Yohuru Williams, dean of the College of Arts and Sciences, speaks at the Murphy Institute's MLK Racial Justice Discussion event in Schulze Atrium at the School of Law in Minneapolis on April 16, 2018.

College of Arts and Sciences Dean Yohuru Williams to Leave in June

Dr. Yohuru Williams, dean of the College of Arts and Sciences (CAS), was recently named dean of the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences and affiliated faculty in the Ronald H. Brown Center for Civil Rights at St. John’s University New York. Williams will leave St. Thomas at the end of the academic year and will begin his new post on July 1, 2020.

St. John’s is a Catholic university in the borough of Queens of New York City, enrolling 21,346 full- and part-time students across five undergraduate schools and six graduate schools.

“It has been my distinct pleasure to serve as dean of the College of Arts and Sciences and to be a part of the bold and exciting vision at the University of St. Thomas,” Williams said. “I am proud of the St. Thomas commitment to academic excellence and to diversity, equity and inclusion, and I am honored to have been a part of this community.”

Williams, a notable scholar of the civil rights movement, an education activist and frequent public commentator, was appointed dean of the College of Arts and Sciences at St. Thomas in July 2017. His scholarly work brought acclaim to the College of Arts and Sciences and he shaped its strategic direction in key areas.

“Yohuru has provided impactful leadership at St. Thomas, and I am grateful for his vision, helpful collaboration and friendship,” said President Julie Sullivan. “I am proud that he is extending his impact to St. John’s in New York.”

Under Williams’ leadership on campus and through his public engagement and external outreach, the profile of CAS was elevated.

He led many efforts on campus, such as “Teach-in Tuesdays,” to bring together faculty, staff and students to discuss topics such as racial inequality and women’s suffrage as a means of building a more diverse and inclusive community.

“Working with President Sullivan on these efforts, given her deeply held commitment to inclusive excellence, has been a highlight of my time at the university,” Williams said.

Williams also launched the SOLV initiative to create community engagement opportunities for students and faculty research to effect change.

SOLV projects have resulted in a number of collaborations, including with community artists and nonprofits to provide innovative educational experiences on important topics such as aging, cultural identity and ecological challenges.

Most recently, the college announced the development of Minnesota’s first arm of Ready to Run®, a nonpartisan campaign training program to encourage women to run for elective office or position themselves for appointive office.

SOLV Global was launched to make study abroad more accessible to all students, regardless of financial means or academic major. The Rome Empower Program at the Bernardi Campus established a sophomore study abroad program that exposes students to issues impacting humanity on a global level. The partnership with Sapienza University of Rome permitted science students to stay on track with their chemistry courses while studying in Rome.

Williams developed and nurtured an active College of Arts and Sciences advisory board of community members, corporate and nonprofit leaders and alumni.

“Under Yohuru’s leadership, CAS created new collaborations, both internally and externally, that set the stage for great work in the college going forward,” said CAS Board Chair Kelly Larmon ’97, ’03 MBA. “We are grateful for how Yohuru guided CAS to prioritize students and provide them experiences to grow in and outside the classroom.”

Williams will serve as dean until the end of the academic year. Information about an interim dean will be forthcoming.