Philip J. Williams, an experienced political scientist in Latin American studies, will succeed Larry Rodgers as dean of OSU’s College of Liberal Arts

Philip J. Williams

Philip J. Williams

July 2, 2024

Oregon State University’s College of Liberal Arts (CLA) is pleased to announce that Philip J. Williams will become the college’s new dean beginning fall term 2024. He will also hold an appointment as professor of political science in CLA’s School of Public Policy. Dr. Williams arrives from California Polytechnic State University, San Luis Obispo, where he served as dean of the College of Liberal Arts for the past five years.

Prior to his time at Cal Poly, Dr. Williams was the director of the federally funded Center for Latin American Studies and chair of the department of political science at the University of Florida. He received his M.Phil. in Latin American studies and D.Phil. in Politics from the University of Oxford. He is an experienced and accomplished academic leader, a distinguished scholar of political science and Latin American studies, and a committed teacher and mentor of students. His scholarly expertise centers on issues of democratization, transitional justice, religion and politics, social movements, and transnational migration. Among many other publications, he is author of Living 'Illegal': The Human Face of Unauthorized Immigration and A Place to Be: Brazilian, Guatemalan, and Mexican Immigrants in Florida's New Destinations.

“I’m honored by the opportunity to serve as CLA’s next dean and to build on the legacy of outgoing Dean Larry Rodgers,” said Williams. “I look forward to working with the talented faculty and professional staff in CLA to support and amplify the innovative research and creative work already taking place in the college, as well as supporting new interdisciplinary initiatives that advance CLA and OSU’s new strategic plans. Also, as someone with a deep commitment to equitable student success, I’m eager to develop additional pathways and opportunities for first generation and underrepresented students in the college.”

As dean at Cal Poly, Dr. Williams led initiatives to invest in faculty research and creative work as well as support student success, including developing the college’s first ever summer undergraduate research/creative activity program, increasing equitable access to high impact learning experiences, and launching a global engagement grants program to provide more international educational opportunities for first generation and underrepresented students. He has a long record of commitment to advancing diversity, equity, and inclusion, including his advocacy in support of undocumented students, and working with community-based organizations to bring more diverse arts programming to the campus and community. Under his leadership at Cal Poly, the college carried out two DEI-focused cluster hires, one of which resulted in hiring 11 new tenure-track faculty across eight different departments. 

Dr. Williams will succeed Larry Rodgers, dean of the College of Liberal Arts since 2008. Rodgers will return to teaching in the School of Writing, Literature, and Film after his fellowship at the University of Chicago, where he’ll be focusing on how university leaders can work most effectively with non-academic partners. 

“I’m excited to welcome Dr. Williams to Corvallis and OSU,” said Rodgers. “As a seasoned administrator and an outstanding scholar and teacher, he’s well-poised to forge a dynamic and innovative path forward for CLA.”