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New VP for Academic Affairs Named at Bethune-Cookman University

New VP for Academic Affairs Named at Bethune-Cookman University

Dr. Trudie Kibbe Reed, Dr. Sarah Williams & Chairman Larry Handfield

Bethune-Cookman University announced the selection of Dr. Sarah Williams as vice president for academic affairs. 

Dr. Williams was selected after a national search from a pool of 65 academicians who were rigorously screened by a diverse university search committee with the assistance of an academic search firm.  She was one of three candidates advanced to final interviews.  She will begin in her new position at B-CU on August 13. “I wanted to come to Bethune-Cookman University because of its excellent reputation.  It is one of the premier HBCUs founded by Mary McLeod Bethune – a woman I have held in awe since I was 8 or 10 years old,” commented Williams. “I look forward to working with and on behalf of faculty, students, alumni, the state of Florida and society globally.”

Dr. Williams is coming to B-CU from Prairie View A&M University, an HBCU in her native Texas. Over her more than 30 years at Prairie View, Williams was a tenured professor of sociology and head of the Department of Social Work and Sociology.  While there, she guided students on their educational journey, mentored fellow faculty members, and played a critical role in administrative efforts including development of a baccalaureate program in social work, achieving accreditation of that program, and    launching a Master of Arts program in sociology that became the second largest major in Prairie View’s graduate school.   In addition to serving on accreditation committees at Prairie View, she has also served as a program evaluator for other institutions undergoing accreditation review.

“Dr. Williams is exactly the right person to help lead Bethune-Cookman into the 21st century while maintaining our founder’s legacy of faith, scholarship and service,” comments President Trudie Kibbe Reed.  “As a scholar and educator, she has devoted her life to the same values and principles our founder stood for.  As a trained social worker, she knows how to put those values into action on behalf of student, faculty and the community.”

B-CU alumnus and board chair Dr. Larry Handfield agrees, noting:  “I am very impressed with what Dr. Williams brings to B-CU.  She is a gifted leader who has a knack for bringing people together around a common set of goals. These skills combined with her experience and understanding of HBCUs will help us ensure that B-CU fulfills its potential educating a new generation of students.”

When asked what her first order of business will be when she takes over the academic affairs office on Aug. 13, Williams identifies a two-prong approach:  making sure B-CU secures its accreditations – what she calls the “global need” – while paying attention to “day-to-day needs,” such as ensuring registration goes smoothly, classes are staffed appropriately and both faculty and students are able to thrive.

She brings with her a student- and faculty-oriented mindset, based on her own experiences in the classroom, noting that “when you love your students, they can tell the difference versus someone who is technically proficient but doesn’t care.” 

On the importance of faculty, she says, “I have great empathy for the day-to-day concerns of the faculty.   Faculty must be appreciated; they are the workmen of a university.  We must honor them for their dedication and loyalty.  We also must make sure faculty understand our vision and mission.  What will B-CU look like 10, 20, 30 years from now? I believe that the faculty wants what is best for the University. . . We need to use their knowledge, skill, and leadership for the advancement of the university. ”

Williams earned her bachelor’s and doctoral degrees in sociology from The University of Texas at Austin.  She also holds a Master of Social Work degree from The University of Houston.

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About Bethune Cookman University:

Founded in 1904 by Dr. Mary McLeod Bethune, Bethune-Cookman University (B-CU) today sustains her legacy of faith, scholarship and service through its relationship with the United Methodist Church and its commitment to academic excellence and civic engagement.  B-CU offers 38 degrees on its main campus and online college. Located in Daytona Beach, B-CU is one of three private, historically black colleges in the state of Florida. The institution boasts a diverse and international faculty and student body of nearly 4,000.  For more information, visit

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