To the Williams Community,
April Fools’ Day has arrived at last, bringing the most exciting day of my professional life. I’m finally able to graduate from President-elect to President of Williams!
To be sure, there is a part of me that is sad to leave Johns Hopkins, an institution I’m very fond of and where I have colleagues and friends I admire and love. But for the past six months, I have so looked forward to joining my new community, which as you already know faces such fascinating challenges and great opportunities.
I’ve taken advantage of this time – spending a day a week on campus this spring, experiencing Claiming Williams and Winter Carnival, visiting alumni groups and individual alumni on both coasts, touring the fascinating teaching laboratory that is WCMA, watching Laurie Anderson perform in the ’62 Center, taking my sons down to Amherst to cheer our basketball teams in a hostile (but still very purple) gym. I’m starting to get a feel for this marvelous place, and to see Williams through many different eyes.
I understand that in some ways these are anxious times, as our College community – and our country – adjusts to new financial realities. But, really, I can’t think of a more interesting time to join you. The choices we make now, to creatively and collaboratively readjust how Williams operates, will set the College’s course for many years to come. That’s an exciting journey and one that I believe will leave the College stronger in the end.
As both an insider and an outsider (until yesterday!), I assure you that Williams, with its relative financial strength, its tradition of collegial governance, and its extraordinary support from alumni and parents is uniquely positioned to succeed in this effort.
At the same time, we (and I love finally being able to use the word “we”) have been well served by the many thoughtful decisions made this year under the careful and steady leadership of Bill Wagner and the wise counsel of the Board of Trustees. I am deeply grateful to Bill and the Board for stewarding Williams so effectively and for making my transition so seamless and pleasant. We have also benefited during this time from the contributions of Acting Dean of the Faculty Andrea Danyluk.
My family also looks forward to being here, which won’t happen until the end of the school year. Like any father, I remain committed to attending as many of their weekend school and sports activities as possible, so I’ll be back in Baltimore many weekends for the rest of the spring. Both volleyball and lacrosse seasons are in full swing. But Karen, Briauna, David, and Alex will soon be here, where they’re ready to dive into the life of the campus, Williamstown, and the Berkshires.
Over these months, I’ve benefited from meeting a great many Williams people – here in Williamstown and far afield – and the warmth of your welcome has been extraordinary.
I’m looking forward now to getting to know the rest of you and, even more, to the learning, work, and fun we will all share as we roll up our sleeves in the months and years to come, and together make this very special college the even more remarkable institution that we aspire for it to be.
With my best wishes to you all,