Williams College Blog
Saturday, February 07, 2004
       
Whistling past the graveyard might be a fair description of the College's response to Louise Gluck's departure.



Williams spokesman James G. Kolesar said the college hopes the departure is not permanent.

"Louise Gluck has several times in the past taken leaves from her position at Williams to teach elsewhere, and in each instance she returned," he said. "She's a valued teacher and colleague and the college hopes this will be the case again."



Gluck is moving to New Haven. Her position is for five years and will, in all likelihood, be renewed. Who really believes that she is going to go back to her weekly three hour trek across the mountains from Cambridge to Williamstown (or New Haven to Williamstown) at age 65?

Ephs may be more charming and fun to teach than Elis, but not that much more so.

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Always tough to know if stuff on the web is reliable or not, but this article caught my eye.



I would like to introduce you to the first Black in America to compose a poem. No, not Phyllis Wheatley, but rather her name is Lucy Terry Prince. She could not read or write, but in 1746, she composed the poem, "Bars Fight." This poem was verbally passed down until it was published in 1855. Although Lucy Terry Prince was not a literary genius her contribution to Black history is unquestioned.

Lucy Terry Prince was an eloquent speaker. She argued to get her son Festus, into Williams College. This, "illiterate" former slave debated in front of the hyper-educated board of trustees to the college. Although unsuccessful, she later was successful in arguing a property dispute before the U.S. Circuit Court in 1796.



I had never heard this story before. If true, it would make for a great senior thesis. It would be especially interesting to know where the descendants of Festus Prince are today.


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Friday, February 06, 2004
       
Since second semester started yesterday, it might be fun to take a look at some course options.

For starters, how could you not try to get in to ECON 357T(S) The Strange Economics of College, a tutorial taught by Morty? Morty was a great teacher 16 years ago and I suspect that he has only improved with age. Of course, some allowances (only 6 students allowed and meetings with three students instead of two as in other tutorials) seem to have been made for Morty's position as president, but these are small beer compared to the opportunity for an marvelous class.

ECON 255 Econometrics is something that anyone who as even daydreamed about graduate school in any of the social sciences should take. The course description notes:



Highly recommended for students considering graduate training in economics or public policy.



This should really read:



Failure to take this course, along with as many math and statistics courses that you can possibly stand, will result in a miserable experience in graduate school, not just for economics but for political science, sociology, public policy and most everything where numbers are ever used. Don't believe us? Look at any recent issue of the leading journals in these fields. Also, students at Williams who double major in math are most likely to be accepted by elite graduate schools and do well there.



But maybe that's just me.

REL 303 Realitywith Mark Taylor should be a requirement for any undergraduate who thinks that she is smarter than her professors. Dropping the old REL 301 course with Taylor was the single stupidest course decision I made at Williams. Whether you think of Taylor as a prophet or a fraud, there can be no doubt that he runs his classes in an academically rigorous --- some might even so old-fashioned and conservative --- fashion. As with all such cool classes, you should feel free to ignore the course prerequisites. Just tell Professor Taylor that the Williams Blog sent you!

;-)

Other ancient alum are welcome to send in there advice to today's Ephs.


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Thursday, February 05, 2004
       
Speaking of poetry, I would wager that Peter Murphy's lecture this afternoon on "Everything about Poetry (And Everything Else)" will be a winner. It's too bad that the 4:15 time means that winter athletes can't attend.

Murphy is one of my favorite Williams folks because of the outstanding job he did (or seemed to do from a distance) as Dean of the College during the mid 1990's. (Of course, I also thought that Hank Payne was doing a great job during this period, so caveat reador.) His best quote was something along the lines of "Shaping hearts and minds is actually an important part of what we do around here," in regard to an administration policy. If anyone knows the precise reference, I would be appreciate knowing it.

I will also see about linking to Murphy's lecture.


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Looks like Louise Gluck will be leaving Williams.



Current U.S. Poet Laureate and Pulitzer Prize-winning writer Louise Gluck has been tapped to teach poetry in the Yale English Department for a five-year renewable term beginning this fall, Yale College Dean Richard Brodhead said Wednesday evening.




Comments:

1) I would love to know the inside scoop on how good a teacher Gluck was and how much of a loss this represents for future Williams students.

2) Live by the star, die by the star. The college, rightly, made a big deal of the fact that Gluck was a Pulitzer-prize winning Poet Laureate. I suspect that we won't see a similar press release and "Of note . . ." entry on the home page announcing her departure.


3) It will be tough for even our highly knowledgeable College sources to report on the details of any negotiations between Gluck and Williams. The College, presumably, would have liked her to stay and would have been willing to pay up for the privilege. But, most likely, it would have been tough for the College to compete against Yale.



"Strong poets are always sought after, and it's never easy to recruit the best faculty to Yale because everybody wants the same people," Yale College Associate Dean Penelope Laurans, an English poetry professor, said.




4) Not to get too snarky, but I love this part:



Yale President Richard Levin, who said he especially enjoys Gluck's 1996 book "Meadowlands," said Gluck's appointment is "fabulous" for the University.



Note the use of "especially" here. In other words, Levin has read all sorts of poetry and/or lots of Gluck's poetry, but he "especially" likes Meadowlands. Perhaps. But Levin is an economist by training. Economists are not famous for their poetry consumption or taste. I'll put this in the too-good-to-check category.

