Woman of Influence: Dorothy Williams

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Dorothy Williams, Regis University

Just like many of the adult students who attend Regis University, its Colorado Springs director, Dr. Dorothy Williams, took a winding path to the institution. “You never know how your life will unfold,” she says. The vagaries of her own career are proof of that.

Williams was raised in the military, the daughter of a Navy man. She, her mother, two brothers and a sister saw their fair share of the world as he moved around. When her father was assigned to NORAD here, they at last settled down.

She completed her college education at UCCS and went to work for a local radio station. She met and married Rex Williams, the son of the people next door. They moved to California, where she was hired by a credit rating firm.

They wanted to get back to the Springs, to be near family. Rex decided to go for his masters degree at Regis University. “I dropped off his application to the college,” she recalls, “and the people there found I had a mass communications degree.” Regis had a need for someone with just that background. So, Regis accepted Rex as a student and hired Williams.

She has served Regis in many capacities, beginning as an assistant professor, then the lead faculty for the Communications Department, followed by associated professor/director of the undergraduate program at Regis/CS. For a time, the school eliminated the director position (“I was fine with it — it was their decision that we didn’t need a director then”) but then the position was reinstated last year, the title once again falling to Williams.

Hers is not the traditional academic experience. Regis, founded in 1877 by the Jesuits, converted to professional studies (adult learning) institution in 1978. It offers both online and on-site classes and courses; she now teaches only online students. Regis has deep ties to the community, something that keeps Williams enamored with her work. “It allows me to be totally involved in the community,” Williams says. She has facilitated a partnership with the Children’s Literacy Center so that Regis’ future teachers volunteer at the Center, and she serves on the steering committee for STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math), a nonprofit that encourages young women to consider a science/math career.