On Thursday, May 15, Donald Williams will visit Quinebaug Valley Community College to meet with faculty, staff, students and community members. Mr. Williams is a candidate for the president role at Quinebaug Valley Community College. During his visit, he will also meet with members of the Board of Regents and BOR president Dr. Gregory Gray.
Attorney and State Senate President Donald E. Williams, Jr. has over thirty years of executive and administrative experience in education, government, law and journalism in Connecticut. He has a deep knowledge and appreciation of the needs of businesses and families in Northeastern Connecticut, and the benefits and resources provided by Quinebaug Valley Community College.
During the past ten years, Williams has worked with the leaders of Quinebaug Valley Community College on a variety of critical projects and initiatives. He worked with QVCC President Dianne Williams to secure approval and resources for a 30,000 square-foot addition to the college’s physical plant; the relocation of QVCC’s Willimantic Center to Main Street; and the creation of QVCC’s Middle College High School program and physical infrastructure.
Senator Williams worked with STRIDE Program Director Julie Scrapchansky in QVCC’s Division of Community Engagement, to sustain a program that provides incarcerated men and women with job readiness skills and dramatically reduces recidivism. After helping to draft legislation creating three Advanced Manufacturing Centers at Connecticut’s community colleges, Don collaborated with QVCC faculty and staff to bring forward their strong proposal to state system leaders resulting in approval of locating one of the three manufacturing centers at QVCC.
As Executive Director of Connecticut College Downtown, Williams worked closely with the president’s office to oversee the recruitment and scheduling of classes, lectures, theater performances and community events at Connecticut College’s downtown campus. He served as liaison for Connecticut College in the New London community, reaching out to the business, arts, and education communities. He worked with faculty and students to create community programs and internships. Williams also has extensive experience in managing systems and courses for continuing education and professional development. As Director of Development for the Connecticut Bar Association, he developed curriculum protocols and recruited faculty for a full schedule of legal seminars during each fall and spring semester. This required keeping apprised of evolving areas of the law, new state and federal cases and precedent, and changes in Connecticut practice, and adapting or creating courses accordingly. He organized multi-day institute programs focusing on trial practice and appellate advocacy, created LawFirst Publications to publish scholarly legal works, and helped launch and manage Connecticut Casemaker, an online database system for research of case law and statutes.
Williams has prepared and managed budgets throughout his career, including at Connecticut College, the Connecticut Bar Association, the Town of Thompson, and the State of Connecticut. He has sought, won and managed grants as a municipal official, and assisted others with securing grants as state senator. He has worked with other officials to encourage and institute regional efficiencies and cooperation to reduce budget costs.
For three decades Williams has supervised employees in a collaborative manner as president of the state senate, Executive Director of Connecticut College Downtown, Director of Development at the Connecticut Bar Association, First Selectman of Thompson, and as an attorney. In his work as an attorney and municipal official, Don negotiated union contracts with the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees, and managed significant construction projects (overseeing construction progress, contract adherence, the clerk of the works, change orders, etc.) including a town library-community center, a high school expansion, rehabilitation of more than 100 units of affordable housing, and reclamation of riverfront land for conversion into a park.
As President of the State Senate, Williams has earned a reputation as a thoughtful and effective legislator who has formulated cutting edge initiatives in higher education:
- Senator Williams initiated and authored legislation to create the State of Connecticut’s $172 million Technology Park at the University of Connecticut. The Technology Park will grow Connecticut’s entrepreneurial environment, facilitate public/private partnerships in higher education research and student internship opportunities, and make Connecticut more competitive in the global marketplace.
- Williams led the legislative effort to create Next Generation Connecticut, a program that will invest $1.5 billion in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM), hire new faculty, increase enrollment in STEM fields, and construct new STEM teaching laboratories. Next Generation is expected to attract $270 million in research dollars, $500 million in new business activity, and support 4,050 permanent jobs.
- Senator Williams helped spearhead the transformation of Connecticut’s Community Colleges, the Connecticut State University system, and the University of Connecticut through programs such as UCONN 21st Century, CSU 2020, and $320 million in capital improvements to infrastructure for the state’s community colleges.
- The Jobs For The 21st Century Act, authored and sponsored by Senator Williams, included the Eminent Faculty Program at the University of Connecticut to recruit national experts in alternative energy technology, commercialization and technology transfer.
- Senator Williams served as chairman of the Appropriations Higher Education Subcommittee where he oversaw the fiscal implications of policy initiatives and reviewed state expenditures for the Connecticut Community Colleges, the Connecticut State University system, and the University of Connecticut.
- Williams has successfully advocated for the expansion of early childhood education and high quality pre-K, understanding that it increases student achievement and reading at grade level, increases high school graduation rates, and improves health and wellness.
- He served on the Board of Directors for the New England Board of Higher Education.
Williams earned a Juris Doctor degree from Washington and Lee University, where he graduated cum laude, was selected to serve as Research Editor of the Law Review, and was presented with the University Service Award for establishing tutoring programs in the public schools of Rockbridge County, Virginia. He graduated from Syracuse University with a Bachelor of Science degree in journalism.
For the past seven years, he researched and wrote a book titled Prudence Crandall’s Legacy: The Fight For Equality In The 1830s, Dred Scott, and Brown v. Board of Education (to be published by Wesleyan University Press in June 2014). “Donald Williams’s book about Prudence Crandall’s legacy serves to remind us once more about how close in time America is to the darkest days of our history. I refer to a time when as a matter of law the government lawfully separated school children from one another on the basis of their color. That is all behind us now as a matter of law. Thanks to Prudence Crandall’s Legacy we should be reminded that such barbarous practices survived into the twentieth century until held unconstitutional in Brown v. Board Education. The struggle in which Prudence Crandall engaged continues in the twenty- first.” —Attorney Jack Greenberg, professor at the Columbia School of Law and former Dean of Columbia College (as counsel for the NAACP’s Legal Defense Fund, Greenberg argued Brown v. Board of Education and defended Martin Luther King in Birmingham, Alabama).
As a resident of northeastern Connecticut for the past forty-four years, Don has been involved in numerous fund-raising efforts and served on the board of directors of multiple community service organizations. He lives in Brooklyn, Connecticut with his wife Laura, and has a grown daughter, Nina.
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