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James Williams

Williams teaching.

James Williams is an assistant professor in the Department of Retail, Hospitality, and Tourism Management in the College of Education, Health, and Human Sciences and serves as the faculty chair for athletics on the Faculty Senate committee. He focuses on human resource management, legal issues, and professional development. He has researched the impact of youth sports experiences on transformational leadership and decision making in high-pressure situations.


Williams is also the president and owner of UnMaskYTP, a consulting business that helps managers become better leaders.

Something interesting

Williams has six degrees in a variety of fields. He earned an associate’s degree from New Mexico State University, an Associate of Dental Assisting from Community College of the Air Force, a bachelor’s degree in management and computer information systems from Park University, a master’s degree in administration from Central Michigan University, a doctorate in management and organizational leadership from the University of Phoenix, and a doctorate in hospitality management from Iowa State University.

Why he chose this field

“I love people and I love being able to share the knowledge that I have with others.”

Outside interests

Williams skydiving in November 2017 with two students who dared him to take the risk.

He works out for about two to three hours every day and reads for about two hours a day. He also loves spending time with his wife, La-Toya, and supporting his children Tateanna, 20, Jasbrianna, 20, Jaquan, 16, and Jocelyn, nine, in all that they do.

Life lessons

Williams has written two books drawing on his own life experiences: From Thug to Scholar: An Odyssey to Unmask My True Potential and How to Get Abs Like a Bodybuilder but Eat Like a Fat Boy.

From Thug to Scholar talks about how people tend to wear masks until they find out who they really are as individuals. “When we become our authentic selves, then we can walk in this world of limitless opportunities,” he said.

Williams admits he was a thug growing up. He was constantly in trouble at school, was a teen father, and dealt drugs.

“In the back of my mind, I was always chasing something,” he told the Knoxville News Sentinel in 2016, shortly after the book was published.

He graduated from high school, dreaming of going to college and eventually playing professional football. But when he didn’t play during his freshman year at Methodist University in North Carolina, he fell back into his old habits.

He got involved with a gang and nearly shot someone.

“When I almost took someone’s life, I saw my life, his life, and thought, ‘What can I do to change?’”

He joined the US Air Force and served for four years, an experience that helped him build confidence and graduate from college.

Williams in 2006 when he was playing for the Raleigh Rebels arena football in Raleigh, North Carolina. He’s with his mother, Dorothy Williams.

He went on to play two years for a former professional arena football team in North Carolina, the Raleigh Rebels.

“Playing football was always a lifelong goal for me,” he said. “When I accomplished this goal I thought to myself, ‘If I can do this with my body, then I can’t even imagine what I can do with my mind.’”

Williams penned his second book, How to Get Abs Like a Bodybuilder but Eat Like a Fat Boy, after he lost 43 pounds in six months. He explains that in order to change how you look on the outside, you must first change how you feel on the inside. These changes all relate to the concept of mind, body, and spirit.

If he didn’t do this

“Pursue acting more and also travel around the world and be an international motivational speaker.”

Still on his bucket list

He still would like to travel to Africa, Russia, and Germany. When he visits California later this year, he will have visited all of the 48 states in the mainland United States.

He said he is constantly setting new goals for himself. “Dreams never stop even though you may be an adult.”

Advice to his college-age self

Although he believes that everything he did when he was younger has led him to think the way he does now, Williams’s advice is to “take more risks and do not be afraid.” He encourages students to dare to be different and avoid following the crowd.