Senior Vice Provost of Engagement and Faculty Development Julie Williams unexpectedly died on Oct. 2, and though the University of New Hampshire (UNH) community lost a crucial piece of its faculty, her legacy still lives on through her numerous accomplishments at UNH and other institutions.
Williams was born and raised in Virginia, completing her undergraduate program at the College of William and Mary located in Williamsburg, Virginia. She earned her Ph.D. in clinical psychology from the University of Tennessee.
Prior to her career at UNH, she held academic and administrative positions at Virginia Commonwealth University, Knoxville College and the University of Tennessee.
Williams began her career at UNH in its research office. She climbed the professional ladder, working to found the Office of the Vice Provost for Engagement and Academic Outreach (currently known as the Office of the Senior Vice Provost for Engagement and Faculty Development).
Williams was a committed leader during her tenure at UNH, with her driving goal to improve the lives of each and every member of the faculty. Over the course of 16 years, Williams’ faculty development programs have evolved and remains a key component of faculty and professional development. This professional development across each of the UNH campuses has provided students the opportunity for students to study with leading scholars in their field.
Some of Williams’ notable achievements were the creation and expansion of the Writing Academy, the Research and Engagement Academy and the Pathway to Professor Program. Each program is responsible for building a learning community among an interdisciplinary group of faculty across the university by utilizing theories of adult learning, hosting numerous sessions for faculty throughout each academic semester.
Williams spent much of her time aiming to elevate the voices of historically marginalized groups in academia. Working in Washington, she aimed to enhance the UNH presence among key agencies and sponsors, catalyzing the University’s first long-term partnership with Howard University, a historically black university.
Because of her work with Howard University, UNH and Howard University developed and signed a formal Memorandum of Understanding to enhance research capacity and curriculum, as well as enhance cultural and informational exchange.
Williams worked to expand postdoctoral professional development programs for faculty as well. She developed the Postdoctoral University and Innovation Scholars Program, which are designed to increase the diversity of UNH’s faculty. Increasing the diversity of UNH’s faculty is directly linked to the institution’s academic excellence and student success.
Executive Director of Engagement and Faculty Development and Professor of Education Dr. Leslie Couse, a close confidant and friend of Dr. Williams, spoke about other initiatives that she worked on with Williams, including bringing groups together across campus “to address national issues in STEM teacher recruitment and retention which resulted in the UNH STEM Teachers Collaborative funded through a collaboration between higher education, industry and K-12 education.”
Executive Director of Engagement and Faculty Development and Professor of Education Dr. Leslie Couse, a close confidant and friend of Dr. Williams, expressed her grief with the loss of Dr. Williams.
“Dr. Williams was a close colleague, mentor, and friend who I had the honor to work within many capacities during her time at UNH, most recently in the Office of Engagement and Faculty Development,” Couse said. “Early in my career, I participated in the faculty development academies she created to foster my growth as a scholar and researcher. We developed a formal coaching/mentoring relationship through a grant-funded program to advance women in higher education. Dr. Williams was a great connector, facilitating interdisciplinary work among faculty across campus.”
Given her loss, the university plans a date for a campus memorial service in her honor. The date has yet to be determined, as an announcement is still forthcoming.