Janelle Williams

Janelle L. West, Ed.D.

  • Interim Dean , Graduate & Continuing Studies
  • Assistant Teaching Professor, Center for Education
Media Expertise:
  • Education

Affiliated Programs


  • Ed.D, Higher Education (2017)
    Widener University (PA)
  • MPA, Public Administration (2009)
    The Pennsylvania State University (PA)
  • BS, Business Marketing (2007)
    Cheyney University (PA)

About Me

I have a range of both administrative and teaching experience, from mentoring doctoral dissertations to teaching graduate courses in higher education and student affairs. I embrace each teaching opportunity  and I have worked enthusiastically and effectively with students at a variety of levels.

I believe in keeping all my courses and advising sessions student-centered, and so as an instructor, my pedagogical approach focuses on creating dialogue with students that help them think critically and independently arrive at answers related to the course material.

Research Interests

As a scholar-practitioner, my scholarship investigates college choice and enrollment patterns at historically Black colleges and universities (HBCUs), contemporary approaches to address challenges facing HBCU enrollment, and the experiences of Black women in higher education through critical qualitative inquiry.

My most recent work  has been highlighted by Diverse Issues in Higher Education, MSIs Unplugged, The HBCU Times, The New York Times and LA Times.


Professional Affiliations & Memberships

Visiting Scholar,  Rutgers University - New Brunswick Center for Minority Serving Institutions 


2018 NODA Catalyst Grant recipient

2019 NODA Excellence Fund (NEF) Professional Development Scholarship 

2021 Provost Faculty Development recipient, Widener University

In the Media


  • Janelle West, interim dean for Graduate and Continuing Studies, is featured in the Rutgers University visiting scholars report for her ongoing contributions to the program. To qualify, a visiting scholar must be interested in minority serving institutions (MSI)- related and/or higher education leadership and equity focused research. 

    West is investigating “college choice and enrollment patterns at historically Black colleges and universities (HBCUs), contemporary approaches to address challenges facing HBCU enrollment, and the experiences of Black women in higher education through critical qualitative inquiry. Most recently, Janelle served as Co-PI on a national study that focused on the experiences of Black students at HBCUs during the Black Lives Matter Movement.”

    Share link: https://www.widener.edu/news/noteworthy/faculty-examines-hbcus-visiting-scholar

  • The Journal of Black Studies published an article co-authored by Janelle L. West, associate dean of graduate and continuing studies, on the impact of the racial climate on Black students’ choice to attend Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs). The study was designed to understand to what extent, if any, did the racial climate under Donald Trump’s presidency influence Black students' choice to enroll in HBCUs. The study findings, which provided data from interviews with 80 Black students who were engaged in the college search process in 2016 to 2018, offers empirical evidence that indicate that the racial climate under President Trump played a salient role in participants’ selection of HBCUs.

    Share link: https://www.widener.edu/node/21261/

  • Graduate & Continuing Studies Associate Dean Janelle Williams Co-Authors Report on Partnerships at HBCUs

    Graduate and Continuing Studies Associate Dean Janelle Williams, Ed.D. co-authored a report, entitled "Presidents and and their Strategies to Build Partnerships at HBCUs." 

    This report was developed by Zachary C. Brown of Purdue University, Williams, and Levon T. Esters of Purdue University, and was co-sponsored by brightspot strategy and the second of a three-part "Year of Leadership" Series in The Samuel DeWitt Proctor Institute for Leadership, Equity, and Justice.

    The report emphasizes the importance of successful partnerships between Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs) and other institutions, industries, and community partners.

    According to the report, HBCUs have been historically disadvantaged when compared to their Predominantly White Institution (PWI) counterparts. State and federal governments disproportionately support and provide funding to PWIs as compared to HBCUs. 

    Report findings conclude that while some partnerships and leadership practices are distinct to particular institutions, commonalities are present as well. These include prioritizing student and community needs. Each university president discussed diverse criteria when choosing partners, but they all kept institutional and student success in mind as they engage partners. 

    The report can be accessed here: https://proctor.gse.rutgers.edu/sites/default/files/MSIreportFeb21_R4.pdf

    Share link: https://www.widener.edu/news/noteworthy/graduate-continuing-studies-associate-dean-janelle-williams-co-authors-report-partnerships-hbcus

  • Associate Dean of Graduate & Continuing Studies Selected for Diversity in Leadership Scholars Program

    Janelle Williams, associate dean of Graduate & Continuing Studies, was selected to receive a scholarship for the Bethaida "Bea" Gonzalez Diversity in Leadership Scholars Program from the University Professional and Continuing Education Association (UPCEA). The program's goal is to equip diverse professionals at any stage of their career with the skills and knowledge needed to move into leadership positions on campus, in the field of Professional, Continuing, and Online Education, and in UPCEA.

    Share link: https://www.widener.edu/news/noteworthy/associate-dean-graduate-continuing-studies-selected-diversity-leadership-scholars-program