Leadership & Governance

U. of Cincinnati President Resigns Abruptly, Citing 'Personal Reasons'

August 21, 2012

Gregory H. Williams walked into a cabinet meeting at the University of Cincinnati on Tuesday and calmly told his top lieutenants that he was resigning, effective immediately. He said little else.

Mr. Williams, who has led the university for three years, betrayed little emotion when he entered the president's conference room of the University Pavilion building around noon, according to a faculty member who was present. Indeed, Mr. Williams patiently waited for the conclusion of a report on the university's enrollment numbers before he dropped the bombshell.

"He allowed the report to finish, and he said something to the effect of, 'Effective today I am stepping down from the University of Cincinnati for personal reasons.' He thanked all of us, and he left," said Richard A. Miller, chair of the Faculty Senate and a professor in the College of Engineering and Applied Science.

Mr. Williams, who did not immediately respond to an interview request, has said little publicly about his resignation.

"It's a great university, and I'm really privileged to have served here," Mr. Williams told Cincinnati.com. "I really don't have much more to say."

A statement from the university's Board of Trustees, which met on Tuesday, cited "personal reasons" for the president's departure and provided no further explanation.

Santa J. Ono, the university's provost, has been appointed interim president, the board announced. A search for a permanent president is expected.

Mr. Ono was among the small group of vice presidents and senior advisers who attended the president's cabinet meeting on Tuesday, and there was no indication anyone saw the announcement coming, Mr. Miller said.

"I would have seen different looks," he said. "This came completely out of the blue, to my knowledge."

The board's chair and two officers did not immediately respond to interview requests.

Mr. Williams, a former president of the City College of New York, part of the City University of New York, was named Cincinnati's president in September 2009. He succeeded Nancy L. Zimpher, who left Cincinnati after nearly six years to become chancellor of the State University of New York.

Cincinnati's fall semester begins next week.