Herma Williams appointed FPU provost

Today, Fresno Pacific University named Herma B. Williams, Ph.D., as the institution’s new provost and academic vice president, effective August 1, 2006. Williams currently serves as associate provost at Gordon College in Wenham, Massachusetts.

“Dr. Williams brings the skills, talents and personal qualities that Fresno Pacific needs at this time,” said President D. Merrill Ewert in making the announcement. “A highly respected leader in Christian higher education, Dr. Williams’ deep commitment to student learning, her strong record of faculty development and her passion for mobilizing universities to help transform the culture led to this appointment.”

While Williams worked at Gordon, the college not only grew from 1,270 students to over 1,700, it became a much more diverse and inclusive place, while at the same time raising its entrance standards and attracting more merit scholars. Gordon began graduate and undergraduate majors and concentrations in areas such as education, drama and science; it also created a new honors program on the Christian intellectual tradition. Participation in off-campus programs nearly tripled and new study options were developed.

As associate provost, Williams was instrumental in strengthening Gordon’s commitment to faculty development and expanding students’ participation in international programs. She helped build enrollments of under-represented minorities, recruit a more diverse faculty and engage students in studying Boston’s problems and in working with local organizations to help transform their communities. These efforts helped Gordon College earn the Council of Christian Colleges and University’s prestigious Racial Harmony Award.

Williams has published one book and authored numerous articles and papers, but is also deeply committed to strengthening faculty scholarship and promoting student research. As a Fulbright Scholar, she directed a program designed to strengthen academic excellence at the University of the Western Cape and the University of Cape Town in South Africa. In high demand as a speaker, Williams recently delivered the commencement address at Malone College (Canton, Ohio).

Prior to assuming her role at Gordon, Williams held various other faculty and administrative positions in higher education. At George Mason University, she was a professor and chair of the department of education, leadership and human development, and served as the coordinator of faculty development. She worked as assistant provost at Ithaca College, as special assistant to the president at Bryn Mawr College and as a member of the faculty and chair of the department of human ecology at Morgan State College.

Williams earned her bachelor’s and master’s of science in education from Southern Illinois University, and her Ph.D. in education from Iowa State University. She also completed post-doctoral studies at Harvard University and was named a Kellogg Foundation and Ford Foundation fellow. She is a member of the American Educational Research Association, the Association of American Colleges, the American Council on Education, the American Association of Higher Education, the Association of Teacher Educators and the National Association of Multicultural Education.

Williams replaces Patricia Anderson, Ph.D., who will retire at the end of June after nearly four years at FPU and a distinguished 40-year career in higher education.