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From the University Archives.

After 50 years, the Setonian appointed its first female editor-in-chief, breaking barriers for women

Let's travel back to the Setonian issues of 1974 when the spirit of womanhood was just beginning to rise on campus. Seton Hall University became a co-ed institution in 1968, and a few years later in 1973, the Setonian got its first female editor-in-chief.

Meet Patti Williams, who graduated from Seton Hall in 1974 with a bachelor's degree in communications. Her Setonian story began her freshman year when she joined the newspaper after writing a sample story and was accepted into the organization.

Williams was the first in her family to go to college, a local from Bloomfield, N.J., and her parents were proud of her to have been the first female editor-in-chief. Williams said she was “honored” to have received the position after four years of hard work, and that it was “indeed awesome.”

Commuting to school for classes and work, she would go to work in one out of the two Setonian offices at the student center and hang out with the rest of the staff.

“It was like a place to hang my hat, in between classes [and] I worked with this great group of people,” Williams said.


From the University Archives.

Williams, who was fondly known as “Wing” by the Setonian staff, started her journey as a reporter in her freshman year. During her first year, she gained valuable interview experience and honed her reporting and writing skills.

Utilizing these skills, soon Williams moved up to news editor where she developed story ideas and interacted with more members of the administration like Msgr. Fahy and worked with staff writers closely. Each year her role changed with more responsibilities.

“[With] each position you have more responsibility on the newspaper,” she said. “As a news editor, you've got to think of what you want to put in the paper and find out any information the students want to hear.”

Fast forward to a managing editor, Williams encountered even more deadlines, late hours and responsibilities in this position. She worked side by side with the then-editor-in-chief, Mark Archer, at the printers in Clifton, N.J. every Thursday night reviewing all the copy proofs and making last-minute fixes.

“As managing editor, I learned more about running the Setonian: budgets, layout and paste-up, headline counting, and reviewed all [the] copy submitted,” Williams said. 

Finally, after receiving the most votes in an election for editor-in-chief, Williams was the first female to be in this position. In her senior year, she had similar duties as her previous position as a managing editor with a bonus coordinating all the newspaper copy, holding staff meetings and working many late Thursday nights. Additionally, as an editor-in-chief, Williams also wrote editorials to print, coordinated storyboards to send to the printer and decided what stories would be reported weekly.

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“It was a lot of work combined with a lot of headaches and fun and sometimes drama,” Williams said.

 After four years at the Hall, despite the challenging political time, it was during the 70s the Setonian staff along with Williams worked hard and received recognition from both individual staff and from the American Collegiate Association. Many of the Setonian staff attended yearly collegiate newspaper conventions and made memories, including Williams taking her first plane ride to Dallas.

“I came away from my four years on the Setonian staff with some very good friends that I have to this day,” she said. “I still remember the good times at Seton Hall as one of the greatest experiences one could have at college. The Setonian simply opened up the world for me.”

Williams received her bachelor’s in communication at Seton Hall and a few years later a master’s in journalism at Pennsylvania State University.


After her education, Williams began her career path working in places like the Newark Star-Ledger, and the Morristown Daily Record editing and reporting. She then moved on to financial editing and writing.

“The Communications Department, at Seton Hall, working at the Setonian and the Journalism Department of Penn State together formed the basis for my career in financial editing and production on Wall Street,” she said.

Williams edited for and learned about different types of companies from cosmetics to financial services. She taught analyst writing skills and at times she found it challenging due to their strong personalities.

Nevertheless, she enjoyed working in New York, grew her skills and earned a global supervisory analyst position. Through this position, she was able to work abroad in Europe, Asia, and Scandinavia where she saw operations firsthand, met colleagues, and made new friends.

“I'm very pleased with the career I've had. It has been a truly enriching ride,” Williams said.

Even though when she was a freshman, she never dreamed she would be the first female editor-in-chief, Williams is proud of her achievement.

Williams advises young women writers to not be fearful to be in the workplace and if they want something to go for it.

“[Have] self-belief that you can do this, and if you have that then just go forward and don't get pushed around, and do your best, but have fun while you're doing it.”

Thank you, Patti Williams, for paving the way for the future generations of women journalists at The Setonian. Thank you for your many hours of work, late nights editing, and breaking barriers for women at Seton Hall.

Esmeralda Arias, Assistant Campus Life Editor, can be reached at


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