The Michigan Daily - New Student Edition - Fall 2003 - 3C
By Ricky Lax
Daily Arts Writer
Ralph Williams has been teaching religion and
literature courses at the University for years. His
presence in the classroom is one of a kind as he has
entertained countless students all the while teaching
them the likes of Dante, Shakespeare and the Bible.
The Michigan Daily caught up with Williams to ask
him what makes him so unique.
The Michigan Daily: Congratulations on win-
ning Best Professor.
Ralph Williams: I am genuinely and deeply hon-
ored, and will do my very best to try to deserve it. I
love every hair on my students' heads, and am
wholly in love with the materials I teach: My life is
hugely privileged in those ways.
TMD: When did you know you wanted to be a
RW: Do you know I've always enjoyed the study
of literature, but that existed in a larger network of
interests. In many ways, coming to be a college
teacher was something that simply happened.
There are probably six or eight lives that I'd have
enjoyed living. I'd have enjoyed being a doctor.
Loved to have been a lawyer. Well, in college, I
applied to graduate school and Michigan's English
department came up with something marvelous
called a fellowship, which paved my way to study
more. While doing that, I discovered that one of the
chief things that one did was become a teacher.
TMD: Academic freedom is very important to
you. Have you ever been deprived of it?
RW: No. And I would leave the profession
immediately if I were. It's enormously important to
me. One needs to hear the views of all with whom
one has to do intellectually and otherwise, as they
wish to express it.
TMD: Is anything off limits in your classes?
RW: Yes, there is. Abuse of other speakers. The
views of other are open to inspection from all quar-
ters, but there will be human respect within the
classroom for those who are present.
TMD: Are any topics off limit?
RW: In general, no - but, pragmatically, there is
a restraint that I place on myself. It's my under-
standing, my commitment, that I, in the sense of
commitments or antagonisms to commitments, am
not the point of my Bible class. The point of the
class is the material that draws us together and the
discourse, as it is constructed by you, by me, by all
of those there. Off limits for me in the classroom is
the sort of expression of points of view, which
intend to produce commitment to my own views.
Williams exposes it all
Journal ranks business
school 2nd best in world
TMD: What do you think makes you such a pop-
RW: I'd like it to be the fact that in my presence,
students are received with respect, with human
affection, their intelligence; nourished, drawn out,
drawn on, their ability to receive and to challenge;
extended, and their sheer joy in their human being
and abilities; enhanced.
TMD: If you were stranded on a desert island
and could only have one work of literature with
you, what would you choose?
RW: Well let me say then Shakespeare because
the works show the pressure of the Bible and then
Shakespeare's own work foliates out into the works
of almost all others in the Western tradition and in
many others as well. I choose him because his
works themselves are more extensively and deeply
human than virtually anything I know.
TMD: Have you ever written a book?
RW: Yes. The book, which emerged from my
doctoral dissertation, is one on a neo-Latin poetics.
It drew together for me, at that point, various forms
of learning and touched on a number of interesting
issues about tradition. My best writings are the ones
ahead. There is one in formation on Primo Levi on
whom I teach a course. There is one, which deals
with the ways in which the Bible has worked
through world cultures. There is one called Five
TMD: Where is a good place to get dinner in
RW: I'm homesick for Italy so much. I'll go to
this Italian restaurant on the other edge of town.
I'm Canadian born, but I just fell head over heals
for Italy. You're born in a certain place and in a
certain sense that's home, but then if you are for-
tunate in life, you get to chose a home of the spir-
it. For me -that place is Italy. There is a bend in the
railroad when I come up from Rome. When I pass
it, I am home.
TMD: So much is made of your commanding
hands, there must be some metaphor there, what
would it be?
RW: I've heard people comment on my hands.
I've heard people comment on and question my
style. In a certain sense, my hands are a given. I
can't help my looks. I'm given my hands. If I were
to move toward a metaphor, I suppose I'd want it to
be reach and grasp, a reaching out toward, a wish to
grasp. But what you see in me is not premeditated
style, what you see is my body thinking.
