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Frequently Asked Questions

Who should I call for help?

College Switchboard (413) 597-3131 (24 hours)
Dean of Students Office (413) 597-4171 (8:30 a.m.- 4:30 p.m., M-F)
Office of Public Affairs (413) 597-4277 (8:30 a.m.- 5 p.m., M-F)
The A-Z Index lists links to college offices, services, departments, and programs.

Who is the president of the college?

Morton Owen Schapiro (President's Office)

Who is the dean of the college?

Karen Merrill is responsible for student life. (Dean's Office)

Who should I talk to about financial matters?

Paul J. Boyer is director of financial aid (Financial Aid Office).
David W. Holland is bursar (Bursar's Office).

Where can I find information about moving in, First Days, or for returning students?

Information on First Days, arrival and dorm location, and orientation
Information for returning students

How do I contact faculty or staff?

Telephone numbers and e-mail addresses for faculty, students, and employees are available in the Williams People Directory.

Where do I send my change of address?

Parents who have moved can contact Family Days Coordinator Noelle Lemoine at 413.597.4277 or She'll make sure your information gets to all the right people.

How do I find out what's going on at Williams?

For news, The Williams Record or the college's News Releases. For events, see At Williams. In general, see Willipedia.

Where can I find information about Williams online?

For a quick overview, check out Fast Facts about Williams and History of Williams.

How do we get to Williams College?

See the Visitors Guide for driving directions, information on travel by plane, train, bus, taxi, and limousine, as well as lodging and restaurant listings.

Where do I find information about graduation?

The Commencement date is set three years ahead. It will be celebrated in 2008 on Saturday and Sunday, May 31 and June 1. For more information, see the Commencement website.

Student Life

Where can I find information about the academic programs at Williams?

Information about course offerings and degree requirements can be found in the College Bulletin. The web sites of the academic departments contain extensive information on programs of study, faculty, course offerings, and student services.

What do Williams students do for fun?

There are more than 100 clubs and organizations for everything from the Anti-Gravity Society to the Zambezi Marimba Band. One in 10 students at Williams belongs to an a cappella group, and there are numerous opportunities for student drama, publishing, and leadership. See the Willipedia page Student Groups.

What's housing like?

With 40 different student residences, Williams housing is diverse, both among and within the buildings. In some residential houses no two rooms are alike and many students find this gives housing at Williams a less institutional feel. Visit the Campus Life GetARoom page.

What do we need to bring for our student's dorm room?

Dorm rooms are equipped with extra-long twin beds and mattresses, desks, garbage and recycling bins, built-in lights, and window shades. Rooms are also equipped with phone and data jacks. All dorms have televisions in their common areas; some buildings are also equipped with television cable hookups in individual rooms. Students must supply sheets (extra-long), pillows, blankets, and towels, and may also bring lamps, rugs, or curtains if they so desire.

What items are not allowed in student rooms?

Williams does not permit students to have the following items in dorm rooms: coffee makers, toaster ovens, air conditioners, hamburger and sandwich makers, popcorn poppers (other than hot air), hot plates, crock pots, broilers, cup warmers, bread makers, candles, any lamps with halogen bulbs, microwave ovens of more than 800 watts, refrigerators larger than five cubit feet, open flame devices, toasters, electric heaters, electronic woks, electric fry pans, electric or gas stoves, deep fryers, beer coolers, kegolators, hot pots, any units with heating coils, or incense. For more information, see Campus Safety & Security

Should my son or daughter bring a computer to campus?

Williams has a large number of computers and printers available to students in public labs, but most students find that it is an advantage to work in their rooms, especially during exam periods when the labs are busy. See Purchasing a Computer for suggestions from Williams' information technology office.

Is there a college bookstore?

Water Street Books is the local supplier of textbooks and course materials. Williams gift items (sweatshirts, mugs, etc.) can be found at The Williams Shop on Spring Street.

Where can we buy room furnishings?

The nearest store is Wal-Mart in North Adams. There are Target and Macy's stores in the Berkshire Mall in Lanesboro.

I'd like to open a bank account for my incoming student ...

For more information call:

There is a Williamstown Savings/Hoosac Bank ATM on campus.

Where should we send mail to our student?

Mail is delivered to student mailboxes in Paresky Center once a day. Mail is not delivered to dormitories. Address student mail to:

BOX ####

For overnight carriers (FedEx, UPS, etc.) add "Chapin Hall Drive" above Williamstown MA.

Does the college provide transportation for students at break times?

The College Council Shuttle Service operates to and from NYC, Boston, Hartford, and Albany for major college breaks. Also see the Visitors Guide's Plane, Train, Bus Info for information on commercial transportation options.

Do dorms close during the long vacation breaks?

Over Winter Break, all dorms are closed. International students are expected to make their own arrangements for housing over Winter Break. For questions, please contact Gina Coleman, the international student advisor in the dean's office. Over Spring Break, the dorms are closed two weeks. Students may ask to stay on campus, but will need to take a room in one of the upperclass houses that will remain open (meaning heat and hot water, among other necessities) over the Spring Break. At year-end, all dorms close for the summer break.

Is my student eligible for jury duty while at Williams?

