About the President

Headshot of Dr. Sams

Dr. Timothy E. Sams began his tenure as the sixth full president in the history of SUNY Old Westbury on January 11, 2021. Across a career spanning three decades, Dr. Sams has demonstrated leadership in improving student success, particularly for students from disadvantaged and marginalized communities. He brings to the College an emphasis on institutional excellence, inclusive innovation and strategic change management.

Prior to Old Westbury, he served as vice president of student affairs for Prairie View A&M University in Prairie View, Texas. At Prairie View, he has showcased his deep commitment to excellence, student support, and inclusivity through the creation of the university’s residential college, emergency resource center and LGBTQ+ Resource Center. His work there built on past experiences at respected institutions across the country. As the senior vice president for student development at Morehouse College, he held a portfolio that included Student Services, Enrollment Management, Campus Safety and Athletics, among other units.  As vice president for student life at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, he led such services as Residential Life, Health and Mental Health Services, the Campus Center and Career Services. He is also credited as inaugurating the Student Life Office at New York University-Abu Dhabi and, for 13 years, led the Black Cultural Center at Swarthmore College. 

Dr. Sams’ career accomplishments include reaccreditation and two strategic plans, student success, efforts to increase student and staff diversity, and elevating residential college models at three institutions. He helped create the nation’s first ROTC Center of Excellence, a campus-based PrEP program, a J-Mester program, a bridge program, an undergraduate completion program, an experiential learning and cultural immersion program in Ghana, West Africa, two major LGBTQ support initiatives, a student emergency resource center, and a $1.5 million federal community intervention grant.

Dr. Sams is from Syracuse, New York. He earned a bachelor’s degree in History and Sociology from Union College in Schenectady, New York, a Masters in Africana Studies from the University at Albany, and a Ph.D. in African American Studies from Temple University. He is an MSI Aspiring Leaders Fellow and recipient of the 2020 Champions for Student Success Award from American Campus Communities.