Behind the Scenes

HECUA announces new Executive Director: Andrew Williams

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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: The Higher Education Consortium for Urban Affairs (HECUA) Announces Andrew Williams as new Executive Director.

Saint Paul, MN –– August 1, 2016 –– The Higher Education Consortium for Urban Affairs (HECUA) names Andrew L. Williams, current Director of Diversity Student Support Programs at the University of Minnesota – Twin Cities, as incoming Executive Director, effective August 1st. HECUA, a Minnesota-based consortium of 24 colleges and universities, with 70+ community partners, has a long history of developing programs that marry rigorous academic study and hands-on community work.

Williams has worked since 2006 at HECUA consortium member the University of Minnesota, providing leadership for the academic advising offices that serve over 1,800 undergraduate students from historically underrepresented and underserved communities. Prior to Williams’ employment at the University of Minnesota, he served as Director of Multicultural Affairs at Carleton College, Director of the Posse Foundation’s Chicago Office, and Instructor of Cultural Anthropology at DePauw University.

Board President Colleen Bell has high hopes for Andrew in his new leadership position at HECUA. “I look forward to Andrew’s work with HECUA at this particular moment in our history, as students demonstrate the power of young people’s activism. Andrew’s experience supporting undergraduates and nurturing their growth and development will be a huge asset to our organization.”

Williams’ commitment to empowering student advocacy dates back to his own experience as a student-activist at Earlham College, where he was a leader of the movement on campus to divest from South Africa.

“My Earlham experience and exposure to Quaker values not only sparked my sociological imagination, but also my passion for social justice,” Williams explains. “The anti-apartheid movement in South Africa motivated me to lead the divestment movement on our campus. This was the beginning of a deep and sustained exploration of Africa and African diaspora cultures and politics, engaged scholarship, and political activism.”

Williams graduated Phi Beta Kappa from Earlham in 1985, with honors in Sociology-Anthropology. He went on to complete his Masters Degree at the University of Michigan in Cultural Anthropology.  Williams’ teaching, research, and administrative work has led him to the Dominican Republic, Haiti, Barbados, Botswana, Zimbabwe, Nicaragua, Ecuador, and Cambodia.

Williams’ life experience, travel, pedagogical approach, and leadership philosophy position him perfectly to carry forward HECUA’s mission to build academic-community partnerships for social change. “I believe that HECUA is about achieving beautiful outcomes,” Williams says, “expanding access to higher education, fostering transformative student learning, supporting critical citizenship, and fostering community development. “In this context it is important that the next Executive Director of HECUA work diligently to ensure that the organization taps the wisdom that comes from many stakeholders, cultures, movements, and traditions.”

Williams will oversee HECUA’s transformative off-campus programs focused on social justice and community in Ecuador, Italy, New Zealand, Northern Ireland, Norway, and in Minneapolis/Saint Paul, Minnesota, and Jackson, Mississippi.

A welcome reception for Williams will be held Wednesday, September 7th, at HECUA community partner SPNN’s offices. All are welcome to join in the celebration from 5:30-7:30pm. Light refreshments will be served, and a short program will begin at 6:00pm. As the date approaches, more information will be shared on Facebook, on the HECUA twitter account: @hecua_offcampus, and via email.

Questions? Please contact HECUA’s Marketing and Communications Director Laney Ohmans

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