Interim President (2009-2010)
Bill Wagner assumed the duties of Interim President of Williams College on July 1, 2009. He had most recently served as Dean of the Faculty, the position to which he returned at the end of the interim presidency.
He has taught at Williams since 1980. His research focuses on modern Russia, most recently on women and the interrelationship between religion and modernity in Imperial and early Soviet Russia. The author and editor of a number of books and articles on modern Russian history, his work has been supported by grants from the National Endowment for the Humanities, the American Council of Learned Societies, and the International Research and Exchanges Board. He has been a Research Lecturer at Christ Church College, Oxford, a Senior Associate Member of St. Antony’s College, Oxford, and a Visiting Scholar at the Harvard Divinity School.
Bill received a B.A. in Russian Studies from Haverford College in 1972, a B.Phil. in Russian and East European Studies from the University of Oxford in 1974, and a D.Phil., also from Oxford, in Modern History in 1981. His thesis led to the publication of his book Marriage, Property, and Law in Late Imperial Russia, which explores the role of the courts and jurists in shaping legal culture, political ideologies, and personal identities during the last decades of the tsarist regime. It was awarded the Barbara Heldt Prize for Best Book in Women’s Slavic Studies in 1995.
At Williams he has served as Chair of the History Department, Assistant Dean of the College, and Director of the Williams-Exeter Program at Oxford. He has also chaired a variety of committees, including the Committee on Educational Policy, the Committee on Priorities and Resources, the Committee on Undergraduate Life, and the Faculty Compensation Committee. His recently taught courses include ‘Fin-de-Siècle Russia: Cultural Splendor, Imperial Decay,’ ‘Muscovy and the Russian Empire,’ ‘The Rise and Fall of the Soviet Union,’ ‘Reform, Revolution, Terror: Russia, 1900-1939,’ and ‘Gorbachev and the Collapse of Soviet Communism.’
Bill and his wife Linda have one daughter: Katharine.