Former interim dean looks forward to interaction with Honors students, faculty

Leila Archer

Meeting with students and talking to them is what makes Honors Dean Don Williams’ day. He recently began his first academic year as official dean of the Honors College.

“The transition hasn’t been so dramatic for me,” said Williams, who was interim dean of the Honors College before becoming dean.

“The main thing was the opportunity to work more closely with students,” said Williams, who has been employed by Kent State since 1983.

He said he was attracted to the Honors program because of the diversity of the staff, students and course offerings. He said he thinks the Honors College is unique because the student body is made up of a variety of majors.

“He’s wonderful to work with,” said Judy Yasenosky, administrative secretary for the Honors College, about Williams. “I think we’re lucky to have him.”

Williams said that he is not looking to change a lot about the program, but has a lot of ongoing projects.

He and his staff are currently reviewing Honors curricular requirements. He said he wants students to participate more in “deep learning experiences” such as the senior thesis, study abroad programs and community service.

He said he wants to encourage Honors students to participate more in national scholarship and fellowship opportunities. He also wants to encourage more fundraising for scholarships within the college.

Williams said he wants to consider giving faculty who teach Honors courses an Honors status.

Williams said his defining moment as interim dean this past year was the senior brunch, where the students talked about their experiences over the past four years.

“Seeing them and hearing about all their successes was … a humbling moment,” he said. “I’m dean, but look at what these great students can do.”

Williams came to Kent as an assistant professor of economics, and has since worked as a department chair, director and associate dean for various programs.

Williams received a bachelor’s degree in business administration from the University of Wisconsin- Milwaukee and a Ph.D in economics from Northwestern.

In his spare time, Williams said he is trying to stay active in his research. He is currently researching European labor markets, and is affiliated with research institutes and a university in Europe.

Contact honors and international affairs reporter Leila Archer at [email protected].