Williams College is a private liberal arts college located in Williamstown, Massachusetts. It was established in 1793 with funds from the estate of Ephraim Williams. Williams College is regarded as a leading institution of higher education in the United States. Forbes has Williams ranked as the second best undergraduate institution in the United States in its 2016 publication of America’s Top Colleges, and the best undergraduate institution in its 2010, 2011, and 2014 report.
There are three academic curricular divisions (humanities, sciences, and social sciences), 24 departments, 33 majors, and two small master’s degree programs in art history and development economics. Students may also concentrate in 12 additional academic areas that are not offered as majors (e.g., environmental studies). The academic year follows a 4–1–4 schedule of two four-course semesters plus a one-course “winter study” term in January.
There are 334 voting faculty members, with a student-to-faculty ratio of 7:1. As of 2012, the school has an enrollment of 2,052 undergraduate students and 54 graduate students. Certain portions of the Williams education is modeled after the tutorial systems at the universities of Oxford and Cambridge. Williams is on a 450-acre (1.8 km2) campus in Williamstown, Massachusetts in the Berkshires in rural northwestern Massachusetts.
The campus contains more than 100 academic, athletic, and residential buildings. The college competes in the NCAA Division III New England Small College Athletic Conference, and competes in the conference as the Ephs. The Williams college mascot is a purple cow
“Early in the summer of 1865 the Williams baseball team was about to leave Williamstown to play the final game of the series against Harvard, and just before our departure two young ladies — my sister and my cousin* — who were very much interested in the result of the game, learned that while Harvard had adopted magenta as its College color, Williams was without any. They hurriedly purchased some royal purple ribbon and made small rosettes out of it, and pinning one on each member of the team,” said Eugene M. Jerome (Class of 1867). “Let this royal purple be the Williams color, and may it bring you the victory over Harvard.”
“The royal purple joyfully floated from the mast-head that next day, for the game was handsomely won. This victory gave Williams the championship in the intercollegiate contests between Princeton, Harvard and Williams, and the royal purple has ever since been the banner under which Williams has won so many brilliant victories.”
Eugene M. Jerome (Williams Class of 1867) in The Williams alumni review, Apr. 1910.
*Eugene’s cousin was Jennie Jerome who would later become Lady Randolph Spencer Churchill, mother of Winston Churchill.
In 1907 in a vote by the student body on a name for a mascot for the College’s sports teams Purple Cows was selected. At that time on campus there was a popular student humor magazine known as the The Purple Cow, which was thought to favor the vote toward the Ephs having a purple cow as a mascot.In the summer of 2010 the purple cow was seen along with the mascots from UPenn, Texas Tech, Ohio State, Oregon, and Florida in an ESPN College Football GameDay commercial, marking the first time a Division III mascot appeared in an ESPN College Football GameDay commercial. Fitting, as the Ephs were the first Division III school to host ESPN College Football GameDay on November 10, 2010.
The purple cow as has since appeared in numerous ESPN Collge Football GameDay commercials and can be seen in the “The History of Lee Corso’s Head Gear,” a tribute to College Football GameDay analyst Lee Corso (2o13).