Marcellette Gaillard-Gay Williams

Marcellette Williams in regalia at the graduate school graduation

Marcellette Gaillard-Gay Williams served as chancellor of the Amherst campus from July 2001 to June 2002. The first woman to serve as chancellor, Williams led the campus through a challenging period of budgetary pressures, which involved program reductions and administrative reorganization throughout the university. During her tenure, Williams advocated for the importance of community, collaboration, interdisciplinary understanding, and human enablement. Her educational philosophy emphasized “living values” and the creation of a learning environment through the integration of knowledge and scholarship that served the formation of more complete and enabled human beings.

Prior to assuming the role of chancellor, Dr. Williams served for seven and a half years as deputy chancellor at UMass Amherst; she was a professor of English and comparative literature. Her research focuses on the language of leadershipits metaphors and other dimensions of rhetoric and its capacity to persuade, motivate, and renew.

A Phi Beta Kappa graduate, earning a B.A. with highest honor in comparative literature, an M.A. in English and comparative Literature, and a Ph.D. in English from Michigan State University, Dr. Williams served in several other administrative positions prior to accepting her appointment as deputy chancellor at the University of Massachusetts Amherst in January 1994. Among those positions were executive assistant to the president and corporate secretary of the Board of Trustees; project coordinator and assistant to the provost for internal institutional advancement in the Office of the Provost; associate chairperson in the Department of English; acting chair in the Department of English; and associate director of the English Language Center at Michigan State University. In addition to her teaching and scholarship efforts on the East Lansing campus, she taught and consulted throughout Asia and in Europe through MSU's Graduate Studies in Education Overseas program for almost a decade.

Her academic service includes work on various committees at the department, college, and university levels. She has held major offices in professional associations at the state and national levels. Her community service has included teaching in an EOP Upward Bound Program and in programs through Community Volunteers for International Programs. She has served on boards in neighborhood, city, and regional associations in Michigan and in Massachusetts, and has held elected and appointed board positions for various economic, public interest, archival, media, foundation, and national organizations, including the National Council of Fellows of the American Council on Education.

As deputy chancellor, she had line responsibilities for areas that cross-cut the campus: planning and budgets, institutional support, and resource management; master planning; real property management; athletics; and information technologies (including computing, networking, and telecommunications). During her tenure, a major technology campus initiative created network connections in all campus buildings; established new public access PC areas; purchased additional computer projection equipment; expanded central network servers; and is in the latter stages of implementing an integrated Student Information System.

Dr. Williams retired in July 2019 after 50 years of distinguished service as a tenured professor/administrator at two of the nation’s top land-grant Research-1 universities—Michigan State University and the University of Massachusetts.