It was controversial in the sense that he wasn’t making brownie points toward tenure the way most professors did. He wasn’t bound to publish many scholarly papers. He wasn’t bound to give courses in a certain way. He was a free spirit in many ways and this was something which upset some members of the faculty. And he came up for tenure at the same time as a couple of other people and there was a good deal of discussion about them. I would not have tried to teach in the way he did. I would not have been happy if all professors tried to teach in the way he did. To me it was in a sense a marginal way to approach the Williams curriculum. I thought that most of the teaching that we were doing here at Williams in the so-called conventional load was very good, was excellent. His approach really shook up that feeling, and it’s good to be shaken up now and then and he believed that it was a learning process to make people wonder about why they felt the way they did and why they held views they did and to explore their own inner convictions more deeply than most courses at the college require. Most conventional courses obviously are ones that try to give information to the student, make the student analytical in certain ways, make a student know how to use materials, but don’t push as hard as Bob did on the basic convictions, basic approach to life, basic philosophy in life of a student. And that can be very unsettling and very troublesome. But he was making a real contribution to the college in a way that most of his other colleagues were not. I thought he was a plus for Williams College.

Vince Barnett,
Former Political Science Department Chairman