Elizabeth Williams, Ph.D.


Dr. Williams is a survey research expert and higher education researcher with more than thirty years of experience leading and contributing to both administrative and externally funded research at UMass Amherst. She leads the gathering, analysis, and dissemination of high-quality survey and focus group data to meet the needs and inform the work of academic, service and business units within Academic Affairs and throughout the institution. Liz strives to achieve robust survey response rates, promote and adhere to survey research best practices, and collaborate with others to foster a healthy survey climate at the University.

In her current role, Liz directs ASER’s survey and evaluation activities to support educational effectiveness and advance undergraduate and graduate student success. Focal topics include entering student characteristicsacademic engagement and support, campus climate perceptions, sense of belonging, classroom climate, learning experiences and outcomes, retention, graduation, and post-graduation outcomes. She also conducts a variety of ad hoc surveys of faculty, staff, and administrators to support administrative decision making within Academic Affairs and the University more broadly and contributes to evaluation research associated with a variety of internally and externally funded programs. Liz currently serves on the Strategic Planning Working Group: Education, the Equitable Policies Group (formerly PACE), the COACHE Survey Steering Committee, the Student Affairs Assessment Council (since 2013), the Carnegie Community Engagement Taskforce, and the Institutional Privacy Committee.

Liz has co-authored research articles in a variety of peer-reviewed journals, including The Journal of Higher Education, Research in Higher Education, the Journal of College Student Development, the NASPA Journal (now the Journal of Student Affairs Research and Practice), the NACADA Journal, and the Journal of American College Health. She has presented extensively at national and regional conferences and has led survey research methods workshops at national and regional institutional research conferences. Her most recent publications include “Context Matters: Using Qualitative Inquiry to Inform Departmental Effectiveness and Student Success,“ which describes ASER’s use of qualitative evidence to inform institutional effectiveness, and “Mirror on the Field: Gender, Authorship, and Research Methods in Higher Education’s Leading Journals.”

Since 2003, Liz has served as an adjunct faculty member in the College of Education’s Department of Educational Policy, Research & Administration (EPRA).  For a decade she served as a core faculty member in the Higher Education graduate program, teaching a variety of courses, advising students, and serving on comprehensive exam and dissertation committees. 

Liz holds a B.A. in Sociology and English from Connecticut College, and a Ph.D. in Sociology from the University of Massachusetts Amherst. 

She can be contacted at williams@acad.umass.edu or 413-545-0736.

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