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01 July, 2010

JAMES L. WILLIAMS, Ed.D.: THE ARCHITECT OF INNOVATIVE ACADEMIC RECRUITMENT PROGRAMS DISCUSSES HIS CAREER IN STUDENT AFFAIRS AND HIS NEW ROLE AT UPI EDUCATION

JAMES L. WILLIAMS, Ed.D. is one of the academic world’s stellar administrators. Dr. Williams is an educator, motivator, developer, and leader of results-oriented recruitment programs for academic institutions. His experience in student affairs spans 36 years. During Dr. Williams’ tenure at Southern Connecticut State University in New Haven, Connecticut which began in the 1980s, the academic institution experienced a historically dramatic increase in student enrollment. The recruitment programs developed by Dr. Williams which resulted in the dramatic increase in student enrollment, in general, and specifically an increase in African-American and Hispanic enrollment, have become one of the academic world’s blueprints for increasing student enrollment and creating and retaining a diverse student population.

From 2007 through 2009, Dr. Williams served as the Interim Director of Southern Connecticut State University. As Southern Connecticut State University’s Associate Director of Admissions from 1988 through 2006, Dr. Williams assumed responsibility for developing and implementing policies and programs, supervising professional and support staff, implementing newly established minority and transfer scholarship programs, reviewing the academic institutions’ transfer policies, implementing market research, and preparing budget reports and assisting in budget development. In 1988, as the Acting Assistant Dean for Southern Connecticut State University School of Graduate and Continuing Education, Dr. Williams coordinated the scheduling of graduate classes, including room assignments and course changes for summer sessions; maintained the Graduate School’s summer school budget; directed the publication of the Evening and Saturday Bulletin; advised and counseled undergraduate and graduate students; supervised both professional and support staff; assisted in the interpretation of policy; and served as a liaison with faculty. Dr. Williams served as the Academic Coordinator for Student Athletes at the academic institution from 1985 to 2005 and was also a member of the University Athletic Board, a policy making arm of Southern Connecticut State University. As Acting Director of Community and Minority Affairs from 1980 through 1988, Dr. Williams served as a liaison between Southern Connecticut State University and the Greater New Haven community where he played a pivotal role in assessing the needs, concerns, and aspirations of the minority community and in developing a continuing rapport between neighborhoods; civic, social, and educational organizations; and the University. He initiated the integration of the University’s and community’s resources which continues to serve as a foundation for the networking system that is currently in place. During the Summer of 1981, Dr. Williams designed, established, and coordinated a residential summer program for disadvantaged students in his capacity as the Director of the College Achievement Summer School Program for Disadvantaged Students. He recruited faculty, counselors, and support staff for the program, evaluated the program, prepared the program’s budget and assumed responsibility for the program’s maintenance. From 1977 through 1979, as a Counselor II at Greater New Haven Technical College, Dr. Williams performed academic assessment duties and was responsible for Veteran Affairs. His responsibilities as Counselor II also encompassed objective psychological testing and measurement; personal and academic career counseling; and monitoring the students’ adjustment to the school and educational program selections. Dr. Williams also spent time in the classroom as an Adjunct Professor at South Central Community College where he taught an Introduction to Sociology course from 1990 through 1993.


Dr. Williams holds a Doctor of Education degree from the University of Massachusetts at Amherst. He received a Sixth Year Professional Diploma in Career Counseling in 1980 and a Master of Science degree in Counseling with a concentration in Human Development and Interpersonal Skills from Southern Connecticut State University in 1977. In 1974, Dr. Williams received a Master of Science degree in Urban Studies with a concentration in Urban Planning and Community Programs from Southern Connecticut State University and he earned a Bachelor of Science degree in Social Science from the University of New Haven in 1972. He is the Chairperson for the Ethnic Affairs Committee of the New England Association of Collegiate Registrars and Admissions Officers; Committee for Minority Concerns of the National Association of Academic Advisors for Athletics; Personnel Committee of Christian Community Action Agency; and the President of Connecticut Talent Association. Dr. Williams is an Advisor for the Southern Connecticut State University Black Student Union; and a member of the President’s Advisory Committee on Multicultural Affairs; Southern Connecticut State University Student Life Committee; New England Association of Educational Opportunity Program Personnel; Greater New Haven Urban League, Inc.; National Association for the Advancement of Colored People, Inc.; and Omega Psi Phi Fraternity, Inc.


Where did Dr. Williams grow up? Who were his role models?


“I grew up in New Haven, Connecticut. I migrated from Mullins, South Carolina. I attended the New Haven public schools. My mother, being our only role model, inspired my brother, sisters, and me to work hard and achieve as much educational knowledge as possible. She always demonstrated to us the importance and the value of education,” Dr. Williams responded.


When asked who or what inspires him, without hesitation, Dr. Williams pointed to young people:

“Our young people inspire me because I once was that young man coming out of the army and encountered obstacles. I knew first hand the needs that existed for people of color. One of the main people who inspired me was a quadriplegic Assistant Professor at Central Community College named Alice White. Professor White was also a writer for major magazines. She worked with me, advised me, and saw to it that I made the right contacts and that I remained focused during my early college years. Seeing that she was successful despite the obstacles that she faced was, in itself, an inspiration that drove me to succeed, and to assist other young people.”


