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55. William Sacks (LGB 1975)

Posted By Alumni Office, jeudi, 30 octobre 2014
William Sacks1. How long did you spend at Ecolint?
Twelve years, from 1st grade (1963) to twelfth grade (1975).

2. How did you come to attend Ecolint in the first place?
My father worked at the World Health Organization, in Paris, India, and New York. We arrived in Geneva in the fall of '63.

3. Which teacher had the biggest impact on you and how?
I was fond of all of my teachers; it's practically impossible to answer. Our teachers were dedicated and enthusiastic, creating a dynamic 'ambiance' for working and learning. The specific curriculum or material aspects were almost secondary and subjects were treated on an equal footing, whether among the humanities, sciences or the arts. I’m so grateful to Mr. Couroucé who introduced us to the more ‘subtle’ aspects of French language and culture. My interest in the sciences was sparked early on thanks to Mr. Sharpe, Mr. McArdle and Mr. Whitehurst, and in music, with Mr. Kukorelly.

4. What was your favourite spot on campus and why?
I guess by the window ledges of the old cafeteria building. During breaks, it was a good place to congregate and chat with our school mates.

5. What was your favourite place in the wider region, and why?
I used to love camping and hiking in the Swiss Alps in the summer: the scenery, the air,…, are breathtaking !

6. Describe your life today, where you live and what you do.
I have been a Professor of physics at the Sorbonne Universités Paris for the last 30 years. Besides teaching at the university level, my colleagues and I do fundamental research in the field of solid materials. Our laboratory engages in a wide variety of topics such as minerals and crystals, magnetic materials, proteins, nanometric particles, and more. Our group is presently doing theoretical work on novel superconductors and, incidentally, making very little headway! My other duties involve heading a Masters Degree programme of about 60 French and international students, many of whom have been awarded scholarships.

7.What should be Ecolint's top priority as it approaches its 100th anniversary?
Ecolint should remain a fine example of tolerance of people from different parts of the world having different cultures and ways of thinking. More than ever young people will have to face global problems, and basic human values are an important ingredient to solve them. Having worked in public institutions, it’s important to avoid ‘assembly line’ teaching. Rather than fuss over curricula and financing it is more important to focus on the quality of the classroom experience, thanks to a competent and dedicated faculty.

8. What "words of wisdom" would you pass on to today's Ecolint students?
As knowledge progresses at an exponential rate, one sometimes forgets that a good grasp of the basics is a key to professional success. However, in my opinion, a good balance between academic work and extra-curricular activities is very desirable. My advice to students? You can’t wear shoes that don’t fit: find the right subject for you!

9. What has been the biggest impact of your Ecolint education on your life?
Indeed the atmosphere of respect for people from a wide variety of nations in a multicultural setting has had an enduring impact. It wasn't only an experience; we grew up in this privileged context and hopefully we were able to share it later on.



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