Starting a semester unlike any other

Dear students, faculty and staff,

I’m writing today to welcome you all to the start of a new academic year—one unlike any we’ve experienced before. Over the past several months, we’ve faced extraordinary challenges in our lives and our communities. In light of these challenges, we’ve planned for the fall semester in a re-imagined way, with health and safety as our top priority, and then did the work together to make it happen.

I’d like to take this opportunity, as I did in an earlier message to staff and faculty, to express my gratitude to all of you who helped us get to this point. I’d also like to thank our students for your continued patience and flexibility, as we all adjust to new circumstances. Navigating change is never easy, but I’m heartened by the good will from so many, as we work together to create new structures and learning environments.

In addition to preparing for the new public health environment, we’ve been engaged in ongoing projects that support the longer-term mission of the college.  As many of you know, the final stages of the strategic planning process were postponed, due to the immediate pressures of the pandemic and financial crisis, and a rapidly changing set of circumstances. Nevertheless, we remain committed to the vision we articulated collectively last year. In the coming weeks we’ll share steps the college will take in all areas of the plan, and especially work related to our core commitments of sustainability and diversity, equity, and inclusion.

In a normal year I’d use this message to offer updates on various developments at  Williams, from student and faculty accomplishments to the arrivals of new colleagues to organizational changes. But this isn’t a normal year! So, for now, I’d simply like to wish us all a safe and successful start to an unusual, extraordinary semester. I look forward to embarking on this journey with all of you.