Williams College Launches $650 Million Comprehensive Fundraising Campaign to Invest Deeply in the Future of the Liberal Arts

Media contact: Noelle Lemoine, communications assistant; tele: (413) 597-4277; email: [email protected]

WILLIAMSTOWN, Mass., October 3, 2015—In a campus-wide celebration uniting students, faculty, staff, alumni, and parents, Williams College tonight officially kicked off a multiyear campaign aimed at raising $650 million and engaging the entire Williams community in building the future of the college.

Teach It Forward: The Campaign for Williams is the most ambitious campaign in the college’s 222-year history and believed to be the most ambitious campaign in the history of liberal arts colleges. Following a three-year quiet phase of planning and fundraising, the college has secured $374 million in commitments toward its overall goal, and fully 66 percent of alumni have already engaged in some aspect of the campaign, whether through philanthropic support, volunteerism, or participation in campus or regional alumni events.

Williams launches the Teach It Forward campaign amid a continuing national conversation about the value of higher education and the liberal arts in particular, as well as widespread concern about the affordability and accessibility of a college education. The campaign is a comprehensive effort to build significant support for the core aspects of a Williams education, chief among them the financial aid program that provides opportunity to students and allows the college to create an educational community relevant for the 21st century.

“Our aspiration at Williams is to reflect the communities of this global society in the broadest sense possible,” said President Adam Falk. “When we bring students from every walk of life to Williams, we make Williams a better place for every single student here. And then in sending them out as graduates, we multiply our own impact on the world.”

Williams will seek $150 million in endowment support for financial aid in the campaign—to ensure affordability for low- and middle-income students, as well for international students, and therein sustain the socioeconomic diversity of the student body. Financial aid is the campaign’s single largest fundraising priority.

Williams will also seek deep investment in faculty support, undergraduate science education, and the student experience, and it aims to engage the alumni and parent communities broadly in strengthening their already legendary annual support of the college (approximately 60 percent of alumni contribute to the college’s Alumni Fund every year, and together with the parents fund and other annual giving, those gifts contribute $22 million to the operating budget).

“We tend to think primarily of two kinds of institutions of higher learning: large research universities and small liberal arts colleges. In this campaign, we will secure Williams’ distinctive place in higher education as combining the best of both these worlds,” Falk said. “At Williams, we provide the opportunities and the rigor of a research university, in a liberal arts context and on a scale that allows for not only small classes, but also close collaboration with faculty and the mentorship and support of an entire community.”

In addition to building the college’s financial aid endowment, in the Teach It Forward campaign Williams aspires to:

  • Raise $150 million to support faculty and recruit and retain the next generation of teachers and scholars, as the college enters a decade of unprecedented turnover during which more than a third of its faculty is expected to retire.
  • Provide for the next century of science at Williams and further distinguish Williams in undergraduate science education by raising $100 million in support for a new science center and related investments in science.
  • Invest in the experiences outside the classroom and beyond campus that support students’ intellectual, social, and physical development and provide the context and perspectives necessary for students to become informed, engaged global citizens. Williams seeks $150 million for these initiatives and opportunities.
  • Inspire alumni and parents to give annually at unprecedented levels—$100 million and 75 percent participation over the length of the campaign—as well as to engage in volunteerism, career networking, and other forms of involvement with the college through the campaign’s engagement initiative, Purple With Purpose.

“This set of campaign priorities speaks to what we continue to value about a Williams education: bringing together the most talented students and faculty in a challenging yet supportive environment, so that we may equip our students with the tools they’ll need to lead in the generations to come,” said Michael R. Eisenson ’77, chairman of the college’s Board of Trustees. “We have great expectations for our students, and so it follows that we have ambitious goals in this campaign.”

Gregory M. Avis ’80, the campaign’s chairman, said he hopes to engage fellow alumni and parents in building the college’s future. “My work in this campaign and the philanthropic commitments that my wife Anne and I are making to it represent a deep desire to support this community that we love and to inspire others to work together to continue to move Williams forward.”

Such support from alumni is long-standing in Williams’ history. It was alumni who saved the college in 1821—when declining enrollment and a push to move the college out of Williamstown threatened its very existence—and in so doing, they established the world’s first society of alumni.

Today, Leila Jere ’91, president of the Society of Alumni, said the support and engagement of alumni and parents is as essential as ever to Williams. “The strength of the college really relies on alumni who stay engaged and who give to the college in many ways,” she said. “Now is the time for all of us to ‘teach it forward,’ to demonstrate to future alumni the powerful impact of alumni support on the college and, in turn, of Williams on the wider world.”

For more information about the campaign, visit http://teachitforward.williams.edu.


Founded in 1793, Williams College is the second-oldest institution of higher learning in Massachusetts. The college’s 2,000 students are taught by a faculty noted for the quality of their teaching and research, and the achievement of academic goals includes active participation of students with faculty in their research. Students’ educational experience is enriched by the residential campus environment in Williamstown, Mass., which provides a host of opportunities for interaction with one another and with faculty beyond the classroom. Admission decisions on U.S. applicants are made regardless of a student’s financial ability, and the college provides grants and other assistance to meet the demonstrated needs of all who are admitted.