After 32 years of service to the College, Tom Bleezarde, editor of the Williams Alumni Review, will retire at the end of year.
Bleezarde graduated from Hamilton College and went to journalism school at UMass-Amherst. After working at several newspapers, he accepted the job of editor of the Williams Alumni Review in order to gain some magazine experience before moving on to another newspaper or magazine.
“He loved his job from day one,” said Judy Bleezarde, his wife. “When the five-year plan ran out, we decided to stay here.”
Bleezarde has been the catalyst for various changes in the magazine. “He is regarded as one of the premier editors for such magazines nationwide,” said Wendy Hopkins, director of alumni relations. “It is amazing to see what he has done in the years that he has been here. Other institutions use it as a benchmark for such publications.”
Unlike many other college publications, the Williams Alumni Review has not become a voice for the school administration, thanks to Bleezarde.
According to his wife, “He has tried to ensure that it is and stays a magazine for the alumni and he has provided an unbiased look at the campus so that it never becomes an administrative tool. He worked very hard to remain a journalist and bring to it all sides of the issue and keep the magazine for the alumni.”
Bleezarde himself echoes the same criteria for his long stay on Williams campus.
“The reason I’ve kept this job is because I could do it in a journalistic way,” he said.
“I have never has to be a mouthpiece for the College.”
As a veteran of Williams College, Bleezarde has witnessed several fundamental alterations in the college, including the phasing out of fraternities, the acceptance and integration of women and the expansion of the size of the faculty and student body of the College.
Speaking of the current Williams community, Bleezarde said, “The College is a more natural reflection of the world. It is not a white society. It is a more high-powered society. Students weren’t as busy in the early ’70s as they are now. It is a reflection of society.”
In addition, the size of the alumni population has expanded greatly during Bleezarde’s reign as editor.
“The Alumni Review is the single element that reaches the alumni,” said Hopkins.
“Everyone gets it, and 90 percent of alumni cite it as their leading source of information about the college. He knows hundreds of alumni and is well-tied into the college.”
With the magazine in good standing, Bleezarde cites timing as his primary reason for leaving. “I am 65. It is time to get out,” said Bleezarde.
“The magazine is in a good strong position but it is ready to take the next step.”
Amy Lovett, editor of Fordham University magazine, will be replacing Bleezarde.
Although it is anticipated to be a smooth transition, Bleezarde will be available for consultation; he and his wife intend to stay in Williamstown.