Peggy Ryan Williams


Peggy Ryan Williams was the president of Ithaca College from 1997 until 2008. She was the College's 7th president and first female president. Williams brought a new level of inclusivity and collaboration to campus, working actively with faculty and students to meet the challenges of the 21st century.

Under her leadership, the college established the Martin Luther King Scholar Program; the Center for the Study of Culture, Race, and Ethnicity; and the Center for LGBT Education, Outreach, and Services and Center for Faculty Research and Development, furthering the college’s commitment to diversity, interdisciplinary education, and pursuit of new approaches to teaching and research. During her presidency,  new academic programs established included master’s programs in teaching and business administration and the college’s first doctoral program in physical therapy. 

During her tenure, the college constructed (2) LEED Platinum Buildings, the Dorothy D. and Roy H. Park Center for Business and Sustainable Enterprise and the Peggy Ryan Williams Center, which now serves as the college’s main administration building and home to the IC Honors Program. President Williams led Ithaca College in its largest comprehensive campaign to date, raising $145 million, surpassing the campaign goal by $30 million.

Her interest in community service helped boost student volunteerism on campus. Williams championed the cause of community service, creating a “Day of Service” as part of her inauguration at Ithaca College that subsequently became an annual event for a number of years. In 2008, in her 11th Commencement remarks she said: “I know that your time at Ithaca has changed you, as I know it has changed me. I'm certainly a bit older, and I hope a bit wiser. And I have been greatly affected by my time spent with you and the classes of students that came before you. You have given me renewed hope and a firmly held belief that the future of our country and our planet is in good hands.” President Williams has demonstrated her leadership in and commitment to the causes of higher education and women’s leadership over her entire career.