I grew up in Northern New Jersey. I did not feel like I fit in the Williams culture because neither of my parents completed college. My dad cleaned furnaces so I could go to Williams.

A friend of mine one day comes over to my dorm room and says, “Hey, you’ve got to go to this meeting, some new experiential education program. C’mon.” And he ended up not going on Williams-at-Home but he dragged me to this meeting and I was entranced by the persona of Bob Gaudino basically. I really didn’t know what I was getting into. I was a biology major at the time, environmental studies. Political science and political theory were the farthest things from my mind.

A lot of my struggles personally and professionally were trying to evolve myself as a Christian environmentalist. So that was kind of a starting point, me being an Evangelical Christian but wanting to be an open and tolerant Evangelical Christian. So I spent a lot of time at Williams-at Home living and working in churches through churches in community development, worshipping in black churches and white churches and asking the question, Why weren’t the races ever together on Sunday morning at 11 o’clock? Why was that hour Sunday morning the most segregated hour of the week in America?

Jeff Niese '74