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John Williams - Muhlenberg College. Allentown, PA, US

John Williams

President | Muhlenberg College

Allentown, PA, United-States

President of Muhlenberg College





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Meet John Williams, the 12th President of Muhlenberg College




When John I. Williams, Jr. joined strategy consulting firm Bain and Company, he was the first person of color ever hired by the firm. At Bain, he consulted for Fortune 100 clients and led case teams for clients across a variety of industries. He left Bain to co-launch Softbridge Microsystems, and eventually joined American Express, where he rose through a number of senior executive positions.

In 1996 Williams became CEO of Biztravel.com. He developed this early ""dot-com"" startup into a Webby Award-winning site serving frequent business travelers by making two acquisitions and raising a substantial amount of venture capital funding before selling the business.

Since 2000, Williams has led entrepreneurial ventures and engaged in strategy consulting for non-profits and higher education. He led the consulting unit of Eduventures and was a partner in the higher education practice at The Bridgespan Group, working with educational institutions on strategy in a changing environment. He has also mentored students as an Expert-in-Residence at Harvard's Innovation Lab. With wife Diane, Williams served on the Parents' Council of Washington University in St. Louis for four years.

Williams has a distinguished record of service to his alma mater. First elected to the Amherst College board of trustees in 1984, he served a second term before being named life trustee. He has since served continuously, taking leadership roles on initiatives that have sustained and transformed Amherst. Williams has also been a strong supporter of campus diversity, serving as a board member of Prep for Prep, a nonprofit that identifies New York City's most promising students of color and prepares them to excel at the best prep schools and colleges, and Boston's Museum of African-American History.

Williams and his wife, Diane Pierce-Williams, met as students at Harvard Law School. They have been married since June 1986 and have three adult children and one grandchild.

Williams came to Allentown having traveled extensively throughout the U.S. and abroad, either on business, for pleasure or on concert tour as a member of the Mastersingers. In addition, Williams is an accomplished pilot, having earned a pilot's license over 30 years ago.

Areas of Expertise (7)

Higher Education Liberal Arts Colleges Entrepreneurial Education Start Up Companies Business & Leadership Marketing Development E-Commerce

Education (3)

Harvard Law School: J.D., Law 1979

Harvard Business School: M.B.A., Marketing, Strategy, Service Operations 1979

Focused on business strategy, marketing, finance, service operations, and analytical decision-making.
Activities and Societies: JD/MBA Program

Amherst College: B.A., Economics, Magna Cum Laude 1975

Student Allocations Committee, Senior Class Officer, Recipient of Simpson Prize, Honor's Thesis entitled, "On Improving Low- and Moderate-Income Housing, Focus: New York City"
Activities and Societies: Glee Club

Affiliations (5)

  • Harvard's Innovation Lab
  • Parents' Council of Washington University in St. Louis
  • Prep for Prep
  • Boston's Museum of African-American History
  • Massachusetts Business Aviation Association

Media Appearances (5)

Education Spotlight: Muhlenberg president John Williams talks diversity, liberal arts' viability

Education Dive  online


Last fall, with only 11 hours notice, around 900 of Muhlenberg College's 2,300 students filled the school's dining commons for a "Speak Out, Listen In" meeting. Lasting until 1 a.m., the Allentown, PA, college's "largest meeting in living memory" was the brainchild of new president John Williams in the wake of recent racial tensions at the University of Missouri, Princeton, and other institutions. It was also a response to racial and misogynistic messages he had seen among the campus community on Yik-Yak...

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5 Reasons A Liberal Arts Education Rocks

Forbes  online


“Alumni of liberal arts colleges number disproportionately high among the nation’s and the world’s leaders,” reminds John I. Williams, Jr, newly elected President of Muhlenberg College in Pennsylvania. “The world has never needed graduates of liberal arts colleges more than now. We’re preparing students for a less certain future than ever before, and they’ll need to come up with ways to innovate and adapt to changing circumstances.”...

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'True believer' in career value of liberal arts

LVB  online


That is why Muhlenberg College's new president, John I. Williams Jr., trumpets the new school year with an eye to the future and what it will look like for its newest students, the Class of 2019.

“We're preparing students for a less certain future than ever before,” Williams said. “They'll need to come up with ways to innovate and adapt to changing circumstances.”

It's the motive behind his top priorities, to draw attention to the importance of a liberal arts education in preparing the next generation of business leaders and innovators – and to shine the spotlight on the high-quality liberal arts education available at the Allentown institution.

Williams took over this summer, replacing Muhlenberg's 11th president, Peyton “Randy” Helm, who retired June 30 after 12 years on the job. It will be a big change for the school. Not only was Helm one of the longest-standing college presidents in the Lehigh Valley, but Williams is a very different kind of college president...

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Welcome to the Inauguration of President John I. Williams, Jr.

Muhlenberg College  online


Time and again throughout his career, keen and penetrating insight has helped mold John Williams’ success. Since the announcement of Williams as Muhlenberg’s next president, that insight has become apparent to the students, faculty, alumni and staff who have met the College’s next leader.

Linda McGuire, professor of mathematics at Muhlenberg, served on the presidential search committee. She was immediately impressed by Williams’ presence and the research he’s already put into exploring the Muhlenberg community

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John I. William Jr. is first African American to head an ELCA college

Ecumenical News  online


John I. Williams Jr. will become the 12th president of Muhlenberg College, Allentown, Pa. from July 1 and is the first African American to lead an Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA) higher education institution.

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