Chester Lasell ’58 will retire on November 20, ending a seven-year tenure as Director of Alumni Relations. Wendy Hopkins ’72, who is currently associate director of Alumni Relations, will succeed Lasell, becoming the first woman to hold the position.
While at Williams, Lasell orchestrated a variety of events for graduates such as seminars on home football weekends and the presentation of bicentennial awards.
However, it will be his work in the arena of communications via the Internet and career services for which Lasell will be best remembered.
“He got here at a time when email was becoming popular and has really spearheaded the alumni office’s website,” commented Thomas Bleezarde, editor of the Alumni Review. “He has also facilitated the homepages for many regional associations.”
Lasell and his office helped create another Williams website containing career information for Williams graduates. Not only does the site, which opened two years ago, contain job advertisements and rÃ©sumÃ©s of certain Williams graduates, but there are over 6000 Williams alumni listed as possible career advisors.
The office of Alumni Relations and Harris Publishing Company has recently worked to construct a brand new website for Williams alumni which will become active as of January 1999. Not only will the site contain information about Williams and chat rooms for alumni, but each graduate will have his of her own email account courtesy of Williams.
“We have been heavily into the Internet with alumni both in the alumni websites and our career site,” Lasell said. “We have over 6000 alumni career advisors who are available to talk about career fields. And we are starting to get more into continuing education in terms of the Internet.”
Although he has made significant contributions to Williams and the office of Alumni Relations, Lasell will be voluntarily retiring because of the intensity of the job.
“This position, because it is so busy, is a position for someone younger. It requires a lot of stamina,” Lasell said. “As well, there should be change in who is holding the position. It needs new ideas and a lot of creativity.”
Frederic Clifford, a former member of the Executive Committee and President of the Society of Alumni, commented that Lasell worked well with the Williams community because of his background. “Chet was a perfect Secretary and Director of the Society because, among other things, he comes from a long and important legacy, the Lasell family and Williams,” Clifford said. “He comes from the Williams culture and adapted very quickly from his corporate PR life to that as head of the Society.”
Lasell had over 30 years of experience in the field of public relations when he took on the post in January of 1992. He previously worked for Deere & Co.as vice president for corporate communications.
Hopkins, Lasell’s replacement, has worked for Williams for over 17 years as the Director of Housing and in different positions within the office of Alumni Relations.
One of the first women to attend Williams, Hopkins is excited about the new position and the precedent she will be setting. “I love Williams and I am devoted to it and I am thrilled to have this opportunity,” Hopkins said. “I feel a tremendous honor in being the first women to hold this job.”
Although she does not have major alterations in store for the office, Hopkins hopes that she will be able to continue the high level of excellence established by her predecessors.
“Our alumni have an appetite for intellectual opportunities and they associate that with their alma mater,” Hopkins said. “I see that as an important connection to maintain between alumni and the college.”
In addition, she hopes to meet the challenges of the growth in the alumni population. “I hope that I will be able to sustain the high level of personal nature of alumni even as the alumni population grows,” she said.