Winona State University's Newspaper since 1919

The Winonan

Winona State University's Newspaper since 1919

The Winonan

Winona State University's Newspaper since 1919

The Winonan


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Dr. Nicole Williams – New Dean of the College of Science and Engineering

Karalyn Kolstad
New Dean of the College of Science and Engineering, Dr. Nicole Williams.

As the new Dean of the College of Science and Engineering, Dr. Nicole Williams has been appointed to fill the position, leading many students, faculty, and staff.  After seven months of being interim dean, Dr. Williams is prepared for the role and has officially served as dean beginning Feb. 12th, 2024.

Previously, Williams had not only served as both a fixed term faculty and full-time faculty member but held a position as the Chair of the Mathematics and Statistics Department from 2015. Her job transition process begun with the appointment as interim dean in July 2023.

Williams grew up in Winona and attended Winona Senior High School before getting her bachelor’s degree in Secondary Mathematics Education at the University of Maine – Farmington. After completing a master’s degree at Illinois State University, she was hired as a fixed-term faculty member.

Two years after leaving Winona State University to pursue her PhD in Mathematics Education, Williams was asked if she would come back and teach, and of course she said yes.

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Regarding the switch of being chair of one department to dean of seven – yes, seven! – departments, Williams described that it felt natural, as if it were meant to be.

The size of the Mathematics and Statistics department, which has 19 faculty members and four different programs, is big. Not only that, but according to Williams, 80% of Winona State students take a class in the Mathematics and Statistics department.

While as chair, there were specific challenges that would come up alongside the standard registration overrides. But now Williams can have the chairs run their departments. She says that while it sounds crazy, she is finding peace within a bigger role.

“[Being dean] is easier than being Chair of the Math-Stats department,” Dr. Williams said.

When asked how the position of dean was, Williams mentioned that she enjoys being in a position where she can see how far people have come, and what is going on.

“It’s really fun because you get to celebrate what different people are doing,” Dr. Williams said.

Not only have there been Career and Internship Fairs, alongside more “fun” events such as the STEM carnival pumpkin drop, but Williams put forward her own event. Happening March 1st, “STEM in the Real World” is set to host 320 high school students and participate in STEM activities.

Not only that, but she has revived the College of Science and Engineering’s Student Advisory Board and changed it from a nomination process to an application one. The Student Advisory Board meets at least once a month and has activities and provides a way for Williams to hear feedback on curriculum and college happenings from students.

While one of Williams favorite things to do was teaching, she doesn’t miss it yet. However, she does point out that she has only been away from teaching for a little over half a year. Not only that, but Williams is able to interact with students through the Student Advisory Board, with recruiting events such as Choose WSU day, and more Her former advisees also come to see her, as she had to find places for them when she was appointed Interim Dean.

Williams has had support with her journey of becoming dean not only from fellow colleagues, but her family, of whom she affectionately refers to as, “Team Williams.” In fact, as Williams has been at Winona State for over 20 years, one of her sons practiced interviewing with her.

Provost Darrell Newton spoke very highly of Dr Williams and has faith that she will make a good leader.

“Dr. Williams proved to be an excellent choice for the position of dean,” Newton said.

He continues to mention that she has demonstrated strong leadership abilities and is aware and prepared for financial concerns. He explains that she has also supported other departments within the College of Science and Engineering, Academic Affairs, and fellow deans.

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About the Contributors
Dana Walker
Dana Walker, News Reporter
Dana Walker is an incoming news reporter for the Winonan as of Spring 2024. They are a second-year Applied and Professional Writing major, with minors in Music: BA and Women’s, Gender, and Sexuality Studies. Don’t ask what they’re planning to do with that amalgamation of degrees, because they don’t know either! Dana also plays string bass in the WSU orchestra (and occasionally band), and has served as the orchestra’s music librarian since Spring 2023. In their freetime, Dana enjoys playing video games such as Baldur’s Gate 3 and Civilization 6, baking, reading fantasy novels, knitting, and hanging out with their friends and fiend of a cat, Vinny. Currently Dana is working on a mini research project, and saving up for their eventual trip to Japan. Neither is going splendidly, but at least there’s self-awareness.
Karalyn Kolstad
Karalyn Kolstad, Photographer
Karalyn Kolstad (she/her/hers) is a photographer for The Winonan. This is Karalyn's first semester with The Winonan. She is a third-year student at Winona State University majoring in Medical Laboratory Science. She is also the secretary of the Biology Club on campus. Outside of school, Karalyn enjoys hanging out with friends and family, watching movies and reading. 

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