Good Fellowship

Leila Jere '91The worst-kept secret on campus is that the college has been in the “quiet phase” of a seven-year campaign intended to secure Williams’ future as a preeminent liberal arts institution. In a few short weeks, the college will launch the public phase of the campaign, and you’ll hear all about how much money it seeks to raise and what it will provide. But a campaign for Williams is also a time for us to think about why we have a Society of Alumni and what it means to be a member of this family today.

Quoting from the preamble of the society constitution: “Founded at a seminal point in the history of Williams College, the Society was established ‘for the promotion of literature and good fellowship among ourselves and the better to advance the reputation and interests of our Alma Mater.’ With the unbroken support and dedication of succeeding generations of alumni, the Society pursues this purpose, and thereby serves the global community, through an expanding and diverse body of men and women who share the common bond of a Williams education.”

As officers of the society, we have been thinking a lot about its purpose and its role in the campaign.

The bonds uniting Williams alumni with the college and with each other are legendarily powerful. The mission of the Society of Alumni is to sustain and nurture these bonds. Relying on a two-century tradition of energetic volunteer involvement and leadership, the society creates opportunities to deepen and strengthen these connections, which benefit the college, its students and faculty, and the society’s members.

Although Williams’ alumni engagement is intense and inspiring, it’s not in our DNA to be satisfied with the status quo. In an environment of
constant change, there is much to do to make our nearly 200-year-old Society of Alumni even stronger.

The society, for instance, serves an alumni population that’s larger and far more diverse than in the past—one that will continue for decades to diversify in terms of gender, race, ethnicity, sexuality, socioeconomic origins, nationality, religion, residence and other characteristics. We engage with our alumni in a world of increased mobility and rapid-fire changes in technology and modes of communication. We represent alumni who are eager to help and who need only to have their energy directed into the most productive efforts for fellow alumni, for students and for the college.

With these changes in mind, the Society of Alumni seeks to harness the energy and momentum of the campaign to focus more than ever on that original goal articulated in our constitution preamble. Two hundred-plus years later, alumni are still hungry for “good fellowship” or engagement with each other. We want to know each other, be able to find each other and have opportunities to help, mentor, teach or simply be friends with each other. Very soon, you’ll hear more about the campaign goals the society has lined up to enable you to do all this and more.

Leila Jere ’91
President, Society of Alumni
leila.jere@gmail.com