Columns, Essays, and Speeches

Comment to the U.S. Department of Education Regarding Proposed College Rating System

I appreciate the opportunity to comment here, as a college president, on the effort to develop a system of rating colleges that would better inform students and families and provide a measure for the disbursement of federal financial aid.

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Regarding Academic Boycotts

Open discussion of such matters is an important part of the academic freedom we all cherish.

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State Testimony on Student Loans and Debt

Remarks Submitted to the Joint Committee on Higher Education’s Subcommittee on Student Loans and Debt for Its Hearing of November 18, 2013 Thank you, Senator Donoghue, Representative Paul, and the members of the subcommittee, for this opportunity to share data and perspectives on the issues that are before you. They are important ones. Access to

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What We Value

From the Fall 2013 Williams Magazine Fall brings each year an odd juxtaposition. It’s the season of college rankings, in the middle of which we honor members of the Williams family with Bicentennial Medals. Both say something about the value of a Williams education, or at least try to. Williams fares extremely well in the

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Daring Conversations

From the Summer 2013 Williams Magazine More important than finding answers is asking the right questions. That’s true not only in the individual disciplines we teach but in how we think about the college as a whole. We’ve recently been working at imagining the future of Williams through the lens of its past. That might

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Remarks at Affordable Housing Announcement June 20, 2013

We can as a community take satisfaction in the fact that, to complement the public efforts underway, we have taken as of today an important step toward addressing this communal need.

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The Essential Human Input

From the Spring 2013 Williams Magazine Animating the past is important, especially with a history as rich as Williams’ and particularly when passing major milestones. As readers of the magazine know, the college is experiencing the 50th anniversary of a decade of extraordinary change that, not coincidentally, occurred during the Williams presidency of John E.

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Exciting Particles: Making Sense of the Higgs Boson

From the Fall 2012 Williams Magazine Colleges are, perhaps more than anything, places of intellectual excitement. Since I last wrote in this column, my field of particle physics experienced one of its most riveting moments in the past half-century. That was when scientists at the CERN laboratory in Geneva found tangible evidence of the (until-then

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In Defense of the Living, Breathing Professor

Published in the Wall Street Journal (Aug. 28 online and Aug. 29 print edition) ‘Crowd-sourcing’ the grading of an essay online is no substitute for thoughtful evaluation by a trained educator. As classes resume on our nation’s campuses, amid anxiety about high tuition, student debt and other concerns, it’s worth examining what we value in

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Learning: 2,500 Miles From Home

From the July 2012 Alumni Review We’ve probably all experienced how leaving home can help us to see it more clearly. That’s what happened when my travel schedule enabled me to join part of a spring break service trip, one of several around the country organized by the college. This one was to the bottom

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