At the beginning of Professor Reinhardt’s tenure, the College’s annual convocation program commemorated the life and work of Bob Gaudino. Due to the scheduled speaker’s last-minute illness, President Hank Payne delivered on behalf of Preston Washington, ’71, the speech he had prepared. The remarks focused on seeking intellectual fulfillment over the whole of one’s life after College. This foreshadowed what would become Mark Reinhardt’s central themes of his term as Gaudino Scholar, experiential education and the character of intellectual life at Williams.
Professor Reinhardt organized several talks and workshops for faculty on the use of experiential methods in teaching. He also put considerable resources into assorted programs that sent students abroad. In January 2001, for instance, he led a dozen students to the Mayan highlands of Guatemala for “Experiencing Guatemala: Politics and Society,” a home stay and fieldwork-based course that he co-taught with Guatemalan anthropologist, Alberto Rivera. Professor Reinhardt considers this one of the pedagogical high points of his career to date. He also lobbied the administration to change the policy of providing no financial aid for Winter Study travel courses. Within a few months, the College did revise its rules; students now receive funding commensurate with their regular semester financial aid packages.
Embracing the singular and paradoxical role of “official gadfly” conferred by appointment as Gaudino Scholar, Professor Reinhardt pursued a number of initiatives raising pointed questions about the intellectual vitality of undergraduate culture, focusing primarily on questions of careerism and on the controversial subject of the effects on intellectual life of Williams’s commitment to athletic success. He formed an ad hoc committee of faculty and students, which drafted a memo on the topic and met several times with Provost Cappy Hill, and the new President, Morty Schapiro. This led to changes in the committee that oversees policies for admissions and financial aid. Through a series of public forums, Professor Reinhardt also organized discussions that helped make athletics and admissions one of the defining issues on campus in the 2000-2001 academic year.