Things Visible and Invisible

To the Williams Community,

Before the academic year draws to a close, I’d like to draw attention to several of many significant developments that have occurred in recent months.

Perhaps most visible is the tantalizing emergence of our new library. It’s quite dramatic. What you can’t see from the outside is how wonderful this learning commons will be, with its interior spaces shaping up to be as beautiful as they are functional. With the project on time and on budget, we can look forward to opening in just over a year what will become, with Schow Library, the heart of learning at Williams.

Also scheduled for completion by the fall of 2014 are the renovations and expansions of Weston Field and Kellogg House.  Both projects remain on track in terms of design and philanthropy. What wonderful additions to our educational resources they will be as well.

The most important things that we do, of course, are much less visible—the teaching and learning that take place inside and outside the classroom, along with the careful planning that supports them. I’ve been particularly heartened by the work being done this year to strengthen the campus community and by the increasing degree to which initiative along these lines is being shown by students. Even such difficult issues as drinking and sexual assault are getting more broad-based student attention than at any time in recent memory. That’s to be encouraged.

Something I’d like to highlight is new video content from this spring’s Daring Change event. We asked a range of faculty, staff, students, and alumni to think, by turns playfully and provocatively, about some aspect of the future and how it might intersect with Williams. Speakers poured themselves deeply into these TED-like talks, which I highly recommend to you. They reaffirm, among other things, the vitality of the liberal arts and the centrality to them of faculty-student interaction. The website includes a comment section—one of many places where the conversation begun that weekend will continue.

Spring also brings into shape the next class of students to join our community come fall. Yes, they seem to be astonishingly talented. As eager as we are to greet them, we are wistful at saying goodbye to this year’s seniors, who have grown to mean so much to us. We take comfort in knowing that while they, along with others who will move on from Williamstown in the coming weeks, will be less visible to us, they’ll always remain part of the Williams community.

Whether the coming months take you elsewhere or see you here on campus, I hope this summer will be a refreshing time for you.

Adam Falk