About President Dudley

President William C. (Will) Dudley

William C. (Will) Dudley became the 27th president of Washington and Lee University on January 1, 2017.

A Virginia native, born in Charlottesville and raised in Arlington, Dudley received his B.A. in mathematics and philosophy, magna cum laude, from Williams College in 1989. He was captain of the water polo team, a member of the swim team, and the recipient of a Herchel Smith Fellowship to study at Cambridge University from 1989 to 1990. Dudley worked for AES from 1990 to 1992 before pursuing graduate studies at Northwestern University, where he earned an M.A. and a Ph.D. 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.  From 2010 to 2011, Dudley served as the Gaudino Scholar at Williams, a presidential appointment to encourage curricular innovation and experiential learning at the college. He continues to teach at W&L, offering seminars on virtue ethics and liberal arts education.

Dudley’s scholarship focuses on 19th century German philosophy. 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. Dudley received fellowships in support of his research from the American Council of Learned Societies and the Humboldt Foundation.

From 2011-2016, Dudley served as the provost at Williams, where he oversaw operations supporting the college's academic mission, allocated budgets and positions, and undertook 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 Zilkha Center for Environmental Initiatives. He also established priorities for Teach It Forward: The Campaign for Williams, which was launched in October 2015 and raised more than $750 million.

During his first year in office at W&L, Dudley initiated a comprehensive strategic planning process to set priorities for the coming decade. The resulting strategic plan, which was approved by the Board of Trustees in May 2018, builds on the university’s distinctive strengths while furthering initiatives in support of W&L’s aspiration to be a national model for liberal arts education in the 21st century.

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 teaching and learning center, expanded facilities for the sciences and the Williams School of Commerce, Economics, and Politics, a museum of institutional history and culture, and a center for Admissions and Financial Aid. 

Dudley received a gubernatorial appointment to the board of trustees of the Massachusetts College of Liberal Arts in 2010 and served as the vice-chair in 2015-16. He currently serves on the boards of the Annapolis Group of Liberal Arts Colleges and the Associated Colleges of the South.

He is married to Dr. Carola Tanna, and is the father of two children: Cole and Ella.

Office of the President

  • Washington and Lee University
    Washington Hall, 2nd Floor
    204 West Washington Street
    Lexington, VA 24450