Thank you, in my first week at Williams

To the Williams community,

What a week! After more than 20 years in Rhode Island, my family and I are making the transition to our new home in Williamstown. Although a year ago we couldn’t have predicted that we’d be relocating to a new home and community, we are excited for the adventure ahead.

Before we finish emptying boxes and settling into our new routines, I want to pause and express my gratitude. Thank you, first, for choosing me as Williams’ 18th president. It’s an honor to be appointed to lead a college known worldwide for its successes in one of humanity’s most important projects: preparing young people for lives of engagement, service and action. I’m delighted to work alongside you all to expand the college’s reach and impact.

Thank you, too, for your warm welcome and the tremendous support you’ve extended during our transition. The greeting we’ve experienced is indicative of how welcoming a place Williams can be. The college has worked hard to extend a similar welcome to all the people we admit and hire, and I look forward to expanding those efforts with you.

Finally, thank you for giving us the chance to do this work in such an extraordinary setting. As Steve and I wander downtown for an occasional (or not so occasional) ice cream cone at Lickety Split, or tour the Jacob’s Pillow exhibition at WCMA, or take in the views on my (very) short commute from the president’s house to Hopkins, I’ve told myself I never want to take this place for granted. To live and work in a setting simultaneously so peaceful and dynamic, so graced with natural, intellectual, cultural and even spiritual resources, is a privilege I hope never to lose sight of, and for which I’ll always be grateful.

In these early days as a member of the Williams community I’ve been listening closely to you, as you tell me what’s most special about this institution and what you think we can do to build upon its strong heritage. Your passion and commitment are extraordinary and moving. There will be many more chances for us to listen to and learn from each other. I eagerly look forward to doing that work, with all of you, in this purple valley.



Maud S. Mandel
Professor of History, Program in Jewish Studies