People, Principles, Goals

Strategic planning provides members of a community with a unique opportunity to collaborate on establishing a collective vision. Building on its reputation as a leader in residential liberal arts education, Williams College over 2019-20, is engaging in a planning process that will build upon past efforts, establish shared goals for our work together now, and guide us as we look toward the college’s future. The plan will serve as a roadmap as we define our priorities, allocate our resources, and articulate collective goals for the next ten to fifteen years of the college’s development. At the end of the process, Williams will have expanded on its notable strengths in undergraduate liberal education, enhancing its position as a national leader in pedagogy, research, and student development.

Williams began its strategic planning effort in fall 2018, with the aim for developing a road map that will help the college fulfill our mission in evolving times.

A Coordinating Committee guides the process by articulating goals; confirming areas of interest and convening subcommittees to explore them through targeted outreach and feedback; and, finally, knitting the results into a plan to support the educational ambitions of an exceptional learning community.

Coordinating Committee members, 2019–20

Michelle Apotsos, Assistant Professor of Art
David Bartels, Security Patrols Supervisor, Campus Safety and Security
Denise Buell, Dean of the Faculty and Cluett Professor of Religion
Susan Engel, Senior Lecturer in Psychology and Class of 1959 Director of Program in Teaching
Sean Fontellio ’20, Student
Keli Gail, Assistant to the President and Secretary of the College
David Gürçay-Morris, Associate Professor of Theatre
Dawn Jamros, Administrative Assistant, Department of Biology
Dukes Love, Provost and Professor of Economics
Protik Majumder, Barclay Jermain Professor of Natural Philosophy and Director of the Science Center
Maud S. Mandel, President, Professor of History, Program in Jewish Studies (committee chair)
Marlene Sandstrom, Dean of the College and Hales Professor of Psychology
Grant Swonk ’21, undergraduate student

Principles and Goals

As we work together to establish our shared vision for Williams, there are three principles that will be woven through each of our working groups: tending to the ways that Williams College can be an evermore inclusive, equitable, and diverse community; seeking ways to enhance our commitments to sustainability; and ensuring transparency in our decision-making processes at every stage.

Our goals are:

  • A plan that reflects the College’s aspiration to build on its considerable strengths in teaching and research across the liberal arts.
  • A plan that emerges from an inclusive, effective, and efficient process that is both visionary and practical: affirming, collectively, our highest ambitions for Williams and developing the specific goals and plans to achieve them.
  • A plan that involves and seeks input from a broad spectrum of the Williams community on campus and globally, engendering widespread support and enthusiasm and laying the groundwork for near- and long-term financial planning.
  • A plan that takes advantage of Williams’ ability to provide leadership with regard to innovation and excellence in pedagogy and co-curricular development.
  • A plan that identifies opportunities for Williams faculty, students, and staff to apply the liberal arts to real and pressing problems of local, national and global significance.
  • A plan that allows Williams to emerge as a model of a diverse, inclusive, and equitable community where students, faculty, and staff can live, work, and thrive.
  • A plan that considers the campus built environment and that reflects the College’s commitment to sustainability.
  • A plan that clearly lays out immediate and long-term achievable goals with a manageable timeline, sensible methods, and responsible stewardship of resources.
  • A “living plan” that is specific enough to guide the college’s work but adaptable enough to evolve to suit changing circumstances.  

Key Questions

  • How can we take full advantage of the small residential liberal arts undergraduate experience to best prepare students with the knowledge and skills needed to be leaders of our global society?  
  • How can we expand our ability to provide outstanding undergraduate education by making Williams more accessible and fully inclusive to a wide range of students?
  • What are the best ways to build an even more outstanding and diverse faculty and staff and to provide them with the resources they need to be effective in attaining our educational goals?
  • How can we best support research in strategic areas that build on Williams’ particular strengths?
  • What investments in physical infrastructure are needed to support Williams’ mission, including the renovation and development of academic, residential, and programmatic facilities?
  • How can we expand our partnerships with other institutions in the region and globally in ways that strengthen our capacity in education and research and magnify the impact we have on the world?
  • How can we most fully partner with our alumni and families to advance Williams’ mission?
  • What are the most effective governance structures to allow for transparent, comprehensive, and effective decision making?
  • Recognizing that resources are limited, what are the best ways to achieve programmatic change without necessarily increasing total spending?