Updates from Williams-Mystic

Last updated Friday, April 24, 2020

We continue to work closely with each of our students to support them during these challenging times. We also continue to hold virtual community events, including a weekly “community tea” where students, faculty, and staff gather over Zoom to enjoy conversation and snacks from afar.

As we look ahead to next academic year, we are monitoring the situation closely. As a program of Williams College, we will carefully consider the College’s guidance. At the same time, any decision we make about next academic year will be informed by our commitment to providing an education with experiential learning, primary research, and immersive travel at its core. As always, the health and safety of our students remains our primary concern.

Based on the limited information available now, we are planning for an in-person fall semester. We continue to welcome applications from students interested in the Fall 2020, Spring 2021, and Fall 2021 semesters. Should an in-person semester no longer be advisable this fall, we are committed to working one-on-one with every admitted student to defer their admission to a future semester wherever possible. We will inform our applicants and admitted students as soon as a decision has been made.

Update from Wednesday, March 18, 2020

We have amended the timeline for our transition to remote learning. Classes will now resume online on Monday, April 6, 2020, instead of Monday, March 30 as originally planned. This timeline will better allow students and faculty to make the transition to remote learning during an already tumultuous time.

We will update this page periodically as we have more information to share. For additional information, please consult the Williams College webpage on the College’s response to the Coronavirus. We will continue to communicate with students, their parents and guardians, and the Williams-Mystic alumni community as we adapt to remote learning. Working closely with every member of the Class of Spring 2020 to ensure that their needs are met remains our top priority.

A Note from Executive Director Tom Van Winkle

Sent Wednesday, March 11, 2020

I am writing with deep regret to inform you that the Spring 2020 cohort of Williams-Mystic, like Williams College, will end in-person classes on Friday, March 13, and dismiss students from the Mystic campus over the weekend and through next Tuesday, March 17.  We will be moving to remote learning beginning on Monday, March 30, 2020 [later amended to Monday, April 6], for the remainder of the semester. Remote coursework will ensure that students earn appropriate credits for their credit-bearing courses.

In the short eight weeks that S’20 has been in residence, the class has developed a remarkably close community. There were lots of tears shed when I had to deliver this news, a reflection on the power of the strong community bonds they have already developed with each other. When students depart, they should assume that they will not be able to return this semester, and should pack accordingly. Professors and the Program will be in touch regarding next steps and plans to carry on classes and coursework through to completion by May 15, 2020.

While moving out and the change to remote learning will be complicated, we will do everything possible to facilitate the transition with understanding and compassion. While there are many details to work through, here are some important facts to consider:

  1. In-person classes will be offered on campus as usual through this Friday, March 13 at noon.
  2. Students will begin departing campus on Friday and over the weekend. Students must depart no later than Tuesday, March 17 at 5 P.M., unless they have received permission to remain. Students can depart at any time during that window, but with airlines adjusting schedules we recommend booking or rebooking for the earliest possible departure. To reduce the chance of contagion, students will not be allowed to return to campus once they leave, until the closure is lifted.
  3. Students must pack their room before departing. Williams-Mystic will assist in providing boxes and packing materials and will assist with shipping in cases of high financial need.
  4. Williams-Mystic is prepared to support students who need to remain on campus because of extenuating circumstances. I have asked students to let me know by 5 PM on March 12 if they have extenuating circumstances that will make it impossible to depart campus (e.g. overseas living situation, etc.) We will make accommodations and work with our students.
  5. Alternate modes of instruction will be offered to all students starting Monday, March 30 until further notice. Details will be provided in follow-up communication directly to the class. To avoid complications, please assume that the closure will continue through the end of the semester while knowing that we will be in touch if circumstances change.
  6. Resources are available as people begin making these major adjustments. Our doors are open, and our faculty and staff are ready and willing to help. Please feel free to reach out to us as questions or concerns arise.

For more information, please consult the Williams College webpage on the College’s response to the Coronavirus. Students, their parents and guardians, and the Williams-Mystic alumni community have all been informed of the change. We will continue to communicate with these groups as the situation develops. Working closely with the Class of Spring 2020 to ensure that their needs are met remains our top priority.

Of course, this is not how any of us wanted our Spring 2020 semester to unfold. This community is already resilient and I am confident that despite being dealt with these challenges, S’20 will come out stronger and with greater leadership prowess than when they arrived.

I thank you so much for your understanding. 


Tom Van Winkle, PhD

Executive Director, Williams-Mystic