Williams College is a private liberal arts college in Williamstown, Massachusetts. It was established as a men's college in 1793 with funds from the estate of Ephraim Williams, a colonist from the Province of Massachusetts Bay who was killed in the French and Indian War in 1755. It is the second-oldest institution of higher education in the Commonwealth of Massachusetts.
Although the bequest from the estate of Ephraim Williams intended to establish a "free school", the exact meaning of which is ambiguous, the college quickly outgrew its initial ambitions. It positioned itself as a "Western counterpart" to Yale and Harvard. It became officially coeducational in the 1960s.
Following a liberal arts curriculum, Williams College provides undergraduate instruction in 25 academic departments and interdisciplinary programs including 36 majors in the humanities, arts, social sciences, and natural sciences. Williams offers an almost entirely undergraduate instruction, though there are two graduate programs in development economics and art history. The college maintains affiliations with the nearby Clark Art Institute and Massachusetts Museum of Contemporary Art (MASS MoCA), and has a close relationship with Exeter College, Oxford University. The college competes in the NCAA Division III New England Small College Athletic Conference as the Ephs. The athletic program has been highly successful, as Williams College has won 22 of the last 24 College Directors' Cups for NCAA Division III.
The college has many prominent alumni, including 9 Pulitzer Prize winners, a Nobel Prize Laureate, a Fields medalist, 3 chairmen of the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission, a chairwoman of the Federal Trade Commission, 14 billionaire alumni, 71 members of the United States Congress, 22 U.S. Governors, 4 U.S. Cabinet secretaries, an Associate Justice of the Supreme Court, a President of the United States, 3 prime ministers, CEOs and founders of Fortune 500 companies, high-ranking U.S. diplomats, foreign central bankers, scholars in academia, literary and media figures, numerous Emmy, Oscar, and Grammy award winners, and professional athletes. Other notable alumni include 40 Rhodes Scholars and 17 Marshall Scholarship winners.
After Shays' Rebellion, the Williamstown Free School opened with 15 students on October 26, 1791. The first president was Ebenezer Fitch. Not long after its founding, the school's trustees petitioned the Massachusetts legislature to convert the free school to a tuition-based college. The legislature agreed and on June 22, 1793, Williams College was chartered. It was the second college to be founded in Massachusetts.
At its founding, the college maintained a policy of racial segregation, refusing admission to black applicants. This policy was challenged by Lucy Terry Prince, who is credited as the first black American poet, when her son Festus was refused admission on account of his race. Prince, who had established a reputation as a raconteur and rhetorician, delivered a three-hour speech before the college's board of trustees, quoting abundantly from scripture, but was unable to secure her son's admission.
More recent scholarship, however, has highlighted there are no records within the college to confirm this event occurred, and Festus Prince may have been refused entry for an insufficient mastery of Latin, Greek, and French, all of which were necessary for successful completion of the entrance exam at the time, and which would most likely not have been available in the local schools of Guilford, Vermont, where Festus was raised.
By 1815, Williams had only two buildings and 58 students and was in financial trouble, so the board voted to move the college to Amherst, Massachusetts. In 1821, the president of the college, Zephaniah Swift Moore, who had accepted his position believing the college would move east, decided to proceed with the move. He took 15 students with him, and re-founded the college under the name of Amherst College. Some students and professors decided to stay at Williams and were allowed to keep the land, which was at the time relatively worthless. Moore died just two years later after founding Amherst, and was succeeded by Heman Humphrey, a trustee of Williams College.
Edward Dorr Griffin was appointed President of Williams and is widely credited with saving Williams during his 15-year tenure. A Williams student, Gardner Cotrell Leonard, of Albany, New York, whose family owned that city's Cotrell & Leonard department store, designed the gowns he and his classmates wore to graduation in 1887. Seven years later he advised the Inter-Collegiate Commission on Academic Costume, which met at Columbia University, and established the current system of U.S. academic dress. One reason gowns were adopted in the late 19th century was to eliminate the differences in apparel between rich and poor students. Gardner Cotrell Leonard went on to edit the book The Songs of Williams, a collection of songs sung at the college. During World War II, Williams College was one of 131 colleges and universities nationally that took part in the V-12 Navy College Training Program which offered students a path to a Navy commission.
