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Sue Bush
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Helen Ouellette To Leave Williams College

By Susan Bush
12:00AM / Thursday, May 12, 2005

Helen Ouellette
Williamstown - Williams College Vice-president for Administration and Treasurer Helen Ouellette has resigned from the college effective at the end of June.

College president Morton Owen Schapiro announced Ouellette’s resignation on May 12 . He also announced a national search for her successor would launch as soon as possible.

New Possibilities

Speaking from her office Thursday afternoon, Ouellette said that the parting is amicable. She plans to return to Cambridge, Mass., where she lived prior to coming to the college in 1998. Ouellette said she has no definite plans for the immediate future but is considering several options.

“I don’t have anything specific but I am excited about new possibilities,” she said.

Ouellette recalled her early days at Williams College and said that she came to the campus with “fresh eyes.” She said she believes she was able to generate positive action at the college and is interested in new endeavors.

“I’ve always been more of a builder than a maintainer,” she said. “I realized that over the course of my career, my stints have been five to seven years.”

Ouellette has been at the college for seven years.

Improved Town/Gown Relations

Schapiro acknowledged Ouellette’s accomplishments in a prepared statement.

“She worked with internationally acclaimed planner Denise Scott Brown to develop for the college a new campus plan,” Schapiro said. “She oversaw such wonderful additions to the college’s facilities as the Southworth School and the B & L buildings.”

The college purchased the Southworth building, which served as a public school for decades, from the town and created college faculty housing there while the former B&L service station on Spring Street is now a college-owned office and private enterprise retail site.

Schapiro credited Ouellette with improving relations between the town and the college communities.

“Helen has particularly advanced the college’s relationships with the local community through such initiatives as joint town/college planning meetings and the innovative structure of the college’s contribution to the cost of construction of the new Williamstown Elementary School,” Schapiro said. The public school opened in 2003.

Working with town officials and community members toward improved relations is a highlight of her time at the college, Ouellette said.

“That’s the one thing that makes [leaving] really, really, hard,” she said. “I’ve worked with so many great people within the college and the community. I would like to think that we are all realizing that each one [the college and the town] is dependent on the other’s prosperity. I see endless opportunity for the college and the town, and that’s one of the things I am most proud of.”

Williamstown Town Manager Peter Fohlin said that Ouellette understood the need for college and town to co-exist cooperatively.


"Helen was able to get beyond the town/gown issue and realize that it was a community issue," he said, and added that while Ouellette was "always mindful of her duties to the college," she was appreciative of town concerns or needs.


"She worked for the best outcome for all of us in anything that I ever worked with her on," he said.


Ouellette’s responsibilities included serving as the chief administrative officer for non-academic operations in areas such as finance and investments, business administration, physical plant operations, human resources, legal matters, risk management, dining services, and summer conferences. She was involved in the strategic planning at the college.

Prior to joining the administration at Williams College, Ouellette was vice-president for finance and administration at the New England Conservatory. She gained administrative experience while working at Radcliffe College and the John F. Kennedy School of Government at Harvard University before accepting the conservatory post.

Ouellette has gained recognition for her expertise in socially responsible investing and has served on the national Advisory Council of Emeriti Retirement Health Solutions, formerly known as the Mellon College Retirement Project. Ouellette is a past president and current Board of Directors member of the Williamstown Chamber of Commerce and also serves a Northern Berkshires Healthcare board member.

She is the chairwoman of the New England Association of Schools and Colleges Commission on Institutions of Higher Education. She is a member of the Massachusetts Regional Competitiveness Council and the Berkshire Compact for Higher Education. Ouellette earned a doctorate in classics and a certificate of business at Harvard University. Her career highlights also include being a tenured member and chair of the Union College classics department and employment with the Container Corporation of America and the Weyhauser Company.

Susan Bush may be reached at 802-823-9367 or by e-mail at suebush123@adelphia.net.
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