Robert Peck to retire, grandstand to be named in his honor

Robert R. Peck, Director of the Williams Athletics department, announced his retirement after serving the College for 29 years in his current position. As a parting gift to the College, Peck donated the funds for the renovation of the grandstand on Weston Field which the College will name in his honor.

The grandstand, built in 1901, was used for baseball games and track meets until 1987, when the track and baseball fields were reconfigured and moved to another section of the field leaving the grandstand obsolete. Thanks to a generous contribution by Peck, Williams will be able to refurbish the grandstand and move it to the 50-yard line of the football field to be restored to use.

“Williams has been very good to me in my 29 years here—generous and supportive,” Peck said. “I wanted to give something back in addition to what you do day-to-day as an employee. I have a love for traditions so I welcomed the chance to support the refurbishment of a traditional facility.”

“It is wonderfully appropriate that this very special structure will honor the exceptional career of Bob Peck,” President of the College Carl Vogt said. “He has built and maintained a program that is a national model of how athletics can be integrated successfully into an academic setting of the highest caliber. His work has enriched the education of generations of Williams student-athletes, who can now return and enjoy this grandstand which is so fondly remembered.”

Robert Peck’s retirement will not officially occur until 2001.

Until then, Peck plans to be on leave next year and will leave the athletics department in June of 2000. After his official retirement, Peck plans to travel to the Atlantic coast of Nicaragua, where he will assist in the development of a new autonomous independent university in the area. The university is less than ten years old, and Peck helped with its creation. He says it is quite unique to have a non-sectarian private university in Nicaragua, and it is much needed, as there is a lack of higher education in that area of the country.

During his time here, Peck influenced the establishment of physical education programs for women and the construction of several facilities on campus. However, Peck considers his greatest accomplishment the compilation of “ a very strong faculty for the [athletic] department; that is the absolute essential element to these programs.”

Peck prides himself on “giving leadership to staff selection,” and the faculty members hired over the last 29 years reflects his dedication to excellence.

According to Robert Fisher, Associate Director of the Athletics department, “our athletic program is distinguished by its ability to succeed in an ‘academic first’ environment. Bob has provided the leadership and the philosophical basis for [programs in the department] and hired the coaches who not only have the sport specific professional skills but a coaching philosophy that fits with the one that Bob has lead with.”

Peck received his undergraduate education at Stetson University of DeLand, Florida, graduating in 1951. He received his Masters in secondary education from New York University in 1953, and went on to receive a Ph.D from Columbia in college administration in 1958.

Peck’s first coaching experience was as a high school coach in Georgia from 1951-53, after which, he joined the Marine Corps for two years. Peck coached at Bates from 1955 to 1965, taking two years off to earn his doctorate; he then received a Fulbright professorship in Finland from 1962-63. Following his time at Bates, Peck became the director of athletics at Boston University from 1965 to 1970, until Williams hired him in June of 1971.

Mr. Peck has traveled to many different areas, including Finland, Sweden, Costa Rica and other countries where he assisted in the development of basketball clinics. While on leave from Williams in 1979-1980 he went to Costa Rica where he assisted in building a clinic as well as donating equipment to the sports federation, he also did some work for the Sandonistas.

The Bob Peck Baseball Grandstand will officially be named in a ceremony to take place on Saturday, November 13, at 11:00 a.m., immediately before the Williams-Amherst football game. It is hoped the turnout will be high to honor Robert Peck’s final gift in a long-standing tradition of contributions to the Williams community.