As he prepares to leave Malvern, Patrick Williams shares insight into his plans for the future, and what he hopes to leave behind at Malvern.
This school year will be Mr. Patrick Williams’s last as Assistant Director of Admissions and Director of Diversity. After three years at Malvern, Williams will leave his position in Austin Hall on June 30.
“If you asked me five years ago whether or not I’d be working in education, I would have told you there’s no shot,” Williams said. “I was a business student. I went to the military and then grad school for my MBA. I never expected to be working at Malvern or any school for that matter.”
For Williams, the opportunity to come back on campus as a part of the staff was initially a great opportunity. “I had really enjoyed my time here [as a student],” Williams said.
Williams’ job was a unique one on campus. He worked in admissions full time, while also carrying an additional role as Director of Diversity.
According to Williams, Malvern has never had a full-time Director of Diversity or Director of Equity and Inclusion.
“I found myself being stretched too thin,” Williams said. “You’re constantly juggling these two full-time jobs, except they’re in one person. With admissions work, you’re behind a desk answering calls.” In addition to this workload, Williams was also a moderator for the Diversity Awareness Club.
According to Williams, “85-95% of my expected job responsibilities on my job description was admissions. Admissions dominated my time.” But as someone truly passionate about diversity awareness, Williams found it difficult to not be able to give all of his attention to his role in diversity.
Unable to focus fully on either his role in admissions or in diversity, Williams made the difficult decision to leave Malvern earlier this year. He credits his decision to both personal and professional factors.
Williams suspects that the absence of a constant diversity role contributes negatively to Malvern’s reputation. “I think that’s why we’re so behind… with our image externally, that we are seen as a school that doesn’t value diversity,” he said.
Williams hopes to still be a part of Malvern, even though he feels he is ready to move on to a role that is more clear cut— whether that be in admissions, equity and inclusion, or even real estate.
“It’s bittersweet in that I’m not going to be here everyday, but I can still continue to have a relationship with the student body and the faculty,” Williams said. He plans to be a member of the Alumni Board and hopes to still be an active part of Malvern both on and off campus. He hopes to return for next year’s J-Term to teach a class on real estate.
Williams leaves behind a job that involved radically different criteria. “You are either in the staff role or the faculty role,” Williams said. “I was one of the unique hybrids that bridged both. My role will not be replaced with someone who has a dual role.”
With a Director of Diversity no longer on campus, co-workers who worked with Williams on issues of equity and inclusion will be working to fill the gap.
According to biology teacher Mr. Stephen Borish, several faculty members, including school psychologist Dr. Dorothy Sayers, middle school teacher Mrs. Carissa Casey, and others are working to continue and build on diversity awareness at Malvern. One big component of that work is the SEED (Seeking Educational Equity and Diversity) program.
Borish plans to attend the SEED training program this summer in California. However, he acknowledges that Williams’ departure is challenging.
“I can’t replace what [Williams] did. What he did was so essential here,” Borish said. “It’s going to be difficult without him, but we are going to do our best to continue what he started.”
“I wished we could’ve learned that he needed the support. We should have seen his importance,” Borish added.
Williams found a possible direction to his future at last year’s NAIS People of Color Conference in Atlanta, which was focusing on Leaders of Diversity.
The conference offered workshops for aspiring heads of schools. That is when Williams first realized that being a head of school could be in his future. “I remember all the heads of schools of color getting on stage. There weren’t very many, about a third of the nation’s independent schools,” Williams said.
“Valuing the diverse experience of all students is what was important to me,” Williams said. “Being a head of school would put me in a position to do that.”
Williams shared some parting advice for Malvern students going into the future. With no single person spearheading diversity on campus, Williams suspects that it will have to be a team effort, with a lot of input from the students.
“The plan is to have a more community approach on diversity,” Williams said. “The voice of the student body is really going to be the driver of all the progress and success of the school.”
“For the students I think it’s really important that they voice their opinions.”
For now, junior Zamir Shelton shared one opinion on Williams’s departure. “It’s a blow for the campus,” he said.