When sixty former students gather from around the world to surprise you at your final class, you know you have made an impact. Your love of teaching, of history, and of institutions found a natural home here at Williams. Your course on “The Rise of American Business,” so popular that you often voluntarily taught extra sections, became an institution itself. In your service as College Marshal, you attended closely to the ceremonies and rituals that help to define Williams and, with care, adapted them to more modern times. As a historian of early America, you took particular delight in the history of Williams, which was founded and grew in that era. On the occasion of the renovation of Griffin Hall, your insightful look at what changes made to that building over the decades said about the college and its times became the rich method of analysis that you and your wife, Lee, subsequently applied in your books that used as lenses Mt. Vernon, to better understand George and Martha Washington, and Kykuit, to comprehend the Rockefeller family. Many more than those sixty students have praised you as a mentor, for finding in them potential they did not know they had, and for, as one put it, showing that “hard questions are not inconsistent with good humor and that high standards are not inconsistent with kindness.”
I hereby declare you Fred Rudolph Professor of American Culture, Emeritus, entitled to all the rights, honors, and privileges appertaining thereto.
June 3, 2012