"[In 1955/6] the American Telephone and Telegraph Company... selected Williams and Dartmouth as the two liberal arts colleges best equipped to pioneer an eight-weeks summer course along non- technical lines for a carefully chosen group of middle management personnel... The major aim of the program was to broaden the interests and stimulate the reading habits of the participants. It sought to bring about a thoughtful appraisal of the background of American civilization and the forces currently at work in it. It hoped to inculcate a taste for reading and reflection on these matters that would carry over when the men returned to their regular company assignments." (Williams Alumni Review, Nov. 1956) The first summer session of what was originally known as the Institute of American Studies was held in 1956 with Prof. Vince Barnett serving as executive director. Beginning in 1959, participation in the program grew from solely AT&T management to include personnel from banks, manufacturing, insurance, and media companies as well as state and federal institutions. In 1984, the name of the program was changed to the Executive Program as the curriculum shifted to cover global concerns and, as companies grew reluctant to let managers go for eight weeks, the course period was reduced to four. Additional professors took over as director, including Whitney Stoddard (ca. 1959-1962), Don Gifford (co- director 1962), John Chandler (1963-1964), MacAlister Brown (1965- 1968), and Fred Greene, who served from 1969 until his retirement in 1994.
In an effort to examine ways of sustaining and improving the Executive Program, an Alumni Advisory Board comprised of Program alumni was convened in 1985. This body assembled every fall until 1994, just prior to the Program's termination due to low enrollments. "... Four corporate trends [were cited] which contributed to the dropping enrollments: tighter controls on expenses, movement away from general education of managers to training in specific skills, growing reluctance to remove managers from daily responsibilities for any length of time, and proliferation of in-house management training programs." (Williams Alumni Review, summer 1995)