End of the Year Committee Reports, 1849 – Colin Adams, Thomas T. Read Professor of Mathematics

The Faculty Steering Committee

This year, the Steering Committee agonized over the question of whether the College should strive to become a first rank research university, or whether it should continue to remain a college with a single faculty member, a single student and a single classroom consisting of one log. Although no conclusion has been reached, Mark Hopkins suggested that with God’s grace, we will find a way out of this logjam. Perhaps some other alternative will present itself, and we will discover the true nature of Williams College.

On other matters, we forwarded to the Committee on Priorities and Resources (CPR) the need for toilet facilities in the vicinity of the Log. We would like o stress that this is not a reaction to our poor showing in that category in the US News and World Report rankings of colleges and universities. We believe these facilities will enhance the educational opportunities for the entire student body.

The Committee on Appointments and Promotions (CAP)

This year, the committee recommended to the trustees a course log reduction. The goal is to shorten the Log by one-fifth its length. This will move the student closer to Mark Hopkins. Since smaller classes are better, we will continue to trim the Log each year until the student is sitting in Mark Hopkins’ lap. This should enable some truly amazing learning to take place.

At this time, we did not consider any reappointment or tenure decisions, since the entire faculty consists of Mark Hopkins, and he is tenured. As he has been heard to say, “I’ll be sitting on this godforsaken log ‘til the day I die.”

The Faculty Compensation Committee

Our primary consideration this year was working conditions at the College. Temperatures on the Log have varied from 87 degrees in May to -4 degrees in January. The schools with which we like to compare ourselves provide basic amenities such as heat and buildings. To quote Mark Hopkins, “How about a cushion, for God’s sake?”

In addition, there has been concern that the local dogs relieving themselves on the Log at night. To quote Mark Hopkins, “For the love of God, that’s not dew.”

The Committee on Educational Policy (CEP)

The CEP is considering a variety of curricular innovations. One suggestion is to increase the number pupils, but that suggestion was met with resistance, as there is not enough room on the Log for two students at a time. The class format would have to be liberalized to allow for this possibility. The difficulty in accepting more students has been exacerbated by the plan for course log reduction and the fact there is only one student at Williams.

There was some discussion about how best to implement the new Williams-in-New York program passed by the Faculty last spring. The CEP is in discussions with the CPR on the cost of purchasing a log in New York City, perhaps at the corner of Bleecker and 3rd.

The Committee on Priorities and Resources (CPR)

This year, we focused on facilities maintenance and campus expansion. Maintenance has become an issue as the bark on the Log is deteriorating. Due to squirming, there has been substantial bark loss at the student end. The Office of Admissions is concerned that a worn Log doesn’t play well in the brochures.

In addition, an anonymous request has been submitted to Buildings & Grounds to remove the knot under Mark Hopkins’ left buttock. Such a change in the Log requires the approval of the Williamstown Historical Commission, and is not covered by current budgets. Mark Hopkins, however, sounded quite desperate telling the committee “ History be damned, I’m developing a goddamned hemorrhoid.”

For basic upkeep and adaptation of existing facilities, we urge that a maintenance and renovation budget equivalent to 3% of the cost of the original log should be set aside annually. This comes to 15 cents per year.

The next major issue considered was the purchase of a second log for the College. Several committees have been concerned that there isn’t a log big enough for major events on campus, though the possibility of a redwood log capable of seating upwards of 100 people is under consideration; the Williamstown Theater Festival has expressed interest in such a Log. This new facility might also aid in the expansion of the tutorial program. We have appointed an ad-hoc Log Committee to investigate further.

Finally, we addressed the needs brought to us by the Steering Committee of toilet facilities somewhere in the vicinity of the Log. The Development Office suggested that perhaps a donor can be found, and that this might be a naming opportunity.

The Calendar and Schedule Committee

Our committee decided to implement a new idea called Mountain Day. On this day, bells ring and classes are cancelled. Mark Hopkins and the student dismount the log, and carry it up Stone Hill. Then they remount the log and sing lumberjack songs. After drinking lots of mulled hot apple cider and eating apple cider donuts, they roll the Log back down Stone Hill, and return it to where it belongs. Their needs at this point may help to justify the construction of the toilet facilities currently under consideration.

Our committee would like to remind all faculty and students about the sanctity of the Division of the Day. We ask that the Athletic Department not begin practice until 4:00 p.m., so as not to disrupt ongoing classes.

The Winter Study Committee (WSC)

This year, we approved three winter study courses for January, 1850. The first two will take place on campus: “Barking Up the Wrong Tree: A Study of Leash Laws in Berkshire County” and “Introduction to Log Knot Theory: Where Do They Come From, and How Do We Get Rid of Them?” The third is a travel course entitled, “Getting to Pittsfield and Back Before Spring Term”.

The Chapin Library Committee

The Chapin Library is attempting to purchase the original pine log with which the College was founded. Colonel Ephraim Williams’ most prized possession, he carried it with him wherever he went. It was part of his vision when he bequeathed the log for the founding of a free school in West Township.

Although the original facilities were rudimentary at best, causing substantial chafing and pine tar stains to many a pair of pants, it was this first log that set the stage for the subsequent sequence of maple, birch, elm and then oak logs for which the College is rightfully proud.

This committee feels strongly the need to preserve this early history, so that the caretakers of the College in the future can understand from whence the College came, and they can make the informed decisions necessary for the College to realize its full potential as one of the greatest log-based institutions in all of Northern Berkshire County. Mark Hopkins concurs.

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