Dr. Richard Williams is Associate Professor of Recreation Therapy in the Department of Recreation and Leisure Studies in the College of Health and Human Performance at East Carolina University. He is a leader in his discipline, serving as the 2015 President-Elect of the National Academy of Recreational Therapists and of the North Carolina Recreational Therapy Association. His scholarship includes work on therapy services for individuals with spinal cord injury, ethical practices in recreational therapy, and the role of the recreational therapist in public policy. During his fifteen years at East Carolina University, he has led in curriculum development and delivery, developed a graduate teaching assistant seminar, and mentored students and colleagues in the use of instructional technologies.
“Good teachers,” Dr. Williams says, “can change the world in subtle yet powerful ways. When I teach the graduate student teaching seminar, I have the honor and humbling responsibility of providing guidance to novice college teachers. Working with these students has taught me that not all good teaching happens exactly the same way.” Dr. Williams believes that teachers have to be passionate. “Teaching my students not only lends meaning to my life, but provides me with an opportunity to improve the world. I can only light a fire in my students if there is a fire burning in me.” Dr. Williams enjoys teaching large classes saying, “I like the challenge of keeping a big group of students engaged.”
Dr. Williams believes in using a variety of techniques both in and outside the class. In a recent course, for example, his students helped facilitate an adaptive waterski clinic for people with physical disabilities. He believes it is necessary to create an open and social classroom environment where trust and honesty foster greater learning. Class should be fun, organized, and fair. Good teaching is a debt owed to students and to the academy. He says, “I am in a position of honor and privilege that I will not squander. I feel incredibly lucky to have the best job in the world. “
His chair described Dr. Williams as “a terrific faculty member, who contributes greatly to all aspects of the university experience, and is particularly talented in the classroom.” A colleague praised him as a mentor to younger faculty, graduate students, and seasoned faculty: “He gives of himself and raises the performance of others.” A former student, now a university professor, said, “[Dr. Williams’s] amazingly effective, yet seemingly effortless, teaching style intrigues students and forces them to grasp the material covered in class, as well as alternative perspectives.” A former student who is now a military officer wrote, “[Dr. Williams’s] passion for teaching has instilled a spirit of lifelong learning within his students which is unmatched. He was unequivocally [my] most inspiring professor.”
His dean summarized, “Dr. Williams teaches with zeal and a passion for his subject matter. He is known as a very innovative and caring teacher. . . . He is always willing to provide extra assistance and personal attention to students as they learn how to understand, assess, and provide appropriate care for their clients and/or patients.”
Dr. Williams earned the BA in Literature from the University of Georgia, the BS in Recreation and Leisure Studies with an emphasis on Recreation Therapy at Virginia Commonwealth University, and the MS and EdD in Recreation and Leisure Studies at the University of Georgia.