The history of the Gaudino Fund reflects, in many ways, the bond between professor and student that has always been at the center of a Williams education – in this case, the closeness established between one teacher and a devoted corps of his students, who felt his teaching had had a deep impact on their own lives. Shortly after Robert Gaudino’s untimely death at the age of 49 in 1974, a group of his former students contacted each other and set out to raise funds for an appropriate memorial in his name.
Raising the funds proved less difficult than finding an appropriate use for them. An intense and driven educator, Professor Gaudino had a highly individualistic way of teaching that crossed many traditional disciplinary boundaries and incorporated self-knowledge as a central goal of any course he taught. So, establishing a traditional “chair” in his discipline, political science, seemed far short of the mark. Instead, the committee of fund-raisers sought a way in which Professor Gaudino’s broader educational philosophy and methods might continue to make an impact on the entire campus. This was no small goal. Williams in the late 70’s and early 80’s was no stranger to curricular innovation, but a group of alumni had rarely, if ever, been the chief motivating force in designing a major educational initiative.
Gaudino Fund Work
TThe Gaudino Fund has been used to support a variety of initiatives over the years. One of the early proposals that came from the initial Committee of alumni and faculty was for the designation of a faculty member to serve as the Gaudino Scholar for a specified term of years, with responsibility for developing and implementing practices and programs designed to further the purposes of the Gaudino Fund. For many years, the Fund has also supported Winter Study student fellowships which provide immersive experiences that challenge a student’s view of life and/or prods the student into seeing the world through the eyes of others.