New dean of the Faculty of Business and Communication Studies announced

Dr. Kelly Williams-Whitt, PhD, will begin her new role Aug. 23

Photo of Dr. Kelly Williams-Whitt, PhD

Dr. Kelly Williams-Whitt, PhD, prepares to take on the role of dean of Mount Royal’s Faculty of Business and Communication Studies.

The Bissett School of Business and the School of Communication Studies are looking forward to the fresh perspectives and additional opportunities a new leader will provide as Dr. Kelly Williams-Whitt, PhD, prepares to take on the role of dean of Mount Royal’s Faculty of Business and Communication Studies, effective Aug. 23.

"We are so pleased to welcome Dr. Williams-Whitt to lead the Faculty of Business and Communication Studies. She has deep roots in Alberta post-secondary and understands the values and goals of Mount Royal University. I am confident that her leadership experience will help her to take the faculty to the next level," says Dr. Elizabeth Evans, PhD, interim provost and vice-president, academic.

For the last 18 years, Williams-Whitt has worked with the University of Lethbridge as a professor and, most recently, as the associate dean for the Dhillon School of Business. As an expert in labour relations, Williams-Whitt has taught courses on labour and employment law, bargaining, diversity, advanced human resources and advanced organizational behaviour.

Mount Royal holds a special place for Williams-Whitt, as it is the first place she taught post-secondary while working on her PhD in labour relations and human resource management at the Haskayne School of Business at the University of Calgary, where she also received her Master of Business Administration. She says her Mount Royal experience was fundamental for developing her teaching philosophy.

“I had a lot of great guidance from leadership and peers, and lots of good support at an important stage in my career.”

Williams-Whitt’s education includes a Nursing Diploma from the Foothills Hospital School of Nursing. Her scholarship has concentrated on occupational health as well as disability accommodation, which was the focus of her PhD dissertation and has been included in many publications and conferences.

“My research is very practical, it’s very pragmatic,” Williams-Whitt says. “It’s tied to stakeholders very tightly. I feel that a university like Mount Royal has that same link. There’s a really strong fit with the way I think about research, the kind of work that I do and the value that brings to both theory and practice.”

Williams-Whitt also has an extensive background in equity, diversity and inclusion, which is inherently tied with her research into disabilities and accommodation in the workplace. She is looking forward to providing her expertise to both business and communication studies and to the university as a whole with the goal of helping to graduate students with knowledge and strength in this area.

“On the business side, equity, diversity and inclusion is wrapped up in business policy and procedures, hiring practices, human resources and so on. But it’s also how all that is being communicated. What role does social media play? How do you communicate about it in a way that brings people on board instead of putting up walls?”

That sort of “cross-pollination” can be supported through multi-disciplinary programming facilitated by the already close ties between the Bissett School of Business and the School of Communication Studies.

Williams-Whitt is also very interested in micro-credentialing, or different ways of getting degrees that aren’t common as of yet.

“It’s so important for those people out there who are looking to transition their careers into something different. The idea of a ‘build your own’ degree where you take a series of courses that you are able to design in a way that meets your needs as a student is a game-changer.”

After spending much of her career in academia at the Dhillon School of Business’s satellite campus in Calgary (she was offered the first-ever tenure track position), Williams-Whitt is looking forward to the “full-service campus” experience.

“I am very excited for that feeling you get when there are students around, wonderful events to attend and cheering on the varsity teams. Of course, we will need to use caution moving forward to ensure the health and safety of our community, but I am thrilled to have that opportunity again.”

Aug. 10, 2021 ― Michelle Bodnar

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