Commencement 2023 Invitation

Dear Families and Friends of the Class of 2023,

As the school year gets underway, many Williams family members and guests are looking forward to celebrating their seniors’ college graduation in June. It is my pleasure to invite you to attend the 234th Commencement of Williams College. My colleagues and I congratulate you on your senior’s accomplishments while at Williams.

Over the coming months, we will work out the details of Commencement Weekend 2023. In order to help you plan ahead, here are the dates and times of the four major events:

  • Ivy Exercises, Saturday, June 3, 1:10 p.m.
  • Baccalaureate, Saturday, June 3, 5:00 p.m.
  • Commencement, Sunday, June 4, 10:00 a.m.
  • President’s Reception, Sunday, June 4, 12:15 p.m.

An overview of the weekend follows. You will receive a more detailed calendar in March. As events develop, we will post updated information on our Commencement website:

If you have questions please do not hesitate to contact the College Marshal’s Office by phone (413-597-2347) or email ([email protected]).

We look forward to seeing you at Commencement.


Lee Park
Chair and William R. Kenan, Jr. Professor of Chemistry

Williams College Commencement Weekend
Saturday and Sunday, June  3-4, 2023

Ivy Exercises, 1:10–2:40 p.m., Saturday. Ivy Exercises, held outdoors on the Library Quad (by Stetson Hall), is an informal event presented by the Officers of the Senior Class. Members of the Class plant ivy, read the Class Poem and the Class History, perform music, and sing the College Song. The Dean of the College announces over 100 student awards. The event ends with the 100-year-old tradition of dropping a watch from the top of Thompson Memorial Chapel. If the watch breaks, the Class will have good luck! Tickets are not required.

Baccalaureate, 5:00–6:15 p.m., Saturday. Baccalaureate is a service of gratitude and remembrance, using the languages of many religions to celebrate the transformation of learning into wisdom. Seniors process in cap and gown to Chapin Hall. Because seating is limited and the service’s principal focus is on seniors as a group, we limit each senior to two guest tickets.  Other family members and guests are welcome to view a livestream of the service next door in Brooks-Rogers Recital Hall. Tickets for the livestream are not required. If you plan on dinner out following the ceremony, we recommend making reservations for after 6:30 p.m.

Commencement, 10:00 a.m.–12:15 p.m., Sunday. This is the main event! Commencement is held outdoors weather permitting. It begins with a formal academic procession at 9:30 a.m. During the ceremony, three members of the Senior Class give brief speeches, honorary degrees are awarded, one of the honorary degree recipients gives the Commencement Address and President Mandel awards each student their diploma. Tickets are not required for outdoor Commencement. Please plan to occupy only six seats per graduate in our outdoor venue. If additional guests plan to attend, we invite them to sit in Chapin Hall, immediately adjacent to the Library Quad, where the ceremony will be live-streamed. Chapin is fully air-conditioned, offers comfortable seating, and is fully accessible.

President’s Reception, immediately after Commencement on Sunday. President Mandel invites the graduates and their guests to a buffet lunch on Chapin Lawn. Tickets are not required.

General Information

For family members and friends who are unable to attend Commencement Weekend events, Williams College will livestream the ceremony from the Commencement website. We will also videotape Baccalaureate and post the recording online the following week.


  • Information on accommodations  in and around Williamstown can be found at:
  • Graduating seniors receiving  financial aid are welcome to reserve on-campus housing for their guests over Commencement Weekend. These rooms are in vacated student residence halls with shared bathrooms and no air-conditioning. Each senior may reserve up to four rooms, with one bed per room, for a maximum of four guests. Williams will charge your student account $30 for each room, in advance and non-refundable, for the entire weekend (both Friday and Saturday nights). Williams will reach out to all eligible seniors in February with instructions on how to reserve campus guest rooms.

Caps and Gowns: The College provides caps and gowns (made from 100% post-consumer plastic bottles) at no charge to students. Seniors who did not pick up cap and gown at Convocation may pick them up Wednesday, June 1 through Saturday, June 4 at The Williams Bookstore. Seniors who need to exchange their cap and gown for a different size may do so at no cost at this time.

Accessibility:  The online Williams Commencement map (available in March) will include information about accessible parking. Please contact us if you have any specific accessibility needs while on campus. Although we cannot provide wheelchairs, we encourage you to contact Surgimed at least one week in advance if you need such services (Surgimed, 109 Eagle Street, North Adams, MA, 413-663-8655).

Pictures: During the Commencement ceremony, a professional photographer will take pictures of each graduate receiving their diploma. You may order photographs from

Rain Plan:  In the event of severe weather, we will activate the Commencement Rain Plan. Stay tuned for more information on this. Chapel bells will toll at 9am Sunday morning to signal indoor Commencement. Graduates and guests will also be notified by email.

Yearbooks:  The Gulielmensian will contact families and students about ordering yearbooks.


Masking Restrictions for International and Williams Firsts Family Orientation

August 24, 2022


Dear Williams Families,

We look forward to meeting you at Williams on Saturday, August 27, for our Williams Firsts and International family orientation program and just want to add one important note: Masks will be required in all indoor spaces, including at the ’62 Center, where we’ll gather for important family presentations Sunday afternoon.

Please make sure to bring your own mask with you and make sure to it on before going indoors on Williams’ campus.

