in total, or about 98.1 percent. These numbers don’t exactly scream any sort of political diversity.

Indeed. But even more worrying (to me) is how conservative students are treated. From the same op-ed by Matt Quinn ’17:

’d like to finish by sharing something that I observed at Williams for Life’s recent display on Planned Parenthood. Staff and faculty who saw the display were glad to see students discussing politics. Yet, as I mentioned, quite a few students reacted by questioning our sanity, throwing temper tantrums as they walked by and so on. There were still students who engaged with us, but the only sizable group that did so were not current students, but prospective students. Students from Windows on Williams were more than eager to respectfully talk about the contentious issues at hand. It’s unfortunate that the reaction among many current students is the exact opposite.

Indeed. Are pro-life views treated fairly at Williams?

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From CBS News:

When Julie Yip-Williams [’97] found out she was dying of cancer, she wasn’t completely surprised.

“I’ve always felt like I was living on borrowed time,” she said.

“Why do you think that is?” asked Smith.

“Look at my life, this crazy life.”

She’s been thinking a lot about “this crazy life” lately — how it began, and how it will end.

It started 42 years ago in post-war Vietnam. Julie was born totally blind. Immediately, her grandmother intervened. “She set up a meeting between my parents and this herbalist, and had my mother and father take me to this man,” she said.

And her grandma’s intention was what? “To have me killed,” she said, “because I was blind.”

“And she just thought there was absolutely no future in that?”

“There was no future for me, nobody would ever want to marry me, I was an embarrassment to the family,” Julie said.

But instead, her life was spared. “The herbalist said, ‘I won’t participate in this kind of dirty business.’ And he walked away.”

She was three when her family fled Vietnam for the United States. They made it to California, where she says an eye surgeon changed her life. “Here’s my mother who doesn’t speak any English, okay? And she gets me to this young pediatric ophthalmologist who has never seen a case like mine before. And he tells her, ‘I don’t know how much vision I can give her, but we can try.'”

What he gave her was enough, though she is still legally blind. “I cannot drive, I can’t play tennis. Like, my dream is to play tennis!”

Read the whole thing. Julie’s blog is here. Example entry:

Dear Josh [her husband],

Sometimes, I can feel the weight of your stare as I feign sleep in those torturous minutes before I fully wake. Your grip on my hand has tightened; that’s what probably woke me in the first instance. I can feel your love. I can feel you trying desperately to save the image of my face in some special place within your soul that might be immune to the amnesiac effects of time. I can feel your fear as you unwillingly envisage a life without me – how will you comfort the girls like I can; how will plan the birthday parties and arrange the girls’ schedules; how will you fix all the things that break in our home; how will you do all this while still working your demanding job and maintaining the stellar course of your career? In turn, in my own mind’s eye, I can see you cleaning out our closets and bathroom drawers to dispose of all my things. I can see you bringing flowers to my gravesite. I can see you watching what were once “our” favorite TV shows after the girls have gone to bed, in the dark, alone, the television casting its eerie blue light on your face that seems to be permanently sculpted in sadness.

Heart-breaking stuff.

Julie died last week.

Condolences to all.

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The March 2018 Report on Building (pdf) is an amazing document. Kudos to Provost Dukes Love and his staff (especially friend-of-EphBlog Chris Winters ’95) for putting this together and for making it public!

There are a dozen days or more of material here. Should I go through it in detail?

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Granted! I am not walking the campus every day/year… in fact, it is every five years. So this is an interjection from an old fart on examples of what not to design in a building that has appropriated detail. I bring this up because of the challenges to do more than build a bland box that meets LEEDS certification.

