Dr. William "Bill" Tsutsui is an award-winning historian, a passionate classroom teacher, and a seasoned academic leader with a record of innovation. Born in New York City and raised in Texas, he holds degrees from Harvard, Oxford, and Princeton. He began his academic career at the University of Kansas, where over 17 years on the faculty, he served as Acting Director of KU’s Center for East Asian Studies, Chair of the Department of History, and Associate Dean for International Studies in the College of Liberal Arts & Sciences. From 2010 to 2014, he was Dean of Dedman College of Humanities and Sciences at Southern Methodist University in Dallas. From June 2014 through December 2019, he served as President of Hendrix College, a top-tier national liberal arts college founded in 1876 and located in Conway, Arkansas. In 2020-2021, he was the Edwin O. Reischauer Distinguished Visiting Professor at Harvard University.
At the University of Kansas, Bill led the planning and establishment of the Center for Global and International Studies; coordinated efforts to win $8 million in federal funding for KU’s five area studies centers; and created a range of new programs for study abroad in East Asia, service learning, distance education, and professional development for K-12 teachers. As Dean of Dedman College at SMU, Bill led the development and implementation of Dedman College’s first strategic plan; raised over $25 million for the college as part of SMU’s Second Century Campaign; oversaw the creation of a new visual identity and marketing plan for the college; and established the Dedman College Interdisciplinary Institute, the Center for Drug Discovery, Design, and Delivery, three new majors, three new minors, two master’s degrees, and a joint Ph.D. in biostatistics with the University of Texas Southwestern Medical School.
At Hendrix, Bill stressed accessibility and affordability, diversity and inclusion, a commitment to the core values of a residential liberal arts education, and connecting with the college’s United Methodist and Arkansas heritage. Under his leadership, Hendrix gained national attention for initiatives including the Hendrix Arkansas Advantage (which offered scholarships covering full demonstrated financial need to qualified Arkansas high school graduates), the Aspire Scholars (which created partnerships with eight schools and organizations to bring Pell-eligible students to Hendrix), and Career Term (an intensive boot camp in employment-focused skills and mindsets for all sophomores). During his presidency, Hendrix recruited the most diverse classes in college history and set a record 70% four-year graduation rate. Bill secured three of the five largest individual gifts ever given to Hendrix, including $26 million from the estate of Mary Ann Dawkins and $10.5 million from the Windgate Foundation. Be Hendrix, launched in 2016, surpassed $103 million—the most ever in a Hendrix fundraising campaign—by 2019. Two donor-funded new facilities transformed the core of the Hendrix campus: a 16,000-square-foot welcome center opened in September 2017 and the Miller Creative Quad, a $17-million mixed-use project combining student housing, a museum of art, music facilities, and an auditorium, opened in 2019.
In his first year at Ottawa University, Bill led a broadly based and inclusive strategic planning effort, spearheaded an initiative to build endowed scholarship funds for students in need, and stewarded the creation of the institution’s first doctoral degree and a new master’s in applied psychology. To encourage engagement and collaboration across the University, Bill established new forums for communications and community input, stressed transparency in decision-making, and sought to build a University-wide problem-solving culture.
Bill is the author or editor of eight books, including Godzilla on My Mind: Fifty Years of the King of Monsters (2004), which was called a “cult classic” by the New York Times. At KU, he received a 2001 Kemper Award for Teaching Excellence and won the Steeples Faculty Award for service to the people of Kansas. He has served on the NCAA D–III Presidents Council and is currently on the boards of the Association for Asian Studies, the US–Japan Council, and the Japan–US Bridging Foundation. In 2020 he was appointed a Commissioner of the Japan–US Friendship Commission and a Panelist on CULCON (the US–Japan Conference on Cultural and Educational Interchange).
He has been married for 33 years to Dr. Marjorie Swann, a professor of English at Hendrix, and they are caregivers to two cats and a dog. Bill is passionate (and opinionated) about BBQ and slightly ashamed to be level 40 on Pokémon Go.