Thinking Globally, Acting Locally

John MalcolmAs I pen this note, the winter holidays are on the near horizon, and the College Relations team is wrapping its fall travel season. Engaging Williams’ 27,000 alumni and 4,000 parents has taken us to a host of obvious as well as obscure locales. Fall ports of call included nearly every major metro hub in the U.S., as well as key points in Asia and Europe. Many of us have, of course, been regular passengers on the spectacularly winding Taconic Parkway linking the Berkshires to New York. Its grassy berms have become a magnet for burgeoning herds of hungry deer. Tales of artful – sometimes failed – dodging of buck and doe are a Mears and Vogt House water-cooler staple.

“Ephs are collaborating with non-Ephs in authentic service to the betterment of the Berkshires.”

As team members return to campus, they bring accounts of the remarkable undertakings of Ephs everywhere. Our alumni consistently take on leadership roles in the ventures they launch or join and, regardless of the nature of the enterprise, seem to retain both a deep-seated curiosity and a certain “very Williams” modesty. Not to mention a powerful drive to achieve. In the coming several years, our staff intends to partner more closely with the Communications Office to bring you fresh tales of Ephs grappling with and overcoming challenges both local and global.

The community impact of a cohort of Williams folk is perhaps no more evident than in the northwestern Berkshires. I purchased a renovated home in one of North Adams’ historic districts over the summer. Twenty-five years ago, after the departure of the last of the major manufacturers, settling in North Adams might have seemed a counterintuitive move. Not so much now. The town’s linchpin institutions are achieving a level of visibility and sustainability that bode well for future vitality. In working to understand and then contribute to this emergent renaissance, I’ve discovered (perhaps unsurprisingly) that Williams alumni and employees are partnering with North Adams’ residents in a host of public and private capacities. The cast responsible for MASS MoCA’s establishment is, as most of us know well, replete with purple players. Ditto The Porches Inn. Perhaps less visibly, multiple board positions at the North Adams Regional Hospital are held by Ephs, as are a handful of important roles at the Massachusetts College of Liberal Arts, brilliantly led through a period of expansion and repositioning by MCLA graduate and President Mary Grant. From envisioning a revitalized North Adams riverfront to incubating new small businesses keyed to the region’s tourism and arts-centric opportunities, Ephs are collaborating with non-Ephs in authentic service to the betterment of the Berkshires.

I recall driving away from Williamstown in the summer of ’87 with “Think Globally, Act Locally” prominently, perhaps ostentatiously, plastered on my tailgate. I’m happily humbled to continually discover the nuanced and personal ways Ephs as far from campus as New Zealand and as close as our sister city North Adams are lending meaning to that mantra.

John M. Malcolm ’86
Vice President for College Relations
John.M.Malcolm@williams.edu