Also granted, the examples probably weren’t designed to meet the standards. The only reference on campus from my casual knowledge are the “Ironic Columns”. I quote the examples to burn into your eyeballs, examples of Post-Modern gone mad.

https://www.dezeen.com/2018/01/23/10-buildings-that-represent-new-age-postmodernism-roundups-architecture/

 

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EphBlog welcomes the College’s new chaplain, The Rev. Valerie Bailey Fischer. From an internal e-mail:

Valerie grew up in West Philadelphia in an African American Pentecostal tradition, participating in several other Protestant traditions before joining the Episcopal Church as a young adult. She went on to become University Chaplain at Framingham State University, where she helped students from a variety of religious and moral/philosophical traditions form and strengthen their communities. She galvanized the student-led development of interfaith programming to encourage learning across traditions and deeply enjoyed assisting students in planning creative rituals and liturgies that deepened their spiritual engagement.

Valerie grew up in West Philadelphia in an African American Pentecostal tradition, participating in several other Protestant traditions before joining the Episcopal Church as a young adult. She went on to become University Chaplain at Framingham State University, where she helped students from a variety of religious and moral/philosophical traditions form and strengthen their communities. She galvanized the student-led development of interfaith programming to encourage learning across traditions and deeply enjoyed assisting students in planning creative rituals and liturgies that deepened their spiritual engagement.

Former colleagues and students, in addition to describing Valerie as a gracious, authentic bridge-builder with a wonderful sense of humor, were quick to point to her ministry’s strong foundation in social justice. One example is Urban Pilgrimage, the unique experiential learning program she developed at Framingham State.

Valerie attended Penn State University, Union Theological Seminary in New York City, and Boston University’s School of Theology, and is now completing her dissertation in Anglican Studies and U.S. Episcopal Church History at General Theological Seminary. Her research examines the ancient order of female deacons from the early church, its late-nineteenth century revival, and its role in the ordination of women in the Episcopal Church in the United States.

Filling Rick Spaulding’s shoes will not be easy. Best wishes to Rev. Fischer.

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UPDATE: This post as been updated to separate out two issues: A welcome to Rev. Fischer (see new post above) and a comment on the likely priorities of the search committee which selected her (something which Fischer, obviously, has no control over and bears no responsibility for).

From a faculty friend:

From: Steve Klass
Date: Tue, Mar 27, 2018 at 2:25 PM
Subject: New Chaplain to the College Announcement
To: WILLIAMS-PERSONNEL@listserv.williams.edu

Dear Members of the Williams Community,

I am excited to announce the appointment of The Rev. Valerie Bailey Fischer as Williams’ next Chaplain to the College. Valerie currently serves as priest associate at Calvary Episcopal Church in Summit, New Jersey and brings more than eleven years of college chaplaincy experience and nearly a decade in ordained ministry.

Thanks to everyone who participated in this search for making Valerie and all our finalists feel welcome. I especially want to express my admiration and gratitude to Dean Marlene Sandstrom and the search committee (listed below), who spent untold hours guiding the process to this happy outcome.

Valerie will officially begin her new role at Williams in late July. I hope you will join me and our committee in warmly welcoming her to Williams!

Sincerely,
Steve Klass
Vice President for Campus Life

Search Committee:
· Philemon Abel ‘19
· Isabel Andrade ‘18
· Meg Bossong, Director of Sexual Assault Prevention and Response
· Coly Elhai ‘19
· Aaron Gordon, staff to committee, Administrative Director of Divisional Affairs, VP for Campus Life Office
· Jacqueline Hidalgo, Associate Professor of Latina/o Studies and Religion
· Rhon Manigault-Bryant, Associate Dean of the Faculty, Associate Professor of Africana Studies and Faculty Affiliate in Religion
· Summiya Najam ‘19
· Tapiwanashe Nhundu, Employment Manager, HR
· Shawna Patterson-Stephens, Director of the Davis Center
· Michael Rubel ‘19
· Marlene Sandstrom, Chair, Dean of the College, Hales Professor of Psychology

With that search committee, I am shocked — SHOCKED! — that they selected an African-American. Not that there is anything wrong with that!

