Dr. Elizabeth MacLeod Walls

Dr. Elizabeth MacLeod Walls named 14th President of Washington & Jefferson College

Created: February 27, 2024  |  Last Updated: February 27, 2024  |  Category:   |  Tagged: , ,

WASHINGTON, PA (February 27, 2024) – The Board of Trustees of Washington & Jefferson College (W&J) today announced Elizabeth MacLeod Walls, Ph.D., will become the College’s fourteenth president. A bold and strategic leader, Dr. MacLeod Walls currently serves as the president of William Jewell College in Liberty, Missouri. She will succeed Dr. John C. Knapp, who has announced that he will retire on June 30, 2024.

“W&J has had a long history of strong leaders who have transformed the College,” stated Donna Haley Grier ’80, chair of the Washington & Jefferson Board of Trustees. “After an extensive and inclusive search, the Board of Trustees unanimously and enthusiastically selected Dr. MacLeod Walls to lead W&J into the future.

The MacLeod Walls Family

“Dr. MacLeod Walls is an extraordinary leader who is passionate about a liberal arts education that is relevant and practical for today’s world,” Grier said. “I’m confident that she will lead W&J to even greater success in fulfilling our mission to graduate people of uncommon integrity, competence, and maturity who are lifelong learners and responsible citizens who are professionally ready and prepared to contribute substantially to the world.”

“The unique ethos of Washington & Jefferson College – simultaneously committed to excellence in the liberal arts and fostering a culture of innovation – is compelling within the ecosystem of private colleges of W&J’s academic caliber,” Dr. MacLeod Walls said after being named the 14th President of W&J. “I have devoted my career to helping our sector sustain and, ideally, thrive; it is my honor to bring my passion for this work to the Washington & Jefferson community.”

Dr. MacLeod Walls has a strong history of success. Having served as the president of William Jewell College since 2016, she has significantly strengthened the College’s reputation through major fundraising initiatives, enrollment growth, prudent financial management, and strategic branding and marketing efforts. Additionally, she has led the College with a warm and engaging presence and built a positive morale and community culture on campus.

Under her leadership, William Jewell has raised more philanthropic support than ever before. In addition, Dr. MacLeod Walls has worked closely with the board, cabinet, and larger community to develop a new brand identity, mission statement, strategic plan, and enrollment management strategy to better engage new students and external partners.

She developed meaningful partnerships with an array of organizations—including with American Public Square at Jewell, a nonprofit that fosters civil discourse between and among non-like-minded people—and serves on the boards of the Kansas City Area Chamber of Commerce, the Liberty Economic Development Council, the KC Rising Steering Committee, and the Keystone Community Corporation overseeing Kansas City’s burgeoning Innovation Hub.

Prior to serving as president at William Jewell, Dr. MacLeod Walls served in numerous academic and senior leadership roles at Nebraska Wesleyan University and Bryan College of Health Sciences in Lincoln, Nebraska.


Dr. MacLeod Walls earned her Ph.D. in English Literature and Classical Rhetoric from TCU and her Bachelor of Arts degree in English and History from Hiram College, where she earned Phi Beta Kappa. Dr. MacLeod Walls is an alumna of the Harvard New Presidents Program, the Harvard Management and Leadership Program, the ACE Women in Leadership Program, and the Lilly Family School of Philanthropy Program. She currently serves on the Board of the Council of Independent Colleges (CIC) and is active in higher education leadership and advocacy.

“The Presidential Search Committee was impressed by Dr. MacLeod Walls’ bold and strategic vision and believes that her experience and determination are the right combination of skills to lead W&J,” stated Keith T. Ghezzi, M.D., chair of the Presidential Search Committee. “Elizabeth has the unique ability to balance being a patient listener as well as a decisive and deliberate leader.”

Dr. MacLeod Walls will be joined on campus by her husband, the Rev. Dr. Craig MacLeod Walls, the founding director of the Center for Faith and Culture at William Jewell College. Her two college-aged children, Alec and John, will join their parents on campus during holiday breaks. The MacLeod Walls family will also bring their beloved golden retriever, Buckeye, to the W&J campus.

About Washington & Jefferson College

Washington & Jefferson College, proudly located in Washington, Pennsylvania, is a historic liberal arts college founded in 1781 that values ethical leadership, professional readiness and inclusive communities. Our highly customized and intellectually engaging student experience develops professionals of uncommon integrity to lead in an ever-changing world. For more information about W&J, visit www.washjeff.edu or call 888-W-AND-JAY.