Wilfrid Laurier University has appointed Maria Cantalini Williams to lead the Faculty of Education as its new dean, beginning July 1, 2019. Her term will last five years.
Cantalini Williams was a faculty member in the Schulich School of Education at Nipissing University from 2003 to 2018 and recently received the designation of professor emerita. She taught in the Bachelor of Education and Graduate Studies programs and was director and associate dean of the Laurier-Nipissing Concurrent Education program in Brantford for six years. Cantalini Williams also founded and was the faculty lead for Nipissing’s international practicum program in Italy for 12 years.
Cantalini Williams received her Doctor of Education degree from the Ontario Institute for Studies in Education at the University of Toronto in the Department of Applied Psychology. Her research has focused on innovation in education, collaborative inquiry, early childhood and work-integrated learning models. She has authored and co-authored numerous books, chapters in books and academic journal articles on these topics. She has also supervised many graduate student dissertations and has served as external examiner for several doctoral defences. Since 2016, Cantalini Williams was chair of a Rideau Hall Foundation committee working on the Education for Innovation project, designed to develop innovation skills and mindsets in Canadian students.
“I am pleased to welcome Dr. Cantalini Williams to Laurier’s Faculty of Education,” says Robert Gordon, provost and vice-president: academic. “Her leadership and years of experience across the education field will be vital as the faculty continues on its outstanding trajectory.”
She has also held a number of leadership roles with school boards, provincial committees and national associations. Cantalini Williams started her career as a school teacher in Sarnia and subsequently worked as program consultant with the Waterloo Catholic District School Board for 15 years. She was recognized provincially for her implementation of the junior kindergarten program and as a member of the Best Start Expert Panel. She has also taught courses on a part-time basis at George Brown College, the Ontario Institute for Studies in Education, University of Guelph and University of Waterloo. She was a member of several boards, including Our Place Early Years Centre, Conestoga College Advisory Committee, TheMuseum, Waterloo Region Catholic Schools Foundation and the YMCA board.
“I am excited and humbled by the opportunity to serve the Wilfrid Laurier University Faculty of Education and build upon its solid reputation as an exemplary teacher education program,” says Cantalini Williams. “As dean of Education, I will strive to collaboratively enhance our well-respected pre-service, in-service, graduate and outreach programs in partnership with faculty, staff, students and community members.”
Cantalini Williams will succeed Colleen Willard-Holt, who has served as dean of the Faculty of Education since 2008 and is now completing her second five-year term in the position.
“I would like to recognize Colleen Willard-Holt who, as the inaugural dean of Laurier’s Faculty of Education, provided outstanding leadership through the faculty’s first decade,” says Gordon. “The strength and dynamism of the Faculty of Education today is a direct result of Colleen’s vision and commitment.”