Van Williams selected to lead PBSC Boca Raton campus
Van Williams, an Army veteran with 24 years of higher education experience, including 12 at Palm Beach State College, has been selected to lead the Boca Raton campus as provost and dean of student services.
Williams, current dean of student services on the Lake Worth campus, will begin his new role June 1 and become the newest member of President Ava L. Parker’s executive leadership team. He was selected after a nationwide search that was narrowed to two finalists. Williams will be responsible for providing leadership, planning, development and administration of the campus while also delivering executive-level direction in fulfilling the mission and vision of Palm Beach State as it relates to the Boca Raton community and PBSC’s strategic priorities.
“Van’s leadership accomplishments are countless, and we are excited for what his experience will bring to the Boca Raton campus,” Parker said. “His abilities to enhance cross-functional communication among departments was most evident in his inclusion in the College’s Lead to Influence leadership program designed to provide growth to individuals in certain roles to expand their impact and prepare them for higher-level administrative positions.”
A Savannah, Ga. native, Williams joined PBSC in 2009 as director of TRIO programs before becoming assistant dean of student services on the Lake Worth campus in 2013 and dean in 2017. He also serves as an adjunct instructor of Introduction to the College Experience.
Among his accomplishments, Williams developed new student code of conduct training and a video and implemented a “Caught Doing Good” student engagement program to recognize students for daily random acts of kindness. He serves on several College committees, including co-champion of a Panther Strong 2023 Strategic Plan strategy team.
Williams said he looks forward to leading the 9,000-student Boca Raton campus.
“My diverse background in terms of work and ability to bring together different constituent groups to try to reach some level of consensus is going to be mutually beneficial for me as the leader and certainly the community that surrounds the Boca Raton campus and more specifically the faculty, staff and students,’’ Williams said. “It is an opportunity to either reestablish former relationships with the community, perhaps maybe engage new constituents with the community and also work really hard to position not just the campus but the College, post pandemic, in a way that the community still sees us as a viable option.”
Some of Williams’ higher education experience has been leading federally funded TRIO programs at colleges and universities. After six years in the Army, he went to work for a year as a program specialist for the Talent Search Program at his alma mater, Savannah State University in Georgia. He said it was a great opportunity to help youth in the same manner that Upward Bound, another TRIO program, helped steer him toward higher education. He served as director of Upward Bound at Florida State University from 1997 to 1999 and assistant professor and director of Upward Bound at Florida A&M University from 1999 to 2004 before going to work in 2004 for the Florida Commission on Human Rights, the state’s anti-discrimination agency. He worked in three capacities over five years, including as investigations manager and community relations manager, before returning to higher education full time. While at the commission, he continued to work for TRIO programs in the summer.
Williams is a past board member of the Max Fisher Boys and Girls Club of Riviera Beach and a member of Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity, Inc. He was named one of South Florida’s Top Black Educators by Legacy Magazine in 2013 and 2018. He holds a bachelor’s degree in criminal justice from Savannah State, a master’s degree in human relations – organizational development from the University of Oklahoma and is completing his doctorate in higher education administration and innovation from St. Thomas University.