Dr. Williams has amassed thirty-six years of experience in student affairs at a state university. What motivated him to embark upon a career in student affairs? What were the most challenging and rewarding aspects of his role in shaping the recruitment policy at Southern Connecticut State University?


“I have always wanted to assist young people with life skills. The role of an academic support system is to increase the retention and graduation rates of participants at the University. The challenging aspects of my role in shaping the recruitment policy at Southern Connecticut State University have been threefold. One, the improvement of students’ self-image and social and academic skills in order to enhance their chances for graduation. Two, the strengthening of students’ academic performance in specific subject areas. And, three, the development of realistic career decisions on the basis of an appraisal of career options, individual strengths, weaknesses, and interests. My greatest joy is to see young people graduate from Southern and go on with their lives as teachers, social workers, lawyers, and doctors. The rewarding aspects of my shaping the recruitment policy at Southern Connecticut State University is that in my travels all over the United States, I have met minorities and other individuals who have graduated from this University. What a great feeling to know that I might have been instrumental in that!”


An examination of demographic data for the Fall 2009 undergraduate full-time student population at Southern Connecticut State University reflects the fact that African Americans make up 12.3% of the undergraduate student population and Hispanics comprise 5.6% of the undergraduate student population.  At the graduate level, African Americans make up 8.8% of the student population for Fall 2009.  Hispanics comprise 4.4% of the Graduate School student body for Fall 2009 at Southern Connecticut State University.

Why was there a need for Dr. Williams to develop recruitment programs at the University? What were some of the recruitment programs that he developed and the significant factors that enabled the increase in the number of enrollment of African American and Hispanic students in the undergraduate and graduate student body? How did he implement the recruitment programs? What role did market research data and community outreach play in the implementation of the recruitment programs that he developed?


“The undergraduate African-American and Hispanic students attending the University were only one percent of the student body. But there were many African–American and Hispanics attending the local three high schools. The gap between the percentages of African-American and Hispanic and white students had been increasing. There was a need for a greater commitment by the college and social agencies to increase African-American and Hispanic enrollment to close that gap. The recruitment programs consisted of going into the community, working with church organizations and clubs, the Upward Bound ConnCAP, and so forth. To increase the size of our African-American and Hispanic population we had to accelerate the recruitment program, African-Americans and Hispanics with African–American Admissions Counselors as recruiter’s staff, went out into the communities. The administration supported the recruitment effort with more funding and we had faculty members travel throughout the state to high schools and middle schools to discuss different programs and activities that Southern had to offer. Community outreach was key to the success of attracting more students of color. Market research data’s role in this process was instrumental in identifying that the gap existed, thereby the need existed to accelerate and add to our recruitment process.”


Dr. Williams was asked to discuss, in general terms, students’ preparedness for the rigors of a learning environment in a college setting. Is the transition for students from a high school setting to a college setting somewhat of a culture shock? Is it the sole responsibility of parents to ensure that students are prepared for the rigors of a collegiate learning environment? Or is a holistic approach which involves parents, educators, academic administrators, mentors, and business leaders, the most effective method for preparing students for the rigors of a collegiate learning environment?


“Many African-American and Hispanics are prepared for the rigors of a learning environment in a college setting. But there exists another group of students who need a support service program. Southern offers a wide range of services for those students who have academic background deficiencies or are experiencing difficulty in attaining classroom success. I believe in the holistic approach, involving parents, educators, academic administrators, and business leaders, as the most effective method for preparing students for the rigors of collegiate learning environments.”


When asked to talk about his role at Unified Progress International Education (“UPI Education”) and his decision to become affiliated with this worthwhile organization, Dr. Williams remarked:


“I decided to become affiliated with Unified Progress International Education because I believe in its program which endeavors to assist young people with life skills, student attitude, self-esteem, positive behavior, understanding of relationships, behavior and outcomes, and the good choices about right and wrong. I feel that my background in assisting young high school students and collegians is well suited for this program.”


UPI Education has designed and implements an innovative and results-oriented educational vehicle – a Life Skills Solutions Curriculum™. What role can UPI Education play in assisting educators and administrators in attracting students who can function and compete at the college level? Can UPI Education address college student retention issues in both the general student population and the African American and Hispanic student populations?


“The UPI Education Life Skills Solutions™ Program is designed to prepare students in the age range of 10 through 22 for the challenges of life, to teach students what society expects and demands, and to make students realize what it will take for them to succeed. UPI can address college student retention issues in both the general student population and the African American and Hispanic student populations being that, as stated, the program is a results-oriented educational vehicle,” Dr. Williams explained.


