April 25, 2018

Jessica Pope
Communications and Media Relations Coordinator

VSU’s Gerald Williams Wins Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion Award

Dr. Gerald Williams

VALDOSTA — Valdosta State University’s Dr. Gerald Williams has earned the 2018 Bobby E. Leach Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion Award from Student Affairs Administrators in Higher Education, formerly known as the National Association of Student Personnel Administrators, or NASPA.

The Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion Award honors a senior student affairs professional or faculty member who has demonstrated a deep commitment to advancing diversity and inclusion throughout their administrative or academic tenure. It is named in honor of Dr. Bobby E. Leach, the first person of color to serve as NASPA president and the first African American administrator at Florida State University. His life and career was dedicated to bringing people of different backgrounds together for the purpose of promoting equity for all.

Williams was selected for the honor because of his strong and sustained record of professional involvement in activities that promote diversity and inclusion in education; commitment to being actively engaged in advocating for and advancing diversity and inclusion in education through his administrative work; reputation for taking a stand on critical issues related to diversity and inclusion; and willingness to break barriers and serve as a role model for Blazers from diverse backgrounds. 

Williams was named interim director of VSU’s Department of Diversity and Inclusion when it was established on Oct. 1, 2016. He was charged with planning and implementing initiatives, programs, and special events that create an inclusive and supportive campus environment for all students and celebrate Blazer Nation as a learning environment based on trust and mutual respect, a place where open dialogue, vigorous debate, and the free exchange of ideas are welcome.

Williams is especially fond of VSU’s Lavender Ceremony, a celebration of pride and community that recognizes the achievements, contributions, and unique experiences of lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer/questioning students, as well as their allies. He is also proud of VSU’s Diversity Peer Educators, a group of students dedicated to facilitating conversations among the student body about various issues of diversity.

“I have really enjoyed having the opportunity to interact with students, faculty, and staff and engage in some really challenging conversations about how to continue to make VSU a welcoming environment for all,” he shared.

Williams has nearly two decades of experience in higher education, primarily in the fields of student life, student success, and student retention. A three-time VSU graduate, he joined the Blazer Nation administrative team in June 2013 as director of the Office of Career Opportunities, a role he will resume once a permanent director is hired for the Department of Diversity and Inclusion this summer or fall.  

Contact Dr. Gerald Williams at gewilliams@valdosta.edu or (229) 333-5941 to learn more.

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