After 15 years, Dr. Carolyn Williams is retiring as president of Bronx Community College.
In 1996, Williams was named the BCC’s fourth president, a year before the school celebrated its 40th anniversary. Now, after a decade and a half, she is taking a breather and stepping aside.
Williams oversaw the rapid expansion of BCC’s international presence, including partnerships with schools in South Africa. Despite decreases in funding over the past decade and a half, she expanded study-abroad opportunities for domestic students as well as making the campus an even more welcoming place for students from overseas
“One of the major things I’m proud of was what was what I referred to as out global initiative,” Williams said.“It’s not just study abroad and the influx of international students, but the curriculum and the whole climate of the college. We were able to bring global issues into our community.”
Williams made the 2010-11 school term her last as a community college president in part to spend more time with her family, which never followed her out of their home state of Michigan. Her husband Dr. Houston Williams and daughter Stacy are both dentists, based in the Detroit area.
Williams first left the Motor City in 1991 when she was named president of Los Angeles Southwest College. Houston came out to visit every couple of weeks, and she would go back home for a weekend once a month. When she was recruited to lead BCC, the arrangement continued.
Now is her chance to make up for some lost time, both personally and with family.
“I’ve been in the day-to-day world of work for about 40 years,” Williams said. “I wanted to have a little more freedom to pick projects of interest. I want to do more writing and I want to have more family time. Once I make a commitment it gets 100 percent of me and I wanted to try a variety of things.”
Williams will stay involved with BCC. She expects to teach courses and help with grant writing, although her exact role for the 2011-12 academic year has not been finalized. Her family will keep homes in both Michigan and Riverdale.
She holds a bachelor’s degree in sociology, a master’s degree in urban planning, and a PhD in higher education, all from Wayne State University in Detroit.
Her successor has already been named. Dr. Carol M. Berotte Joseph, most recently president of Massachusetts Bay Community College, will be taking over. Although she’s leaving, Williams is optimistic about the future of the institution.
“I’m very confident that the selection was a great one,” she said. “Dr. Joseph is experienced, she’s knowledgeable. I think BCC is going to continue to flourish.