Welcome to the Spring 2020 semester!

Dear students, faculty and staff,

It’s spring! Well… spring semester, anyway. The ground is still frozen, the days are too short, but the process of renewal is underway. Every season in the Berkshires has its pleasures, but it’s a special time at Williams when the coats and boots come off and the first green shoots of spring start pushing through.

This year the metaphor of renewal is even more apt than usual. From Strategic Planning to the curriculum, many new ideas are blossoming. Here are some examples:

  • After extensive outreach in the fall, the eight Strategic Planning working groups and three academic initiatives are almost done writing their draft reports. We’ll publish all 11 documents on the Strategic Planning website on February 12. Please read all that interest you, then use the comment portal to offer your thoughts.
  • Exciting new teaching and research projects spring up so often that I can’t possibly mention them all. Examples range from Assistant Professor of Chemistry Katie Hart’s lab, where students are working with her to understand how drug resistance develops at the molecular level; to a partnership between Associate Professor of History Aparna Kapadia and Assistant Professor of Art Murad Mumtaz, whose class invites students to consider South Asian art from the WCMA collection as a lens into connections between art and power in the Mughal Empire.
  • In the administrative sphere, too, we’re seeing change and evolution. As I recently mentioned in a campus announcement, Professor of Psychology Safa Zaki will succeed Cluett Professor of Religion Denise Buell as Dean of Faculty in July. And after Vice President of Campus Life Steve Klass retires in June, Health Services and Integrative Wellbeing Services, the Chaplain’s Office, the Office of Student Life, and CLiA will join the Dean of the College’s team, while Dining Services, Campus Safety and Security, Mail Services and the Conferences and External Events office will report to the Vice President for Finance.
  • Vice President for Institutional Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Leticia Smith-Evans Haynes ’99 recently described the restructuring of the Davis Center—an important component of efforts to fully support inclusion and belonging at Williams, by building our capacity to promote inclusive learning environments, intra- and intergroup dialogue and restorative practices. Meanwhile, the Davis Center building project will make the Center itself a more welcoming, accommodating and accessible home for student life and student-centered work on these and other issues.
  • Tomorrow is Claiming Williams. This annual event is a very special aspect of Williams, and I hope you’ll participate. The program actually starts at 7:30 tonight in Chapin, when guest speaker Anthony Jack talks about his book, The Privileged Poor: How Elite Colleges are Failing Disadvantaged Students. Tomorrow we’ll hear from Iranian-American fashion blogger, writer and activist Hoda Katebi, who’ll speak in the ’62 Center for Theatre and Dance about, “Decolonizing Fashion from Tehran to Boston.” For a full schedule of the many workshops and events, visit the Claiming Williams website.
  • Finally, I’m pleased to share good news from Facilities staff member Dave Maselli, who was seriously injured in a work accident last fall. Dave reports that he’s making progress toward the goal of a full recovery. I join with him in thanking the Facilities, Athletics and Campus Safety staff who responded to the scene, as well as the many more colleagues and friends who sent him messages of support.

As these stories suggest, the semester ahead, like the spring that will come, is full of promise. I look forward to growing with you in the months ahead.

Maud