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Amber Williams

Vice Provost Amber Williams

Dr. Amber Williams is a seasoned higher education professional responsible for the University of Tennessee’s efforts to serve undergraduate student scholars and their unique academic goals. 

Williams works to retain and graduate a talented and diverse student body through developing, implementing, and evaluating student success initiatives. She goes beyond the numbers to see students as individuals, creating programs and services that support each student scholar’s unique story and enabling them to prepare for graduation and make a difference in the world. 

Williams provides executive leadership to Academic Advising InitiativesAcademic Success CenterCenter for Career Development & Academic ExplorationFirst-Generation InitiativesFirst-Year Programs, New Student OrientationUndergraduate Research & FellowshipsUniversity HonorsUT Success Academy, and Veterans Success Center.  

Since she arrived in 2020, Williams has collaborated with campus partners to launch critical initiatives, including Vol Success Teams, Veterans Impact Academy, and the UT Success Academy, reimagining the university’s premier Honors program, Haslam Leadership Scholars. Each program was carefully curated through a student success framework that encourages a strengths-based approach through confidence, high expectations, and customized structures that ensure every student matters. Under her direction, the university’s first to second-year retention, persistence, and graduation rates have increased, and UT’s positive career outcomes have increased to 90%–an all-time high university high. UT also received the first Truman scholar in 25 years and was named a top Fulbright producer, among other nationally and internationally prestigious awards. Additionally, UT received Gallup’s 2022 Don Clifton Strengths for Students Award. 

Williams has also been a leading advocate for developing a campus-wide initiative to promote students’ well-being through strengths building, well-being, and student success initiatives inside and outside the classroom. This work culminates in Goal One of UT’s Strategic Vision, the Volunteer Experience, which will harness the power of our students’ strengths, promote their well-being, and produce graduates driven by service, resilient, confident, and prepared for a global workforce. This work is central to Vice Provost Williams’ desire to create a transformative, meaningful experience for all Vols at UT and lead them into a brighter, more prosperous future. The Volunteer Experience has launched student success grants, Volunteer Experience Faculty Fellows and more.

Williams came to UT in January 2020 from the University of Nebraska, where she served as their assistant vice chancellor for enrollment management and had significant experiences influencing student success initiatives. Under her leadership, Nebraska created and designed the Nebraska College Preparatory Academy, an innovative college access program that addresses fundamental inequalities in the education system by preparing first-generation and low-income students to achieve personal and academic success. The Academy scholars average a 90% first-year student-to-sophomore retention rate and an 85% graduation rate. 

Williams earned her bachelor’s in communication studies from the University of Kansas, a master’s in leadership education, and a doctorate in educational administration from the University of Nebraska–Lincoln. Williams frequently speaks nationally on organizational leadership and development, diversity and inclusion, student success, women in business, and enrollment management. Inside Higher Ed highlighted her career trajectory.  

Williams is married to UT assistant professor of sociology Deadric Williams. They have two children, Anthony and Avery.