Mission & Purpose

The Society of Alumni of Williams College
June 11, 2005

As the oldest continuing college or university alumni organization in North America, the Society of Alumni of Williams College was established on September 5, 1821, 28 years after the founding of the College in 1793. When Williams President Zephaniah Swift Moore left to form a college in Amherst, a group of alumni met to form a society “for the promotion of literature and good fellowship among ourselves and the better to advance the reputation and interests of our Alma Mater.” The organizers’ commitment to Williams in the difficult months and years that followed saved the College and thus allowed it to evolve and flourish to this day. The unbroken support and dedication of succeeding generations of alumni are principal elements in Williams’ position as one of the pre-eminent undergraduate institutions in the world.

The Society continues to advance those commitments as it has grown with the College to embrace good fellowship throughout an ever-widening community of alumni drawn from myriad places, ethnicities, cultures, interests and walks of life. Bound together by the common experience of an extraordinary undergraduate education, Williams alumni form a community numbering thousands of men and women throughout the United States and around the globe. Together they represent the ages, nationalities, religious affiliations, sexual orientations, and abilities, talents and viewpoints of the global society that Williams commits to serve.

Membership in the Society of Alumni is automatic for all Williams graduates and non-graduated matriculants in baccalaureate classes of the College. Honorary membership accompanies the awarding of honorary degrees and master’s degrees, and is conferred upon surviving spouses and partners of deceased members of the Society.

Alumni give their time and expertise to Williams as trustees of the College; as leaders of the Society; as leaders of classes, regional associations and alumni networks; as career mentors to students and fellow alumni; and as College ambassadors to prospective admission candidates and their families and secondary schools, and to other colleges, universities and alumni organizations.

Alumni also support Williams through their generous gifts to the Alumni Fund, an unrestricted annual giving campaign that is central to funding current College operations. Contributions to the College are also made through periodic campaigns to increase the Williams endowment, improve the physical plant and establish new educational initiatives; and through planned giving programs for bequest commitments, life income arrangements, and other forms of charitable gifts.

Alumni business is conducted each June at the annual meeting of the Society, when members elect an Alumni Trustee to serve a five-year term on the Board of Trustees of the College. Between annual meetings, alumni business is conducted by an Executive Committee of the Society that consists of 18 members at large (six of whom are elected at each annual meeting for three-year terms), along with the president, vice president(s) and secretary of the Society. The five Alumni Trustees of the College, the chair or co-chairs of the Alumni Fund and the assistant secretaries of the Society are ex officio members of the Executive Committee. The treasurer of Williams College serves as the ex-officio treasurer of the Society.

The staff of the College’s Office of Alumni Relations supports the activities of the Society’s Executive Committee, as its members strive to ensure that good fellowship and support of Williams remain steadfast now and in the future.