Dr. Brenda Williams

"The Humanities: Does the Past Matter?"
Wednesday, April 15, 2009 at 2:00 p.m. in the Marvin K. Peterson Library


Have you thought about the role of the public humanities in the historical election of President Barack Obama? Have you wandered through your town's historical society lately? Have you visited Mystic Seaport lately? Or maybe attended a book discussion led by a scholar at your local library? Aware of book discussion programs (Book Voyagers) in the schools offered in partnership with libraries in Connecticut? Been to a museum exhibit such as Barn Again! Celebrating an American Icon? Visited a historic site such as the Harriet Beecher Stowe House? Heard about ECHO which will allow us to access Connecticut history and "to make the stories, personalities and significant documents of our past accessible to all at the click of a mouse?" Watched any television documentaries about the diverse populations and industries on Connecticut Public Television's Connecticut Experience? Or spent time at cultural heritage exhibits at Yale University's Peabody Museum of Natural History? Or perhaps you were invited to the unveiling of the Connecticut exhibition on the history of Women's Basketball?


If your answer to any of those questions is "yes," then you've been a participant in a Connecticut Humanities Council funded program, exhibition, lecture, organization or collaboration. A state-based affiliate of the National Endowment for the Humanities, the CHC is the third largest humanities council in the nation that acts as both grant-maker and program initiator.


Dr. Brenda Williams, a professor of English and Education at the Univeristy of New Haven since 1990, was recently appointed chairman of the board of directors at the Connecticut Humanities Council after having served on the council for several years in various committee chairmanship capacities.


Why do the humanities matter? How can they continue to matter using the new technologies? How will the Connecticut Humanities Council continue to use the literary, historical, and cultural past to help us make informed decisions about the future?

Biographical Information

Dr. Brenda R. Williams has been a member of the University of New Haven faculty since 1990. She is Professor of English and Education. Dr. Williams' courses include Composition and Literature, African American Literature, an Honors Interdisciplinary course focused on African Americans in Literature and Film, and graduate courses in Reading.


Dr. Williams earned a bachelor's degree in English from Howard University. From Howard, she went on to complete her Master's degree in Education and her Ph.D. in the Instructional Process with a research emphasis on reading comprehension at Washington University in St. Louis, Missouri. In 1995, Dr. Williams earned a certificate from the Harvard University Management Development Program. In July 2003, Dr. Williams was selected as an Aspen Institute Wye Fellow where she attended the Wye Faculty Seminar in Maryland. Dr. Williams is also a Senior Associate Consultant for Noel-Levitz, a leader in higher education consulting. She has been an invited presenter in the United States and Canada on the topics of trends in the areas of literacy, classroom management, and the role of faculty in retention and student success in higher education.


Most recently in June, Dr. Williams was elected Chairperson of the Board of Directors for the Connecticut Humanities Council which is the state affiliation of the National Endowment for the Humanities. The Council produces and funds over $2 million annually in cultural programming throughout the state. Dr. Williams has served on the boards of the Garde Arts Theater in New London, Long Wharf Theater in New Haven, (OIC) Opportunities Industrialization Center of New London County, Inc., and was a former member of the District Advisory Council of the Connecticut Permanent Commission on the Status of Women. Throughout her career, Dr. Williams has received numerous honors and awards, including a State of Connecticut citation for contributions during Black History Month.