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For the record, what is your official title?
What are your official duties?
And your unofficial duties?
What do they call you?
Speaking of Mr. Cotter, we heard you had a long-time relationship--
With his mom. Yeah. When I first came to Colby I was hired as switchboard supervisor. At that time we had an old cord-board so all the calls had to go through the board. So whenever she would call, of course she had to get me first. And after a few minutes conversation she'd say, "Oh, Alan, I do want to talk to Bill." I think they were always afraid she'd spill the beans on something but she never did. We'd exchange Christmas cards and things like that. It was a nice relationship. But it kept Mr. Cotter on his toes, I think.
We also were told you help students emotionally and even financially.
Speaking of another job, weren't you asked to lead a student book discussion group?
What is the book?
How did it make you feel to be asked?
Absolutely floored. When an honor comes from a student like that, that's an honor. It's like earlier in the year, two of my foreign students showed me a letter that was presented to the board [of trustees] for my nomination for an honorary degree, which really blew me away. Unfortunately I'm not retiring so there goes that.
If you got the honorary degree, what color would your robe be?
Now, you're the advisor to The Bridge?
Yeah, it's been about five years now. Again, a student request to Mr. Cotter. . . . Students were very generous in that kind of gesture. I don't get involved on a day-to-day basis. When they need to know where to get money or they need resources of any sort. That's their club. I'm only there for support. So I don't attend the meetings very frequently. Especially at 9:30 at night.
Still, isn't it a big responsibility?
What was that like?
What about your past job?
Do you see continued progress in gay rights here?
One of my students said to me several years ago that this campus would not be satisfactory to a gay or lesbian person until she could walk across campus holding her girlfriend's hand and nobody turns around. Some days I feel positive about that, some days I feel negative. I think we change the minds of very few and that's unfortunate. I think maybe we're changing more and more minds, and I've seen wonderful success stories. I think the fact that they have to deal with a gay man almost every day for the four years they're here is, in fact, part of their training. I'm harmless. I think they need to know that.
It's easy to adhere to certain values in this bubble. It's more difficult when somebody's living in the apartment next door to you. We'll work at it. If we stop working at it, there's going to be no progress. so we might as well work at it. Our kids do.
Why do you think students confide in you so much?
Do parents still send care packages to kids?
Oh, yeah. When they started e-mail, they thought, oh, regular mail is going to drop. It's increased. They still like to get that letter from mom or dad. Especially if there's that check in it. Open it up. That tangible thing. This time of year, Valentine's Day, it's ridiculous. Beginning of the semester, September is always heavy. Unfortunately, by senior year parents don't even know they're here.
And what about those years when you were the voice of Colby on the switchboard. Did funny things happen?
HOW SHOULD WE TEACH?
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A Ray of Hope: Brittany Ray '93 inspires where she found her inspiration
An Education CEO: Robert Furek '65 brings accountability to Hartford public schools
Charting Success: James Verrilli '83 directs charter school turn-around in Newark
Perspectives on Reform: Colby experts discuss reform and the purpose of education
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College Colby Magazine 4181
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