Increased interaction between Williams College and the surrounding community will be one of the primary goals of the College’s new vice president of administration, Helen T. Ouellette.
Ouellette, who started work on September 1, replaces David Healy, who left in April to become an administrator at Milton Academy .Ouellette will manage the business strategy and treasury of the College. She will also oversee such departments as physical plant operations, human resources, legal affairs, risk management, dining services and summer conferences.
“A large part of my interest will be in trying to make sure that the College’s plans are in harmony with things that work for both Williamstown and the entire north Berkshire community,” Ouellette said. “I am very excited about this opportunity to work closely with Williamstown on a set of important issues. It’s just way too early for me to guess what the significant issues of the town are.”
Ouellette comes with experience from both the corporate world and the realm of higher education.
For the last six years, she has served as vice president of finance and administration at the New England Conservatory. Prior to her work at the Conservatory, Ouellette worked for Harvard University, taught classics at Union College and worked as a financial analyst at the Container Corporation of America in Chicago.
Nancy McIntire, the assistant to the President of the College and a member of the six person search team which selected Ouellette, noted that the range of Ouellette’s experience made her a desirable candidate.
“(Ouellette) had considerable experience in collegiate institutions,” McIntire said. “But she also had experience outside of academia.”
McIntire added that with Ouellette on board the College can look forward to “energetic attention to employee relations and to the College’s position in the community.”
“It was a really smooth and successful search at the end of which the members of the committee felt really enthusiastic,” she added.
McIntire said Ouellette was selected out of a field of more than 300 applicants. She added that the committee seriously considered 38 of the candidates, and then interviewed the final 12 at the Williams Club in New York City.
Moving to Williamtown and becoming oriented with the College’s community has consumed Ouellette’s time for the past month.
“It is sort of like trying to take a sip from a fire hose,” she said. Ouellette compares her recent experience to being a first-year at Williams. But she adds that there was one notable difference.
“I didn’t get to go on a camping tripâ€” but I would have liked to,” she said.
However, Ouellette noted that her familiarity with small town life has made the transition to Williamstown easier.
She grew up on a farm and has owned a house in Amherst for the past several years, which she now plans to sell.
“Home has always been Amherst,” she said. “I have to be careful who I say that to around here.”