Welcome Dean Tara Williams

A brief introduction to our New Honors College Dean

Every year, the Capstone welcomes thousands of new faces on to our campus, and this year welcomes one special new face to Tuscaloosa – our new Honors College Dean, Dr. Tara Williams.

Mosaic had the honor to virtually meet Dr. Williams, as her arrival onto campus and students leaving campus in association with the COVID-19 pandemic left a small shadow of overlap.

Photo of Honors College Dean Dr. Tara Williams

Honors College Dean Dr. Tara Williams

Dr. Williams comes to UA from Oregon State University and joined us March 1st of this year. And she brought with her two hobbies that almost instantly helped her in a new city and a new isolationist environment.

Virtually locked out of our beloved Nott Hall these days, Dean Williams can be found enjoying her time with her nose in a book or feet on the trail. These two hobbies she says have been very helpful at this time of both moving to a new city as well as practicing the safety of social distancing.

“Reading has helped me get to know my neighborhood better, and reading has allowed me to imagine other experiences and places,” she says.

Dean Williams is very passionate about Honors education and the benefits students take away by partaking in an Honors educational experience. She emphasizes the strong community it builds, as well as preparing students to be diverse problem solvers in their future leadership roles. She is excited in seeing the Honors College flourish as a “diverse community of scholars.”

Her passion for education stems from her own professors, in both undergraduate and graduate school, who fueled her interest in higher education. She reflects on how her favorite courses, both as a student and professor, were related to studying the literature and culture of the Middle Ages.

Dr. Williams attended University of Florida, studying English for her undergraduate years and then earned her master’s and doctoral degrees from Rutgers University.

When she entered the teaching field, she began to find herself inspired by her students.

“It was exciting to see what piqued their curiosity, how they developed new ideas, and how they worked together and learned from each other,” she says.

Dr. Williams’s specific love for Honors education came from her experiences of discovering how interested she was in what was happening in other departments, outside of her own. What is happening in the engineering department? The chemistry, biology, arts, theatre, music departments? The concept of a community of scholars was, and is, such a large part of what motivates her.

Dr. Williams says she is now looking forward to once again be joined by actual students on campus and working on the community within the Honors College where all students “will feel welcomed, supported, and,” she says, “challenged.”