HUNTERSVILLE – Tamara Williams was educated at a four-year university in Ohio, but when she took the opportunity to work for a community college in Michigan, she connected with its mission.

“Just seeing what the mission and the goals of the community college is, it was just like this is where I needed to be,” she recalled. “The mission and goals of a community college are so far-reaching. It’s really an opportunity to enhance learning, foster student success and most importantly, to positively impact the community.”

Williams will have those same three goals for her new position as the dean of the Central Piedmont Community College – Merancas Campus. She succeeds the school’s first dean, Beverly Dickinson, who retired.

To enhance learning, Williams is looking at new programs for the area. The school’s forensic, transportation systems and public safety programs may have expansions on the horizons, she said.

To foster student success, Williams said she wants to make sure students understand their educational goals and have the tools to complete them.

Completion can mean a lot of different things, depending on what the student’s goal is, Williams explained. It could mean obtaining a certificate, receiving a diploma, earning at two-year degree or transferring to a four-year university.

Some people may come in and take one class to get a promotion at their job, she said. For them, to complete that one class is a success.

Williams also wants to make sure that students know that they can often transfer work experience into prior learning credit, which helps them expedite reaching their educational goals.

“Access is very important, but completion is critical,” Williams said was her motto. “A lot of times, we spend a lot of time making sure they have access. Once you have that access, how do you get them to complete?”

With connecting with the community, Williams said she wants to see where the campus can get involved and how it can advance the surrounding area. That may mean collaborating with local high schools, with area businesses and figuring out how students can take advantage of hand-on experience through internships, job shadowings and co-ops. Fostering relationships with other organizations like the Lake Norman Chamber of Commerce and the local YMCA will also be vital, she added.

Williams comes to the Merancas Campus with more than 14 years of experience in higher education administration. The Ohio native graduated from the University of Toledo and worked as its director of cooperative education program before serving as the career dean at Wayne County Community College District in Detroit, Mich.

From there, she became the dean of academic services at Owen Community College in Toledo, Ohio, before being promoted to associate vice provost of academic services and retention. There, Williams obtained $2.5 million in grants to assist with student retention and the development of learning communities for career programs.

“I’m just excited to be here and look forward to making a contribution to the community,” Williams said of her new position. “This assignment is dear to my heart.”

Williams is also finishing her doctorate in education administration at the University of Toledo. She, her husband and their two daughters live in Cornelius.

Central Piedmont Community College begins the fall semester on Aug. 15. Its Merancas Campus is at 11930 Verhoeff Drive, Huntersville.

Details: 704-330-2722 or www.cpcc.edu.