Assistant Dean of Students Mary Beth Bankson Williams received the Robert D. Bradshaw Small Colleges Student Advocate Award, which recognizes her championing of individual students and campus groups. Colleagues and students at the university nominated Williams for the award, which is given by the National Association of Student Personnel Administrators.
Williams, who has been an assistant dean at Sewanee since 2007, has worked with proctors and residential life, been a mentor for Posse Foundation scholars and served as an adviser to the Women’s Center Board.
Members of Posse 3, a group of scholars from urban areas and of multicultural background, said that Williams had offered them a home upon their arrival in Sewanee, becoming more like a mother than a mentor.
“Her care stems beyond her respective titles of ‘Dean’ or ‘mentor’ as evidenced by her willingness to simply be present within our lives, working to know our fears, concerns, dreams and aspirations,” the Posse 3 students said in their nomination letter for Williams.
Head Proctor John William Richards III, C’12, said he thought it would be difficult to find a student on the Sewanee campus whom Williams had not positively affected.
“I have no doubt that I would not be the capable leader and planner I am today if it were not for her pushing and encouraging me to grow in my responsibilities and functions as head proctor,” he wrote to the selection committee.
Williams said the recognition for her work with students was humbling.
“I never expected to receive an award,” she said. “Of course I don’t do it for the awards; I do it because I love it.”
The award was named for Robert D. Bradshaw, former vice president of student affairs at Austin College, who believed in the value of a small college education and voiced the need for the development of staff members. Recipients of the Robert D. Bradshaw award must demonstrate commitment to the goals and mission of small colleges and exercise multiple roles within the campus community.
An awards luncheon was held for the winners last week during the NASPA Region III Summer Symposium in Virginia Beach, Va. Student affairs practitioners from throughout the southeast region gathered at the symposium to discuss changes, topics and trends in the field of serving college-level students.
- Avery Shackelford