Summary of the January 2022 Board of Trustees meeting

Dear faculty, staff and students,

The Williams Board of Trustees held their Winter 2022 meeting virtually last Friday, January 21. Following is a brief summary of the major discussion topics and themes. As a reminder, these meeting summaries are archived and always available on the News from the Board website.

At Friday’s meeting, the Trustees devoted special time and attention to two topics:

  • The Board reviewed the history and evolution of financial aid at Williams. This includes the expansion in recent years of our efforts to identify and recruit talented students no matter their financial need, and to support people’s educational pathways while on campus. The Board reviewed the impact of the college’s recent decision to remove summer earnings requirements from all financial aid packages, and considered next steps in our strategic commitment to enhancing affordability for all students.

  • In another session, the Board considered how changing patterns of work in the United States, including remote work options, worker mobility, retirement patterns, and diversity and inclusion efforts have affected staff employment, and how the college is preparing for ongoing local and national changes in the labor market.

As always, the Trustees also spent time receiving updates on our ongoing work:

  • I described our work on Covid response and our long-term efforts to limit the pandemic’s impact while protecting our learning community.

  • Vice President for Finance and Operations and Treasurer Mike Wagner gave his quarterly financial report. He reported that expenses are running higher than budgeted for this year due to our pandemic response, inflationary pressures and the mid-year salary increase. Some of the increase was offset by additional revenue from higher-than-budgeted enrollment and federal pandemic funding.

  • Vice President for College Relations Megan Morey and Chief Investment Officer Collette Chilton submitted written reports and took questions from the Trustees about the work of their teams. Details about the college’s endowment performance are available in the Investment Office’s annual report.

  • The chairs of various Board committees summarized takeaways from their committee meetings, including progress reports on our work on Diversity, Equity and Inclusion; Sustainability; and Strategic Planning, among other topics.

Importantly, the Board also voted on three issues related to our academic mission:

  • They reviewed and then formally approved a recommendation from the Committee on Appointments and Promotions to promote eight of our faculty to the rank of associate professor, with tenure, effective July 1, 2022. Please join me in heartily congratulating our faculty colleagues for their achievement.

  • They also reviewed and formally approved my nomination of Gretchen Long, the Frederick Rudolph ’42 – Class of 1965 Professor of American Culture, as the next dean of the college; and Eiko Maruko Siniawer ’97, the Class of 1955 Memorial Professor of History and Chair of Asian Studies, as provost. Both will begin their three-year terms on July 1, 2022. A more complete announcement and welcome message will follow right after this summary. Please join me in congratulating and thanking both Gretchen and Eiko!

  • The Board approved honorary degrees for those to be recognized at Commencement in June. As usual, the names of the honorees will be announced to the community in March.

When the Trustees meet in person, it typically creates opportunities for them to visit with the campus community. Such gatherings were not possible this month due to the challenges of Covid. Even while meeting virtually, however, the Board continues their efforts to secure the college’s wellbeing and encourage a bold vision for the future. I am truly grateful to them for their work on our behalf.