Senior gift leads off new sustainability fund

Thanks to an exciting new development in the plans for this year’s senior gift, the Class of 2008 has the opportunity to have a much greater impact on Williams than in years past. Specifically, we get to help promote campus environmental initiatives. The administration has graciously agreed to grant student requests for a sustainability fund that will go into operation next fall. To provide seed money, the College will match this year’s senior class gift dollar for dollar, with the matched amount reserved exclusively for the new fund. This means that seniors can still donate to the general alumni fund as usual, but will enjoy the additional satisfaction of seeing their gift contribute to a more concrete cause that will open up some wonderful opportunities for the College.

What will the sustainability fund do? Its purpose will be to support key sustainability projects that might otherwise be excluded from Facilities’ budget. In general, the fund will target small-scale projects with proven benefits and short payoff periods. Possible examples include the installation of energy-saving devices such as smart lighting and solar windows, or the use of better insulation to reduce heat loss from buildings.

Perhaps just as importantly, the fund will give more current students the chance to decide how the College spends its money. The fund will be run by the Zilkha Center for Environmental Initiatives as well as a decision-making council. Though the structure of the council is still being planned, we know it will involve active participation on the part of students, faculty and staff.

The fund even empowers alumni to participate in sustainability efforts. Right now, unless alumni give large sums of money, they have little say in where their donations go, other than the general alumni fund. However, with the sustainability fund open to alumni donations, more Williams grads will be able to contribute directly to environmental efforts on campus.

Why is the sustainability fund important? In a world increasingly confronted by the effects of global warming, energy conservation has never been more critical. As a leading institution of higher learning, Williams has a responsibility to do its part in promoting innovative sustainable development.

In closing, we would like to thank the members of the administration who worked so hard to make the new sustainability fund possible. We would also challenge the Class of 2008 to take full advantage of this opportunity to begin defining its legacy to Williams before it has even left campus. It is our generation that will need to provide the solutions to a mounting global energy crisis. We are the people we have been waiting for. Let’s get started.

Phil Carter ’08

Julia Sendor ’08