Also receiving emeritus status today is Professor of Music Ernest Brown, whom death took from us much too soon.
Ernest had opened up whole new worlds to Williams—the world of Latin America, the world of the Caribbean, and most notably and powerfully the world of Africa.
His courses in “Music Cultures of the World,” the “History of African American Music,” and “Black Music and Postmodernism” introduced generations of Williams students to communities of which many had been only dimly aware.
He delighted us with his spirited playing of the marimba, mbira, and drums. He transformed the performing arts on campus by helping to found and to nurture the African dance group Kusika and the Zambezi Marimba Band.
Having lived and studied in Africa, Ernest moved confidently in many cultures, and helped us to do so as well.
At his passing, alumni flooded various social media to mourn his loss and to celebrate the many ways in which he had enriched their educational, cultural, and personal lives.
The mark that Ernest Brown left on this college is permanent.
I would ask us all to observe a moment of silence in his memory.
June 3, 2012