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hoxsey street

From The Berkshire Eagle:

Williams College plan to demolish former home of Dagmar Bubriski leaves some ‘shocked, outraged’

“She would have been horrified it ended this way.”

That’s how Charles Bonenti described how the late Dagmar Bubriski, his former colleague on the Williamstown Historical Commission, would react if she knew her 19th-century home at 42 Hoxsey St. may well be torn down at the behest of its present owner, Williams College — the very entity she had refused to sell the home to during her lifetime.

Dagmar’s daughter, Wanda Bubriski, said she knows the college’s interest in buying the property had gone on for more than 50 years.

But Wanda didn’t expect the college would tear it down — even though her mother did.

“That’s why she stayed in the house,” Wanda said. “Because she knew if she moved, [the college] would demolish it.”

Dagmar and her husband Stanley moved into the home in 1954.

After Stanley died in 1965, Dagmar raised four children in the home.

An informed crusader on civic issues, Dagmar was also a perennial face in the audience at selectmen’s meetings and a frequent letter-writer to the North Adams Transcript regarding a wide range of Williamstown issues.

An advocate for historic preservation, Dagmar helped lead ultimately unsuccessful fights to preserve the Williamstown Opera House and various other properties owned by Williams College, according to her obituary in The Eagle.

EphBlog, sadly, only wrote about Dagmar once. Shame on us! The Record wrote this wonderful story in 2002.

Dagmar died in 2011.

Hemmed in by the college’s Bronfman Science Center following the center’s initial construction in the 1960s, Dagmar’s own home motivated her historic preservation efforts.

The taller, 90,000-square-foot brick science center is set to be demolished this year to make room for an updated science complex. It looms over the yellow Victorian that Dagmar called home.

“This is just one more step in the institutionalization of the village center,” said Bonenti.

Indeed. The College has always been the most important institution in Williamstown, but its power, relative to town residents, seems to grow stronger each year.

The college’s expansion also undermines the town’s architectural diversity, he said.

Buildings that were homes like Dagmar’s are being overshadowed by the college’s new buildings — largely “institutional, bland, generic boxes,” he said.

“Williamstown has become a series of construction sites for massive building,” said Peter Bubriski, one of Wanda’s three brothers, of the college’s expansion efforts. “And I won’t even go into the really sad state of their architectural choices.”

For years, Hoxsey Street was a residential neighborhood filled with family homes like the one Peter grew up in, he recalled.

Now, it’s been taken over for the college’s needs, he said.

Besides the Bubriskis’ former home, the college owns five other buildings on Hoxsey Street — two faculty-staff rentals, two student residences and one building that houses academic offices that will be converted into another faculty-staff rental, said Jim Kolesar, assistant to the president for community and government affairs at Williams College.

Presumably, Kolesar (rather than Jim Reische) got involved in this article because he had been sparing with Dagmar for years.

I have no problem with the College owning lots of buildings. Indeed, I think we need more home-like structures so that we can dramatically increase the number of co-ops. But it is absurd how many rentals the College maintains for staff and faculty. What a waste of resources! The College needs to house students. It does not need to house faculty/staff.

The college also owns and maintains more than 75 buildings in town that are at least 100 years old, Kolesar said.

“The college has torn down a number of structures,” said Andrew Groff, community development director for Williamstown. “But I would not characterize them as being a poor steward” of historic buildings. The college has invested in historic rehabilitation of buildings, he said.

When Wanda sold the house to Williams College in 2017, the college told her it would be used for office space during construction and later for faculty housing, she said.

“I thought, ‘Oh, great!'” she said. “”That is just wonderful.'”

She said she now believes the college was simply telling her that so she would sell.

D’uh! Of course the College was telling her whatever she wanted to hear.

But, that said, Wanda could have driven a harder bargain, could have inserted a provision that the College could not tear down the house for 100 years. She choose not to do that, probably because it would have lowered the price she and her brothers received.

