President Hinton Welcomes Three New Leaders

on July 7 | in Featured | by

Hollins University Welcomes Three New Leaders

President Mary Dana Hinton has announced the appointment of Laura A. McLary, Ph.D., as Nora Kizer Bell Provost, the university’s chief academic officer; Nakeshia N. Williams, Ph.D., as vice president for diversity, equity, and inclusion; and Steven E. Laymon, Ph.D., as vice president for graduate programs and continuing studies.

Laura McLary


McLary comes to Hollins from the University of Portland in Oregon, where she first joined the faculty in 1999 as an assistant professor of German. She was promoted to associate professor in 2003 and full professor in 2015. The following year, McLary became academic associate dean for the university’s College of Arts and Sciences (CAS), where she worked closely with the dean on issues ranging from strategic priorities and budgeting to communication and personnel. In July 2020, she was named interim dean for CAS, which is the largest academic unit at the University of Portland with 15 departments, nearly 250 full- and part-time faculty, and over 1,300 student majors. She guided CAS last fall through the challenges presented by the COVID-19 pandemic, ensuring excellent teaching in a remote environment while advancing diversity, equity, inclusion, and racial justice goals.

“Laura is a creative and proactive problem-solver who leads with compassion and courage,” said Hinton. “She will be a dynamic and gifted collaborator with a variety of constituencies across our campus.”

Hinton added that McLary will focus on strengthening Hollins’ position as one of the nation’s premier liberal arts colleges for women at the undergraduate level, and as an exemplary provider of coeducational graduate programs.


Nakesia Williams


Williams previously served as an associate professor in the educator preparation department in the College of Education at North Carolina A&T State University. During her tenure, she taught diversity courses to undergraduate and graduate students. These classes were grounded in the interaction of equity, access, and achievement as they pertain to the academic, social-emotional, and identity development of P-20 (preschool through higher education) individuals. She has served as a campus gender and equity faculty leader as well as an advisor to several student organizations. A licensed professional counselor for over 12 years, she has written numerous published articles and book chapters highlighting her research on equity and access in P-20; culturally responsive teaching; academic and global identities of minority students; socioemotional experiences of P-20 students; and teacher preparation programs at minority-serving institutions.

“Nakeshia will provide the leadership to ensure we are continuously striving for an improved and more inclusive and equitable campus environment,” Hinton noted. “She will connect with students, faculty, and staff to provide programming and create new opportunities for deep, sustained, and institution-wide inclusive engagement and experiences. We look forward to her leadership in crafting practices and policies that foster belonging and are reflective of our loftiest ideals as expressed in our mission as an inclusive liberal arts community.”


Steven Laymon


Hollins welcomes Laymon from the University of Virginia’s School of Continuing and Professional Studies, where he has worked in several key capacities since 2014. As associate dean for academic programs and services, he was responsible for development, management, and evaluation of two undergraduate degree programs; business and professional certificates; design and expansion of corporate training and outreach; and management of non-credit programs offered by the school. He worked with staff to engineer improvements in long-term sustainability by enhancing enrollment, improving operational efficiency, and creating new programs when he served for three years as the school’s interim dean. And, as associate professor and associate dean of academic affairs, he taught face-to-face and online courses in social sciences, leadership, and political science; managed academic programs; and created strategies to improve the quality of instruction.

Prior to his service at UVa, Laymon spent nearly a decade as associate dean for graduate and professional programs in the University of Chicago’s Graham School of Continuing Liberal and Professional Studies.

“In addition to supporting our current programs, Steven will create innovative new graduate, certificate, and not-for-credit programs that will meet adult learners’ interests while upholding Hollins’ liberal arts mission,” Hinton said. “He will help grow the university’s national and international reputation in graduate education and continuing studies.”

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