Clarifying the Gaudino Fund

To the Editor:

Last week’s article on Jonah Goldberg’s visit to Williams mentioned that his talk was part of an “Uncomfortable Learning Initiative.” We are writing because there has been some confusion on campus. The Robert L. Gaudino Memorial Fund has, for the last 40 years, been promoting “uncomfortable learning” at the College through a variety of curricular and extra-curricular programs. However, the Gaudino Fund has absolutely nothing to do with this recent “Uncomfortable Learning Initiative.” The latter is a new student enterprise that has recently brought several speakers to campus.

The “uncomfortable learning” process that Professor Gaudino nurtured both inside and outside the classroom at Williams involves an ideology-free reflection on one’s own assumptions and experience, deep self-questioning, empathy for distinct human realities quite different from one’s own and a commitment to experiential education. To this end, the Gaudino Fund supports the wide-ranging initiatives of the Gaudino Scholar (currently Professor Magnus Bernhardsson, soon to be succeeded by Professor Lois Banta), which has included Winter Study fellowships, the Resettling Refugees and Immigrants in Maine Winter Study course, the Human Library, a new course held with inmates at the Berkshire Jail, the introduction of the Gaudino grading option to foster student curricular risk-taking and the Gaudino Initiative on Danger.

We encourage the college community to participate in next year’s programming relating to the question “At What Cost?” You may learn more about the Fund’s mission and activities at

Magnus Bernhardson, Gaudino Scholar and professor of history

Lois Banta, incoming Gaudino Scholar and associate professor of biology

Jeff Thaler ’74, chair, Gaudino Fund

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