I wonder if Dagmar thought about including a relevant stipulation in her will . . .

Kolesar said the college intended to use the house for those purposes.

“The college looked forward to having that as a faculty-staff rental,” he said. “[But] it really had to be vacated.”

After efforts to move the home failed to pan out earlier this year, the college now plans to demolish the building.

In a letter sent March 12, Wanda, her brothers and about 97 other people signed a letter to the president and trustees of Williams College and the Williamstown Historical Commission urging the college to reconsider its decision to tear the building down.

“We are shocked, outraged and saddened to hear of the decision of Williams College to tear down the house at 42 Hoxsey Street,” the letter states. “It was the home of Dagmar Bubriski, a community leader, columnist, a radio host and a widow at 37 who raised a family of four while being the loudest cheerleader and staunchest defender of Williamstown historic and cultural preservation. This history deserves to be preserved.”

Does the College archive the letters it receives? I hope so. Better yet would be to scan them and make them (or most of them) public.

On April 12, the town’s Historical Commission will take up the matter. The commission has the power to delay the demolition for up to a year. If the commission chooses not to delay, the demolition could go forward right away.

Removing the building will facilitate the construction of a new science center building — a core educational priority for the college, according to a Jan. 31 letter from the college’s lawyer to William Barkin, chairman of the Williamstown Historical Commission. Removal will also allow the college to enhance the landscape along Hoxsey Street with more plantings and a geologic rain garden.

It will also enable the college to improve underground utility and stormwater management and relocate a small parking lot to a location that will be more sensitive to the college’s neighbors, according to the letter.

“These decisions have to be made all the time,” Kolesar said in an email. “Once all those [considerations] were weighed, the decision was, it needs to be removed.”

Over the last four years, the college has moved two houses and a barn, facilitated the moving of a third house and has taken down four, Kolesar said.

The college listed the property as available throughout January and February, seeking parties interested in moving the building off the current lot, Kolesar said.

The building was free, with the interested party taking on the cost of moving the home.

The offer expired Feb. 28.

The college received about 17 expressions of interest, Kolesar said.

He recalled there was an entity that was “very serious” about the project, but ultimately backed out.

“In the end, they felt that they couldn’t pull it off,” he said.

Perhaps they could put up a plaque to commemorate Dagmar and her defense of town against gown over the years?

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College news release:

Williams College has extended offers of admission to 1,163 applicants for the Class of 2022. They were selected from a total applicant pool of 9,559.

Welcome to all our new Ephs. The release includes lots of data. I went through last year’s version in detail. Worth another visit?

A total of 505 identify as men, 578 as women, seven identify as trans or transgender, two as non-binary, one as two spirit, one as genderqueer, and one as another identity. Sixty-eight did not respond to an optional question about gender identity (but did answer a required binary question that appears on the application).

If you had asked me 15 years ago whether or not concepts like “spirit” or “genderqueer” would ever appear in a Williams news release, I would have forecast (incorrectly!) No. What words/concepts will appear in 2033 that will be a big surprise to future me?

By the way, the class of 2022 is the 20th (!) Williams class that has had the opportunity to interact with EphBlog. (We first appeared for the senior spring of the class of 2003.) What is the over/under on how much longer we will last?

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Screen Shot 2018-03-22 at 12.24.49 PM Arne Carlson ’57                                                     Jesse Ventura

This feature on the BBC caught my eye … Cynthia Nixon of Sex and the City running against Andrew Cuomo for Governor of New York, I  know, I know. How do celebrities get into public office. Is it their good looks, screen charm, reputations? A quote from the article:

“The facts show that people like Ronald Reagan and Donald Trump have had great success in politics,” says Dr Sharon Coen, senior lecturer in media psychology at the University of Salford.

“If they are already in the public eye, they are already present on people’s radar – we feel like we’re friends with them, or a version of them.

“This increases the feelings of likeability, familiarity and trust – which are all key factors that are determinant in the success of a political candidate.”

