To the Williams Community,
I know that it’s the end of the academic year, but what’s on my mind just now are openings, of both the literal and figurative kind.
We saw three such literal openings on campus this year—projects that already have added tremendously to our experiences and aspirations for Williams. Sawyer Library is alive with students, faculty, staff, and local residents, deepening intellectual interests and discovering new ones. Weston Athletic Complex inspires athletes to greater levels of achievement and strengthens community by gathering us in support our friends and of each other. And the Class of 1966 Environmental Center invites and challenges us all to think about the roles of college initiatives and individual behaviors in addressing the urgent challenges of climate change and, more broadly, the care of our planet.
At the same time, the campus has felt more porous than ever, intertwined with the surrounding communities in so many ways—including through the work of our students to support and improve the lives of our Northern Berkshire neighbors—and moved by events in the world, such as those in Ferguson, Baltimore, the Middle East, and Nepal. Though our individual lives are affected differently by such events, all of us feel them deeply, and they remind of us of the important work we’re doing at Williams.
What we’re aiming for, after all, is an expansion of our minds and hearts in response to a world that is endlessly complex and profoundly in need. It’s about seeing the complications and conflicts that exist around and among us and engaging them, rather than turning away or insisting upon a simpler worldview. It’s about taking every available opportunity to deepen our understanding of others in our community, rather than insisting on conformity to familiar ways of being that make us comfortable.
Some of that process naturally enthralls, but much of it challenges and even unsettles us, and I know that at Williams we’re becoming more vulnerable to the local and global networks that we’re inevitably a part of. I take it as a sign of growth for our community, one that must continue.
May the end-of-semester traditions prove satisfying for you all. I very much look forward to celebrating soon the many accomplishments of our graduating seniors. And wherever this summer finds you, whether far afield or here in town, may it include occasions of refreshment, reflection, and joy.