Welcome to the start of Fall 2023!

Williams students, faculty and staff,

Welcome to the new academic year. After the relative quiet of summer in Williamstown, it’s exciting to see you all bring the campus back to life.

To everyone who’s returning… or never left: I hope you enjoyed your summer, whether you were completing an internship or project, focusing on your scholarship or taking time for yourself. I especially want to welcome our incoming class—both the undergraduates and the Master’s students at the Center for Development Economics and the Graduate Program in the History of Art. Greetings! You’re now part of a vibrant, curious, dynamic learning community. As you settle in, I encourage you to get to know the faculty and staff as well as your fellow students.

To help the process along, here’s a brief introduction to who “we” are this year:

Students, whether you’re a recent arrival or back for another year, please come to one of my open lunches in the dining halls, which take place every two or three weeks. And all students, faculty and staff are invited to drop by my office hours. The dates and times for both will be announced in Daily Messages throughout the year.

I’ll send a separate message in a few days that introduces you to some of the many issues and initiatives we expect to work on this fall. But I want to make one important point here: amid vigorous public debate over who’s chosen for college and how, I often wish the critics could meet our intellectually lively and committed students. They’d be so impressed, as I am, to see you in your classrooms, labs and studios, competing on athletic fields or leading student organizations, volunteering in our communities and schools, and much, much more.

On a related note, at Saturday’s Convocation ceremony we’ll honor a cohort of Bicentennial Medalists who’ve made major contributions to educational access and civil rights. Please attend their panel discussion, “The Present and Future of Educational Opportunity,” tomorrow, Friday September 8, as well as Saturday’s keynote by the Hon. Anita Earls ’81, associate justice of the Supreme Court of North Carolina and a longtime civil rights attorney.

One of the most exciting and precious opportunities at Williams is the chance to live and learn from one another in a diverse learning community: you might meet someone from a similar walk of life but who has totally different views; or a person from a different part of the world with whom you find something deeply in common. So, please, take advantage of the amazing opportunities at Williams to discover those common bonds and appreciate the differences, too. You’ll gain so much from the experience.

And now it’s my pleasure to help start the term with a hearty welcome to each of our students, staff and faculty: I hope you’ll relish the unique energy and excitement of a new semester. I look forward to enjoying it alongside you!