About President Dudley
William C. (Will) Dudley became the 27th president of Washington and Lee University on January 1, 2017.
During his first year in office, Dudley initiated a comprehensive strategic planning process to set priorities for Washington and Lee in the coming decade. The new strategic plan was approved by W&L’s Board of Trustees in May 2018 and builds on the university’s distinctive strengths while furthering initiatives that will make W&L a national model for liberal arts education in the 21st century. These initiatives include admitting the strongest applicants, regardless of family financial circumstances, eliminating financial barriers to curricular, co-curricular, and extra-curricular participation, and recruiting deep and diverse applicant pools for student admissions and faculty and staff positions.
Since 2017, W&L has made significant progress in attracting highly qualified and increasingly diverse students, faculty and staff to Lexington. The university has also begun to implement curricular and capital initiatives from the strategic plan, bolstering its commitment to interdisciplinary programs with new minors in legal studies, entrepreneurship and data science and updating the campus master plan, which includes a new teaching and learning center, expanded facilities for the Williams School of Commerce, Economics, and Politics and STEM fields, a new university museum, and a new center for Admissions and Financial Aid.
Dudley’s scholarship focuses on German idealism, from Kant to Hegel. He is the author of two books, "Understanding German Idealism" (2007) and "Hegel, Nietzsche and Philosophy: Thinking Freedom" (2002). He is the editor of volumes on Kant and Hegel and has published numerous scholarly articles. At W&L, he has taught undergraduate philosophy seminars on the Philosophy of Education and Virtue Ethics and the Liberal Arts.
From 2011-2016, Dudley served as provost and professor of philosophy at Williams College, where he oversaw operations supporting the college's academic mission, allocating budgets and positions and undertaking strategic initiatives. He supervised the directors of Admission, Financial Aid, the College Libraries, Information Technology, the Science Center, Institutional Research, the Williams College Museum of Art and the Zikha Center for Environmental Initiatives. He also established priorities for Teach It Forward: The Campaign for Williams, which was launched in October 2015 with a goal of $650 million.
A Virginia native, born in Charlottesville and raised in Arlington, Dudley received his B.A. in mathematics and philosophy, magna cum laude, from Williams in 1989. As an undergraduate at Williams, Dudley was captain of the water polo team, a member of the swimming and diving team, and the recipient of a Herchel Smith Fellowship to study at Cambridge University from 1989 to 1990. He worked from 1990 to 1993 for AES Corp. before pursuing graduate studies at Northwestern University, where he earned an M.A. and a Ph.D., both in philosophy.
He joined the Williams faculty in 1998, teaching courses on moral and political philosophy, Metaphysics and Epistemology, the philosophy and economics of higher education and the spiritual significance of sports.
Dudley received fellowships from the Williams College Oakley Center for the Humanities and Social Sciences, the American Council of Learned Societies and the Humboldt Foundation. He served as the Gaudino Scholar at Williams from 2010 to 2011, a presidential appointment to lead the Robert L. Gaudino Memorial Fund and to encourage curricular innovation and experiential learning at the college.
Dudley served as a trustee and vice-chair of the board at Massachusetts College of Liberal Arts, the public liberal arts college for the Commonwealth of Massachusetts and a campus of the Massachusetts state university system. He received a gubernatorial appointment to that board in 2010 and became the vice chair in 2015. He served on the board of the Williamstown Community Chest from 2005 – 2011, and as president of that non-profit from 2007-2009.
He is the father of two children, Nicholas (Cole) and Elizabeth (Ella).