Words of Wisdom

Brooks FoehlOne of the great joys of our work in alumni relations is the ability to interact and engage with people who span the generational arc of the Society of Alumni. This also represents a significant professional challenge as we attempt to best serve the needs of the Williams family from the 1930s, 40s and 50s all the way to the Class of 2018. Here are two small examples of recent efforts to connect with alumni at both ends of the spectrum.

Williams is blessed to have a culture that produces one of the most robust class notes sections, in print or online, of any institution you’ll find. That’s what happens when you combine the diligence and hard work of our class secretaries and editors with alumni who share personal updates and interactions with fellow Ephs. You can see the product of their work on these pages or at alumni-news.williams.edu.

But what happens when—as time passes and class rosters dwindle—a class is left without a secretary? Longtime class leader Milt Prigoff ’44 asked that question and suggested Williams students might help fill the gap. So in the fall, the student workers in our office picked up the phone and started calling our most senior alumni to say hello from Williams and ask if there was news to share. Alumni deeply appreciated the outreach, and it proved an invaluable experience for the students.

“It was an honor to make the connections, and the conversations were a great reminder to embrace the present and make the most of our time at Williams,” says Jack Greenberg ’18, who discussed with alumni everything from their time on campus to their military experience to their 90th birthday parties.

On the other end of the age spectrum, a stroke of brilliance by colleagues led to the creation of EphPost, a gift to graduating seniors from the fifth-reunion class. Last year, we asked the Class of 2009 to share insights on their experiences since graduation. They spoke of their greatest fears about leaving Williams, unexpected obstacles, joys and the impactful decisions and adventures they encountered along the way. Their responses were collated and presented to the Class of 2014 in the hope that they would be helpful in the transition to life beyond Williams. Among the many pearls, two of my favorites were:

“One of the joys of the last five years has been being a member of the Society of Alumni. As a student, it was tough to appreciate—or really understand—the bond shared by alumni. After all, in the ‘Purple Bubble’ you were always surrounded by smart, wonderful and caring people. In the ‘real world’ these meetings by nature are far less frequent but all the more meaningful. There is no greater feeling than blindly running into a fellow Eph!”

And: “Find a quiet corner away from everything else—family, friends, work, society—and be really honest with yourself about what it means to be successful. You should be proud of the choices you make and the life you pursue.”

All the EphPost insights can be found at bit.ly/ephpost2014; take a look and see what resonates with you.

With best wishes from Williamstown,

Brooks Foehl ’88
Director of Alumni Relations
bfoehl@williams.edu