In Memoriam: Carolyn Grubb Williams, 1940-2021

Carolyn Williams, former professor and president of Bronx Community College in New York City, died late last month at her home in Detroit, Michigan. She was 81 years old.

Dr. Williams was named president of Bronx Community College in 1996. She was the first woman to hold the position. She served in that role for 15 years. During her tenure, enrollments at the college increased by 10,000 students. President Williams presided over $150 million in capital construction on the college’s campus.

Teresa L. McManus, a professor at the Bronx Community College Library, remembered that Dr. Williams was “a diminutive person with outsized stature and the spirit of a tiger, her eyes were clear and expressive, her smile genuine and naturally exhibiting grace and charm. President Williams’ legacy reached lives throughout the world. She broke glass ceilings, struck pioneering paths, and promoted diversity and inclusion in higher education. BCC’s own treasure, her impact was national and global, her contributions showed a bigger-than-life presence benefiting our college.”

The Carolyn Grubbs Williams Leadership Development Institute was established in her honor by the American Association of Community Colleges, an organization that Dr. Williams chaired. The Institute prepares African Americans in community colleges for leadership roles to ensure that the pipeline to executive-level positions is fluid.

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