R. Owen Williams came to Transylvania on August 1, 2010, after a 24-year career as a Wall Street investment banker and a 10-year period of scholarly preparation at Yale University, Harvard University, and New York University. He also brought to Transylvania an impressive resume of volunteer work for non-profit organizations that included extensive fund-raising and strategic planning initiatives.
In his first six months as president, Williams has articulated five areas of emphasis drawn from Transylvania's 2009-12 Strategic Plan: diversity, globalization, sustainability, technology, and community outreach. He formed a President's Advisory Council to make recommendations on university policies, and a faculty task force to conduct a comprehensive review of the university's curriculum.
Williams earned an A.B. degree in philosophy from Dartmouth College in 1974, and then studied at Cambridge University in England, earning an M.A. in intellectual history in 1976 and initially setting his sights on an academic career. Instead, he spent more than two decades in investment banking, where increasingly responsible positions took him to assignments from New York City to Tokyo, first with Salomon Brothers, and then with Goldman Sachs, Bear Stearns, and First Union Capital Markets.
In 1999 Williams left the business world to prepare for a new career in academic administration by studying history and law at Yale University, where he earned a Ph.D. in American history and an M.S.L. in law. Williams has been awarded numerous fellowships and has published in several magazines, journals, and encyclopedias. He edited The Encyclopedia of Antislavery and Abolition (Greenwood Press) and was an articles editor for the Yale Journal of Law and the Humanities.
Williams and his wife, Jennifer, are the parents of two children, Tucker and Penelope.