A Lifelong Reunion

This year’s reunion season was a true celebration of all things Williams, and it was truly glorious. We as a community have learned to navigate through the maze of pandemic restrictions, and Williams returned to on-campus reunions this year, celebrating the 2s and 7s as well as a unique cluster gathering for the classes of 2015, 2016 and 2017. Covid-delayed celebrations such as 50th reunions for the classes of 1970 and 1971 took place over the summer. It is always our great delight to be together in the Purple Valley.

A wonderful Reunion Weekend tradition is our annual Williams Society of Alumni (SoA) meeting, which took place this year on the Library Quad. I love the intergenerational nature of this event. 

I believe alumni engagement can be personally rewarding and possibly even a restorative endeavor.

At this meeting, Kate Boyle Ramsdell ’97 passed the leadership mantle on to me as president of the SoA. I accepted this position mindful of what I have learned from my decades-long alumni volunteer roles—VP of the SoA, alumni trustee, class president, reunion chair, regional association president and a variety of other positions. Through the benefit of these responsibilities, I have learned the importance of listening and the virtue of patience.

Throughout Reunion Weekend, I visited individual class reunion sites and heard various alumni stories. These were truly amazing, heartwarming and delightful. No surprise: Over those three days, there was most often music in the air. I enjoyed the variety of genres, ranging from the jazz tunes to rock to East Coast hip-hop, representing a diversity of entertainment among Williams alumni. During my tenure as president, my desire is to harness this energy and focus it toward alumni engagement with the same spirit of openness and diversity. I hope all of you will participate with the SoA to enable us to prioritize opportunities for alumni to engage and connect with one another and current students.

My college experience was a new and challenging environment that tested my limits, enabling me to develop essential life skills. I was most fortunate to have found my place here a long time ago. That love, that pride and devotion, have only grown over these many years. No matter what your history may have been with the college, I believe alumni engagement can be personally rewarding and possibly even a restorative endeavor. As the SoA launches its strategic plan for alumni engagement, I look forward to interacting with as many of you as possible. For me, Williams is not only lifelong learning but a lifelong reunion.

—Brent E. Shay ’78, President, Society of Alumni

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