Crystal Williams

Vice President and Associate Provost for Community & Inclusion

As Boston University’s inaugural Vice President and Associate Provost for Community & Inclusion, Crystal Williams leads the strategic integration of two pillars of the BU 2030 Strategic Plan—“Community: Big Yet Small” and “Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion.”

Crystal provides leadership, vision, management, and strategic direction for initiatives that support the development of strong communities of faculty, staff, and students, and that promote diversity, equity, and inclusion within BU’s 17 schools and colleges. She works closely and collaboratively with academic and administrative leaders on efforts to build the excellence of BU’s faculty and academic appointees, to nurture a positive campus climate, and to enhance diversity within the academic program. She also provides oversight to the University’s Organizational Development & Learning effort, which provides training and professional development to BU’s 10,000 staff and faculty, as well as oversight over the University’s Arts Initiative, the new center for first-generation-to-college students, and BU’s Living and Learning Communities.

A professor in the Department of English, Crystal arrived at BU in October 2017 as the University’s inaugural Associate Provost for Diversity & Inclusion, BU’s first diversity officer role. In the time since her arrival, she has established a number of important initiatives such as the University Scholars Program, the Target of Opportunity Hiring Program, and the Inclusive Pedagogy Initiative, developed the University’s new Diversity & Inclusion website, and led the successful LGBTQIA+ Task Force and the BU Day of Collective Engagement. Further, her office has overseen the creation of BU’s four Faculty and Staff Community Networks, LGBTQIA+ and Antiracist Faculty Research Networks, and the formation of BU’s Recruitment Committee, among a host of other initiatives.

Prior to her work at BU, Crystal served as Associate Vice President for Strategic Initiatives, Professor of English and as a senior advisor to the President at Bates College, developing programs, strategies, and measurable outcomes that enhanced diversity, equity, and inclusiveness. She was previously a faculty member and the inaugural Dean for Institutional Diversity at Reed College (2000-2013), leading multiple faculty-driven initiatives to create an infrastructure to support greater diversity and inclusion.

In addition to her leadership roles, Crystal is an award-winning poet, the author of four books, and the recipient of several artistic fellowships, grants, and commissions. She is consistently recognized as a thought leader on diversity in the arts and has helped to lead and convene programs at the state and local levels involving arts, civic, and philanthropic leaders. She holds a B.A. from New York University and an MFA from Cornell University.