Montrice O’Neal came to William Woods in July of 2023 as Director of Student Engagement. In his role, he has the responsibility of overseeing some of the main areas that affect a student’s campus experience at the University, including Greek Life, New Student Orientation, student organizations and the LEAD program. He recently agreed to answer “Five Questions” for The Woods Today, as told to John Fougere:
1.)Where are you from, and what was your background prior to coming to William Woods?
I’m proud to call Winston-Salem, North Carolina, my hometown, where my journey in higher education began to take shape. My career prior to William Woods was deeply immersed in the higher education landscape, spanning over a decade. I had the privilege of serving as the Director of Student Engagement at Lincoln University, an experience that greatly enriched my understanding of the unique needs and aspirations of college students. Throughout my professional life, I have developed a profound passion for working with students and empowering them to realize their full potential.
2.)Why did you decide to choose a career in higher education?
My career aspirations initially leaned towards becoming a basketball coach, driven by a desire to connect with students through sports. Although I was a track athlete during my college years, I came to a pivotal realization – coaching wasn’t the only way to make a significant impact on students’ lives. I recognized that, as a mentor and advocate, I could inspire and guide students in both their academic and personal journeys, instilling in them the confidence and motivation to succeed.
3.)What about William Woods prompted you to pursue your current position here?
William Woods University stands out as an institution that is fully committed to creating a vibrant, inclusive, and supportive campus environment for all students. The university is actively pushing for greater diversity, inclusivity, and equity, placing these values at the forefront of its mission. This dedication to positive change resonates deeply with my personal values and aspirations. I am genuinely enthusiastic about the opportunity to be part of this dynamic transformation taking place at WWU. The potential for meaningful impact and the commitment to making a difference for our students were compelling factors in my decision to join the William Woods family.
4.)What are your key priorities as Director of Student Engagement?
As Director of Student Engagement, my key responsibilities revolve around overseeing a diverse range of areas. These include Greek Life, Orientation, Student Organizations, and the LEAD Program. Each of these facets plays a critical role in shaping the overall student experience at William Woods. My primary goal is to foster an inclusive and engaging campus environment where students can explore their interests, develop leadership skills, and create lasting memories. I’m committed to providing support, resources, and opportunities that empower our students to thrive in every aspect of their academic journey.
5.)What are your hobbies and interests outside of work?
Beyond my professional commitments, I’m an avid sports enthusiast. I wholeheartedly support the Dallas Cowboys, and following their journey is a source of great joy and excitement for me. Additionally, I value the enriching experiences of travel, and I’m fortunate to share these adventures with my wonderful wife, Arlicia O’Neal. Exploring new places and immersing ourselves in diverse cultures provides a perfect counterbalance to the demands of work, allowing us to create lasting memories and connect on a deeper level. These personal interests outside of work enhance my well-rounded perspective and contribute to my overall sense of fulfillment.