June 16, 2015

Whitney N. Yarber, Communications Specialist

Dr. Gerald A. Williams Selected to Attend Certificate Program in Student Affairs Law and Policy

Dr. Gerald A. Williams

VALDOSTA – Dr. Gerald A. Williams, Valdosta State University’s director of Career Opportunities, was selected to participate in the inaugural Certificate Program in Student Affairs Law and Policy offered by the National Association of Student Personnel Administration (NASPA) June 1-5 in Tampa, Fla. He was one of only 20 participants across the nation selected to participate in the program. This is the only certificate program in the critical areas of law and policy specifically for student affairs professionals.

The institute provides top student affairs officers with the opportunity to participate in sessions focused on strategic thinking, leading change, planning for career advancement, and tips on balancing work and life responsibilities.

“It was an enlightening experience,” said Williams. “It was also more intense than I expected. As a professional, we become so focused on the areas that we directly manage that we can lose sight of the bigger picture. Outside of the training, it was great to share with other senior student affairs leaders about their challenges. Ultimately, you leave with knowing you are not alone and the issues that you wrestle with are not all specific to your institution.”

The program addressed numerous topics in higher education law that will help student affairs professionals navigate recurring compliance issues. Topics included Title IX, a comprehensive federal law that prohibits discrimination on the basis of sex in any federally funded education program or activity; the Violence Against Women Act; the Americans with Disabilities Act; the Jeanne Clery Disclosure of Campus Security Policy and Campus Crime Statistics Act, the landmark federal law that requires colleges and universities across the United States to disclose information about crime on and around their campuses; crisis management; active shooter situations; and mental health and alcohol consumption issues.

“The important take away is that these issues should not be addressed as simply compliance issues, but always in the larger context of what they mean to higher education and what is our responsibility as student affairs leaders in framing what that means to students and the campus community in general,” said Williams.

“Above all, we want to create a safe learning environment for all students that call VSU home," he continued. "Although knowledge of the laws and policies that impact higher education are critical, rules alone will not create the safe and robust learning environments we envision as student affairs professionals. We must embrace the intended spirit of each regulation and work to integrate them into the fabric of the institution rather than see them as something we have to do.”

With more than 15 years of experience in higher education, Williams is a three-time graduate of VSU, with a Bachelor of Arts in Legal Studies, a Master of Public Administration and a Master of Education in Higher Education Leadership. He also holds a Doctorate of Education in Higher Education Administration.

Upon completing his undergraduate studies, Williams worked at VSU as a program coordinator and then assistant director of Student Life from 1997 to 2005. After leaving VSU, he served as director of Student and Residence Life at Thomas University for two years, director of Student Success at Abraham Baldwin Agricultural College for three years and then director of Student Success and Retention at Bainbridge State College for three years.

Contact Dr. Gerald A. Williams at (229) 333-5942 or gewilliams@valdosta.edu for more information.

Valdosta State University’s 2013-2019 Strategic Plan represents a renewal of energy and commitment to the foundational principles for comprehensive institutions.

Implementation of the plan’s five goals, along with their accompanying objectives and strategies, supports VSU’s institutional mission and the University System of Georgia’s mission for comprehensive universities.

The story above demonstrates VSU's commitment to meeting the following goals:

Goal 1: Recruit, retain, and graduate a quality, diverse student population and prepare students for roles as leaders in a global society.

Goal 3: Promote student, employee, alumni, retiree, and community engagement in our mission.

Goal 4: Foster an environment of creativity and scholarship.

Goal 5: Develop and enhance Valdosta State’s human and physical resources.

Visit http://www.valdosta.edu/administration/planning/strategic-plan.php to learn more.

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