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Debora Ritter-Williams

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Faculty, TEMPE Campus, Mailcode 0604

Debbie Ritter-Williams is an alumnae of Arizona State University and currently teaches UNI Success courses. 

Previously, she has held a variety of leadership positions in higher education and corporate training and development. Ritter-Williams has been associated with traditional and online institutions and worked as a writing coach, research fellow, leader of a College of Liberal Arts, and full-time faculty member.

Her career has focused on adult education across a variety of venues: for-profit corporations, non-profit organizations, and government agencies. The success of her work has often been aided by her strength in group process facilitation. Before coming to University of Phoenix, Dr. Ritter-Williams led a company-wide implementation of a synchronous online training system for locations across North America.

Dr. Ritter-Williams’ research career began in 1987 with a study of conference-attending behavior sponsored by both the National Association for Student Personnel Administrators and the American College Personnel Association. Her background and experience align with her current research interest in college learners and the challenges they face. She has completed studies on employer tuition-reimbursement programs and adult students’ retention related to socio-emotional needs, and is currently undertaking research on the relationship between meditation and critical thinking, the benefits of degree completion for Hispanic students, and the representation of online learning in social media.

Dr. Ritter-Williams’ work in higher education and leadership has been published in several journals, textbooks, and handbooks. She has held memberships and leadership roles with the American Association of University Women, the American College Personnel Association (Vice-Chair for Research), Carolinas Society for Training and Development (Board Member), and the American Society for Training & Development.


Ph.D. Educational Leadership and Policy (focus on Higher Education), University of South Carolina - Columbia, 1993

M.C. (Masters in Counseling), Arizona State University, 1984

B.A. Psychology, Eastern Illinois University, 1980

Research Interests: 

Debbie's research focuses on the institution of higher education, primarily the experiences of college students and graduates. Special areas of focus include adult students, female students, Hispanic students/graduates, online education, critical thinking, and student ethics.


Ritter-Williams, D. (2015). Dear White (and Black) people: Can we talk? Journal of Psychological Issues in Organizational Culture, 6(1). doi:10.1002/jpoc.21167


Ritter-Williams, D., & Rouse, R. (2012). To graduate or drop out? Factors affecting college degree

completion of Baby Boomer, Generation X, and Millennial students. Apollo Research Institute.

Retrieved from


Ritter-Williams, D., & Rouse, R. (2011). Psychosocial issues and sources of support affecting retention for adult learners: Generational variations. AERC Conference Proceedings, Toronto, Canada. Retrieved from


Miller, L., Ritter-Williams, D., Rouse, R. (2010). Bundled value: An analysis of working learners’ perceptions of tuition assistance programs. The University of Phoenix Research Institute.

Ritter, D. (1992). Academic integrity: Honesty in the classroom. In J. N. Gardner & A. J. Jewler (Eds.), Your College Experience: Strategies for Success (pp. 112 – 124). Belmont, CA: Wadsworth.

Ritter, D. (1992). Author/Editor for all end-of-chapter activities. In J. N. Gardner & A. J. Jewler (Eds.), Your College Experience: Strategies for Success. Belmont, CA: Wadsworth.

Ritter, D. (1990). Academic dishonesty. In B. Barefoot (Ed.), Teaching at USC: A handbook for graduate teaching assistants (pp. 54-55). Columbia, SC: University of South Carolina.

Ritter, D. (1989). A new framework for leadership. Carolina View, 4, 31-35.

Ritter, D. (1986) Student Affairs: Activity traps or planful development? Carolina View, 2, 70-71.

Ritter, D. & Brown, M. (1986) Considerations for the development of leadership programs in higher education. In F. F. Freeman, R. Gregory, & M. Clark (Eds.), Leadership education: A source book. Greensboro, NC: Center for Creative Leadership.

Spring 2020
Course NumberCourse Title
UNI 120Academic Success
UNI 220Mindset Connections
UNI 394Special Topics
Fall 2019
Course NumberCourse Title
UNI 110Critical Reading and Thinking
ASU 120Emerging Leaders I
UNI 120Academic Success
UNI 220Mindset Connections
Spring 2019
Course NumberCourse Title
UNI 120Academic Success
UNI 220Mindset Connections
Fall 2018
Course NumberCourse Title
UNI 110Critical Reading and Thinking
UNI 120Academic Success
ASU 150The LEAD Project I
UNI 220Mindset Connections
Spring 2018
Course NumberCourse Title
UNI 194Special Topics
Fall 2017
Course NumberCourse Title
UNI 194Special Topics
UNI 220Mindset Connections

2011            Slaying Emotional Monsters: Strategies to Improve Adult Learner Retention. Workshop presented at Association for Continuing Higher Education Conference, Orlando, FL.

