Boren said he is recommending that the OU Board of Regents approve the appointment of Randall S. Hewes as interim dean. Hewes, who has been a member of the OU faculty for 15 years, currently serves as Senior Associate Dean of the Graduate College.
“Lee Williams has done an outstanding job as graduate Dean,” said OU President David L. Boren. “We are very pleased that he will continue to teach at OU. His outstanding leadership will be continued by Randall Hewes, who has been an effective faculty leader.”
As Dean of the Graduate College, Williams has worked to ensure that the Graduate College produces the highest caliber graduates and ground-breaking research by developing expanded funding for research professorships, decreasing time to graduation and tracking student progress through degree programs.
With his leadership, the staff of the Graduate College restructured procedures to ensure that the departments have the resources and support to attract, educate and, ultimately, graduate students. Williams also worked to increase the public visibility of the Graduate College. While universities often focus on the undergraduate experience, more than one-third of the degrees granted at OU come from the Graduate College. OU now enrolls 6,000 graduate students pursuing over 170 degree and graduate certificate programs.
Williams developed printed materials to highlight the role of the Graduate College at the University. These materials also serve as a resource for the departments in recruiting both within the state and around the country.
One of the most successful initiatives undertaken by Williams has been the development of fellowship programs. Over the last decade, the number of Alumni Fellows at the University has nearly doubled. The achievements of these top flight students have, in turn, increased the ability of the departments to raise additional educational and research funding. Williams' program to obtain funds from the OU Foundation to match private donations for fellowships has effectively doubled the number of new fellows funded in recent years.
Earlier in his career at OU, he was Director of the Geoscience Remote Sensing Group at OU, served as Director of the Oklahoma EPSCoR program and as Director of Science and Technology Research for the State Regents for Higher Education, a role in which he helped build research infrastructure and collaborative programs between the state's research universities.
He has been heavily involved in K-12 education programs in the geosciences and geography that involved teachers and students across the state, and served as the Coordinator for the Oklahoma Alliance for Geographic Education, supported by the National Geographic Society.
Born in Wales, Williams received his Bachelor of Science degree in 1972 and his Ph.D. in geography in 1977, both from the University of Bristol. After graduation, he taught in the geography and electrical engineering departments at the University of Kansas. During this time he also conducted research at the Radar Systems and Remote Sensing Lab and as a consultant for UNESCO at the Haryana Agricultural University in India.