Classic Excellence

IMG_2310_smallThe great article “Three Conversations from 2013” (summer 2013) captured so many of the things that I find incredible about Williams and why I stay engaged as a devoted alum. I’ve had the opportunity to meet alumni of all ages who experienced a Williams very different from the one I did from 1987 to 1991. Yet across time there is a common theme as deep as the color purple—classic excellence. The Williams I knew was more diverse than each of the classes that preceded mine. The conversations from the Class of ’13, however, demonstrate that “diversity” continues to evolve and blossom into so many forms—careers, uniquely designed curricular studies, mentorship and life choices. The number of paths open to any Williams student seems infinite, whether those paths are forged with the guidance of a faculty member, someone on the staff, a family member and/or a fellow student. Reading the stories of these graduating seniors felt like dropping back into a great conversation with a special person—the kind in which you can pick up where you left off, no matter how much time has passed. It warmed my heart to know that this classic excellence hasn’t missed a beat and that the Williams conversation is ongoing.

—Melissa Fenton ’91, New York, N.Y.

Coincidence Captured

How ironic, in the summer 2013 issue, to read letters responding to Bob Seidman’s ’63 article on fraternities (“Band of Brothers”) at the front of the magazine and to see photographs from the college museum’s collection by Edweard Muybridge (“Ears of a Deer”) at the back. In 2012 Bob published the novel Moments Captured, whose central subject was Edweard Muybridge. Bob was prescient in both situations.

—Brooks Goddard ’63, Needham, Mass.

Living With Art

The student art loan initiative (“Living with Art,” summer 2013), where students may have original works of art by Cézanne, Winslow Homer, Marc Chagall and others hung up on their walls, struck me as an excess. The cost of elite and other universities has skyrocketed. I would love to see Williams be a leader in the movement to manage the cost of its education, instead of competing to see what luxuries it can provide. Please direct alumni donations to more important funds and needs, and cut the current $58,900 total cost of attending.

—Claudia Rizzo Trapp ’95, Washington, D.C.

Snowy Silence

listen-snowEphropology,” the illustrated bucket list that appeared in the spring 2013 issue, suggests that students “stand outside late at night and listen to the silence as it snows.” I was a junior advisor at Lehman Hall and remember standing in front of the entry late at night when it was snowing. The light was on in front of the door, and as I stood there looking up into the snow, with no other point of reference, I had the strong sensation of floating up through the flakes. Try it sometime—it’s an experience that I’ve repeated many times, but the night at Lehman was the first.

—Guy Verney ’54, Madison, Conn.

Iron Hand, Velvet Glove

The article “What Sawyer Said” in the spring 2013 issue brought back fond memories of President Jack Sawyer ’39, including his “iron hand in a velvet glove” way of working. During a Winter Study oral history course on the Baxter and Sawyer administrations that I took in my junior year, I interviewed Professor Dudley Bahlman, who was dean of the faculty under Sawyer. He recalled that President Sawyer would vet every letter and memo he sent out as dean. They’d always come back with a little tweak here, a little change there. (This, of course, was before word processors, meaning the entire memo had to be retyped.) One day a memo came back with the note, “OK as stands.” Professor Bahlman told me, beaming, “I framed that one.”

—Guy Creese ’75, Andover, Mass.

More on the Breman Collection

DSC_0033_[15]While I was pleased to see the article in the fall 2012 magazine about my late husband’s collection of black poetry and related material coming to the Chapin Library of Rare Books (“Beyond Words”), I am puzzled that there is no mention of how the acquisition was made. One assumes that the books were bought from an auction house or an anonymous source, when in fact Williams owes a great debt to my old and valued friend, Darra Goldstein, for their arrival at the library. Darra saw the collection while visiting me in London and introduced me to Bob Volz, custodian of Chapin, with the result that the Paul Breman Collection came to the library as part purchase, part gift. I am delighted that the collection has found a good home and that there is such enthusiasm for the books among the faculty at Williams, and I hope that Darra’s part in this story will not be overlooked.

—Jill Norman, London, England

From Facebook

For the start of first-year student orientation in August, we asked what advice you had to offer our newest Ephs. Among your pearls of wisdom:

  • Take advantage of the opportunity the purple bubble gives you to fall flat on your face and stand back up again.
    Tosin Adeyanju ’08
  • Eph it ain’t broke, don’t try to fix it. And: Welcome to purple infusion time, baby.
    Bilal Ansari, Williams’ Muslim chaplain
  • Take courses that really intrigue you; don’t take anything because you think you “should.” Make forging friendships a priority, because you will never be around such an exceptional group of people ever again—not ever. Don’t care where you eventually live or work or play. Williams is truly unique. Relish it.
    Claire Benson-Mandl ’03
  • Effective time management is your best friend. Learn it early and learn it well, and the next four years will be great!
    Em Flynn ’09