Williams Class of 1970 50th Reunion Gift

Winter Study: Students on sleigh ride in the snow near Williamstown while studying Tolstoy, War and Peace

Winter Study: Tolstoy, War and Peace

Executive Summary:  The Class Gift seeks to provide a $3 million Fund for  Curricular Excellence by students and a $2 million Fund for Curricular Innovation for Faculty.  Curricular Excellence will support  Williams’ Winter StudyTutorial, and Summer Opportunities Programs.  For questions or comments, see  Class Gift Contacts.

Traditionally, the 50th reunion class provides a substantial gift to the College.  Williams broadens gift crediting and ways to give for the 50th Reunion beyond that of any other reunion year, allowing the class to celebrate a great gift total.   As a result, our class gift will be the sum of every gift to every purpose that every member of the Class of ’70 has made between our 40th reunion (2010) and our 50th reunion (10-year crediting window). That will include outright gifts, planned gifts, and multi-year pledges made between July 1, 2010 and June 30, 2020. In addition, contributions to the Teach it Forward capital campaign will also count towards our Class Gift, though the campaign’s gifting window ends on June 30, 2019.

Tutorial with two Williams students and Prof. Julie Pedroni

Tutorial with Prof. Julie Pedroni

A major portion of our class’s 50th Reunion Gift to Williams will be dedicated to endowing two specific gift purposes, each of which is discussed below.  These gift purposes were identified during a nearly year-long process involving discussions with President Adam Falk and others at Williams, members of the Reunion Fund Committee, and other class leaders.  They are meant to reflect twin goals:  supporting and preserving the tradition of excellence that dates back to 1793 while preparing Williams students to embrace and accommodate the forces of rapid and often unsettling change in the 21st century.

The Class of 1970 Fund for Curricular Excellence

This fund will promote ongoing curricular development within three of Williams’s most distinctive programs: Winter Study, Tutorials, and Summer Opportunities. These opportunities enrich the traditional liberal arts approach by giving students the chance to push their comfort zones and test ideas in the real world. By securing the future of these dynamic programs at Williams through gifts to a permanent endowment, the Class of 1970 will help allow them to grow in new and exciting ways that respond to the needs of future generations of Ephs.

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  • Winter Study was implemented in January 1968 during our sophomore year and has continued to grow and thrive ever since in the 4-1-4 Williams calendar. With new funds, new activities could include bringing a more diverse sampling of alumni and external faculty members to campus to teach, offering more experiential courses on- and off-campus, and offering more students the chance to take on independent study.

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  • The Tutorial Program is one of the college’s recent signature curricular innovations. Adapted from the Oxford University model, the Williams program was born in the 1980s and expanded greatly since 2000. In each tutorial course, student pairs take turns developing and presenting independent work, and then critiquing it under the close mentorship of a professor. The critical thinking skills honed in tutorials are essential to students’ success in a world where information is ubiquitous and pressure to conform is great. New funding will help extend the Tutorial Program into new areas by supporting new course development. A short video on the tutorial program at Williams can be found at

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  • Summer Opportunities for students to pursue internships, research opportunities, and other career exploration experiences are critical for students to prepare for life after Williams. These opportunities enable students to explore real-life work experiences, grapple with issues pertaining to change in the 21st century up close, and become better equipped to apply their liberal arts education to meaningful work after they graduate.

We seek to raise $3,000,000 to create an endowed Fund for Curricular Excellence and allow college leaders discretion in applying the returns it generates annually to support these three programs.

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The Class of 1970 Fund for Curricular Innovation

New ideas for how to improve teaching and learning at Williams are constantly emerging from faculty members and students. Some fizzle or fade, while others catch fire and grow. The process of innovation requires that many ideas need to be conceived and tested, especially those that diverge from mainstream practice, in order for a few to flourish and transform the way we teach and learn.

It also requires more self-awareness and less complacency with existing norms and practices, more open mindedness and foresight in considering, and experimenting with, alternative pedagogical methods and schemas, and more contextual awareness of the changing societal circumstances within which the liberal arts must preserve its role and relevance.

In order to respond to dynamic and sometimes disruptive change in higher education, Williams will need to ensure that its faculty members have the institutional support and access to flexible resources needed to effectively explore and incubate diverse curricular innovations – big and small. Examples of near-term applications of the fund could include:

  • Supporting post-tenure sabbaticals for faculty members that include a special innovation grant for new course development, inventive pedagogical approaches, and related research. These grants would be awarded through a competitive process managed by the Dean of the Faculty.
  • Supporting groups of faculty members to investigate new approaches to teaching and/or to share them with colleagues.
  • Enabling collaboration among faculty and staff members to design new courses and co-curricular offerings, particularly those that are interdisciplinary, experiential, and leverage new information technology.

It is impossible, today, to predict the directions that the Williams curriculum will take in the next 50 years. Who, in 1970, would have predicted that Oxford-inspired tutorials would have taken off at Williams and become part of the College’s distinctive brand? What will the next Williams-defining curricular innovation be? We know that every generation of Williams teacher/scholars and learners will answer that question. This fund will allow them to make informed decisions and to approach the implementation of change armed with the resources to successfully accomplish it. By placing the fund’s administration in the hands of the Provost and Dean of the Faculty, we ensure long-term continuity and alignment with the college’s strategic goals.

We seek to raise $2,000,000 to create an endowed Fund for Curricular Innovation.

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Contacts and Other Resources

There are a variety of resources both within and outside of our class who can provide you with assistance in navigating the 50th Reunion gift giving process, including the review of effective gifting options.  These resources include the College’s Office of Gift Planning and its’ 50th Reunion Program Office, both of which have also prepared various written material and can provide you with personalized information.


Key Contacts within the Class of ‘70


John Burns

Chair of the 50th Reunion Fund Committee

3618 Sacramento St.

San Francisco, CA 94118

[email protected]

415-321-3166 (office)

415-203-3675 (cell-preferred)

Ted May

Class Treasurer and Member of the 50th Reunion Fund Committee

802 Prospect St.

Wethersfield, CT 06109

[email protected]

860-430-3700 (office)


Key Williams College Contacts

Mark Robertson

Director of the 50th Reunion Program

75 Park Street

Williamstown, MA 01267

[email protected]

413-597-4024 (office)

617-800-4858 (cell)

Margaret McComish

Director of Gift Planning

75 Park Street

Williamstown, MA 01267

[email protected]

413-597-3538 (office)

413-884-5029 (cell)



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