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Staff News | Avery Research Center Director Promoted to Associate Dean

This entry was posted on Tuesday, October 16th, 2018

The College of Charleston Libraries are pleased to announce the appointment of Patricia Williams Lessane as associate dean for strategic planning and community engagement, effective Oct. 16, 2018.

An accomplished scholar and executive in higher education, Williams Lessane will chair the strategic planning working groupand spearhead outreach and fundraising efforts for the Libraries as part of this newly created role. She will also join the Libraries’ senior leadership team and provide a critical voice in shaping the future of an institution that serves more than one million patrons annually and stewards priceless collections.

“Dr. Williams Lessane is an incredibly intelligent, passionate, and accomplished faculty-scholar,” said College of Charleston Interim President Stephen C. Osborne ’73. “I have enjoyed working with her over the years at the College, and I couldn’t be more excited for her and this next step in her career. She will bring a wealth of knowledge and experience to this new role, which will further strengthen our Libraries and, in turn, the College.”

As the College celebrates the centennial of its first female students, Williams Lessane’s appointment marks an important milestone in the history of the Marlene and Nathan Addlestone Library: She is the first African American woman to serve as an associate dean.

In addition to her new role, Williams Lessane will remain a tenured faculty member and will continue to serve in her role as the executive director of the Avery Research Center for African American History and Culture. The Avery Research Center is an institution dedicated to preserving the legacy of the African diaspora, with emphasis on Charleston and the South Carolina Lowcountry. Williams Lessane also will remain co-principal investigator for the Google-supported Race and Social Justice Initiative at the College, which published the first detailed report on the disparities in the lives of Charleston County’s black and white residents.

In 2018, Williams Lessane was honored at the College’s Excel Awards as Administrator of the Year and was one of 11 women honored at the Charleston YWCA’s inaugural What Women Bring Awards for her work as a nonprofit leader.

Williams Lessane has worked at the Field Museum and the Museum of Science and Industry in Chicago. She serves on the board of the Collegium of African American Research, the Sophia Institute, and the Charleston Library Society. She is a member of Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Inc. Williams Lessane holds a bachelor’s degree from Fisk University, a master’s degree from Dartmouth College, and a Ph.D. from the University of Illinois at Chicago. In 2016, Williams Lessane served as a Fulbright scholar at the University of Málaga.

“I am confident that Dr. Williams Lessane will excel in her new role,” said John White ’99, Dean of the College Libraries. “She is an extraordinary leader with an exceptional work ethic. This promotion is a recognition of her dedication to the College and of her significant contributions to our campus and community over the past eight years. I look forward to seeing her lead our strategic planning and community engagement endeavors for many years to come.”