Many thanks for your help in this,

Rob White
Director of Parent & Family Programs

Dining at Williams

Dining Services 

Eating a balanced and healthy diet far away from home is a wonderful learning opportunity for college students. We in Williams Dining Services help students meet the challenge by offering a wide variety of nutritious, culturally diverse, locally sourced meals whenever possible – served in three dining halls and four retail spaces.

We’re particularly attuned to medical and religious dietary restrictions and are able to accommodate nearly any requirement your own student might have. We do so most effectively when we work directly with students themselves, so after you’ve had a chance to familiarize yourself with the services below, please encourage your student to reach out to us at We’re delighted to work with them to make dining at Williams a relaxed, pleasurable, and healthy experience.

Dining Hall Menu Creation Process
We pay careful attention to how we create our menus in order to offer our students a wide range of options. Our dining hall offer four entrees that are comprised of a halal entree, lactose free entree, vegetarian, and vegan. Our side dishes include a lactose free option for our vegetables and starches along with a full array of salad options on our salad bar as well as soups for lunch offering one made without gluten/vegan option.

Food Allergies
We’re particularly aware of, and responsive to, students with food allergies. Our chefs clear and sanitize work zones to create individual plates for each allergic student at each meal. Encourage your student to fill out this food allergies service form and set up a meeting with our Campus Nutritionist. Our Nutritionist will publish Newsletters in how to navigate our dining hall if you have an allergy.


Eating Smart
Dining services offers students an interactive tool, which allows them to view every menu for every meal on every day, compare selections, and plan a balanced diet. Tell your student to try it out and to learn more about healthy eating at Williams. Our Nutritionist will publish Newsletters in educating our students on how to assemble a healthy balanced plate.


Recipes from Home
Each year, we choose several recipes to be featured in our “Tastes of Home” night. We are looking for recipes of all kinds and from all cultures, as well as all courses (soups, salads, entrees, sides, desserts, etc.) We will ask for contest submissions this fall. If your dish is selected, we’ll make sure to share the good news with you!

Your Student’s Senior Year at Williams

Dear Parents and Families of the Class of 2023,

The arrival of senior year comes up suddenly for many families—time passes so quickly in these busy years of so much change and growth. I’m writing today with some thoughts as your students begin this final year at Williams. I hope they may be helpful to you.

Senior year is a complicated mix of present and future for most students. They tend to have their eyes on the horizon, considering and planning their next steps after college. One of the most common misunderstandings seniors have is that they have to first figure out what they want to do with the rest of their lives and then choose a job or graduate program accordingly. While it’s true that a few students’ passions are so clear that their first post-college step is into the exact field where they will ultimately spend their whole career, most of our graduates’ professional lives follow a more winding path. It’s good, too, to remember that students with every major go into a wide range of careers. The data on Williams alumni’s careers as they relate to their majors is beautifully depicted here, and students are encouraged to reach out to alumni to learn more about the lives they’ve made after Williams and to glean some advice about next steps. My general advice to the parents of seniors is that it is never too late to get started, and a conversation with a career advisor is a great way for your student to jump-start their post-graduate decision-making. If your student has not yet had the opportunity to meet with the friendly staff at the ’68 Center for Career Exploration, the fall semester is the perfect time to schedule an appointment.

While students have their eyes on life after Williams, it’s sometimes easy to forget that a quarter of their lives in the Williams community still lies ahead of them. I often encourage seniors to reflect back on their hopes as they started their first year. Did they want to take a philosophy course? Learn to bake or step dance or kayak or speak another language? Make a friend from another continent? You might encourage your student to think about what’s left on their hope-to list and to recommit to the things that seem most important. Williams Convocation, on September 10, will offer seniors a chance to think about these questions together. (You can get the flavor of Convocation from last year’s ceremony.)

Academically, this year is the one in which many students do independent work: reading original sources, doing experiments, and creating new knowledge. Whether or not your student is doing a senior thesis, they’ll likely be struggling with questions that no one has fully answered before. This kind of independent work is both rewarding and challenging. You’ll almost certainly find yourself on the phone with your senior encouraging them to stick with it—perhaps almost as much as you did back in their first year of college. And, of course, whether or not they thank you, they’ll be very glad for that support.

Finally, a note about living off campus. About one in five seniors live off campus, in apartments they share with other students. Nearly all seniors have friends living off campus, and their social lives often center there. We tell students moving off campus about their rights and responsibilities as members of the Williamstown community, and sometimes they are surprised by how different it is from life on campus. Whether or not your senior lives off campus, it is worth discussing these issues with them. (After all, in less than a year they’ll be off-campus for good!) You might ask whether they know the resources available to them for assistance in town if they are at an off-campus event that goes awry. Do they understand the responsibilities they hold if they are leaseholders, not just for their own behavior but also for the actions of their guests? Have they thought through what would be appropriate in communicating with neighbors who may be older or have small children? These steps toward life apart from the protected campus community are valuable opportunities for many students as they get ready for their lives after graduation. They’ll really benefit from your guidance starting out.

I hope some of these thoughts might be useful to you and your student this year. As always, you can find more information and answers to frequently asked questions, or if you don’t find what you need there, just ask us.

I wish you a good fall and look forward to seeing you at graduation, where it will be my great honor and pleasure to cheer on your students as they cross the stage.

With best regards,

Rachel V. Bukanc
Senior Associate Dean of Students