2011            Psychosocial Issues and Sources of Support Affecting Retention for Adult Learners: Generational Variations. Paper presented at the Adult Education Research Conference, Toronto, Canada.

2010            Does One Size Fit All? College Retention is Not Just for Kids Anymore! Poster session presented at 30th Annual Conference on the First Year Experience, Atlanta, GA.

2001            Return on Investment for Synchronous Online Employee Training. Paper presented at Centra Software Southeast Users Conference, Charlotte, NC.

2000            The Future of Employee Training & Development. Closing speaker at Flexographic Technical Association Conference, Hilton Head, SC.

1991            Creating a Student Affairs Vision. Pre-conference workshop presented at National Association for Student Personnel Administrators Annual Conference.

1990            Activities Research: The How’s and What’s . Workshop presented at the American College Personnel Association (ACPA) Annual Conference.

1989            Risky Business: Including Student Discipline in Freshman Orientation. Workshop presented at the ACPA Annual Conference.

1986            Whew! You Made it Through the First Year: Now What? Workshop presented at the ACPA Annual Conference.

1985            Making the Most of Your First Two Years. Workshop presented at the ACPA Annual Conference.

1984            Student Affairs Internships: Untapped Potential for Renewal. Workshop presented at the ACPA Annual Conference.

Honors / Awards: 

1988            Nominee for Student Personnel Association Outstanding Faculty/Staff Award, USC


2007-2008   Editorial Board, Journal of Leadership Studies

Professional Associations: 

1995-1997   Board member, Carolinas Society for Training & Development

1988-1990   Vice-Chair for Research, ACPA Commission IV: Students, Their Activities and Their Community

1986-1990   Directorate member, ACPA Commission IV

1987-1990   Advisor, Student Personnel Association, University of South Carolina

Graduate Faculties / Mentoring History: 

Galati, S. R. (2016). Entering the global engineering market: A correlational study of cultural intelligence and market orientation.

Brandal, J. M. (2015). Exploring teachers’ efficacy with technology integration: A case study.

Escobar, A. A. (2015). A college department’s approach to plagiarism: A case study of micropolitics.

Philpot, E. L. (2013). Social media adoption and use among information technology professionals and implications for leadership.

Stewart, C. M. (2013). Teachers’ use of cultural intelligence to interact with the sub-culture of special education students.

Millier, K. A. (2010). The viability and sustainability of the Business Women’s Association of Uzbekistan: A phenomenological study.

Vivoda, M. A. (2009). A correlational study of the relationship between emotional intelligence and sales performance of realtors.

Pierce, G. R. (2008). The ascension of Generation X public school teachers to educational leadership positions: A phenomenology.


2005            Creator, New Faculty Certification Program. School of Advanced Studies, University of Phoenix.

1990            Chair, New Employee Training – 3-day retreat for 220 para-professional employees.

1987            Co-creator, scriptwriter, narrator of Freshman Follies – first year colloquium presentation of vignettes depicting typical freshmen issues. Attendance increased from 80 to 2000 over 4 years.

1987            Chair, created/implemented workshop series for students experiencing common developmental issues (anger, self-defeating behavior, unhealthy relationships)

1984            Created/presented campus-wide Student Affairs staff development session for 200 employees. Developed comprehensive Resource Guide.


2004 - 2017 - Clarity Consulting - work with clients to improve written and verbal communication

Executive Education Courses: 

Certified Administrator - Meyers-Briggs Type Instrument, Consulting Psychologists Press

Certified Facilitator – “Fundamentals of Fourth Generation Management,” Joiner Associates, Inc.

Certified Facilitator – Leadership Effectiveness Analysis (360-degree feedback instrument), Management Research Group

Certificate, “Frontline Leadership,” Zenger-Miller

Certificate, “Principles of Quality,” South Carolina Budget & Control Board