Make Your Professor's Day

Over the past few months i’ve had the honor of presenting a gift to now-retired Williams faculty members on your behalf. The gift to each was a hard-cover book, a compilation of messages of gratitude and appreciation submitted by you, in your own words. The level of gratitude each recipient conveyed is difficult to properly capture, but some of their own words in response were “awesome,” “amazing,” “cherish,” “astounded,” and “grateful.”

The relationship between teacher and student is at the heart of a Williams experience regardless of when we graduated.

When this initiative was launched as part of Purple with Purpose, the engagement platform of the Teach It Forward campaign, we hoped it would resonate with you. What we couldn’t fully anticipate was the power of the words and sentiments you expressed. Here is just a small, representative sample:

“Professor Frank Morgan made teaching confidence, not just mathematical content, a hallmark of his courses. In effect, he taught me more than my major; he helped mold my life. I’ll forever be grateful that he believed I could be successful and helped me believe in myself.”

“I still hold Professor Saul Kassin as one of the best, most challenging mentors I’ve had in my life. He pushed me to deliver my very best work in ways I hadn’t experienced before or since.”

“I remember fondly Professor Donald Beaver’s broad and deep intellect, passion for knowledge, and commitment to teaching. One could discern, behind the glimmer in his eye and barely concealed smirk on his face, that the history of ideas was for him a wellspring that continued to bring contentment and inspiration.”

“Mark Haxthausen is the kind of educator who does more for students than teach or advise. He inspires. I’m grateful for Mark’s boundless energy, infectious passion, and his commitment to his students’ success. He epitomizes the commitment to teaching and student engagement at Williams.”

Of course, none of this should come as a surprise. The relationship between teacher and student is at the heart of a Williams experience regardless of when we graduated. What’s clear is that this deeply symbiotic relationship resonates for each far beyond the log on which they’ve historically been seated.

Twelve faculty members will retire at the end of this academic year. It’s time for you to help create a memory book for Ilona Bell (English), Ed Epping (art), Darra Goldstein (Russian), Meredith Hoppin (Classics), Andy Jaffe (music), E.J. Johnson ’59 (art), Steve Levin (art), Jeff Strait (physics), Karen Swann (English), Bill Wagner (history), Jim Wood (history), and Bill Wootters (physics). Thanks in advance for taking a few moments to share a farewell message—the submission form can be found at You’ll feel good doing it, and it will make your former professor’s day, too.

Best wishes from Williamstown.
Brooks Foehl ’88, Director of Alumni Relations
[email protected]