Bronx Community College president dies


Bronx Community College

Jahlil Rush, Production Assistant

Bronx Community College President Emeritus and professor Carolyn Williams died at the age of 81 in her home city of Detroit, Michigan.

In 1996, she was named BCC’s fourth president and the first woman to hold the position.

Many members of the BCC community spoke about Williams and the impact that she had on them.

“When I think of Carolyn Williams, three words come to mind: commitment, caring and grace,” Professor Mary Rogan of the BCC Economics and Business Department said. “Her commitment was ever evident — to her family, to her wide community and to Bronx Community College.”

According to a statement released by BCC’s current President Thomas Isekenegbe, it was Williams’s leadership that allowed the student body to grow by over 10,000 students during her time at Bronx Community College. She was also the brains behind BCC’s first general education program and the first strategic plan.

“I was privileged to work with Dr. Williams and our team on BCC’s Ford Foundation-funded South Africa New Linkages: Building College to University Pathways project.” Andrew Rowan of the BCC English Department said. “Often, there were long weeks of traveling hundreds of kilometers daily to hold workshops at technical colleges in cities across numerous, far-flung provinces. The work was exhilarating. And, yes, we were all tired. She never complained, however, setting for us an example of selflessness and service. Through these experiences, we formed bonds of collegiality and friendship that remain.”

Williams also helped raise the $150 million funding for capital construction, including the North Hall building, library and the Children’s Center. The $150 million funding also included the renovation of the Roscoe Brown Student Center.

In 2011, she was honored by the Hispanic Educational Technology Services for her 15 years of service as president of Bronx Community College. “For the past seven years, Dr. Williams have been actively involved in HETS initiatives in her continuous interest to contribute to higher education as part of our Board Members,” a statement by HETS said.

On a national level, she was a member of the American Association of Community Colleges. She later served as Chairperson of the AACC in 2000. Williams was also actively involved with the National Council on Black American Affairs.

Her involvement with the NCBAA led to the creation of the Carolyn Grubbs Williams Leadership Development Institute. The Institute’s main mission is to help African Americans prepare for leadership roles to ensure that executive level positions in the workforce are diverse.

During Williams’s 15-year tenure, Bronx Community College’s international presence was marked by increased expansion, leading to partnerships with schools in Africa.

“President Williams will always be remembered for her passionate commitment to the students of Bronx Community College,” Isekenegbe said. “‘The students’ success is our success,’ she was fond of saying. It is a guiding philosophy of BCC to this day.”

Williams’s cause of death has not been revealed.