New Student Union to be Named After Linda and David Paresky '60
In 2004, the Pareskys made a multi-million dollar gift - one of the largest contributions the college has ever received - to The Williams Campaign in support of Williams' endowment and financial aid program. In recognition of their generosity, the Board of Trustees voted to name the new student center in the Pareskys' honor.
"Dave Paresky is a devoted son of the college and of our local community," Williams President Morton Owen Schapiro said. "I am delighted that the Paresky Center, which will be so central to our campus activities and experiences, will bear his family's name."
Paresky attended Williams on full financial aid and says he both felt the obligation, and cherished the opportunity, to give others a similar educational advantage. In 1985 he endowed a scholarship fund in honor of his 25th Williams reunion, which has supported 17 Williams students since its creation. Paresky often muses that every student who attends Williams receives a form of financial aid. "Full tuition and fees still only cover about half of what it really costs Williams to provide them with an excellent education," he says. "The remaining expenses are covered by annual earnings on Williams' endowment and alumni contributions. My own contribution is one way of honoring generations of Williams alumni whose gifts made a Williams education possible for me."
The Pareskys co-founded the Boston-based Crimson Travel Service in 1965, expanding nationwide as Thomas Cook. By the time American Express purchased the company in 1994, Crimson/Thomas Cook had become America's third largest travel agency, with David serving as CEO and Linda as co-chair. According to Francis T. ("Fay") Vincent, Jr., a Williams classmate of Paresky's, "Dave's generosity speaks volumes about a very successful alumnus who began as the son of a small shopkeeper in Bennington, Vermont, and has now provided our alma mater with extensive resources to provide an even better undergraduate education for students today and tomorrow."
When they initially made their gift, the Pareskys asked to remain anonymous. "I am glad they have agreed that we can now celebrate this contribution publicly," said Schapiro, "something they've allowed us to do not because they require any recognition but because they hope to inspire others to be generous to Williams and our ambitious strategic plan."
The Paresky Center is being constructed on the site of Williams' former student union, Baxter Hall, named for the college's 10th president, James Phinney Baxter, 3rd, Class of 1914. To carry on Baxter's name, Paresky requested that the central gathering place in the Paresky Center be called Baxter Hall. "This is precisely the sort of graceful gesture Dave Paresky would think to make," said Schapiro.
The Paresky Center is designed as the college's first true student center. It will feature meeting rooms, offices for student organizations, an academic center, a flexible performance space, a pub, and a snack bar highly reminiscent of the beloved snack bar in Baxter. The student mailboxes that became one of the building's focal points over the years also will return to the Paresky Center.
The Paresky gift supports key initiatives of The Williams Campaign. Launched in September 2003, the campaign has raised more than $300 million toward its $400 million goal. The campaign is funding a comprehensive strategic plan to advance Williams as a model educational community, where students learn from faculty and each other in countless ways, inside and outside the classroom.
In addition to the Paresky Center, campaign objectives include permanent funding for 30 new faculty positions, a wide range of curricular initiatives, enriching students' extracurricular lives, and extending Williams' long-standing commitment to admit students regardless of their ability to pay. The campaign also supports the recently opened '62 Center for Theatre and Dance and improvements to Sawyer Library and Stetson Hall that will create a new home for the humanities and social sciences.
Paresky Center website: www.williams.edu/go/paresky