Well he had this kind of mantra. A lot of people say it, but most faculty don’t deliver on it: The liberal arts begins with the student, with the individual student. And the implication of that is that you have to get to know your students, you have to know who they are, what they think. You have to be able to identify them as individuals. And the materials you have, you use, you have to in some ways interact with those students. This meant that people had to participate in class because there’s no way to get to know students if they don’t say something. Therefore– it was unusual at Williams at the time–Bob felt free to call on students. He didn’t just recognize hands. And you would expect, if you were in a small class, and most of his classes were pretty small, to be participating in each and every class. He told students if you haven’t read the material come to me before class and let me know and then I won’t call on you that day. All of his grades included a grade for class participation. So this wasn’t just an extra, this was an integral part of what he did. He also had a powerful belief in the need to integrate the curricular and the extracurricular. So if there was anything going on on campus in the evening, a talk or anything that had the slightest relationship to what he was doing, he would really talk it up. He would invite students over to his house after to discuss it. He would then talk about it in class. He would say, “Mr. Jones, I noticed you were at the so-and-so, what did you think of this?” And again, this is supposed to be another core part of the liberal arts, which most of us don’t deliver very well.

By the way, I think his enrollments, with very few exceptions, were not nearly as large as you would’ve expected given what a popular teacher he was. And one of the reasons for this is that you were on the spot in that class. I mean you couldn’t be a free-rider in Bob Gaudino’s classes.

David Booth,
Former Political Science Professor