In October 2009, Morehouse College, an all-male college in Atlanta, Georgia developed and launched a dress code, which it called an “Appropriate Attire Policy”. The “Appropriate Attire Policy” prohibits students matriculating at the college from, among other things, wearing hats and sunglasses in buildings, pajamas in public, sagging pants, and walking barefoot on campus. In 2006, Hampton University’s School of Business Administration issued a “hair code” that banned students from sporting cornrows and “flowing dreadlocks”. Hampton University prohibited all of its students from wearing “do-rags”, sagging pants, stocking caps, skullcaps, and bandanas on campus -- in classrooms, the cafeteria, the Student Center, and in University offices. Students matriculating at Hampton University’s School of Business are required to adhere to a strict conservative dress code, complete two internships, maintain a “B” average after their sophomore year, and meet regularly with business leaders. Hampton University’s Business School, which offers students the opportunity to obtain both a Bachelor’s degree and a Master’s degree in Business Administration in five years, developed and implemented the “Hair” and “Dress” Codes and rules of behavior as a means of preparing students for life in the corporate world.

Would the implementation of a program such as the Life Skills Solutions Curriculum™ offered by UPI Education relieve America’s academic institutions and administrators of the added responsibility of teaching etiquette and basic ethics to students while assuming the role of “Fashion Police”?


“Hair and dress codes are topics that should be addressed by UPI Education’s Life Skill Solutions™ Curriculum. I truly believe that appearance and manners are key factors that should be addressed. For students who are preparing for the corporate world, the need exists to instill and demonstrate to those students the importance of appearance and manner in interviews, and in preparing themselves for a future in Corporate America,” Dr. Williams commented.


On 20 January 2010, the Association of American Colleges and Universities which boasts a membership of approximately 1,200 colleges, issued a statement that academic curricula in the United States should give students both a “broad grounding in the arts and sciences and a set of intellectual and practical skills, such as information literacy and proficiency in oral and written communication”. The President of the Association of American Colleges and Universities, Carol Geary Schneider, expressed her opinion that “students are not hearing what they should learn in college”. The organization also recently released the results of a poll of employers which shows that only 26% percent of employers who responded to the survey taken by the Association of American Colleges and Universities felt that two-year colleges were doing a good job of adequately “preparing students for the challenges of today’s global economy”. Twenty percent of employers participating in the survey stated that “significant improvement” was needed while 28% of employers responding to the survey felt that four-year colleges were “doing a good job” of preparing students to compete in a global economy.

What information should be conveyed to American students about what they need to learn in our colleges and universities if they wish to be competitive in the world market? Who should be responsible for conveying this information to the students and when?


“The information that should be conveyed to American students about what they need to learn in our colleges and universities should include the importance of having excellent communication skills, both verbal and written. And I totally agree with the statement issued by the Association of American Colleges and Universities issued in January 2010 in reference to giving students a broad grounding in the arts and sciences, etc. to level the playing field.”


What role can and should educational pioneering curricula, such as UPI Education’s Life Skills Solutions Curriculum™ play, to insure that America’s youth are aware of what they need to learn as students in our colleges and universities?


“The UPI staff should be working in concert with our middle school and high school staff and counselors to develop awareness about what is needed by students before they enter college and universities. Prior awareness is the key.”


There are many organizations and corporations that conduct studies to determine projected future employer/employee needs. However, many of these studies are fragmented and/or isolated. Is there a need for the establishment of a specific national coalition that reviews the best “projections” and supports viable alternative educational vehicles? Could such a coalition be effective, given proper financial resources, in supporting relevant programs and tools that will complement our traditional forms of education and make our students well-rounded as individuals and team players with greater ethics, goal orientations, competitive attitudes, and national pride as they seek to embrace the future for the better of humanity?


Yes, a coalition could be effective given proper financial resources, in supporting relevant programs and tools that will complement our traditional forms of education. The coalition would need support from colleges and universities to start applying new studies and courses to implement the goals and objectives.”

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IS PENNSYLVANIA ON VERGE OF MAKING HISTORY? SHARED PARENTING LEGISLATION -- HB 1639 -- MOVES TO SENATE JUDICIARY COMMITTEE

Is Pennsylvania on the verge of making history?

Shared Parenting legislation passed one hurdle in the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania when House Bill No. 1693 was referred to the Pennsylvania Senate’s Judiciary Committee on 15 June 2010. The Honorable Kathy B. Manderino (D-Montgomery County and Philadelphia County) is the prime sponsor for House Bill No. 1693 which calls for, among other things, “providing for contempt for noncompliance with visitation or partial custody orders and for chid custody”. And the legislation’s “Declaration Of Policy” makes it clear that “it is in the best interest of the child” to have continuing contact with both parents.

The language of "Section 5301. Declaration Of Policy” of Pennsylvania House Bill No. 1693 appears below:

§ 5301. Declaration of Policy.


The General Assembly declares that it is the public policy of this Commonwealth, when in the best interest of the child, to assure a reasonable and continuing contact of the child with both parents after a separation or dissolution of the marriage and the sharing of the rights and responsibilities of child rearing by both parents and continuing contact of the child or children with grandparents when a parent is deceased, divorced or separated.

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