The Board of Trustees of St. Petersburg College selected a new president Wednesday, May 31.
- SPC selects 1st African-American woman as new president
- Tonjua Williams to replace retired president Bill Law
- Tonjua Willams previously served as VP of Student Services
Tonjua Williams, Ph.D., is SPC’s seventh president. She is also the college’s first woman and first African-American to serve as president.
"It’s an awesome feeling. I’m very excited. I’m very proud," said Williams. "I’ve had a lot of opportunities to grow here, and so now I have a chance to help others grow and achieve their goals and dreams."
Williams served as the Sr. Vice President of Student Services at St. Petersburg College since 2013.
Bill Law, who has served as SPC President since 2010, announced in Nov. 2016 that he would be retiring at the end of June 2017. Williams will begin her duties as president in July.
"I’ve had a lot of good examples of women to follow as well as men," said Williams. "This is not something you can do alone, so I value the shoulders that stand on and the people who came before me to help me continue and move forward and not give up."
Trustee Deveron Gibbons said Williams was an obvious choice for SPC’s next president.
“I came with two names today, but I’m only submitting one: Dr. Tonjua Williams,” Gibbons said.
Trustees all agreed Williams was impressive during her interview.
“She didn’t have to sell me on SPC. I was more excited to be part of this institution after hearing her speak about it than I have been in maybe the past few years,” said Trustee Nathan Stonecipher. “She is passionate about St. Petersburg College. That bleeds out of her.”
Williams is a 30-year veteran of SPC. She previously served as Vice President of Academic and Student Affairs and Provost of the Tarpon Springs Campus.
As president, she'll now be in charge of all of SPC's campuses, including the campus located in Midtown, where she grew up.
"Midtown is one of the communities that I worked with since I’ve been here at the college, but St. Pete College really serves like 10 communities," said Williams. "So we work with whether it’s down at Clearwater, Tarpon all over the place, but Midtown definitely holds a special place in my heart."
Williams earned a Ph.D. in Higher Education Administration from Barry University, a master’s degree in Counselor Education from University of South Florida, and a bachelor’s degree in Business Administration and Humanities from Clearwater Christian College. Over the course of her career at SPC, she was promoted nine times.
"I think it sends a strong message to our communities that say it doesn’t matter where you start it’s where you finish so keep going," said Williams. "Don’t believe that you can’t do it and don’t believe it’s not possible."