When we think of important dates in Williams history, two early ones stand out. 1793 saw the founding of the college. Shortly thereafter, in 1821, when then-president Zephaniah Swift Moore tried relocating the college, alumni rallied to save Williams and created the Society of Alumni (SoA)—the oldest continuing alumni association in the U.S. and likely the world—as their vehicle to do it. The Society’s Bicentennial is upon us, and in 12 short months, we’ll formally kick-off a year-long celebration befitting Williams and its alumni community. The past 18 months have seen incredibly productive for organizing and planning. Led by SoA Bicentennial Co-Chairs Laura Moberg Lavoie ’99 and Aroop Mukharji ’09, alumni volunteer teams have been hard at work on your behalf. I want to share some of the big-picture thinking shaping that work.
Our goal is for every current and future member of the Society to connect with the college [and] know there will always be a place for them at Williams.
The Society’s Bicentennial provides the opportunity and responsibility to reflect on its history, current standing and its future—all in an effort to ensure that the Society remains as strong, vibrant and essential to Williams as ever. Reminiscent of the college’s own 200th anniversary in 1993, Williams is committed to a celebration of this milestone that is both broad and deep. We intend to provide a platform rich with engagement opportunities for alumni around the world and to share the power of the Society with the Williams of today and the myriad communities within which we operate.
Celebration of the Society’s Bicentennial will be a quintessentially Williams enterprise. It is a deeply collaborative effort led by a dedicated corps of alumni volunteers working in tandem with staff centered in the Alumni Relations Office and in consultation with the Executive Committee of the Society of Alumni. Organizationally, subcommittees have been structured to envision, build and execute four primary aspects of the Bicentennial program: archival content; on-campus events and experiences; off-campus events and experiences; and marketing and communications. You’ll be hearing more about their good work and plans for 2021 later this year.
Williams alumni are often referred to as the college’s “second endowment.” The Bicentennial celebration will be a campaign for human capital, the value of which is immeasurable. Our goal is for every current and future member of the Society to connect with the college, wherever they are in life. Our aim is for every Eph to know there will always be a place for them at Williams—both now and in the future.
You’ll be hearing more about formal plans for the Bicentennial over the coming year. For now, know that you’re in our thoughts and on our minds as we look to engage our alumni community—30,000 strong—in ways that make clear that there’s a place for you—at this milestone and always.
Best wishes from Williamstown,
—Brooks Foehl ’88, Director, Alumni Relations