This March, the Otters welcomed a new member to our raft, Leslie Williams, the new Dean of Students. She comes to Monterey from the University of Northern Iowa (UNI), where she served as the dean of students for six years, with a passion for supporting and promoting student wellness.
Williams earned her bachelor’s degree in criminal justice from University of Central Missouri so that she could eventually work in the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), but in order to afford college, she became a Residential Advisor (RA) her freshman year of college. Williams sites being an RA as what guided her into wanting to work for students.
“I think becoming an RA- just being able to work with students, and seeing how that experience of college changed my life and the direction of where I thought I could go- has really helped me see the change and the impact college has on people,” Williams said. “It was just really exciting for me and made me think ‘I want to have that same impact on other students’.”
Williams is passionate about making sure that she is an advocate for the students and for what they want. She realizes that as time goes on, the desires and needs of the students today may differ from what she might have wanted when she was in college.
Williams also very much believes in keeping college affordable, accessible, and finding ways to keep students in college.
“Sometimes getting into college is the easy part,” she said. “It’s staying and persisting through college that’s the hard part.”
This is one of the many reasons she was attracted to California State University, Monterey Bay (CSUMB). Besides the warmer weather, Williams stated that she enjoys working at universities that focus on low income and underrepresented students because they are a part of her identity. Diversity and inclusion are areas of passion for her as well, and it helps her stay student-focused and motivated.
Within her first four weeks at CSUMB, Williams has been focused on meeting with as many student groups as possible, such as Student Housing, Student Leadership Development, Recreation, and Associated Students so that she can learn what students want and what they are looking forward to.
When talking about long term plans, Williams hopes to “help all [areas of student groups] work together as a team, figuring out the vision and mission of this group, and figure out how we can best serve students and help you all be successful.”
Team building is very important to Williams and is excited to “get all the staff to feel like they’re a team working together for the same mission.”
Williams earned her masters degree in college student personnel from the University of Tennessee, and her Doctoral of Education (Ed.D.) from John and Wales University in Providence, Rhode Island. Williams also previously worked in student affairs at the University of Rhode Island, Georgia State University, and the University of Tennessee.
Williams is joined at CSUMB with her partner, Dr. Bette Nee-Williams, and their three Maltese-Chihuahua mixed therapy dogs who do volunteer works at hospice patients, daycare, and nursing homes, and she hopes to bring them by campus during finals weeks to help destress students.