A seasoned higher education professional, Dr. Amber Williams is responsible for the University of Tennessee’s efforts to serve students and their unique academic goals.
Through the development, implementation, and evaluation of student success initiatives, Williams works to retain and graduate a talented and diverse student body. She goes beyond the numbers to see students as individuals, creating programs and policies that support each student’s distinctive story and enabling them to prepare not just for graduation, but to make a difference in the world.
Additionally, Williams provides leadership to the offices of the Academic Success Center, Veterans Resource Center, First-Year Programs, New Student Orientation, Undergraduate Research & Fellowships, Center for Career Development & Academic Exploration, Honors & Scholars, Academic Inclusive Initiatives and the campus-wide academic advising initiatives. Under Williams’ leadership, UT launched Vol Success Teams, Vol First-Year Experience, and redesigned the on-boarding for incoming students through the New Vol Orientation. Each of the programs were carefully curated through a student success framework that challenges the deficit mindset and instead encourages a strengths-based approach through confidence, high expectations, and customized structures that ensure every student matters.
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, and a master’s in leadership education and a doctorate in educational administration from the University of Nebraska–Lincoln. Williams frequently speaks nationally on topics around organizational leadership and development, diversity and inclusion, student success, women in business, and enrollment management.
Personally, Williams is married to assistant professor of sociology, Deadric Williams. They have two children, Anthony (6) and Avery (4).