Dr. Nate Williams will be leaving Knox at the end of Spring Term after serving the Knox community for five years.
The assistant professor of educational studies announced he will be going to Southern Illinois University Edwardsville (SIUE) as an associate professor in the Department of Teaching and Learning. While at Knox, Williams was able to hone his teaching skills, publish articles in several publications he had hoped to put pieces into and take his classes outside of Knox and into schools.
Williams enjoyed his time at Knox. He affectionately describes Knox as “a place for weirdos” like himself. Williams enjoyed watching students make new discoveries about themselves and have “ah-ha” moments about the materials they were studying.
Before he started teaching at Knox, Williams’ campus visit showed him that his time here would bring him students who were intelligent, had good character and were not afraid to be themselves. While he was visiting, he found people often had a hard time telling him what exactly Knox culture was like.
“Everyone would kind of talk about this Knox thing,” Williams said. “You know, Knox is Knox. No one could ever really describe it.”
Looking back, Williams now understands why people had such a hard time putting a finger on what exactly Knox culture is. He sees being part of Knox as an identity. Williams knows it is not branding — it is a feeling of community that’s deeply felt.
Even with these fond memories, Williams is not afraid to criticize the parts of Knox that need improvement, namely the treatment of black students, faculty and staff. Williams is not afraid to speak his mind on these issues and encourages students to take action and demand change. Without it, he does not see Knox as an enduring institution.
Economics professor Steve Cohn remembers Williams for his activism and his help teaching a methods course for the Peace and Justice Studies Department, which Cohn is co-director of. Cohn said Williams was a great asset to Knox College, both academically and because he is so committed to all he does and to seeking equality.
If he were to leave a lasting imprint behind at Knox, Williams hopes that would include encouraging young activists, an urgency around change and a tendency to question the status quo. He hopes his students learned as much from him as he did from them.
Moving forward, Williams hopes to study in more depth black biracial identity development, perhaps turning that study into a documentary. He hopes to become a full professor at SIUE and get into a few more publications. Williams also has two books in mind that he wants to write.
Williams wants to make SIUE the largest producer of black male educators in the country. He plans to help the community with the charter high school that SIUE owns. Williams does not know what other career goals he has, but one day, he wants to become the president of SIUE.
Williams says that even if he cannot reach that goal, as long as he has contributed to the greater good and served his family, he would not mind.
An earlier version of this article misstated Dr. Williams position. He is an assistant professor.