Established in 1793 with funds bequeathed by Colonel Ephraim Williams, the college is private, residential, and liberal arts, with graduate programs in the history of art and in development economics. The undergraduate enrollment is approximately 2,000 students.
Williams admits U.S. students without regard to their ability to pay, and offers a generous financial aid program for international students. The College commits to meeting 100 percent of every admitted student’s demonstrated financial need for four years.
There are three academic divisions (humanities, sciences, social sciences), 25 departments, 36 majors, plus concentrations and special programs. The student:faculty ratio is 7:1. The academic year consists of two four-course semesters plus a one-course January term.
Fraternities were phased out beginning in 1962. Coeducation was adopted in 1970. The school color is purple. The mascot is the Purple Cow. Sports teams are called “Ephs.”
Williamstown is located in the Berkshires in northwestern Massachusetts, 135 miles from Boston and 165 miles from New York City.
Voting membership of the faculty: 323
Tenured faculty as a percentage of voting membership: 64%
Percent of the faculty hold doctorates or other terminal degrees: 97%
Research and Teaching
Faculty are distinguished by the number of prizes won, including MacArthur Fellowship, American Academy of Arts and Sciences, Robert Foster Cherry Award for Great Teachers, Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching Professor of the Year, Pulitzer Prize for Poetry, Princeton University’s 250th Anniversary Visiting Professorship for Distinguished Teaching, American Astrophysical Society Award, Elliot Rudwick Prize, American Academy of Religion Award for Excellence, Lannan Literary Prize, National Book Award, National Poetry Services Manuscript Competition, Kurt Weill Award, Julia Child Cookbook of the Year Award, and the Deborah and Franklin Tepper Haimo Distinguished Teaching Award of the Mathematical Association of America.
Virtually all faculty members engage in research activities that complement their commitment to teaching and the achievement of academic goals includes active participation of students with faculty in research.
Faculty are successful in winning support for research from many sources, including the federal and state governments, corporations, foundations, nonprofit agencies, individuals, and the college. Recently, these have included the American Chemical Society, Andy Warhol Foundation, Berkshire Chamber of Commerce, Cinereach, Dreyfus Foundation, Ellsworth Kelly Foundation, Essel Foundation, Ford Foundation (Leveraging Investments in Creativity), Fulbright Foundation, Gardner Family Charitable Foundation, Getty Foundation, Guggenheim Foundation, Hellman Family Foundation, Holloman-Price Foundation, Institute of Museum and Library Services, Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, W.M. Keck Foundation, Mapplethorpe Foundation, Maryland Film Festival, Massachusetts Cultural Council, Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, NASA, National Endowment for the Humanities, National Geographic Society, National Institutes of Health, National Science Foundation, National Institute of Standards & Technology, Research Corp., Space Telescope Science Institute, Spencer Foundation, Starr Foundation, Teagle Foundation, Terra Foundation, U.S. Geological Survey, LilaWallace Foundation, and Whiting Foundation. Grants and awards in support of faculty research between July 1, 2009 and June 30, 2010 totaled $4.3 million.
Williams College Mission and Purposes
Williams seeks to provide the finest possible liberal arts education by nurturing in students the academic and civic virtues, and their related traits of character. Academic virtues include the capacities to explore widely and deeply, think critically, reason empirically, express clearly, and connect ideas creatively. Civic virtues include commitment to engage both the broad public realm and community life, and the skills to do so effectively. These virtues, in turn, have associated traits of character. For example, free inquiry requires open-mindedness, and commitment to community draws on concern for others.
We are committed to our central endeavor of academic excellence in a community of learning that comprises students, faculty, and staff, and draws on the engagement of alumni and parents. We recruit students from among the most able in the country and abroad and select them for the academic and personal attributes they can contribute to the educational enterprise, inside and outside the classroom. Our faculty is a highly talented group of teachers, scholars, and artists committed deeply to the education of our students and to involving them in their efforts to expand human knowledge and understanding through original research, thought, and artistic expression. Dedicated staff enable this teaching and learning to take place at the highest possible level, as do the involvement and support of our extraordinarily loyal parents and alumni.
No one can pretend to more than guess at what students now entering college will be called upon to comprehend in the decades ahead. No training in fixed techniques, no finite knowledge now at hand, no rigid formula can solve problems whose shape we cannot yet define. The most versatile, the most durable, in an ultimate sense, the most practical knowledge and intellectual resources that we can offer students are the openness, creativity, flexibility, and power of education in the liberal arts.
Toward that end we extend a curriculum that offers wide opportunities for learning, ensures close attention of faculty to students but also encourages students to learn independently, and reflects the complexity and diversity of the world. We seek to do this in an atmosphere that nurtures the simple joy of learning as a lifelong habit and commitment.
We place great emphasis on the learning that takes place in the creation of a functioning community: life in the residence halls, expression through the arts, debates on political issues, leadership in campus governance, exploration of personal identity, pursuit of spiritual and religious impulses, the challenge of athletics, and direct engagement with human needs, nearby and far away.
To serve well our students and the world, Williams embraces core values such as welcoming and supporting in the College community people from all segments of our increasingly diverse society and ensuring that College operations are environmentally sustainable.
From this holistic immersion students learn more than they will ever know. Such is the testimony of countless graduates — that their Williams experience has equipped them to live fuller, more effective lives. Ultimately, the College’s greatest mark on the world consists of this: the contributions our alumni make in their professions, their communities, and their personal lives.
Therefore, we ask all our students to understand that an education at Williams should not be regarded as a privilege destined to create further privilege, but as a privilege that creates opportunities to serve society at large, and imposes the responsibility to do so.
At the same time, being itself privileged by its history and circumstances, Williams understands its own responsibility to contribute by thought and example to the world of higher education.
New England Small College Athletic Conference (NESCAC)
Founded in 1971, NESCAC is a group of eleven highly selective liberal arts colleges and universities that share a similar philosophy for intercollegiate athletics. The Conference was created out of a concern for the direction of intercollegiate athletic programs, and remains committed to keeping a proper perspective on the role of sport in higher education.
The formation of NESCAC originated with an agreement among Amherst College, Bowdoin College, Wesleyan University and Williams College first drafted in 1955. Along with these four institutions, Bates College, Colby College, Hamilton College, Middlebury College, Trinity College and Tufts University are sustaining charter members. Connecticut College joined in 1982, bringing the Conference’s membership to its current total of 11 institutions.
NESCAC members believe intercollegiate athletic programs should operate in harmony with the educational mission of each institution. The Conference is committed to establishing common boundaries to keep athletics strong but in proportion to the overall academic mission of the member institutions. In pursuit of this mission, the Presidents of each NESCAC institution control intercollegiate athletic policy. Conference tenets are usually more restrictive than those of the NCAA Division III with regard to season length, number of contests and post-season competition.
NESCAC institutions also believe athletic teams should be representative of the entire student body. Thus, admissions and financial policies are consistent with the NCAA Division III policies that prohibit athletic scholarships and award financial aid solely on the basis of need.
In 1999, the NESCAC formally became a playing conference and now sponsors 26 conference championship sports (13 for men and 13 for women). Member schools offer extensive and broad based intercollegiate as well as club and intramural opportunities for both men and women. With member institutions sponsoring an average of nearly 30 varsity programs, NESCAC provides more than 7,500 opportunities for participation in intercollegiate competition at the Division III level. Teams and individuals have achieved great success on both a regional and national level.
In 2010-11 Williams again won a conference leading 9 NESCAC titles.
The Ephs lead all NESCAC members in NESCAC team titles won with an all-time total of 162.
See the complete list of NESCAC past champions HERE.
Source: Williams College