By Peter Miller ’84
William Chase ’78 says he was motivated toward a career in law after taking the “Constitutional Law” course as an undergraduate in Westfield State University’s political science program. He earned his juris doctor degree at the Vermont Law School in South Royalton, Vermont, which he chose for its excellent environmental law program. (A lifelong skier, Chase was also attracted to the nearby slopes.)
After working for two years in the environmental section of a large Washington, D.C.-based firm, Chase was ready for a change. A 25-year career with the Federal Bureau of Investigation began. At his first office in St. Louis, Missouri, stenographers had difficulty with his Boston accent. A stint in Washington and a promotion to supervisory special agent led him to become the assistant special agent in charge of the Boston Division. He spent the last leg of his career as a special agent in charge of the Baltimore Division and retired in 2008. He now runs his own consulting firm, focusing on law enforcement and intelligence community agencies.
In 2017, Chase became a member of the University’s Alumni Executive Council. FOCUS recently had an opportunity to interview him about his career and Council contributions.
You’ve had a lengthy career with the FBI. Can you share some highlights?
I was responsible for the Whitey Bulger Task Force in Boston. I was also the acting special agent in charge
on 9/11, also my 45th birthday, and was responsible for the Boston FBI Office’s initial response to the attacks.
I assisted in the Unabomber investigation and was the third person to know (unabomber) Ted Kaczynski’s identity. I seized the property of Aldrich Ames, a CIA traitor, after his arrest for espionage.
What keeps you on the Alumni Executive Council?
I thought I’d be seen as a dinosaur and didn’t expect to be elected, since I had graduated in 1978. It has been
an extremely rewarding experience, and the time has flown by. My involvement has been my attempt to give back for all the enjoyment and value that Westfield State provided to my life. I consider it to be the foundation of
my entire career.
In what other ways can alumni contribute to the University?
There are many contributions that our alumni can make from running for Executive Council, participating in alumni and campus activities, getting Westfield State’s message out to other alumni to ensure a strong network and, of course, through financial support. I’ve really enjoyed participating in activities like graduation, Homecoming, the Summer of Fun, the Retreat, and the Multi-year Reunion. I believe it is important to give back to Westfield State for the invaluable role it played in many of our lives, including friendships that have lasted a lifetime. We must make sure the Westfield State experience remains available to today’s students.
It’s been 42 years since you graduated. The College is now a University, with many new buildings and new majors. What do you find attractive about the campus now?
Despite Westfield State’s growth, it still has the charm of a small school. When I drove back to campus after a decade’s long absence, I was both shocked and amazed at the growth, yet there was still a very welcoming environment that immediately brought me back to my time there. And Westfield State’s reputation as one of the top schools in the Massachusetts university system continues.