Of course, some of my best friends are economists.

;-)


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Wednesday, February 04, 2004
       
The Transcript has an overview article on coming changes at the health center.



Starting next fall, Williams College students seeking after-hours medical attention won't have the health center to turn to. Williamstown Medical Associates, which is available to the health center staff at night in the form of telephone consultation, is no longer willing to do so because of "liability issues."

Williams students learned of the change in a campus-wide e-mail, obtained by the Transcript, sent by Dean Nancy Roseman to students Monday night.

"In fact, liability issues have caused many college health centers to close or limit the services they provide," the e-mail states.



The College really ought to post these all campus e-mails somewhere so that all we interested alums could keep better track of campus events.

Roseman wisely notes the potential of adverse effects anytime the College makes problematic activity safer and easier.



"The only question in my mind is are we somehow, even subtly, giving students permission to drink dangerously by providing 24-hour service at the health center," Roseman said.

In the e-mail, Roseman said the medical associates decision could be better for Williams students in the long-run.

"In the early discussions of the matter, some people have asked how this change might affect students who choose to drink themselves into an unhealthy state. In the short run, they will end up even more quickly at the hospital, where they should be. In the longer run, college policies concerning alcohol are to be examined this spring by the Committee on Undergraduate Life and others. Our hope is to engage the entire community in a dialog about this issue. We intend to approach the problem globally and with significant input from current and former students," Roseman stated.



Perhaps "Drink Globally, Puke Locally" will be the campaign slogan.

;-)



A spike in alcohol-related treatment visits to the Williams Health Center raised administrative awareness of binge-drinking among what he described as a "small number of students," College Spokesman James Kolesar said last week. Also, the college announced it is considering banning hard alcohol at Williams College in order to curb excessive drinking on-campus.



Color me skeptical, but I would suspect that the amount of serious drinking isn't much different today than it was 10 or 20 years ago. Why would it be? Moreover, even if there is, perhaps it just reflects a decrease in drug use on campus. Is the typical 20 year more interested in altering his reality today than he would have been in the past?

It is certainly plausible that more students are seeking treatment at the health center, but that's probably a good thing! Better passed out there than in the Carter House common room.

Banning hard liquor would be the single stupidest policy decision that the College has made in a long time.



Williams Health Services Director Ruth Harrison told the Record as many as nine students could seek treatment for drunkenness on a given weekend. But on average she estimated three students from Thursday to Saturday are admitted nightly for drunkenness.



Three students! That's what this fuss is about? Maybe the past seems more Bacchus than it was, but I certainly recall that more than 3 students needed "treatment" --- guidance to a worshipful position before the Porcelain God --- on a typical Saturday in the Greylock Quad alone.

But maybe I just ran with the wrong crowd . . .


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Tuesday, February 03, 2004
       
There's a nice story on seeing eye dogs in USA Today featuring Ward Marston '73.



Seeing Eye dogs, Marston says, are "meant for people like me, who like to step out."

A band leader and accomplished musician, Marston has been playing piano since age 4. He's well known in music circles because of his in-home business, in which he transfers lost or forgotten classical and opera recordings from their original 78-rpm records to compact discs. He has a collection of 38,000 records and ships CDs to customers around the world.



The whole article makes for a nice read. One of the purposes of this blog is to highlight all the different places that Ephs end up after exiting the purple paradise. With any luck at all, one of our readers might have an interest in calling on Marston the next time she was in Philadelphia. His contact information is in the alumni directory.


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Monday, February 02, 2004
       
One of the mysteries of Williams is precisely how the alumni office goes about its work. It is obvious enough that the alumni office tries to keep in touch with all of us, but how do they figure out who the potential major donors are?

Along these lines, it is interesting to note that Peter Currie '78 has joined the board of directors of Critical Path. From an alumni fund perspective, a board position isn't that interesting since board members are not paid that much. What's interesting is Currie's resume:



Prior to joining General Atlantic Partners, Mr. Currie was a partner and co-founder of The Barksdale group, an early stage venture capital firm. Before that, he was Executive Vice President and Chief Administrative Officer of Netscape Communications from April 1995 until the sale of the company to AOL in March 1999. In addition, Mr. Currie held various management positions at McCaw Cellular Communications (predecessor company to AT&T Wireless) including Executive Vice President and Chief Financial Officer, and Executive Vice President-Corporate Development. He also was a Principal at Morgan Stanley & Co. Incorporated. Mr. Currie holds an M.B.A. from Stanford University and a B.A. from Williams College.



Of course, from a distance, it is tough to judge Currie's wealth, but it would have been tough to stay poor while following the above path. It is also worth noting that Currie is clearly a very smart fellow, as evidence by his Eph wife and classmate Elizabeth (Mize) Currie '78. I suspect that dual-Eph couples are much more likely to feel generous to Williams than "mixed" marriages would be.

If the alumni office hasn't already made a major pitch to Peter and Elizabeth Currie in conjunction with the Climb Far campaign, it should do so soon. After all, any children that they might have can't be too far away from applying . . .


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Homepage for items of interest for the extended community of Williams College, with a special focus on alumni activities. Comments, links and suggestions are welcome at dkane _at_ latte.harvard.edu, 04man _at_ williams.edu, david.nickerson _at_ yale.edu or kjordan _at_ cmu.edu.

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