By Tyler Morrison, ARB Student Worker
Gregory H. Williams became the University of Cincinnati’s 27th president when he took office in September 2009. Among more than 100 applicants for the position, he was selected in part because of his outstanding work in transforming the City College of New York, where he served as president before joining the UC. Williams received national acclaim for his book, Life on the Color Line: The True Story of a White Boy Who Discovered He Was Black (New York, NY: Dutton, 1995). Over a decade later, he still received feedback from his readers while serving as the president here at UC. The memoir was his way of telling the world about struggling with poverty and acceptance during his youth and dealing with his biracial identity in Muncie, Indiana at a time when segregation was still highly overt in the United States. The book also brought to life other family issues such as alcoholism and abandonment. Throughout his account, he told the story of a normal childhood that spiraled into one of torment, welfare, and segregation, and then how he made the best of it. Williams became the star quarterback of his high school’s football team, excelled in college to earn four degrees, and worked his way up in higher education system until he became president of College City of New York from 2001-2009 and then president of the University of Cincinnati from 2009 to 2012.
The Archives and Rare Books Library recently added all of Gregory William’s speeches from his UC presidential tenure (Accession Number UA-13-10). This collection, dating from September 2009 to August 2012, includes quite a variety of speeches. As is the case with many leaders of high-profile universities, Williams rarely had a day when he did not give one or more speeches (he also rarely had to eat alone, as there are over a hundred events he hosted or partook in that were held over brunch and dinners!).
The speeches include faculty senate meetings, award ceremonies for different faculty and departments here at the University of Cincinnati, interviews with the Cincinnati Enquirer, visits to high schools in Cincinnati, community and business groups, educational organizations, and even occasional luncheons with the students. For example, included is the first page of his keynote speech at a fundraising event called the “Night on the Serengeti” that helps support Village Life, a program supported by UC faculty and students that assists Tanzania in developing its healthcare, education, and housing systems:
This Williams collection complements the holdings found in the Archives & Rare Books Library that documents the tenures of all UC presidents. A finding aid for the collection is available on the OhioLINK Finding Aid Repository. To learn more about the University Archives, please visit ARB in 808 Carl Blegen Library, email us at firstname.lastname@example.org, telephone us at 513.556.1959, or visit us on the web at http://www.libraries.uc.edu/libraries/arb/index.html.