The Fund for Women surpasses 1,000 founders and celebrates giving more than $1 million to help women and girls in the First State.
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Not exactly, but Harry Lee Williams is in it for the long haul anyway.
Harry Lee Williams has many positives going for him as he takes over as the 10th president of Delaware State University. At 45, he’s relatively young. He’s upbeat and energetic. And he’s very familiar with DSU. He served as the provost and vice president of student affairs for 18 months before accepting his current post.
“My (provost) office is one door down from the president’s, so I’ll just move my stuff down the hall the night before,” Williams said, laughing, before starting his new job January 10.
Williams faces tough economic times. (Universities have received less government funding in recent years.) But he must also still the waves left by his predecessor, Allen L. Sessoms. Sessoms resigned in August 2008 to become president of the University of the District of Columbia. Some at DSU and within its alumni believed Sessoms was moving the university away from its identity as a historically black institution.
In announcing Williams’ hiring, John Land, acting chair of the DSU Board of Trustees, addressed the issue directly: “We need a leader who understands that and can expertly merge our historic purpose with the need to be known as an institution of higher education that exceptionally educates all students for a global marketplace.”
Williams—who credits Sessoms with laying groundwork for research, adding doctoral programs, and building state-of-the-art wellness and student centers—says he’s up to the task.
“We are an 1890 land grant institution set up to serve African-American students,” Williams says. “There are 18 1890 universities in this country and 105 historically black colleges and universities. It’s a unique brand, to say the least. It’s something you can promote and embrace.”
When asked how long he expects to remain at DSU, Williams says, “If I can last 20 years, I’ll still be young at the end of the process. I hope my tenure here will be a long time.” —Drew Ostroski