Event Planning

“Williams College is committed to building a diverse and inclusive community where members from all backgrounds can live, learn, and thrive in a context that robustly supports both inclusion and open inquiry. When planning events (speakers, artists, performers, exhibits) we ask that you think carefully about the goals, format, and framing of your event and its relationship to the Williams community and its educational mission and values.” ~Ad Hoc Committee on Inquiry and Inclusion Report

Many faculty and staff members bring external speakers and performers to campus. These events can be a wonderful addition to campus and community life. This page is designed by the Office of Commencement and Academic Events to assist you in making your events as successful as possible.

Students planning events should refer to the Office of Student Life event planning site.

  • Once you have contacted your speaker/performer, do not settle on a date until you know the date works with other campus events and the desired venue is available.  Most venues can be booked via the Room Scheduler (EMS). Your EMS login is the same as your Google Mail login.On this site, you will also find a list of venues with alternative booking contacts. In addition to this list, all ’62 Center venues must be booked through Nate Wiessner, Operations Manager of the ’62 Center.

    If you’re in EMS and not sure what to do or how to use it, you can contact Ivy Rodriguez or Mike Bodnarik in the Office of Student Life, and they will walk you through it.

    Some factors to consider when booking a venue: What venues are available? Do you expect to draw a broad audience or one that is more limited to a particular discipline? (It is usually better to be conservative in estimating audience size to avoid having a small group of people in a large venue.) Are there potential Campus Safety and Security issues? If you are unsure on this latter point, you may consider consulting with the office of Communications or Campus Safety prior to booking a venue in order to ensure a safe environment for speakers and guests.

    If you are still unsure of the venue size needed for your event, you might try consulting with  department administrators and faculty colleagues with event experience. You can also contact the Commencement and Academic Events Office for guidance.

  • Prior to booking your event, you must secure funding to cover the costs. Sources of funding include relevant department, program, committee, and center chairs. There are certain endowed funds managed by faculty holding special appointments as well. As appropriate, you may be able to apply to the Lecture Committee, the Davis Center, the Gaudino or Schumann fellows, and/or the Dively Committee for funding as well. Do not assume you have contributions without confirming with the managers of specific funds.

    Please note that the Dean of the Faculty’s office typically does not contribute extra funding for events, as they have incorporated event funding into most department and program budgets already.  The money remaining there is reserved primarily to support faculty scholarship.

  • Before finalizing you event date, please consult the  Public Events Calendar to avoid conflicts with events that may be of interest to the same audience. You can also subscribe to the Public Events Newsletter so you don't miss out on events you may want to attend!

    Add the Campus Events Planning Calendar as a layer to your Google Calendar. This will help you to see what events are being planned but may not yet be up on the Public Calendar.  And if you are planning an event, please post it here so others know!

    You can also add a College Events Layer to your Google Calendar to see both public and campus-only events.

  • There are no hard and fast rules about honoraria. Professional speakers or those in high demand will often state a price ahead of time, while many others accept invitations simply to speak as colleagues or mentors. In those cases it can be unclear whether payment is necessary. Below are a few scenarios to assist in guiding the process.

    1. Bringing a Williams alum to campus – most alumni do not expect honoraria. Gracious hosting including a nice meal is usually sufficient.
    2. Bringing a colleague or associate to campus for a class visit or a meeting with students. You might consider $200-300 as a modest gesture of appreciation.
    3. Bringing an academic speaker who is well-published and has notoriety in their field may warrant a slightly higher honorarium.  You might offer $500 or ask if they have a standard fee.
    4. Asking a speaker to engage in multiple activities on campus (public talk, class visit, faculty/staff dinner). You would typically elevate the honorarium accordingly. Be sure the speaker knows what is expected of them before you agree on a fee.
    5. Speaker agencies.  Prominent speakers will often be represented by agents. The agency will set the fee, though it is often possible to negotiate it down. The fee may also be dependent on the speaker’s level of engagement on campus. All desired events must be negotiated in advance. You should work with someone authorized to sign contracts at this point.*

    It is typical to pay for (or reimburse) speaker travel and lodging for all events, whether you are paying an honorarium or not. You should also plan to cover meals. Please note that the payment of honoraria or speaker fees always requires having the recipient file a W-9 form with the controller’s office.

  • If you are paying a speaker honorarium $600 and above, the college requires the use of a contract. Some speaker agencies will provide their own contracts. These documents should be reviewed by legal counsel before they are signed to make sure they to do not include inappropriate terms of indemnification and that they don’t conflict with college rules. The better course of action is to use the Williams contract.

    Faculty members are not generally authorized to sign contracts on behalf of the college. This includes contracts for speakers and performers. Such authorization is delegated to a limited number of administrators on campus by a senior staff member. If you are an administrator and you are charged with signing contracts by your department, please make sure you are authorized by the senior staff member to whom your unit reports. All such authorization must be in writing. If you sign contracts without such authorization, you may be personally liable for the costs and conditions of the contract. If you are not authorized, you can fill out this Contract Template and send to Carrie Greene for review. Carrie will also assist in writing your contracts as needed.

  • It is best to work with someone familiar with event production when planning the logistics for your event. Some events require staffing, work orders, special set-ups, AV support, and overall logistical coordination at the time of the event itself. If you do not have an office administrator who is familiar with contracts and event production, please contact the Carrie Greene in the Office of Commencement and Academic Events.

  • There are multiple ways to publicize your event. You should use as many as possible and not rely on one option.  In the early stages of booking your event (even if you only have the date), please list it on the Campus Events Planning Calendar so others know it is happening. (Contact Carrie Greene for access.)  Once you set a date, time, venue, and description, post the event on the Public Events Calendar. You can submit a Daily Message at the same time you submit your event listing. For guidance on the process, please contact Noelle Lemoine in Communications. If your event is in a venue with a capacity of 100 or above, the Communications Office run a News Release upon request. Use social media and invite constituents to attend.  Use relevant student department list serves and invite people directly!

    For additional information about publicizing your events, see the Office of Communications website.

  • Please contact Carrie Greene, Director of Commencement and Academic Events or Veronica Bosley, Commencement and Academic Programs Coordinator with any questions you may have about planning events.

    For information on some of the large campus events organized by the staff in this office, see the links below.



    Claiming Williams

    Best wishes for a successful event on campus!