Phi Beta Cons

How They Choose Trustees at Williams

Mariah Widman, Williams College Class of ’15, writes an engaging post on the Williams Alternative about her effort, as a new alumna, to interview the candidates for the position of Williams Alumni Trustee. The operative word is “try.”

She sent emails to the three candidates, who had been nominated by the Alumni Society, and spoke with the head of the ociety and the director of alumni relations. She reports:

In his email, Brooks [Foehl, director of alumni relations] informed me that he had advised the candidates against speaking to me, and invoked a categorical imperative-style justification. If they agreed to speak to me they might have to speak to any number of alumni asking all sorts of questions. Not being obligated to, they chose to remain silent, and I received no responses.

Mariah was also unable to find out how the candidates were selected. The head of the Alumni Society said,

Leila informed me that “the nominees are not running on a platform, as with political candidates, and therefore do not have a ‘position’ on issues. They are being presented to alumni as individuals with the requisite professional and life skills to serve on the Board of Trustees.”

Five of the school’s 20 trustees are Alumni Trustees. Safe votes.

Jane S. ShawJane S. Shaw retired as president of the John W. Pope Center for Higher Education Policy in 2015. Before joining the Pope Center in 2006, Shaw spent 22 years in ...


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