From California have come three, Senator George Murphy, and Governors Ronald Reagan and Arnold Schwarzenegger. It seems to be a California tradition.

But it may be of Sunday Williams interest that Minnesota’s popular (at least with me) Arne Carlson Class of ’57 was succeeded after two four-year terms by professional wrestler Jesse Ventura. As a pro-wrestling bad guy, his motto was “Win if you can, lose if you must, but always cheat!”. Ventura decided to serve only one term. Arne has some interesting observations  for a Republican.

 

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This article in the Berkshire Eagle (normally a cheerleader for “all things Eph”) captures the frustrations of living in a town that has been under constant construction since the 90s.

 

hoxsey street

 

 

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1454819064   1454819567

 

 

 

 

The Science Center on Hoxsey Street     Mrs Dagmar Bubriski (2016 photo)

Photos : The Berkshire Eagle

… or hasn’t this appellation been used for a number of years? Scale, so important to environment, seems to have been lost. I was always impressed that earlier additions kept the village skyline and village plan intact. Sense of place had continuity.

The mission of the college has certainly changed and with it the structures necessary to serve the goal. I know that coming students will view the new environment as ‘their place’. Nevertheless, it seems to me that visual clues to Williams historical legacy are being lost in a desire to no longer be a village.

The 2016 story and arguments in The Berkshire Eagle

 

 

 

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The Class of ’68 in preparation for their 50th reunion this spring has set up an interactive blog to offer classmates the opportunity to exchange views, greetings, exhortations and whatever else new members of the old guard choose to do.

Here is a post on “Never Again” written by ’68 classmember W. Franklin Reed, an attorney in Pittsburgh.

From his post …

We may again be witnessing another unique moment in history when the “followers” become the leaders and the “leaders” become the followers. DZDJewaWAAALPjpBy failing to take seriously the protests of the “Never Again” movement reacting to the Parkland high school massacre (effective gun control) and women in the “Me Too” movement (sexual harassment and equal rights), the Trump administration and their allies are making the same mistake that the “establishment” figures of the 60’s did and, like them, may have some catching up to do. Indeed, they, and the National Rifle Association in particular, have been fatallymisconstruing what rights are actually protected by the Second Amendment (that was a pun, in case you missed it).

 

For those who were thinking about today’s marches, an addition for a perspective on voting eligibles by generation name:

 

Screen Shot 2018-03-24 at 7.41.28 PM

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From The Berkshire Eagle:

With necessity being the mother of invention, the regionalization of emergency responder agencies has begun in the Northern Berkshires.

Heading into the third month of the merger of Village Ambulance in Williamstown with the North Adams Ambulance Service, officials say the task of melding procedures and communications continues apace.

Village Ambulance is about the only non-profit which merits direct contributions from Williams, mainly because its services are so commonly used by students. So, I don’t mind some College involvement. I also don’t know enough about the local politics to understand the reasons behind the merger and the winners/losers associated therewith.

I always worry, however, that the local power brokers —- Williamstown town manager Jason Hoch ’95, North Adams mayor Thomas Bernard ’92 — are very smart and that they recognize two fundamental truths: Williams College has endless money and the people who run Williams are (over) eager to use (too much of) that money to improve their own lives. So, what should Hoch/Bernard do? Get the College to contribute much more to the ambulance service, especially for aspects (like coverage outside of Williamstown) that it did not contribute much to before. And what do we see?

The cost of the rebranding, as well as others costs incurred by the merger, is being covered by a contribution from Williams College and Williamstown of up to $200,000. Meanwhile, the service responded to 892 calls In January. The average for North Adams Ambulance has been about 500 in a month. At the time of the merger, Village Ambulance was averaging around 333 per month.In January, the first month of the merger, the newly combined ambulance service responded to 892 calls.

$200,000 is way too much! And I bet this is in addition to the money that Williams usually contributes.