Though Williams College officially began the process of coeducation in the late 1960s, women integrated the college as early as the 1930s. Beatrice Irene Wasserscheid (née Acly) was the first woman to be awarded a Williams degree after successfully petitioning the trustees to pursue a master of arts degree in American literature. She received her master's degree in June 1931. That same decade, in 1935, Emily Cleland became the first woman to teach at Williams when she finished teaching her late husband's geology course after he died in an accident. The first tenured woman faculty member at the college, Doris DeKeyselingk, oversaw the Russian department beginning in 1958.
During his time as president of Williams College, John E. Sawyer officially initiated the process of coeducation. After overseeing the abolishment of fraternities, Sawyer created a faculty-trustee committee, the Committee on Coordinate Education and Related Questions, in 1967 to explore options for coeducation and co-ordinate education. In response to the Committee on Coordinate Education's final report, the trustees voted in June 1969 to regularly admit women undergraduate students in fall 1971. The college welcomed 137 women as first-year students in fall 1971. They were joined by 90 transfer and exchange students from women's colleges who, during their junior and senior year, participated in the Ten College Exchange Program which Sawyer helped to establish in the mid-to-late 1960s. The graduating class of 1975 was the first fully co-educational class to graduate from Williams.
The college's admission of women undergraduate students coincided with the diversification of faculty and staff. An affirmative action program, launched in 1972 by President John Chandler, reinforced equal opportunity employment. In addition to facilitating the hiring and retention of African-American staff and faculty, the program prioritized hiring women. As a result of the efforts of the dean of faculty and the provost in collaboration with "Committee W", a women-led group dedicated to fulfilling the program's mission, the number of women faculty steadily rose. From the inception of Williams's affirmative action program in 1972 to its revision in 1975, the proportion of women full-time faculty increased from 4.5% to 11.7%. By 1975, 34% of the first-term assistant professors were women.
In the last decade, construction has changed the look of the college. The addition of the $38 million Unified Science Center to the campus in 2001 set a tone of style and comprehensiveness for renovations and additions to campus buildings in the 21st century. This building unifies the formerly separate lab spaces of the physics, chemistry, and biology departments. In addition, it houses Schow Science Library, notable for its unified science materials holdings and architecture. It features vaulted ceilings and an atrium with windows into laboratories on the second through fourth floors of the science center.
Construction had already begun on the third project, called the Stetson-Sawyer project, when economic uncertainty stemming from the 2007 financial crisis led to its delay. College trustees initially balked at the Stetson-Sawyer project's cost, and revisited the idea of renovating Sawyer in its current location, an idea which proved not to be cost effective. The entire project includes construction of two new academic buildings, the removal of Sawyer Library from its current location, and the construction of a new library at the rear of a renovated Stetson Hall (which served as the college library prior to Sawyer's construction). The academic buildings, temporarily named North Academic Building and South Academic Building, were completed in fall 2008. In the spring of 2009, South Academic Building was renamed Schapiro Hall in honor of former president Morton O. Schapiro. In spring 2010 the North Academic Building was renamed Hollander Hall. Construction of the new Sawyer Library was completed in 2014, after which the old Sawyer Library was razed.
After several years of planning, the college decided to group undergraduates starting with the Class of 2010 into four geographically coherent clusters, or "Neighborhoods". Since the fall of 2006, first-years have been housed in Sage Hall, Williams Hall and Mission Park, while the former first-year dormitories East College, Lehman Hall, Fayerweather, and Morgan, joined the remaining residential buildings as upperclass housing. During the spring 2009 semester, a committee formed to evaluate the neighborhood system, and released a report the following fall. From 2003 through 2008, Williams conducted a capital campaign with the goal of raising $400 million by September 2008. The college reached $400 million at the end of June 2007. By the close of the campaign, Williams had raised $500.2 million. 041b061a72