About Dr. Peggy R. Williams
Contact Dr. Williams at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Dr. Peggy Ryan Williams was born and raised in Montreal, where she attended the Convent of the Sacred Heart. She earned a bachelor’s degree in psychology from St. Michael’s College of the University of Toronto, a master of education degree from the University of Vermont, and a doctorate in administration, planning and social policy from Harvard University. She is a citizen of the United States and Canada, having lived in the United States since 1968.
Before entering the field of higher education, Williams was a social worker for the Medical Center Hospital of Vermont and the Monroe County Department of Social Services in New York. She went on to hold various positions within the Vermont State College system and later joined Trinity College in Burlington as chair of the business and economics department, and associate academic dean. Prior to being named the seventh—and first woman—president of Ithaca College in 1997, she served for eight years as president of Lyndon State College in Lyndonville, Vermont.
Her list of accomplishments at Ithaca includes:
- leading the largest comprehensive campaign in Ithaca’s history, raising $145 million to surpass the campaign’s goal by $30 million;
- conducting a multiyear self-study process leading to successful reaccreditation;
- stabilizing enrollment at 6,260 undergraduates and 400 graduate students while simultaneously raising the overall academic profile of the student body and increasing the enrollment of ALANA students;
- creating a facilities master plan that included construction of the Dorothy D. and Roy H. Park Center for Business and Sustainable Enterprise, one of the first 100 buildings in the world to receive LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) Platinum certification, the highest level granted by the U.S. Green Building Council;
- establishing the Martin Luther King Jr. Scholars Program; Center for the Study of Culture, Race, and Ethnicity; Center for LGBT Education, Outreach, and Services; and Center for Faculty Research and Development, all of which furthered the College’s commitment to diversity, interdisciplinary education, and pursuit of new approaches to teaching and research; and
- adding a host of new academic programs, including master’s degrees in teaching and business administration and the College’s first doctoral program, in physical therapy.
A leading proponent of sustainability, Williams was a charter signatory to the American College and University Presidents’ Climate Commitment. She championed the cause of community service, creating a “Day of Service” as part of her inauguration that subsequently became an annual event. She set a personal example by participating in such activities as “Women Swimmin’,” a swim across Cayuga Lake to benefit Hospicare and Palliative Care Services, and the “AIDS Ride for Life.” In recognition of these contributions to volunteerism, a bench in the Ithaca Children’s Garden has been dedicated in her name.
Williams frequently presented a workshop on humor in the workplace for the College’s “LeaderShip” program, which was created during her tenure to enhance the overall quality of management and leadership on campus. In 2006, the College established the Peggy R. Williams Award for Academic and Community Leadership, an annual award given to students who demonstrate excellent academic accomplishments and an exemplary level of service to both the College and the Ithaca community.
Williams has held a number of positions with national and international higher education organizations. She served on the NCAA Division III Presidents Council as well the NCAA Subcommittee on Gender and Diversity, and on the board of directors of the Canada–U.S. Foundation for Educational Exchange (Fulbright), Council of Independent Colleges, and American Council on Education (ACE). At ACE she also served as a member of the Commission on Governmental Relations, and as chair of the Commission on Women.
She has also served on numerous not-for-profit and corporate boards, including: The Vermont Community Foundation, Blue Cross/Blue Shield of Vermont, Tompkins Trust Company, Harvard Graduate School of Education Alumni Council, Turrell Fund, Finger Lakes Land Trust, and Ithaca Downtown Partnership.
Williams currently serves on the board of trustees of St. Michael’s College of Vermont, where she chairs the committee on institutional advancement, and on the Campaign Cabinet for the U.S.–Canadian Fulbright Commission. She is a leadership facilitator for the ACE Fellows program.
Complementing her leadership in higher education, and her commitment to access and diversity, Williams has made lifelong contributions to advancing women’s leadership and to enhancing the quality of life for women and girls. Involvements include: board member, Sacred Heart School of Montreal (chair); board member, Vermont YWCA (vice chair); founding director of the Vermont Women’s Fund; member of the International Women’s Forum; member, Presidents’ Circle Advisory Board, National Center for Research on Women; and faculty member for the HERS program. During her tenure at Ithaca College, the college joined AAUW and Williams served as the institutional representative.
Williams is interested in women’s issues globally. In 2009, she participated in the People to People delegation to South Africa, with the focus on women in higher education. She is well versed in literature about women and Middle East cultures. Williams is a mentor to women—young and old—across the country. In 2008, as part of the Ithaca College comprehensive campaign, she established an endowed fund to promote women student leadership development. To date, proceeds from the fund have supported student attendance at the annual National Conference for College Women Student Leaders.
In July 2008, the Ithaca College Board of Trustees conferred upon her an honorary Doctor of Letters degree and named her President Emerita. The board also created an endowed fund to establish the Peggy R. Williams Difficult Dialogues Symposium, which hosts prominent scholars to explore complex and controversial subjects with the aim of engaging audiences in civil and respectful discourse.
In October 2009, the College formally dedicated the new Peggy Ryan Williams Center—the gateway to the campus. The center incorporates the highest principles of sustainable design, and in 2010 the U.S. Green Building Council granted it LEED Platinum certification. With this designation, Ithaca joined Yale University as the only academic institutions in the world to have two newly constructed LEED Platinum buildings on their campus.
Among other honors, Williams was the first recipient of the Jackie M. Gribbons Leadership Award from Vermont Women in Higher Education (an ACE program) in 1985. In 2009 she was honored with the Donna Shavlik Award from the ACE Office of Women in Higher Education and the Catherine McAuley Award from the regional chapter of the Sisters of Mercy of the Americas. Vermont Women in Higher Education also established an honor in her name—the Margaret R. Williams Emerging Professional Award—to recognize the accomplishments of young women professionals in higher education.
An accomplished athlete who swims and bikes regularly, Williams also enjoys skiing, golfing, sailing, and playing tennis. She and her husband, David, are avid travelers whose idea of a “relaxing” vacation is one that finds them cycling across Europe or hiking in the eastern Canadian Arctic wilderness.