January 23, 2019
Kevin Williams recently joined Anderson University as Director of Residence Life, the continuation of a career in Christian higher education spanning over 10 years. A native of Ohio and a graduate of Malone University and the University of Akron, Kevin enjoys traveling, drawing and singing. He was a four-year track athlete in both high school and college. He owns and operates a travel agency, where he works part-time. Kevin lives in Anderson with his wife and children.
What is a fun fact people might be interested to know about you?
I’m just kind of goofy and weird. When you are in the sixth grade, you just kind of assume that everyone has their adult teeth. I was not that person. I lost my two front teeth in the fifth grade. I lost those and they didn't grow back until sixth grade because I had two sets of adult teeth and they were impacted in my gum. I had to have surgery so they would come down. It was the weirdest thing. My younger brother sang to me, for two Christmases, “All I Want For Christmas is My Two Front Teeth.” It was horrible.
What are some of your hobbies?
I love to travel, and having the opportunity to help others do that is a benefit for me because I get to explore other places through doing research for other people. Then sometimes I visit places and see them for myself so that I can talk to my clients about it. And that’s really cool as well.
I like to draw. For me, that’s something I do when I’m stressed. I might doodle in a meeting which might help me continue to focus, but for other people it might be distracting sometimes.
And then I also enjoy time with people. That’s something that fills me up personally. I like to work out as well by running or lifting weights.
Why did you choose a career in residence life?
When I was in undergrad, my hall director had an event where he had all the guys on the hall come together. It was my first year, and we met in the lobby space on our floor. He started to talk about how accountability really shaped his life, and at that time in my life, I had never heard about accountability other than to God and to my parents; I had never really experienced peer-to-peer accountability. He said it was really important to have a peer who can hold you accountable because you are going through a similar stage of life. That really opened my mind to what accountability could be and what it could be like to have that kind of support. Having that experience with my RD made me want to share it. I had been in admissions seven years and I felt myself desiring to have that relationship continue with my students, and that was able to happen through transitioning to being an RD. And then while I was being an RD, seeing how my directors poured into us really impacted the work I did and the quality of work I did so I wanted to be able to offer others the same.
What makes you excited to be a part of the AU family?
I’m excited to be at AU because it is a Christian institution that stands by those beliefs and continues to encourage students in that way, as well as having the opportunity to work directly with Residence Life. It’s a passion of mine to basically see not only students live in the best potential housing opportunities, but also become who God has called them to be through Residence Life and being able to shape who they are becoming. College is a crucial time for students in regards to their development, and deciding who they are going to be because now they have left home and now some of them are looking to find out who they are. That's exciting.
Where did you receive your education?
My undergraduate degree is a Bachelor in Youth Ministry from Malone University, and I earned my Master in Higher Education Administration from the University of Akron.
Where have you lived previously?
Pennsylvania and Ohio. Canton, Ohio, is where I did undergrad, that’s where Malone is located. For most people to understand where it is, I tell them it’s near the Football Hall of Fame. That’s what it’s known for.
I grew up in Bedford, Ohio, which is in the Cleveland suburbs. Then when I lived in Pennsylvania, I first lived in Mechanicsburg and later Harrisburg.
What was your experience with the south prior to moving here?
This is my first time living in the south. I did a civil rights tour in 2013 and came through the south, going to different museums and locations. And I have some friends and family that live in the south. So I’ve been here and know of it, but have never stayed long enough to say I’ve lived here.
How would you describe your leadership style?
I am a collaborative leader. When I can, I like to have many voices speak to the work we are doing in Residence Life and have the opportunity to get information from various people before we make a decision. That does not mean that I cannot make decisions on my own. When it’s necessary, I can do that.
I also try to be open-minded as a leader so that the things I have done and my experiences aren’t the only lens I use to see things. I am very open to seeing other ways of doing things, too.
I am a laid-back leader as well. I like to give people the autonomy they need to do their job, but if they’re not doing it to the level I’d like to see it done I can step in and say we need to work on this particular area.
I am a visible leader. I want to be a leader that people see. I want them to see me with my family. I think it’s important that people don’t just see one side of me.
What are some of your achievements, awards or honors?
In high school and in college, I was in Who’s Who. In high school, you are nominated by your high school. In college, you are nominated by your department, typically, so I was nominated by the youth ministry department to be the person who received that award. We had a Falcon Team Award at Messiah, which was basically for our Crisis Management Team. We received the award for our all the good work we did with students and handling crisis on campus.
I graduated from a master’s program with a 3.86 GPA.
Can you share with us some of your work with regards to diversity and social justice?
I have written a chapter in a book called “Diversity Matters…” The chapter is an auto-ethnography. It’s written about me, then my life becomes a subject matter then I become a subject-matter expert. It was hard at times to write but easy at times to write as well.
I was a part of a multiethnic leadership development institute at the Council of Christian Colleges and Universities (CCCU) that gave me the opportunity to shadow a college president. I shadowed the college president at Calvin. That is what led into being a part of this book. That was a year-long developmental process for me as a professional. If there are any other multicultural leaders on campus, a great thing for them to pursue is the multiethnic leadership development institute.
At the end of our chapters, we created it so that folks can have discussion. It becomes a resource for Christian colleges to use this as a book to discuss diversity issues on campus.
Last question: what is your favorite thing about AU so far?
So far, I have been here for a month. I would say the quality of leadership here in regards to faculty and staff.
My other favorite part is worship during chapel. I was excited to see during RA training how we are involved with the worship as opposed to just being there. You are actively involved in it, and I love that. With a youth ministry background in my hand, I am always asking how students are developing their faith. Because, yes, I am glad they are learning academically, but how is their faith being shaped here? So to see everyone actually want to be there was cool.