Bilal W. Ansari

Photo of Bilal W. Ansari

Assistant Vice President for Campus Engagement

Jenness House

Bilal Ansari is Assistant Vice President for Campus Engagement at Williams College.  As AVP for Campus Engagement in the Office of Institutional Diversity and Equity, Bilal works with students, faculty, and staff to build an inclusive and equitable campus.  He partners with units and departments across campus, in addition to mentoring the community engagement fellows and working closely with the staff and faculty in the office.  Immediately prior to assuming his current role, he was an Associate Director of the Davis Center.  Bilal served as Williams’ first Muslim chaplain and Assistant Director in the Center for Learning in Action between 2011 and 2014. Before returning to Williams, Bilal served as Dean of Student Services and Director of Student Life at Zaytuna College in Berkeley, California, supporting the fledgling college’s efforts to gain WASC accreditation, which was achieved in 2015, making Zaytuna the first accredited Muslim liberal arts college in the United States.

Bilal has worked in both federal and state prisons for over 16 years challenging the system of racial, gender, and religious inequalities. As a chaplain in some of the most volatile environments, Bilal counseled and managed interventions through intense institutional crises. Bilal has worked as a community organizer and has partnered with the Yale School of Law and the Yale School of Forestry in fighting social and environmental injustices in Connecticut. In 2013, Bilal was awarded the Connecticut Center for a New Economy’s Outstanding Leadership Award for 15 years of community activism and organizing that improved the economic and social well- being of working families in urban centers and rural communities. His work included campaigns to raise wages of the working poor, improving public education and training, securing public health care and creating affordable housing. In 2016, based on his efforts, achievements, and writing, which includes a number of critical and reflective social commentary articles, Bilal was named to The MPower 100, a list of American Muslim top social justice leaders.

Bilal began his community activism in 1994 in Oakland, California at the height of the Rodney King Uprisings. In those years, Bilal served as an Americorps diversity and inclusion ambassador in the first class of the National Civilian Community Corps. In the last decade, he served as advisor and retention specialist for minority students at various colleges. Bilal is a first-generation college student and earned an Associate of Science in Liberal Arts from Ohlone College, Bachelor of Science in Human Services from Springfield College, Master of Arts in Islamic Studies and Christian-Muslim Relations and Graduate Certificate in Islamic Chaplaincy from Hartford Seminary, and Doctor of Ministry from Pacific School of Religion. His dissertation is an auto-ethnographic critical analysis of the literature on his pastoral and social justice work as a community faith leader in prisons, hospitals, and on college campuses. Bilal teaches leadership development as a faculty associate and co-director of the Islamic Chaplaincy Program at Hartford Seminary.

Bilal is a legacy staff member; his great-grandfather and great-grandmother worked at Williams for 40 years.

Bilal mentors students, advises student organizations, and provides counseling assistance.


A.S. Ohlone College, Liberal Arts
B.S. Springfield College, Criminal Justice
M.Div. Hartford Theological Seminary
M.A. Hartford Seminary, IslamicStds&Christian-MuslmRel
D.Min. Pacific School of Religion, Counseling

Current Committees

  • Diversity and Community, Co-Chair
  • Co-Chair, Claiming Williams
  • Co-Chair, Committee on Diversity and Community (CDC)
  • Diversity Action Research Team (DART)
  • Davis Lecture Committee
  • President’s Administrative Group (PAG)
  • Communications Advisory Group (CAG)
  • MLK Planning Committee
  • Upperclass Residential Life Advisory Committee (URLAC)
  • First-Year Experience (FYE)
  • Athletics Subcommittee (DART)
  • Men of Color Subcommittee (DART)