About the Event

President John E. Sawyer '39

A half-century ago, Williams—led by President John E. Sawyer ’39—underwent a series of changes that transformed the college and set it on a course to become the Williams of today. From the early 1960s to the early 1970s, the college phased out fraternities; admitted women and set out to diversify the student body, faculty, and board of trustees; introduced non-Western studies to the curriculum; and launched Winter Study, environmental studies, and the graduate program in art history. The college also did away with compulsory chapel, built a science center, and completed a fundraising campaign eight times the size of the one before it.

On Friday, April 5, Daring Change: The Sawyer Era honors Sawyer and his legacy at Williams and in higher education. In a conversation with three leaders who knew Sawyer and/or experienced the college’s transformation in the decades since his presidency, we’ll explore the impacts of decisions made 50 years ago.

On Saturday, April 6, Daring Change: Imagining Williams’ Future invites the campus community to come together to think about Williams’ future. Students, faculty, staff, and alumni will give short talks on aspects of the future related to four broad questions:

  • How Will We Learn?
  • What Will We Learn?
  • Who Will We Be?
  • What Difference Will We Make?