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We failed to cover this news last fall.

Thomas Bernard will be the city’s next mayor.

The political newcomer handily defeated Robert Moulton Jr., by an unofficial tally of 2,404 votes to 1,023 votes, winning all five of the city’s voting wards by 200 votes or more.

“I am humbled and grateful that we can celebrate with friends and toast to North Adams and we’re going to wake up tomorrow ready to roll up our sleeves and work,” Bernard told his supporters at the Richmond Grille Tuesday night.

The new mayor will take the helm on New Year’s Day and serve a two-year term.

Bernard, director of special projects at Smith College, was born and raised in North Adams, graduating from Drury High School and then Williams College. He later returned to the city to work at the Massachusetts Museum of Contemporary Art, then worked at the Massachusetts College of Liberal Arts.

Bernard, who heavily outraised and outspent Moulton’s campaign, touted a message of economic development based on improved education and city infrastructure in the months leading up to the election.

“I want to be a mayor for everyone in North Adams, and want to hear and work to address people’s concerns as well as to encourage their aspirations,” Bernard stated.

The College (probably?) benefits from having alumni in local positions of power: Bernard ’92 as mayor of North Adams, Jason Hoch ’95 as Williamstown town manager, and maybe even Michael Wynn ’93, Pittsfield chief of police.

Any local readers have opinions on Bernard/Hoch/Wynn?

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From: Eiko Maruko Siniawer
Date: Wed, Mar 14, 2018 at 9:14 AM
Subject: Open Forum on College Priorities
To: WILLIAMS-FACULTY@listserv.williams.edu

Dear colleagues,

The Committee on Priorities and Resources (CPR) invites you to attend an Open Forum for faculty, staff, and students on Thursday, April 5, at 4:00 pm in Griffin 6. We’d like to have an open discussion of the college’s priorities, so we hope that you’ll come with your thoughts about how the college has been, and should be, allocating our resources. What should be the college’s most important commitments? What is most central to the mission of the college, and how does our spending align with our priorities?

There will be introductory remarks by Dukes Love and Fred Puddester. But the forum will be dedicated to your ideas and questions about anything from financial aid to building on campus. The members of CPR hope that you can attend the forum and be part of this conversation.

We look forward to seeing you on the 5th,

Pei-Wen Chen, Biology
Todd Hoffman, Budget Director
Steve Klass, VP for Campus Life
Dukes Love, Provost
Megan Morey, VP for College Relations
Fred Puddester, VP for Finance and Administration
Michael Rubel ’19
Matt Sheehy, Associate VP for Finance
Jim Shepard, English
Allegra Simon ’18
Eiko Maruko Siniawer, History, Chair of CPR
Tara Watson, Economics and Public Health
Chris Winters, Associate Provost
Weitao Zhu ’18

1) I am still sad that Eiko was not picked as the next Williams president. She would have been great! Anyone have gossip as to whether or not she (or Lee Park) was among the finalists in the search?

2) My sense is that the CPR is one of the more powerful committees on campus. Insider commentary welcome.

3) My guess is that such a forum will generate a fair amount of bleating about too-low faculty salaries/benefits. Or am I being unfair?

4) The college spends way too little money on improving the quality of our students, especially black/Hispanic/poor admittees that choose Harvard/Yale/Princeton/Stanford over us. My questions to CPR would be:

a) Why don’t we match the financial aid offers from HYPS, at least for highly desirable URM/low-income applicants? My sense is that we often expect “middle class” students to pay tens of thousands of dollars more then they have too pay at HYPS. Is that true? How much would it cost to fix?

b) Why don’t we increase the funds devoted to Tyng Scholarships and focus those awards more on the most desirable applicants, especially African-Americans?

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One of the great benefits of tenure is that Professor Phoebe Cohen can now tell us what she really thinks . . .

“Nike Camp with enrichment classes” is a quote from Professor Shanks.

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