Hall of Fame Member Biographies

Gerald Williamson

Colleges and universities enter the lives of students in countless ways, but one of the most important means of instilling self-confidence and aspiration in students is to be guided by a knowledgeable and caring mentor. No other individual exhibits this trait more thoroughly than Gerald Williamson of East Central University. Gerald Williamson obtained a B.A. from Eastern New Mexico University, then an M.B.A. from that school, before earning a doctorate at the University of Oklahoma in 1985. He then added to his management expertise by completing a postdoctoral program at the Institute of Educational Management at Harvard University. He obtained employment from 1971 to 1978 at Ohio Northern University as an assistant professor in marketing before finally settling at East Central in Ada in 1978. He began as an assistant professor in marketing and for seven years acted as the assistant basketball coach. In 1985 Gerald Williamson became the Vice-President of Student Services and was responsible for the development and management of all non-classroom programs and services that enhanced learning. He oversaw programs such as student recruitment, financial aid, veteran affairs, single student housing, student government, student exchange and minority programs, and international exchange. In 2006 he became the Senior Advancement Officer in charge of developing a campus master plan and securing funding. He was instrumental in raising $14 million that made possible the Chickasaw Business and Conference Center. Dr. Williamson was active in state counseling committees; he served for 13 years on the Oklahoma Counselor's Association and received its Distinguished Service Award; he was elected as President and Vice-President of the Southwest Association of Student Personnel Administrators; he was also President, Vice-President, and member of the Executive Committee of the Oklahoma College Student Personnel Association, having earned from that organization its Lifetime Achievement Award; and he acted as Chair for four terms of the Council on Student Affairs for the Oklahoma State System for Higher Education. As a member of the National Association of Student Personnel Administrators, he was honored to have the first minority undergraduate fellowship program student to have completed the goal of earning a doctoral degree and entering academia. Dr. Williamson's strong suit was the mentoring he gave to ECU students. This mentoring meant not only aiding them through undergraduate years, but in keeping contact with them-hundreds and even thousands-afterwards, congratulating them on their successes, and trying to attend their important life moments. This concern for people was matched with an astounding memory: as one has written "his internal 'rolodex' is astounding." His advisees call him the "goodwill ambassador for the university," and another stated that Dr. Williamson's true position at ECU was "Dean of Retention." For one recipient of his mentoring who then went on to become a college president, Dr. Williamson "has been and continues to be East Central University." And they all remember the motto by which he ended notes, letters, and phone calls: "Once a Tiger, Always a Tiger." For this outstanding career of mentoring students and bringing innumerable individuals into careers in collegiate education, the OHEHS is proud to induct Gerald Williamson into the 2016 Oklahoma Higher Education Hall of Fame.