Thank you for the semester so far

Williams students, staff and faculty,

Yesterday was an important day on the Williams calendar. It was not a holiday or a study day or an anniversary. Indeed, the semester isn’t yet complete. But November 23, 2020, was nevertheless an important milestone. And as with any milestone it’s worth pausing to take stock of what we’ve accomplished thus far, and to thank all those who got us to this point. That list is remarkably long.

Students, the COVID virus has disrupted every aspect of your college careers, upending your plans, distancing you from your friends, transforming your in-classroom and out-of-classroom experiences. Yet you adapted and in the process demonstrated great spirit, dedication and compassion. All of us knew that our hopes of completing this hybrid fall depended on your commitment, whether you were in person or remote. I am so grateful for your efforts.

Staff, the complexity of our closure and pivot to a hybrid fall required us to completely rethink many aspects of our work, test new skills and manage new risks. Collectively we’ve experienced these last nine months in varied ways, depending on our roles and situations. But each of you has found ways to help keep Williams running for the sake of students’ learning, wellbeing and development. What an achievement—and a gift.

Faculty, which of us, in all our time in academia, ever imagined we’d have to do what we’ve just done? I often speak proudly about the exceptional Williams faculty, but these last months have highlighted your flexibility, creativity and capacity for principled innovation and great teaching in any format. You’ve demonstrated how determination and commitment can transform adversity into opportunity.

Parents, families and alumni, too, have helped make this success possible. As have healthcare professionals and first responders and many more people besides. I am grateful to everyone who has joined in the work or offered advice and support. We should all be proud of the fact that we’ve made it this far, and completed the hybrid learning part of the term.

I will miss seeing most of our students on campus these next few weeks, but I hope the end of the semester goes smoothly for everyone and I look forward to seeing many of you back on campus soon. In the meantime, I send hopes for the safety of you and your families in these challenging times, and many warm wishes for the holiday season.

With gratitude,