Welcome to the spring 2020 semester!

Dear students, faculty and staff,

It’s spring! Well… spring semester, anyway. The ground is still frozen, the days are too short, but the process of renewal is underway. Every season in the Berkshires has its pleasures, but it’s a special time at Williams when the coats and boots come off and the first green shoots of spring start pushing through.

This year the metaphor of renewal is even more apt than usual. From Strategic Planning to the curriculum, many new ideas are blossoming. Here are some examples:

  • After extensive outreach in the fall, the eight Strategic Planning working groups and three academic initiatives are almost done writing their draft reports. We’ll publish all 11 documents on the Strategic Planning website on February 12. Please read all that interest you, then use the comment portal to offer your thoughts.
  • Exciting new teaching and research projects spring up so often that I can’t possibly mention them all. Examples range from Assistant Professor of Chemistry Katie Hart’s lab, where students are working with her to understand how drug resistance develops at the molecular level; to a partnership between Associate Professor of History Aparna Kapadia and Assistant Professor of Art Murad Mumtaz, whose class invites students to consider Southeast Asian art from the WCMA collection as a lens into connections between art and power in the Mughal Empire.
  • In the administrative sphere, too, we’re seeing change and evolution. As I recently mentioned in a campus announcement, Professor of Psychology Safa Zaki will succeed Cluett Professor of Religion Denise Buell as Dean of Faculty in July. And after Vice President of Campus Life Steve Klass retires in June, Health Services and Integrative Wellbeing Services, the Chaplain’s Office, the Office of Student Life, and CLiA will join the Dean of the College’s team, while Dining Services, Campus Safety and Security, Mail Services and the Conferences and External Events office will report to the Vice President for Finance.
  • Vice President for Institutional Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Leticia Smith-Evans Haynes ’99 recently described the restructuring of the Davis Center—an important component of efforts to fully support inclusion and belonging at Williams, by building our capacity to promote inclusive learning environments, intra- and intergroup dialogue and restorative practices. Meanwhile, the Davis Center building project will make the Center itself a more welcoming, accommodating and accessible home for student life and student-centered work on these and other issues.
  • Tomorrow is Claiming Williams. This annual event is a very special aspect of Williams, and I hope you’ll participate. The program actually starts at 7:30 tonight in Chapin, when guest speaker Anthony Jack talks about his book, The Privileged Poor: How Elite Colleges are Failing Disadvantaged Students. Tomorrow we’ll hear from Iranian-American fashion blogger, writer and activist Hoda Katebi, who’ll speak in the ’62 Center for Theatre and Dance about, “Decolonizing Fashion from Tehran to Boston.” For a full schedule of the many workshops and events, visit the Claiming Williams website.
  • Finally, I’m pleased to share good news from Facilities staff member Dave Maselli, who was seriously injured in a work accident last fall. Dave reports that he’s making progress toward the goal of a full recovery. I join with him in thanking the Facilities, Athletics and Campus Safety staff who responded to the scene, as well as the many more colleagues and friends who sent him messages of support.

As these stories suggest, the semester ahead, like the spring that will come, is full of promise. I look forward to growing with you in the months ahead.


Update on coronavirus measures

Dear Williams students, faculty and staff,

Steve Klass and I are writing with this week’s update about the novel coronavirus outbreak.

There haven’t been any major developments on campus in the last week, but the college is continuing to closely monitor the situation, including updates from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

We do want you to know the following:

  • There are still no known or suspected cases of the novel coronavirus at Williams. As Maud mentioned in last week’s message, we identified four Williams community members who were in China during January 2020. The Student Health Center has been helping them monitor their health. All four are approaching the end of the likely incubation period for the virus, and are symptom-free to date.

  • If you plan to travel on college business or for Williams academic programs, we ask that you please take advantage of Williams’ membership in International SOS, which provides worldwide travel assistance, including pre-trip review and advice, all the way up to evacuation services. Anyone on college-related travel is asked to please register your trip and take advantage of the SOS services—especially their advice prior to travelling.

  • If you’re planning personal (non-Williams) travel, International SOS and other, similar services also offer personal coverage options that you may want to consider.

  • The College Facilities and Dining staff are following best practices recommended by their respective professional associations, as well as public health experts. We want to thank both teams for their added vigilance, which builds on their already high standards of care.

  • The most impactful ways you can help limit the risk of contagion are also the simplest: wash hands frequently and thoroughly. Clean touch surfaces like cell phone screens often. Avoid sharing personal items. And cover your mouth and nose whenever you cough or sneeze. Here’s a quick reminder of the steps recommended by the CDC.


While we’re pleased to have relatively little news to report in this case, we’ll continue to share weekly updates until the outbreak has subsided, just to keep everyone informed.

All best wishes,

Marlene and Steve

Winter Carnival starts tomorrow – students, faculty and staff welcome!

Dear Williams students, faculty and staff,

We’re excited to announce that Winter Carnival begins tomorrow night, with “Beauty and the Ephs” themed dinners across the dining halls, dance performances in Baxter, and themed trivia at the Log! Friday is a day off from classes (!) and is full of programming, including performances, transportation to ski races, hot chocolate bars, a BSU party and open skates (skates provided). Programming continues all day Saturday, including a showing of the live-action Beauty and the Beast at Images at 2:00 p.m., Ivy Sole performing in Goodrich at 9:00 p.m. and much, much more! Check the entire schedule for all events, details and any updates.

Winter Carnival is intended for the entire Williams Community, including students, faculty, staff, families and community members. We invite and encourage faculty, staff, families and community members to attend any and all events scheduled before 9:00 p.m. Open skates after 9:00 p.m. are also open to faculty, staff, families and community members.

Winter Carnival at Williams began in 1915 as a ski race, and the tradition continues today, with races at Jiminy Peak (transportation is provided throughout the weekend for fans). And while it began as a ski race, it now has become a celebration of all things Williams and winter. We have partnered and collaborated across the campus community to offer programming designed to serve everyone. We encourage the community to use Winter Carnival to enjoy all that’s on offer inside and outside (important note: there’s hot chocolate nearly everywhere)! Again, find the full schedule here.

An important thank you to OSL, RLT, ACE, BSU, Facilities, Dining Services, Campus Safety & Security, the multitude of other student organizations offering programming and many others for their work in organizing an exciting schedule and working throughout the weekend. Please don’t hesitate to respond to this email with any questions or concerns!

The Williams Outing Club Board

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