FORT WORTH, Texas (SWBTS) – Lee Williams was appointed acting dean of the College at Southwestern (CSW) by Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary president Paige Patterson, Aug. 15. Williams, associate professor of history in the college, takes over for Emir Caner, the college’s first dean who recently accepted the presidency of Truett-McConnell College in Cleveland, Ga.

“Dr. Williams is an excellent professor and an experienced administrator,” said Craig Blaising, executive vice president and provost at Southwestern. “He displays the passion for learning and the love for students that has characterized the College at Southwestern since its inception. I am very grateful for his willingness to help lead the college in this interim as we seek the Lord’s will for the dean’s position.”

Blaising expressed confidence in the college’s new direction, saying, “During this transition as Dr. Caner assumes the presidency at Truett-McConnell, the College at Southwestern will not miss one step as we launch the fourth year of its B.A. program.  The faculty are enthusiastic, the college spirit is high, and with the administrative team of Dr. Williams, Dr. Kim and Dr. Bertch, we are ready to begin what I think will be a very exciting year.”

“I really appreciate the confidence that the administration has shown in me by letting me have an opportunity like this,” says Williams. His appointment provides continuity to the budding college, which has grown from 77 students two years ago to more than 400 enrolled for fall classes.

Williams, who has more than 20 years of experience with higher education, helped develop the History of Ideas concentration within the Bachelor of Humanities degree at CSW. His background also includes building a program for English majors at Henan University of Science and Technology in Luyong, China, creating a distance education program from scratch at New Hampshire College (now the University of Southern New Hampshire), and co-founding the Northeastern Biblical Studies Center, an online program for pastors.

After spending most of his teaching career in secular institutions, Williams enjoys the opportunity to pray with his students and focus on more than academics. “It’s just not intellectual growth that we’re seeking, but it’s spiritual maturity that we’re seeking,” he says.

“To see these young men and women come in here as freshman and then in two or three years to see the difference in them … the difference in the calling on their life and the maturity that they’ve garnered in two years is just an amazing thing. That’s what’s fun for an educator.”

Taking his priorities from passages such as Phil. 2:3-4 and John 12:32, Williams wants to promote spiritual maturity through servant leadership and lifting up the name of Jesus. “One of the things that I’m going to focus on from the very beginning is the development of that spiritual aspect. I really think God has put me in this position for that particular reason.”

Williams tells parents, “If you send your kids here and entrust them to us, we see them as the future leadership of our churches and our institutions. We want to empower them and guide them into spiritual maturity so they can lead others.”

In the classroom, Williams uses a Socratic teaching style, engaging students in discussion through asking questions. He also takes time to invest in his students individually.

“I’m accessible to them like a pastor. I make sure every time, even when they come in for academic things, that we pray together,” Williams says. He is often up late dialoguing with students on Facebook, an online social networking site, about reading assignments or questions they have.

Williams received his bachelor’s in psychology from Oklahoma Baptist University, as well as a Master of Arts in U.S. and European History and a Ph.D. in U.S. History from the University of Arizona. He is married to Deanna, and they have four children, all married: Mark, Rebekah, Ruth and Rachel.