175 Makers of History: James B. Williams

James B. Williams 55C 04H
CEO, SunTrust Banks

James B. Williams

James B. Williams, the now-retired chair of SunTrust Banks, chaired the board of the Woodruff Health Sciences Center for more than twenty years, overseeing a four-fold increase in health science research funding.

Williams was elected to the board of trustees in 1973 and elevated to emeritus trustee in 2003. In the 1980s, he chaired a five-year, $220 million campaign that included the 1979 Woodruff gift.

Williams's work was instrumental in the construction of nearly every health sciences building completed in the last quarter century -- the O. Wayne Rollins Research Center, a Yerkes expansion, the Whitehead Biomedical Research Building, the nursing school building, the new building for the Winship Cancer Institute, and the Emory-Children's Center building, chief among them.

In 2009, Emory named its new medical education building in Williams's honor.