University of Cincinnati Office of the President

University of Cincinnati Office of the President

Gregory H. Williams

Gregory H. Williams

Gregory H. Williams served as the 27th president of the University of Cincinnati, one of the nation’s top 25 public research universities and named by Forbes as one of the world’s most beautiful campuses. He began his tenure at UC on November 1, 2009 and stepped down on August 21, 2012. During his first year at UC, he launched a new strategic plan, UC2019 – Accelerating Our Transformation, which took its name from the university’s upcoming bicentennial year.

Under President Williams, UC enrollment reached an historic high of more than 42,400 students. He committed the university to becoming a first-choice destination for students, patients, faculty and staff. The UC2019 plan set ambitious goals, based on external benchmarks, to position UC among the best universities in the world.

During his tenure at UC, the university formed a new health system called UC Health, which included the university’s Academic Health Center as well as University Hospital, UC Physicians, West Chester Hospital and Drake Center.

President Williams also led the final phase of the university’s Proudly Cincinnati campaign, the largest in UC’s history with a goal of $1 billion. 

From 2001-2009, Dr. Williams served as president of The City College of New York (CCNY), the flagship college of The City University of New York. He also worked as a university administrator for over 30 years, serving in a variety of posts at The George Washington University, The University of Iowa and The Ohio State University. Prior to becoming CCNY’s president, he was Dean of the Law School and Carter C. Kissell Professor of Law at The Ohio State University.  Early in his career, Dr. Williams was a Deputy Sheriff, and he later worked as an aide to a U.S. Senator.


The author of three published books, he is best known for his award-winning and best-selling memoir, Life on the Color Line: The True Story of a White Boy Who Discovered He Was Black. As a result of his autobiography, he has been featured on a number of national programs including “Oprah,” “Dateline NBC with Tom Brokaw,” “Larry King Live,” ABC's “Nightline with Ted Koppel” and “Fresh Air with Terri Gross” of National Public Radio.

In 1995, Life on the Color Line was selected as Book of the Year by The Los Angeles Times.  In 1996, the Gustavus Myers Center for the Study of Human Rights in North America named Life on the Color Line an “Outstanding Book on the Subject of Human
Rights.”  It is often required reading for entering students at U.S. colleges and universities. President Williams also has written a number of articles and book reviews for The New York Times, The Los Angeles Times, The Washington Post and other publications. 

He is a member of the American Law Institute, a past Chair of the Commission on Access, Diversity and Excellence (CADE) of the Association of Public and Land Grant Universities (APLU, formerly the National Association of State Universities and Land-Grant Colleges) and a past president of the Association of American Law Schools.

Dr. Williams has received numerous awards. Among them are the BRIDGES for a Just Community Distinguished Service Citation (2012), the “Governor’s Tribute to African-American Leaders of Excellence in State Service” (2004) from New York Governor George Pataki  for his significant contributions to the people of the state, the Austrian Cross of Honor in Science and Art, First Class (2006), and the “Dean of the Year” award given by the National Association of Public Interest Law (1999).  He also was the first recipient of the National Bar Association’s A. Leon Higginbotham, Jr. Award for Outstanding Contributions to the Preservation of Human and Civil Rights (1999). 

President Bill Clinton invited Dr. Williams to the White House in 1998 as part of his “Call to Action” to promote pro bono work and diversity in the legal profession.

President Williams has earned five degrees, including a JD and PhD from George Washington University, and he holds five honorary doctorates. He is a member of Kappa Alpha Psi fraternity.

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