Summary of the October 2021 Board of Trustees meeting

Dear faculty, staff and students,

The Williams Board of Trustees held their Fall 2021 meeting virtually last Friday, October 8. Following is a summary of topics and votes. This roundup and summaries from past meetings are always available via the archive on the News from the Board website. 

Since they were meeting virtually, the Board once again concentrated their agenda into one day. They are able to be efficient thanks to the work done by numerous standing committees in advance of the meeting. The Trustees plan to return to in-person meetings and engagement with the campus community as soon as safely possible.

To start the meeting we welcomed new Trustee Alice Albright ’83, CEO of the Global Partnership for Education in Washington, DC. I then gave a broad overview of campus life this fall, including our academic, educational and co-curricular priorities, Covid protocols and data, and pandemic-related challenges with supply lines and recruitment. 

Following are additional highlights from the day’s meeting: 

  • I presented the Board with one in a series of ongoing status reports on work toward our Strategic Plan goals.  
  • The Trustees reviewed an analysis of the programmatic space needs of the Williams College Museum of Art and our art faculty. The Board then voted to proceed to the design phase of our project to create a new museum—a key step in our plan to invest in the arts, as articulated in the Strategic Plan.
  • The Board received progress reports on campus framework planning and the Davis Center building project. They then voted to approve a renovation and construction budget for the expanded Davis Center, supporting the DC’s work to engage campus in considering issues of identity, history, and culture as they affect intellectual, creative and social life on campus. The Davis Center staff will soon begin a temporary relocation to Bascom House and 57 Spring Street (above the TD Bank), with the goal of breaking ground on the project by next summer.
  • Director of Integrative Wellbeing Services Wendy Adam and Assistant Director and Director of Community Wellbeing Alysha Warren presented information about trends in student mental health at Williams. The Trustees discussed the pandemic’s impact on student wellbeing as well as enduring challenges, and learned about the college’s diverse array of internal and contractual treatment resources and wellbeing initiatives, including Choose Well at Williams and our partnership with the JED Foundation. They also explored opportunities for implementing the Strategic Plan around innovation and initial steps and long term potential in promoting holistic wellbeing on campus.
  • The Board voted to endorse an institutional land acknowledgement for Williams. You can find the text of the acknowledgement on and the Stockbridge-Munsee Community’s page of the Diversity site. This effort emerged out of extensive work by the Committee on Diversity and Community in consultation with the Stockbridge-Munsee Historic Preservation Office. The acknowledgement is one step in our ongoing effort to deepen our relationship with the Stockbridge-Munsee Community and more fully consider Williams’ history. I am grateful to all who participated. 

As always, the meeting also included a set of updates, reports and votes on operational matters: 

  • Vice President for Finance and Operations and Treasurer Mike Wagner gave his first quarterly financial report. Williams finished the 2021 fiscal year on June 30 in a strong financial position, and the Board continues to support our management of budget challenges related to the pandemic.
  • Vice President for College Relations Megan Morey shared the college’s FY21 fundraising results and discussed a number of FY22 goals.
  • Chief Investment Officer Collette Chilton described our endowment performance for fiscal year 2021. The data will be published in the Investment Office’s annual report, to be available on the Investment Office website later this fall.
  • The Board approved the 2022–23 comprehensive fee. As always, we will provide details in our annual tuition letter to students.  
  • The Trustees also reviewed reports from their various committees

The Trustees were gratified to hear about our return to in-person classes and activities after the last, long 18 months. They thank all of you who worked so hard to get us to this result, and who are continuing to move us forward as a learning community.