Bill Gilligan photo from 1989

20 Questions with Bill Gilligan

In June, Bill Gilligan will retire as interim president of Emerson College. President Gilligan began his career at Emerson in 1982 as an adjunct teacher and most recently served as vice president for information technology
before retiring in December 2020. He returned to Emerson in June 2021 to lead the College in an interim capacity.

1. What is your idea of perfect happiness?

Being with and being loved by those you love. Oh, and ice cream. And chocolate chip cookies.

2. If you could study any field aside from your own, what would it be?


3. Whom do you most admire?

John Lewis, whom I had the honor of meeting when Emerson College gave him an honorary degree in 2009.
Courage, commitment, grace, and humility, all in large portions, all in one person.

4. What are three adjectives you’d use to describe Emerson?

Focused, Fearless, Funky.

5. Where is your favorite spot at Emerson?

The Jackie Liebergott Black Box at the Paramount Center.

6. Which words or phrases do you most overuse?

The same jokes, over and over, much to the consternation of friends, family, and colleagues.

7. What do you consider your greatest achievement?

Earning the respect of people I respect.

8. What’s your greatest regret?

No regrets. At least, too few to mention.

9. Who are your favorite writers?

Patrick O’Brian, Maya Angelou, Charles Dickens, J.R.R. Tolkien.

10. What’s the best movie you’ve seen in the last year?

Everything Everywhere All at Once, of course.

11. If you could have dinner with one person—alive or dead—who would it be?

Stephen Hawking.

12. If you could have any superpower, what would it be?

To understand many languages and cultures.

13. Coffee or tea?

Coffee, only in the morning.

14. Beach or mountains?

Beach, with waves for body surfing if I have to choose. The beauty of living in New England is that no choice is
necessary. Only patience. I have groomed slopes nearby as well. Omnia tempus habent!

15. Broadway or Hollywood?

Broadway. The heart beats faster there. Then home, with haste.

16. If you could spend 48 hours in any city around the globe, where would you go?

Paris (France, not Texas).

17. What song are you most embarrassed to love?

“Psychotic Reaction” by Count Five (1966).

18. You’re stranded on an island. What three possessions would you not be able to live without?

Smartphone/charger (should count as one), high limit credit card, and an Emerson hat. Why should I
not presume that the island is Manhattan? If it must be a desert island: a fishing line, a knife, and an Emerson hat.

19. What is your motto?

Any Latin phrase, spoken slowly and with a serious facial expression (takes practice). (See #14)

20. What’s the best thing about Emerson?

Our students: their focus, their passion, the communities of common interest that they form. (See #10)