Summary of the October 2023 Board of Trustees Meeting

To the Williams community,

The Board of Trustees convened for their fall meeting on Friday and Saturday, October 6 and 7. As always, I’m writing to report out about the proceedings.

This was the first meeting for three new trustees: Danielle Deane-Ryan ’97, Jan van Eck ’85 and Jeffrey K. Rhodes ’97. You can learn more about them from the introductory announcement on Williams Today. Information about all our Board members, along with copies of past meeting summaries, is available on the Trustees website.

At the fall meeting the Board focused on three topics that will be familiar to many of you from recent campus work:

  • First, as part of our ongoing attention to issues of wellbeing, they devoted substantial attention to learning about our athletics and wellness program, including Physical Education; varsity sports; recreational and club activities; and the Outing Club. The co-presenters included me; Dean of the Faculty and Kimberly A. ’96 and Robert R. ’62 Henry Professor of Economics Lara Shore-Sheppard; Director of Athletics and Assistant Professor in Physical Education Lisa Melendy; Dean of Admission and Student Financial Services Liz Creighton ’01; Vice President for Institutional Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Leticia Smith-Evans Haynes ’99; and Associate Provost Chris Winters ’95. Later in the meeting, the Trustees approved spending for a program study of our athletics and wellness facilities. The study’s $2.5M cost will be funded from the recently-announced $15M gift by The WEM Foundation.

  • Second, I led a session with Liz Creighton introducing the Trustees to our new Working Group on Admission Policies and Practices. As I announced in September, the Working Group will spend this year reviewing historical and current admission data and advising the Board in their consideration of how current admission practices and policies support Williams’ mission and aspirations. Please feel free to contact us with your thoughts and views on the topic.

  • Next, Class of 1956 Director of the Williams College Museum of Art (WCMA) Pam Franks, Museum Project Director Devon Nowlin and our architectural partners SO-IL gave the Board an overview of the schematic design for the museum’s new home. The vision is a blend of spaces for collection, exhibition, curriculum, co-curriculum and public engagement. It will extend our vision of the arts as a pillar of a Williams education, paralleling our recent capital investments in the humanities, social sciences and sciences. Later in the meeting the Board voted to approve the concept and move into the project’s design development phase, which will be funded to a significant extent by philanthropic support.

  • Finally, Liz Creighton and Director of Student Financial Services Ashley Bianchi also reported to the Trustees on the student and family impact from Year One of our All-Grant Financial Aid Program. While there is no finish line in the quest for affordability and access, Liz and Ashley shared data strongly indicating that our All-Grant program is having a positive impact on students’ ability to participate in our full range of educational offerings.

During the meeting the Board also heard reports and financial updates from Vice President for College Relations Megan Morey, Vice President for Finance and Operations and Treasurer Mike Wagner, and Chief Investment Officer Abigail Wattley ’05.

Finally, a number of Trustees stayed after the meeting to attend a Saturday luncheon at the Center for Development Economics (CDE), where the Visiting Committee was recognized and thanked for their service. The Board members and Visitors were joined by CDE faculty, students and staff.

Thank you for reading these summaries and staying up to date. I look forward to reporting out after future meetings, as well.