Williams Fund

Tom and Carol Williams

"There are many factors and funding mechanisms that support the status quo in higher education. We have established something different. We want to support fresh thinking - thinking that will ignite new ideas and get beyond 'just business as usual.' We want to support those professors willing to search for better and more effective ways of learning." Tom and Carol Williams, 1996

The Tom and Carol Williams Fund for Undergraduate Education was established to provide financial support for initiatives that enhance the quality of the educational experience for undergraduate students at the University of Oregon.

Understanding that normal institutional budget funds tend to reiterate a status quo, the Williams wanted to create a resource that if placed thoughtfully could have a revolutionary effect on the way the university addresses undergraduate education.

In order to focus the direction of the fund, President Dave Frohnmayer appointed a group of faculty who have been formally recognized as some of the university's best teachers to decide who should receive the Tom and Carol Williams grants. The resulting Williams Council was designed to differ from the usual administrative committees. They were to serve as an advisory council to the president and reflect the belief that a gathering of the university's best teaching faculty would provide equally creative insight into how the fund might most effectively be used.

The Williams Council uses two programs to meet the challenge proposed by Tom and Carol Williams, Williams Instructional Proposals and Williams Fellowships.

Williams Fellows

The success of the Williams Council in inspiring new initiatives led to the creation of a second form of faculty recognition and support, the Williams Fellows. The council seeks out recipients who have demonstrated an extraordinary commitment to undergraduate education by challenging their students academically, creating an engaged learning environment, striving to improve the learning process, and fostering interdepartmental collaboration.

The Fellows program enhances our campus's awareness of the importance of balancing effective teaching and significant research. A $5,000 award to the recipient acknowledges their outstanding contribution to undergraduate learning at the University of Oregon. In accordance with the goals of the Williams Council, a separate $5,000 award to the recipient's department, supervised by the recipient, shall be used to affect tangibly the teaching and learning experience of undergraduates in the department.

To nominate a colleague for a Williams Fellowship, please send the following to academicaffairs@uoregon.edu by the new deadline of March 17, 2017:
1) a letter of nomination
2) two additional letters of support
3) the nominee’s curriculum vitae.

Past Williams Fellows

Williams Instructional Proposals

In 1996, the Council made a call for Instructional Proposals to all faculty who wanted to implement new ways of encouraging learning. This solicitation led to the submission of twenty-five proposals. In the years since 1996, Williams instructional proposals have produced:

  • innovations within specific courses;
  • imaginative new cross-disciplinary courses;
  • opportunities to introduce diverse, multicultural aspects into the undergraduate experience;
  • new ways of providing peer to peer learning support, and
  • new ways of conceptualizing teaching and learning within existing disciplines.

The Williams Council invites proposals from individuals or groups that allow teachers the opportunity to renew, broaden, restructure, or develop classes and curricula that actively engage students in the learning process. As in past years, exciting and creative proposals with any focus will be fully considered.

In addition, for the 2017, 2018 and 2019 year cycles, the Council encourages proposals designed to create a more inclusive teaching and learning culture on campus. Topics might include, but are not limited to the following examples: supporting student learning about difference, power, and discrimination, or enhancing the “social and emotional climate of the classroom,” as University of San Francisco Professor of Law Rhonda Magee writes, defining inclusive teaching.

Thus, the Council welcomes proposals that identify ways to enhance students’ sense of connection, support, and agency; or that strive toward clarity around the purpose of class activities, processes of expert thought, and criteria for evaluation of student work; or other ideas to create a culture of belonging and inclusive excellence. This special focus supports the idea that the university can be the site of rigorous, transformational learning experiences that value and draw on differences of identity and experience and that it should prepare students to enter a diverse democracy and global society.

Proposal submissions are encouraged for as little as $2,000 to as much as $15,000 plus, and past awards have been at a variety of funding levels.  

The deadline has passed to submit proposals.

Funded Williams Instructional Proposals

Questions regarding the Williams Council instructional proposals and fellowships may be addressed to Susan Anderson, susana@uoregon.edu.