Retiring faculty members offer words of advice

Fiona Seibert

Ten faculty members will retire this year. The Record asked them to share wisdom with the College before they leave.

Jay Thoman, Professor of Chemistry, Emeritus since 1988

“As I’ve been telling my first-year student (and faculty) advisees for years, don’t take any one person’s advice too seriously, including my own.”

Susan Dunn, Professor of Humanities since 1973


“I’m a professional nerd, and if anyone can offer sound advice, it’s my students. They have taught me about the importance of sports, of being on a team and being a real team player. They’ve been terrific role models: They are cheerful [and] outgoing. They cherish their friendships, and they love life. When they used to come into our seminar room in the Physics Building, the sun came in with them. I’m so grateful to my Williams students for making the classroom a place of mutual enlightenment.”

Deborah Brothers, Costume Director and Lecturer in Theatre since 1985

“Take risks and make stuff — use your hands as well as your minds! Making stuff is so important, as it allows for freedom and, as the risks come forward, making physical things creates additional ways to problem solve.”

Jennifer Bloxam, Professor of Music since 1986

“I would urge students to find strength in this increasingly ugly and frightening world by seeking out transcendent experiences, the things that nourish an individual soul and take a person outside of themselves. We all have a spiritual nature that needs fostering, and we have to treasure that — the ability to contemplate beauty is uniquely human, so far as we know, and it can uplift us, ennoble us.”

Ralph Bradburd, Professor of Political Economy since 1976

“Don’t focus on making the most money when you think about what you want to do in life. In some ways, the best job you could possibly have is not a job where you make the most money — it’s one where you enjoy going to the job every day. The value of that is just so great that it’s hard to express how important it is.”

Pete Farwell, Head Cross Country Coach since 1987

“The word student-athlete is in that sequence for a reason. [Williams athletic recruits] come here because they choose this as a great place to be a student. Second to that is being on a team. Combine this focus with various other offerings on campus and you can grow, graduate from Williams, and really impact the world in a positive way.”

Peter Montiel, Professor of Economics since 1995

“Things tend to work out better than you think they will. I think students get stressed about next steps, and they’re really not life-defining. There’s a lot of stuff that changes — you sort of have to go with the flow a little bit.”

Brad Wells, Director of Choral and Vocal Activities since 1999

“Spend some time outside of your familiar paths, your comfort zone. More specifically, find new places — whether it’s by yourself or with a few friends. [Williams] is a really beautiful part of the world with unusual hidden corners, and there are an insane number of ways into the natural world here. It is easy to be focused in because campus is so compelling, but I think one thing that’s special and will be different once you leave is the natural surroundings.”

John Kleiner, Professor of English since 1990, and Kerry Christensen, Professor of Ancient Languages since 1990, will also retire this year.