Thursday, August 13, 2009
Dr. Sarah Williams, former head of the department and professor of Social Work and Sociology at Prairie View A&M University is the new vice president for academic affairs at Bethune Cookman University (B-CU) in Daytona Beach, Florida. The number thirteen has nothing but good for Dr. Williams who takes over the academic helm for the 105 year-old institution, effective August 13, 2009.
Dr. Williams was selected after a national search from a pool of 65 academicians who were rigorously screened by a diverse university search committee with the assistance of an academic search firm. She was one of three candidates advanced to final interviews. “I wanted to come to Bethune-Cookman University because of its excellent reputation. It is one of the premier HBCUs founded in 1904 by Mary McLeod Bethune – a woman I have held in awe since I was 8 or 10 years old,” commented Williams. “I look forward to working with and on behalf of faculty, students, alumni, the state of Florida and society globally.”
Williams’s selection is a testament and manifestation of her leadership, vision and professional commitment to excellence she exemplified throughout her more than 30 years in higher education at Prairie View A&M University, an HBCU in Texas. As a tenured professor of sociology and social work, she served as the head of the Department of Social Work and Sociology. During her tenure, Williams guided students on their educational journey, mentored fellow faculty members, and played a critical role in administrative efforts including development of a baccalaureate program in social work, achieving accreditation of that program, and launching a Master of Arts program in sociology, with emphasis on gerontology, that became the second largest major in graduate school. Along with colleagues Andrew Malveaux and Jimmie L .Poindexter, Williams received grant funding for the Child Welfare Program. Dr. Williams also served on several accreditation committees at Prairie View, as well as a program evaluator for other institutions undergoing accreditation review.
B-CU President Trudie Kibbe Reed, lamenting on Williams’s appointment stated, “Dr. Williams is exactly the right person to help lead Bethune-Cookman into the 21st century while maintaining our founder’s legacy of faith, scholarship and service. As a scholar and educator, she has devoted her life to the same values and principles our founder stood for. As a trained social worker, she knows how to put those values into action on behalf of student, faculty and the community."
Dr. Larry Handfield, B-CU board chair and alumnus agrees, noting: "I am very impressed with what Dr. Williams brings to B-CU. She is a gifted leader who has a knack for bringing people together around a common set of goals. These skills combined with her experiences and understanding of HBCUs will help us ensure that B-CU fulfills its potential educating a new generation of students."
Williams brings a student-and faculty-oriented mindset, based on her own experiences in the classroom, noting that "when you love your students, they can tell the difference versus someone who is technically proficient but doesn’t care," stated by Williams.
Williams has a great empathy and respect for the faculty and it’s the day-to-day affairs. Commenting on this important role, Williams says, “the faculty must be appreciated; they are the workmen of a university and must be honored for their dedication and loyalty. We also must make sure faculty understand our vision and mission. What will B-CU look like 10, 20, 30 years from now? I believe that the faculty wants what is best for the University. . . We need to use their knowledge, skill, and leadership for the advancement of the university and the students."
Former colleague Poindexter commenting on Williams appointment stated that “I am very proud and pleased for Sarah. She will make a great contribution to the university and I extend my best wishes.” Martin said she will “miss Sarah greatly. She is truly an academician of the first class. I learned so much from her and for that am grateful. Where ever she goes, she will take the pride and spirit of PVAMU with her.”
In addition to her teaching credentials and professional certifications, Dr. Williams holds membership in several social, civic and professional organizations including the YWCA, Phi Delta Kappa Education Honor Society, Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Inc. and the local NAACP, and an active member of the Prairie View United Methodist Church. She also serves or has served as a founding member of the Johnson Phillip Chapel Advisory Board and the Faculty Senate at PVAMU and the Prairie View Federal Credit Union. Additionally, along with colleague Elizabeth Martin, Williams spearheaded and created the George R. Ragland Scholars Program and the Women's Day-Lula B. White Awards Program.
Williams earned her bachelor’s and doctoral degrees in sociology from The University of Texas at Austin. She also holds a Master of Social Work degree from The University of Houston.
Dr. Williams is married to Robert A. Williams, an entrepreneur and construction company owner, and are parents to Marcus who holds a Bachelors and Masters Degrees from Prairie View A&M University, and SaraJane who holds a Bachelors Degree in Aeronautical Engineering from Johns Hopkins University.
Adapted form B-CU Public Relations Release