Published April 19, 2019

A Champion of Ethics and Opportunity

Marketing expert Jerome Williams, a scholar, educator, and mentor of international reknown, is the inaugural holder of the Prudential Chair in Business, created through a gift from Prudential Financial. From 2015 to 2019, he was a member of Rutgers’ senior leadership team, serving as executive vice chancellor and provost of Rutgers University–Newark, before returning to the faculty as a distinguished professor at Rutgers Business School–Newark and New Brunswick.

Williams, who holds a doctorate in marketing and social psychology from the University of Colorado, has deep expertise in entrepreneurship, multicultural marketing, and social justice in the marketplace. He also has a longstanding commitment to helping people from diverse backgrounds succeed in school and in careers, and is a tireless advocate for diversity in both education and business.

Williams previously held visiting positions at the Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania, the University of Michigan, and Georgia State University, in addition to permanent positions at the University of Texas at Austin, Howard University, and Pennsylvania State University. He also has had international visiting positions at the Chinese University of Hong Kong, the National University of Singapore, the University of Auckland in New Zealand, Nanyang Technological University in Singapore, and the University of the West Indies in Jamaica. Prior to joining Rutgers, he held endowed chairs at four universities: the Whitney M. Young Jr. Visiting Associate Professor at Wharton; the Anheuser-Busch/John E. Jacob Professor at Howard; the F.J. Heyne Centennial Professor at the University of Texas; and the Wee Kim Wee Professor at Nanyang Technological University.

His commitment and accomplishments were recently recognized with three lifetime achievement awards. The American Academy of Advertising presented him with its Kim Rotzoll Award for Advertising Ethics and Social Responsibility. “This award also is a reflection of the environment we try to create here at Rutgers–Newark,” Williams says, “to make it conducive for scholars to conduct publicly engaged research and continue contributing to a positive impact on society.” The American Marketing Association’s Marketing and Society Special Interest Group presented him with its lifetime achievement award, which recognizes those who exemplify outstanding scholarship in marketing and society, public policy, and/or marketing ethics. Race in the Marketplace presented him with its Instigator Award to recognize his early contributions as a pioneer in providing the foundation for race in marketing research.

Williams has written on topics ranging from promoting diversity to multicultural marketing to reducing childhood obesity. He serves on several editorial boards of academic journals and was chair of the Board of Trustees of the American Marketing Association Foundation. He also has served on advisory committees for several Robert Wood Johnson Foundation-funded initiatives to reduce childhood obesity and for Let’s Move!, an effort spearheaded by former first lady Michelle Obama. And when he’s not teaching, writing, managing, or advising, he runs marathons.


In the Professor’s Own Words

What do you regard as your most important contribution?

I consider my most important contributions to be twofold: first, the impact I’ve had as a mentor on my students, from undergraduates to Ph.D. students, many of whom have followed in my footsteps in demonstrating how marketing can have a positive impact on society and make the world a better place, and second, the impact I’ve had on society in general by conducting research using a social justice framework that focuses on populations from underrepresented segments to address issues of marketplace discrimination, income inequality, disparities in distribution of resources, etc.

What impact do you think Rutgers can make on society?

To me, the most obvious impact Rutgers can make is providing educational opportunities to segments of the population who historically have been under-represented in having access to the type of world-class education that Rutgers offers.

What is the most important thing you hope to impart to your students?

A value system that fosters social justice and giving back, so that others can be uplifted and gain the same social benefits that they have achieved.

What aspect of your work is the most personally satisfying?

To see the success my students achieve in life and to know that I have had some small part in making that happen. It is extremely gratifying to hear many of my former students say to me years later, as has frequently happened, that the guidance they received from me as a mentor was instrumental in directing them down a path that has focused on social justice and using the discipline of marketing to make the world a better place.


This story is part of Rutgers University Foundation’s Endowed Chairs Impact series. Supporting professorships and research helps spark innovation and creativity here in New Jersey and beyond.