Summary of the October 2022 Board of Trustees meeting

To the Williams community,

The Board of Trustees gathered on campus last Friday and Saturday for their first full meeting of the 2022-23 academic year. It was a productive time for the group, which is charged with fiduciary oversight of the college’s affairs.

At this meeting we welcomed three new Trustees: George D. Creppy ’97, Jeffrey E. Delaney ’05 and Matthew Harris ’94. Also joining us was Brent E. Shay ’78, who, as the new Society of Alumni president, will attend Board meetings at the Trustees’ invitation. All four are wonderfully accomplished, dedicated alums who will help us plan for Williams’ best future.

The Board conducted the following business in its general sessions:

  • The Trustees heard a presentation from Dean of Faculty and John B. McCoy and John T. McCoy Professor of Psychology Safa Zaki about the structure of Williams’ curriculum and its evolution over time, including patterns in how students engage with our course offerings and majors, concentrations and certificates. Safa’s presentation also provided them with information about new tenure-line faculty members and their areas of expertise.
  • The Board welcomed Associate Provost for Analytics and Institutional Research Courtney Wade, who offered a survey of college accreditation and our most recent five-year interim reaccreditation report, submitted to the New England Commission of Higher Education in August 2022. You can read the interim report, as well as our self-study and full report from the 2018 round, on the Accreditation website.  
  • The Trustees heard and discussed a presentation by Assistant Director for Energy and Utilities Jason Moran and Zilkha Center Director Tanja Srebotnjak about the college’s  Energy and Carbon Master Plan (ECMP) process. Following from the establishment of  campus decarbonization goals, the ECMP is identifying practical strategies to reach those goals—including an eventual transition of the college’s heating plant away from fossil fuels. The ECMP process will include numerous opportunities for community participation. Jason and Tanja were joined for their presentation by representatives from our project consultants, RMF Engineering
  • The Board received routine reports from Chief Investment Officer Collette Chilton on endowment performance; from Vice President for College Relations Megan Morey on college fundraising; and from Vice President for Finance and Operations and Treasurer Mike Wagner on Williams’ finances. All showed the college to be in sound financial health, but we continue paying close attention to market volatility, inflation and other potential challenges.
  • The Board also heard from Deputy Chief Investment Officer Abigail Wattley ’05, who introduced them to the Investment Office’s Diversity, Equity and Inclusion (DEI) plan, which focuses on the three pillars of people, portfolio and governance. This session was a step in the trustees’ ongoing commitment to supporting campus DEI planning and progress.
  • Among other items on their agenda, the board also confirmed and celebrated the honorary naming of the new Center for Teaching, for Trustee Emeritus Joe Rice ’54. To honor Joe Rice’s ongoing support of Williams faculty, including his recent gift fully endowing the center, it will be formally known as the Joseph Lee Rice III 1954 Center for Teaching. Following planned renovations, the Rice Center for Teaching will open in Stetson Hall 308 (currently the Video Conference Room, across the hall from the Mabie Room).  

As many of you noticed, last Friday was a glorious day, and might have made for a nice Mountain Day. I later heard rumors that some people thought we had foregone the opportunity because of the Board meeting. Not true! We have declared Mountain Day during Board meetings in years past, and would do so again. Last week’s decision was due to other factors beyond our control. But I was happy to see plenty of people finding other ways to enjoy the beautiful weather outdoors!

In closing, last week’s meeting was a satisfying and productive one, continuing the Board’s tradition of extraordinary devotion to Williams. I am grateful to the Trustees for sharing their time, talents and affection in support of our educational excellence and affordability, and our vitality as a living-learning-working community.