Dr. Harry L. Williams '86 '88 '95
Dr. Harry L. Williams '86 '88 '95 of Dover, Del., a first generation college student, attended Appalachian on a track scholarship. Instead of leaving after graduation, he stayed to take his first job in the university's Admissions office.
"It was just a great opportunity to ... learn from the best faculty in the world, and that prepared me to go to that next place," Williams said.
He eventually went on to work as a national consultant in enrollment management for higher education. One of his assignments was to revamp the enrollment management operation at Delaware State University.
"In that process, a position in the provost office opened up," Williams said. He said his goal was always to be a college president.
Williams achieved his goal and more. He is the 10th president of Delaware State University (DSU) and a fierce advocate for higher education and anyone hoping to pursue a college education.
Under his guidance, DSU's national ranking rose from 17th to 13th in the 2013 Historically Black Colleges and Universities rankings by U.S. News & World Report. The university's research portfolio increased considerably, attracting more than $25 million in grants and project funding, and a scholarship program was implemented to provide financial assistance to first generation college students.
"The reason why I love this work is because I see the lives that we are impacting and that we are changing," Williams said. "We're in the business of changing lives."
"To get a Distinguished Alumni Award—man, it's a big deal because we have over 100,000 alumni," he said. "I'm humbled by it."