It’s only fitting that our first associate provost for diversity and inclusion is a poet—a vocation that requires compassion, clarity, and the courage to call things by their names.
Meet Crystal Williams, the higher ed administrator, advocate, and award-winning poet charged with promoting diversity among BU’s ranks.
Williams takes her place at a university that prides itself on a history of inclusion, admitting everyone regardless of race, religion, or gender since our founding in 1839. That history is embodied by BU’s most renowned graduate, Martin Luther King, Jr. (GRS’55, Hon.’59). Yet many faculty, staff, and students of color feel a disconnect between that legacy and their own experiences.
Building on the momentum that the University has brought to efforts to diversify the faculty and, in turn, the student body, Williams will work to bridge the gap. “All my work—creative and administrative—has been about shifting people’s ideas around issues to do with identity, trying to get them to change, to be more compassionate, more loving, more forgiving of others and themselves,” she says.
“All my work—creative and administrative—has been about shifting people’s ideas around issues to do with identity, trying to get them to change, to be more compassionate, more loving, more forgiving of others and themselves.”
Prior to her arrival at BU, Williams spent 13 years at Reed College, where she was inaugural dean for institutional diversity. Most recently, she served as associate vice president for strategic initiatives at Bates College and led inclusion and diversity efforts there.
The author of four nationally acclaimed poetry collections, Williams’ work wrestles with race, class, and gender. She says that it’s “the goal of shaping a world in which we can all thrive and fully participate that drives me in all arenas of my life.”