I came in as an instructor [in 1956] and I had some correspondence with Vince Barnett seeking to have a higher rank for what was my third year of college teaching. I hoped to get an assistant professor rank here on joining the Williams faculty but that was delayed for a year. He must’ve been an instructor as I was. There may have been some—well I’m almost sure there was some objection in his own mind to having an outsider come in and have a higher rung on the ladder.

I think there was a sense of rivalry and maybe resentment. He specialized in political thought and he, coming from Chicago, he had a school of interpretation that was recognized as unique in the profession. So he then offered some elective courses in political thought, and then there were so-called honors courses available to an upper-register group of Poli-Sci majors. And my own philosophy was different from Bob’s. He was essentially breeding an elite group that would be challenging to one another and also interesting for the professor to teach, and these especially favorite students would consider themselves — and did consider themselves — an elite group, whereas my inclinations were to equalize and improve the average student rather than separating out the gifted student and concentrating one’s efforts on them. I think there may have been a dislike for his insistence on his own peculiar ways of looking at things. I don’t think they disliked him but they found him delicate. Well the word “prima donna” is ringing in my head at the moment. But he was a unique kind of operator. As for my own relation with Bob, I think I’ve indicated where we were on different tracks.

MacAllister Brown,
Former Political Science Professor