Gillian T. Cell was Dean of the College of Arts and Sciences at UNC Chapel Hill before joining William & Mary as its third provost. She came to love William & Mary and was, herself, beloved and respected while among us. Born near Liverpool, England, Gill graduated from the University of Liverpool with a BA in 1959 and a Ph.D. in History in 1964. She was expert in early British colonial expansion, publishing two books on the subject. She received an honorary doctorate from St. John's University in Newfoundland.
Provost Cell did serious good for our university in many spheres but especially, perhaps, in strategic planning, the redirection of resources in the face of declining state support and advances in information technology on campus. Those who heard her read from the College's Royal Charter during the annual Charter Day rites will never forget the melodious English tones and crystalline clarity with which she always celebrated the words of our creation.
In 2003, Provost Cell was awarded the Thomas Jefferson Award, William & Mary's highest honor for members of our academic community. When announcing her retirement, President Sullivan captured the essence, saying Gill had "deep respect for the academic endeavor, a rigorous commitment to excellence, and a fierce, yet graceful, determination to succeed."