A thank you to our faculty and staff

Dear Williams faculty and staff,

The last two weeks have been among the most challenging of my career, and, I can only presume, of yours as well. Thank you for all you have done to help with our difficult transition. Many students and families have told me that, in a moment when they might have felt abandoned, they instead felt cared for by you and the college.

I want to especially thank the members of the Operations, Business Continuity, Academic and Communications working groups. Also everyone who helped students pack and move. All the Dining, Facilities and Campus Safety and Security staff who are reporting to work to keep the college running, and everyone else who is working remotely to do the same. I am so grateful for your many contributions.

I thought I would also use this opportunity to share a few updates with you all.

A team of deans and student-facing staff did extraordinary work to review petitions from students to remain on campus. We now have 105 students remaining in college housing, where we can provide a basic level of community while allowing space for social distancing.

Faculty and staff also need support. The coronavirus website is a good starting-point for accessing resources, including the OIT publications on Working and Teaching through Disruption. The Controller’s office has also posted tips for anyone working with college financial systems remotely. And many more of you are of course working on remote learning models. I am grateful to the faculty and staff engaged in that project, including those involved in the conversations on Glow. A similar thank-you to everyone contributing to the discussion about pass/fail options. The Faculty Steering Committee is almost done collecting input, and the final decision will be communicated to campus before the end of spring break.

Looking ahead, we will need to make longer-term decisions about commencement, reunion, summer programs, fellowships and internships, among other topics. We are considering our options and plan to make those decisions far enough in advance that everyone can make or adjust plans as needed.

This is a hard time for the world, because of the direct health and economic impacts and also the pervasive uncertainty. Our values are our best touchstone in such moments: our concern for people’s health and wellbeing; our commitment to teaching, both in the academic sense and by example of our behavior; and our appreciation for a sense of connection at work and in our personal lives. Thank you for modeling these ideals so well amidst challenging times.