TMD: How much free time do you have
RW: This may be a self-criticism: I don't think I
By Shabina S. Khatri
Daily News Editor
Corporate recruiters ranked the
University's Business School number
two in the world overall and number
one for recruiting minority talent,
according to the Wall Street Journal's
annual rankings of business schools,
More than 2,200 recruiters rated the
top 50 business schools on 26 attrib-
utes, including students' leadership
potential and ability to work in teams,
past success in hiring top-quality
graduates, the faculty and the career-
Business School Dean Robert Dolan
said the past year's challenges, including
the economic. downturn and the Sept. 11
terrorist attacks, gave the ranking an
especially valuable meaning.
"We're obviously happy to find our
students are so highly sought after.
Ranks aren't everything, but it's one ele-
ment of the reputation of the school that
will really help people know what we're
all about;' he said.
The University rose from its previ-
ous No. 4 ranking to beat out last
year's second and third favorites,
Carnegie Mellon University's Gradu-
ate School of Industrial Administra-
tion and Yale University's School of
Kristina Nebel, the Business School's
Director of Admissions, said the Univer-
sity also ranked better than the "usual
suspects such as Wharton (School of
Business at the University of Pennsylva-
nia) and Harvard (Business School),"
which placed in this year's top ten.
"Even though the number one spot
went to Tuck (School of Business at
Dartmouth) again, we're pleased to have
been able to close the gap by making the
results a lot closer this year," she said.
Business junior Matt Ellish said the
ranking only confirmed his beliefs
about the Business School.
"I knew coming into it that it was high-
ly ranked. I think it's good to know that,
but that doesn't mean you can just expect
to lay back and get a good job;'he said.
But the University's rise from its
previous Wall Street Journal rating
came as a surprise to many people
because of the past year's decline in
Jan Malas, assistant director of the
Business School's Office of Career
Development, said the results were
unexpected but could be explained
by the Business School's wide-rang-
"Because our B-School teaches more
general management, we're not known
for one area like accounting or finance.
So we were able to reach a broad base
of companies through our manufactur-
ing and services sector," she said.
"When one sector goes down the other
goes up, so we did very well compared
to other schools."
One feature unique to this year's
results is that the Wall Street Journal
highlighted specific schools for their
David Wooten, the director of the
Business School's Minority Affairs, said
the school's number one ranking for
recruiting minority talent is due to sev-
eral factors, including the University's
historical commitment to diversity and
the efforts of people who preceded him.
"Unofficially we've been acknowl-
edged as a leader in diversity for some
time, but it's nice for a respectable pub-
lication like the Wall Street Journal to
make diversity a criteria and to single
out folks that are doing well in that
area," he said.
Wooten, who took over when the posi-
tion was made official two years ago, said
the Wall Street Journal derived the results
by counting under-represented minorities
in the United States such as blacks, His-
panics and Native Americans, as well as
international students and women. Nearly
30 percent of the incoming MBA class,
he said, are women and more than 30 per-
cent of the class are international stu-
dents. Racial minority students make up
10-11 percent, he said.
Ralph Williams, a professor famous on campus for
his entertaining Shakespeare and religion classes.
understand free time. I'm 61 and there's necessarily
limited time and I have limited abilities and I am
going to get every second out of that time and every
bit out of those abilities that I can before time ends
for me. So I open my eyes between four and five in
the morning and I get up and I start going and I
usually stop between 11 and 12 at night. I'm not
good at the concept of leisure.
TMD: After you leave she University, how do
you wish to be remembered?
RW: There's a line of Dante which I'd like as
indicated that by which I'd like to be remembered, if
I ever earned it, I'd like it as an epitaph: "Intellectu-
al light, full of love."
TMD: Thank you, Prof. Williams.
RW: No, thank you. It is a joy to talk with you.
The Michigan Daily
/ v11Q f t
STUDENTS WITH CROHN'S DISEASE
OR ULCERATIVE COLITIS
Dr. Ellen Zimmerman
Associate Professor of Gastroenterology, U of M
for an informal discussion of topics including:
* NEW THERAPIES
" LATEST RESEARCH
Next Meeting is planned for
September 18th, 2003 at 7 p.m.
Please call or e-mail for more information
Lawn abut nergy conservation efforts on
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UNIVERSITY OF MICHIGAN
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1:00 A.M. -2:00 P.M.
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