This town may not be big enough for two bars, but apparently, it is big enough for two Charles R. Toomajians. The Toomajians are among a small population of parent-offspring pairs that have taken Bring Your Kid to Work Day to a whole new level. Perhaps it’s because they’re father and son, but the Toomajian duo doesn’t seem to mind that Charles (Chuck) R. Toomajian ’11 attends the school that Charles R. Toomajian Jr., associate dean and registrar, calls the office.
Inevitably, sharing the same first and last name causes regular e-mail confusion for the two Charles Toomajians. “The day I first got my e-mail address freshman year was when I started receiving e-mails meant for my dad. About once every two weeks I have to forward emails to him,” Chuck said.
His dad has to do the same: “After reading a couple of [Chuck’s], I have learned to simply forward them without opening them up. Sometimes it’s better not to know -” Charles said.
But having your father’s office on campus does have its benefits as well. “There is a really nice coffee machine in his office, so if I feel like having one I just go see my dad.”
Evan Dethier ’11 really has no choice but to run into his father David P. Dethier, professor and department chair of geosciences, regularly. “I am a major in his department, and have taken a lot of classesÃ‚Â there, so I see him a fair amount,” Dethier said. “I have taken two of his classes, one last semester and one the semester before.”
Sarah Willey ’09 likewise gets to run into her mother on almost a daily basis. Her mother, Donna Cuzzone, is a member of Dining Services and usually works at Whitmans’ or Snack Bar. “I see my mom almost every time I eat dinner at Paresky or use my snack bar points,” Willey said. They sometimes eat dinner together as well. Willey’s mother’s position offers Willey the unique benefit of sometimes enjoying free food. Her mother can also be a good source for some juicy gossip, only about her friends, of course. “My mom works weekend evenings at the snack bar, so you can imagine the sort of scene she gets to observe – Not the sort of thing you’d probably want your mother to see,” she said. “But, she sees and hears a lot and sometimes I’ll get my gossip through my mom.”
Another benefit of having a parent work here, other than seeing them often, is an increased familiarity with the whole Williams community even before you start college. “Most of the benefits come from having relationships with my dad’s coworkers, who tend to help me along the way as much as they can,” Dethier noted. But this increased familiarity with the campus only goes so far. Although Dethier thought he knew his way around the College, as an entering first-year he got lost just like the rest of us. “Reviewing campus maps showed me up freshman year. I didn’t know the names of any buildings, for instance,” he said.
Another of the inevitabilities of sharing a college with a parent is hearing people talking smack about him or her. Toomajian remembers that one of his professors expressed his annoyance at the registrar’s exam scheduling. “I heard a professor say Ã¢â‚¬ËœWell, we were going to take the exam on this day, but because of the stupid registrar – ’ and I’m like Ã¢â‚¬ËœHey! That’s my dad!’” Toomajian said. Luckily for Dethier, his friends know his father is a professor here. “People are pretty aware that my dad is a professor, so I don’t really hear much talk about him,” Dethier said. For Willey, whenever one of her friends speaks of her mother, it is always a positive comment. “Everyone that finds out that she’s my mom always comes to me and says, Ã¢â‚¬ËœI met your mom, she’s so nice!’” Willey said.
Willey’s mother did not yet work for Williams when she applied, so it did not influence her decision to come here. Both Dethier and Toomajian claim that the fact that their fathers worked at Williams did not influence their decisions to come here either. “The fact that my dad worked here never played a part in my decision to come. The day I got the acceptance letter, I told my dad Ã¢â‚¬ËœI got it! I’m going!’” Toomajian said. Dethier felt the same. “My dad working here actually didn’t really factor into my decision-making process,” he said. But his father working at Williams did play a role in his initial interest in the College. Experiencing Mountain Day before he was a student especially got Dethier interested in Williams. “I came here because I love Williamstown, and all the people at Williams. I guess coming with my dad to Mountain Day and other events like that helped me realize how awesome the community and the people here are,” Dethier said.
For some students, a visit from the ’rents can be mortifying – especially if it’s during a rugby reunion or homecoming. But for Toomajian, Dethier and Willey, or perhaps more so for their parents, it’s just business as usual.