Yes. Jury selection includes all Massachusetts inhabitants, who are American citizens 18 years or older and who reside in Massachusetts for 50 percent or more of the calendar. There are virtually no exemptions; however jury duty in the Commonwealth is of short duration and one is allowed to schedule duty to suit one's schedule. Contact the Dean's office for more information.

Can first-year students have cars on campus?

First-year students are not allowed to keep a car on campus at any time during the academic year.

Where do students store their belongings over the summer?

Mullen's and Connor's Brothers, two independent moving companies, offer storage near campus. Storage on campus over the summer is very limited and only allowed to a few international and financial aid students who have demonstrated critical need to the Office of Financial Aid.

Williams College

How old is Williams?

The first building was opened in 1791 as the Free College, which became Williams College in 1793. See A Brief History of Williams for more information.

How big is Williams?

Williams College has 2,000 undergraduates and 264 faculty. The campus covers 450 acres and Hopkins Memorial Forest includes an additional 2,500 acres.

How much does Williams cost?

The total cost for tuition, fees, and room and board for the 2007-08 academic year is $45,140.

How many Williams students receive financial aid and how much do they receive?

Approximately 75 percent of students receive financial aid. All scholarships are need-based. Packages meet full demonstrated need and the average award to the Class of 2011 was $34,827, which includes an average scholarship of $31,945.

What are the most popular majors at Williams?

Of the Bachelor's degrees granted from 2002-06, the most popular majors were economics, English, political science, psychology, and biology.

What kind of career planning assistance does the college offer students?

The Office of Career Counseling assists students in discovering their skills and interests, and in exploring career options. In getting from "point A to point B," it is important for your son or daughter to take full advantage of OCC's programs and services. You can help us by encouraging him or her to visit OCC's website, read their printed handouts, explore their library, attend their workshops, and schedule individual counseling appointments to discuss career exploration and decision-making, summer work and study, and job hunting.

Does Williams have any graduate programs?

Williams has two graduate programs, one culminating in a Master of Arts degree in art history and the other in a Master of Arts degree in development economics. Students in the second program are professionals from developing countries.

In what year were women students admitted?

The first women were exchange students. They arrived in Spring 1969. Fall 1971 saw the first four-year women students on campus.

Why is purple the Williams color?

The story goes that at the Williams-Harvard baseball game in 1869, spectators, watching from carriages, had trouble telling the teams apart (there were no uniforms) so one of the onlookers bought ribbons from a nearby millinery store to pin on Williams' players. The only color available was purple. The buyer was Jennie Jerome (later Winston Churchill's mother) whose family summered in Williamstown.

Why is the mascot a purple cow?

The purple cow was chosen as an unofficial mascot of Williams College in 1907 by a group of students who were searching for a name for their new humor magazine. The purple cow's origin is not entirely clear. In the Berkshire Mountains, when the sun sets, the mountains take on a slightly purplish tinge. One theory about the origin of the "purple cow" suggests that when the dairy cows grazed in the valley, they would look purple as the sun set. The following poem, written in 1895 by Gelett Burgess, is another possible source.

I never met a purple cow,
I never hope to see one,
But I can tell you anyhow,
I'd rather see than be one.

Where can I buy a Williams T-shirt?

Williams paraphernalia of all sorts can be purchased at The Williams Shop on Spring Street.

Are there campus tours for visitors?

Student run tours are offered throughthe Admissions Office.

About Williamstown

How big is Williamstown?

Williamstown's population is 8,310, including the 2,000 Williams College students. The town is in Berkshire County, pop. 131,717.

What is the town like?

Nestled in the Berkshire Hills, Williamstown abounds with natural beauty to enjoy through hikes or runs. Popular hikes include Pine Cobble, a steep two-hour climb to a rocky outcrop overlooking the campus; and Stone Hill, a shorter, but gorgeous traipse through woods and pasture. Hopkins Forest is perfect for running, hiking, or cross-country skiing.

Williamstown's cultural institutions include the Williams College Museum of Art and the Clark Art Institute, renowned for its Impressionist collection; the Massachusetts Museum of Contemporary Art lies within easy reach. The new '62 Center for Theatre & Dance offers a full season of performances and presentations and is home in the summer to the Williamstown Theatre Festival.

The town is quite rural and mostly residential. Spring Street and Water Street, which constitute the main commercial district, offer banks, a drugstore, office supply stores, clothing shops, restaurants, and other necessities; a supermarket is available in nearby North Adams.

If you want to take a pleasant hike ...

Pick up the Williams Outing Club's "North Berkshire Outdoor Guide" at Water Street Books. As a comprehensive guide to the outdoor recreational opportunities in the area, it includes descriptions of local trails on Greylock, the Taconics, and the Green Mountains as well as short walks in Williamstown and canoeing opportunities in the surrounding area.

Will my cell phone work in Williamstown?

AT&T, Verizon, Sprint, and Nextel provide cell phone service in this area.

Other questions?

Call Jo Procter at 413.597.4279 (or e-mail She'll be happy to find the answers for you.

Information published here is subject to change without notice.

Williamstown, Massachusetts 01267 USA   ||   413-597-3131   ||   © Williams College 2007