College hires 'faculty activist' as its new president

Crystal Williams has a history of being an activist at Reed College and Boston University.

Williams will become president of RISD and has a track record of implementing DEI programs and initiatives.

Rhode Island’s School of Design (RISD) has hired a self-described “faculty activist” as the school’s incoming President.

Crystal Williams, who will be the Providence school’s first Black president, recently signed a five-year contract with the school that begins April 2022. 

In a Dec. 28 interview with The Boston Globe, Williams spoke about herself as an “activist” at Reed College, where she served as the school’s first Dean for Institutional Diversity. 

Williams first earned her reputation as a “faculty activist” during her 13-year stint at Reed College, according to the scholar’s biography, where she pushed initiatives promoting diversity, equity, and inclusivity. 

Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion has become a high-spending expense universities have been caving to carve into their yearly budgets. As Campus Reform reported last yearthe DEI consulting industry amassed $230,000 in trainings at 12 public universities over the last 20 years.

[RELATED: Report reveals UC-Berkeley’s ‘Equity and Inclusion’ budget is $25 MILLION]

In 2017, Williams became the associate provost for diversity and inclusion at Boston University. In this capacity, as Williams notes in her Globe interview, she spearheaded initiatives such as the Inclusive Pedagogy Initiative, the LGBTQIA+ Task Force, and the BU Collective Day of Engagement, an anti-racist program. 

Williams also had a hand in establishing a variety of community networks on campus aimed at fostering a “culture for individuals engaged with issues related to diversity, equity, inclusion, justice, and full participation within the BU community.”

She later transitioned to Bates College as an Associate Vice President for Strategic Initiatives, professor, and Senior Advisor to the President.

[RELATED: PA allocates $2.5 million of COVID relief money on diversity, equity programs]

Until the transition, she will continue to serve as Boston University’s vice president for community and inclusion. In that capacity, Williams was charged with leading the “strategic integration” of two BU 2030 Strategic Plan pillars where she was influential in advancing diversity and community-building policies. 

Williams told The Boston Globe that she plans to expand diversity and inclusion efforts to RISD, where problem areas were identified in wake of the on-going pandemic. Prioritization will be focused on the “social and cultural challenges” students face, as well as open a discussion on campus surrounding “justice” and uphold accountability. 

A theme surrounding the incoming administration is to foster an inclusive environment that provides a foundation for students to thrive, but to accomplish that Williams notes there is “a lot of work to do.”

Campus Reform has reached out to Williams and RHSD for comment. This article will be updated accordingly.