Williams College to Award Bicentennial Medal to Wole Coaxum at Convocation

Media contact: Gregory Shook, director of media relations; tele: 413-597-3401; email: [email protected]

WILLIAMSTOWN, Mass., Sept. 4, 2020—Williams College will present a Bicentennial Medal to distinguished alumnus Wole Coaxum ’92 at the Fall Convocation, to be held on Saturday, Sept. 12.

This year’s Convocation ceremonies will be presented virtually, available at 11 a.m. on the Williams Convocation website: convocation.williams.edu. Featuring many elements of a traditional Convocation, the virtual event will include a selection of recorded messages and performances, including a musical performance by violist Rebecca Christainsen ’21, and more. The ceremonies and related events will continue to be available on the website through the month.

President Mandel, Bicentennial medalist Wole Coaxum ’92, and the new Williams College Society of Alumni President Kate Boyle Ramsdell ’97 will welcome everyone in the Williams community, especially the Class of 2021, at Convocation, which formally launches the academic year.

Established in 1993 on the occasion of the college’s 200th anniversary, Bicentennial Medals honor members of the Williams community for distinguished achievement in any field of endeavor. The Convocation ceremony will also include the introduction of the newest members of Phi Beta Kappa and the announcement of the winner of the Grosvenor Cup Award, given to the senior who has best demonstrated concern for the college community.

About Wole Coaxum ’92

The son of Williams College’s first Black president of the Society of Alumni, Coaxum left behind his managing director position at J.P. Morgan after Michael Brown was killed in Ferguson, Mo. That event compelled him to think about how he could leverage his Wall Street experience and contacts to address the racial wealth gap. He founded Mobility Capital Finance (MoCaFi), one of the few Black-owned fintech startups, to provide access to financial services in underbanked communities. “For a community to have social justice without an economic plan is like one hand clapping,” said Coaxum, whose work was recently featured in The New York Times. About the intersectionality of his racial equity work with COVID-19 he said, “Pandemics are inclusive, so our financial system should be, too.”


Founded in 1793, Williams College is the second-oldest institution of higher learning in Massachusetts. The college’s approximately 2,000 undergraduate 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. The college is also home to roughly 100 Master’s students enrolled in its renowned graduate programs in Development Economics and the History of Art (the latter offered in collaboration with the Clark Art Institute). 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.