Brown received her undergraduate degree from Appalachian in 1963 and a master's degree in 1966. She received an Ed.D. from the University of Kentucky in 1979.
Brown has distinguished herself in the field of higher education. She is president emeriti of the Appalachian College Association and served as president from 1993-2008. In that capacity, Brown directed the activities of the association's 37 member colleges. She directed the faculty Scholars Program (now Appalachian College Association) and Kentucky Elderhostel at the University of Kentucky from 1984-1993. Brown prepared and administered grants that provided fellowships, conference support, visiting lecturers and teaching awards to faculty of the private colleges in central Appalachia.
She also has served as director of conferences and institutes at the University of Kentucky, state director of Elderhostel and coordinator of conferences and special activities at Eastern Kentucky University. She also has taught at the university and high school level.
"Dr. Brown's work with the Appalachian College Association has had a significant impact on higher education in the Appalachian region," wrote Dr. David Haney, vice provost for undergraduate education at Appalachian. "She raised nearly $50 million in support of faculty development and educational programs that served a large consortium of colleges in this region. As a member of the Higher Education Resources Services board, she has worked to improve both the quality and quantity of women leaders in colleges and universities, a real need at institutions across the region."
As Appalachian worked to establish University College, Brown offered generous support to campus leaders on creative ways to support collaborations among the academic units and programs housed in the new college.
Brown, a first-generation college graduate, grew up in Statesville and Troutman. In addition to her Ed.D., Brown has received honorary doctorates from six colleges in the Appalachian region.
Alice Williams Brown: Appalachian served me well, and it served me well because of the faculty that were there. Certainly I remember Graydon Eggers and Mrs. Eggers and Cratis Williams. They were good for me in that their expectations were high. I think students rise to the level of the faculty members' expectations. They sought me out and said "we think you could teach college."
The Appalachian College Association was actually started by John Stephenson. I took the job as head of it when the program was about two or three years old. It grew and grew and grew. It came to the point where we were not only getting faculty grants to go do research, but we were getting money for students to work with those faculty. We got to the point where we developed a central library with all the online collections. What we did was we tried to take 37 small schools and give them the resources of one big university.
What I consider the secret to successful fund-raising is the same thing I consider the secret to successful teaching. That is, developing personal relationships—with your students or with the people you're raising the money for and the people you're going to seek the money from. They have to have confidence in you, and know that you're going to do what you say you're going to do, just as the students have to have confidence in you and know you're going to do what you say you're going to do.
I think that Appalachian is an ideal place for first-generation college kids. Appalachian gives them that personal connection with faculty that they need. So, I think Appalachian has a lot to offer. Heaven knows, it certainly proved itself over and over again in terms of what it's been able to accomplish. What I would say to students that are coming out of college about being in higher education is that it will be one of the most rewarding things you can do with your life if you're committed to helping other people in a way that makes the financial gains irrelevant.