UCA’s new College of Liberal Arts Dean Tom Williams, who began his position in July, has hopes to expand the college’s presence on social media and to change people’s impression of the liberal arts.
“[The College of Liberal Arts faculty are] already doing outstanding work in their classroom, their scholarship and research and the service that they do,” Williams said.
Williams is aiming to increase the strength of the college’s social media presence to reach a wider audience, as well as focusing on fundraising and making friends of the university know what the college is doing and what they can do to help.
He strives to make opportunities within the college more open and available to student, parents and employers who may not have been aware of opportunities previously.
“[My primary goal is to] celebrate and maybe even transform the perception that people have of the liberal arts,” Williams said.
Before coming to UCA, Williams served as associate dean of the School of English, Communication, Media and Languages at Morehead State University in Kentucky. Williams received his bachelor’s in creative writing from Ashland University in Ohio, master’s in English from Ohio State University and doctorate in creative writing and literature from the University of Houston.
Williams said he chose to work at UCA because of its relationship with students and the state.
“UCA combines strong traditions for student success with its importance to the state overall,” Williams said.
He said he looks forward to the new leadership of and opportunities available with President Houston Davis and Provost Patricia S. Poulter.
Williams said he is most excited about the opportunity to get to know the students milling around Irby. As dean, he does not get many opportunities to have direct, consistent conversations with students, so he can’t wait to be able to walk around Irby and the rest of UCA’s campus.
“Nothing can diminish that feeling of potential and optimism here,” he said.
His advice for freshmen is to get to know your peers, go to your professors’ office hours, stay on campus and don’t go home every weekend, take advantage of what is happening on campus and in Conway, explore your opportunities and, most importantly, find a mentor.
“Everybody has some low points in his or her academic career,” Williams said. “It’s nice to know you have someone to depend upon and to lift your spirits a little bit.”
However, he said possibly the most important advice of all would be for students to drop by his office with some Einstein’s.
Photo by Lauren Swaim.