Former Presidents

Peggy R. WilliamsPeggy R. Williams
President 1997-2008

When Peggy R. Williams assumed the presidency of Ithaca College on July 1, 1997, she became the College's seventh president and its first female president.

As president, Williams led a collaborative effort to pursue the vision of making Ithaca "the standard of excellence for residential comprehensive colleges." To that end, she led the College’s largest capital campaign in its history, raised the academic profile of the student body, promoted innovative research and teaching methods of faculty, and strengthened the institution’s commitment to diversity, interdisciplinary education, sustainability, and community service.

Under her leadership, the Martin Luther King Jr. Scholar Program and the Center for the Study of Culture, Race, and Ethnicity furthered the College's commitment to diversity and to interdisciplinary education. The campus master plan provided a road map for major facilities and land use for the next two decades, including the construction of the Dorothy D. and Roy H. Park Center for Business and Sustainable Enterprise, one of the first buildings in the world to receive platinum LEED certification, the highest level granted by the U.S. Green Building Council. The Center for Faculty Research and Development encouraged faculty to pursue new teaching approaches and research projects. In addition, Williams's strong interest in community service, evinced by the establishment of a full-time coordinator of community service and such annual programs as the Celebration of Service and Community Plunge, resulted in an increase in campus volunteerism.

Before coming to Ithaca, Williams served as president of Lyndon State College for eight years. She had previously worked at Trinity College in Burlington, Vermont, as associate academic dean, chair of the business and economics department, and associate professor. She also held various positions within the Vermont State Colleges system. 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.

In 1990 the publisher of Creating Excellence magazine named Williams one of Vermont's "top 10 achievers." She was the first recipient of the Jackie M. Gribbons Leadership Award in 1984 from the American Council on Education (ACE). The organization also established an honor in her name -- the Margaret R. Williams Emerging Professional Award -- to recognize the accomplishments of young female professionals in higher education. In 2006 Ithaca College established the Peggy R. Williams Award for Academic and Community Leadership in recognition of students who demonstrate excellent academic accomplishments and an exemplary level of service to both the College and the Ithaca community.

While at Ithaca, Williams was active in community and professional organizations, serving on the boards of trustees of St. Michael's College in Burlington, Vermont, and the Tompkins Trust Company. She served on the NCAA Division III Presidents Council and on the board of directors of the Canada-U.S. Foundation for Educational Exchange (which administers the Fulbright Program).

Williams earned a bachelor of arts 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.

A native of Montreal, Williams has lived in the United States since 1968 and is a citizen of both the United States and Canada.