A Constellation of Passions and Pursuits

By Richard Westlund

A Constellation of Passions and Pursuits

By Richard Westlund
College champion brings business expertise and humanistic perspective to role

Comprising UM’s most varied disciplines and interdisciplinary programs, the College of Arts and Sciences is the intellectual hub of the University. So it’s only fitting that the College is now receiving guidance from an advisor who brings a broad range of interests and experience to the role.

As a member of Dean Leonidas Bachas’s Advisory Committee, Trae Williamson, Ph.D. ’20, is dedicated to building connections on campus and in the community.

Trae“Trae brings valuable insights and is an effective ambassador and advocate for the College,” says Dean Bachas. “He understands the importance of teaching and learning on many different levels.”

President of Williamson Cadillac-Buick-GMC, Williamson works closely with his parents, Ed and Carol Williamson, longtime business leaders and supporters of the University. He readily acknowledges the vital role of STEM disciplines (science, technology, engineering, and math) in advancing progress and innovation. “But,” he says, “they must be balanced with the humanities, which make life worth living and keep us connected with each other.”

Williamson champions fields such as sociology, history, philosophy, and art for their power to deepen our understanding of the world and our place in it. “I like the idea of constellation thinking,” he says. “For instance, I might take an idea from an essay on ethics, a breaking news story, and an experience in our business, and then pull those threads together in a meaningful way.”

A theater aficionado since childhood, Williamson is particularly passionate about the performing arts. His long-term interest in psychological well-being—he started a peer counseling program as a high school student at Ransom Everglades—now drives his advocacy for mindfulness in the workplace and individual lives.

Williamson earned a doctorate in interdisciplinary studies at UM in 2020.  His dissertation was “Portrait of the Mindful Worker:  Traits and Training Toward a More Mindful Workplace.” He has been involved with the UM Mindfulness Research and Practice Initiative for several years.

“Mindfulness can be any activity that allows you to focus your attention on the present moment while gently acknowledging and releasing the mental clutter that builds up in our busy lives,” he says. “Especially during the COVID-19 pandemic, the practice eases feelings of stress and isolation.”

Williamson earned a bachelor’s degree in public policy and international affairs from Princeton University, then a law degree from Columbia University. He practiced entertainment and intellectual property law until returning to Miami in 2002 to join the family’s automobile dealership. Highly active in the South Florida community, he is a member of the UM President’s Council and the boards of several area nonprofits. Williamson also enjoys exchanging ideas and insights with students at Miami Herbert Business School as an adjunct faculty member in management.

Now Williamson is drawing on his impressively varied interests and experiences to help support the College of Arts and Sciences as it moves into the future. “It is a pleasure,” he says, “to support UM in this time of transformation.”