I suspect I was in a kind of minority in that I knew where Bob was coming from philosophically. He was annoying to many faculty members because he was kind of an upstart. I think it was in the same year that Bob came that another young political scientist joined the department, John Rensenbrink. They were an art-some pair to a lot of their older colleagues by the way they spoke up and so forth. John subsequently became married to a local young woman and then left Williams.

It didn’t take Bob long to develop a following. I think, in a way, he was about what Plato and Socrates were about. That is that the deepest truths, the closest approximation to reality comes from give-and-take, from pushing the ideas, this dialectical back-and-forth. I’m not quite sure, you know, to what extent he would have bought into — or did buy into — Plato’s notion of the forms, the ideals and that sort of thing. And one reason that I’m not sure about where Bob really came out is because he published virtually nothing about his ideas. I think that added to the mystique and the mystery of Bob. Faculty members heard secondhand accounts from students about “the wonderful Bob Gaudino” and yet Bob was not proselytizing faculty members and usually when he talked with his colleagues he was talking about college business. He was not engaging his faculty, at least not many of them, in the way that he was engaging his students. So he was a bit of a recondite figure, a bit of an intellectual man of mystery.

John Chandler,
former Williams College president