Why did Dr. Williams decide to come to Leeds?
At the time, Dr. Williams and his family were already living in Colorado. When he made the decision to return to school, he knew of CU Boulder’s business school and its reputation. Dr. Williams knew he wanted to focus on marketing and diversity and knew that CU would support him in his research and passion.
What did Dr. Williams enjoy most about his experience at Leeds?
While at Leeds, Dr. Williams most enjoyed the work and research as well as the support he received from his professors. His team of support there helped shape him into the professor he would become and helped him to continue to pursue leadership roles at the university level.
Was there anything about Boulder that Dr. Williams missed when he left?
Being an avid runner, one of the things that Dr. Williams missed most was running through Boulder and the surrounding towns. He never missed a day of running for 50+ years, even if there was a snowstorm. He enjoyed the climate, the small town feel, and running up the mountain roads and would always talk and reminisce about his peaceful runs in Boulder.
Where did life take Dr. Williams after he graduated from Leeds?
At the time of earning his Doctoral degree in 1986, he was the only African-American to receive a Ph.D. in marketing in the entire country. Along his life’s journey he made thousands of colleague connections, friends and friends that became family as he made his residences in New York, Colorado, Pennsylvania, Singapore, Hong Kong, Washington, D.C, Georgia, Texas, and finally New Jersey in 2010. At the time of his death, Dr. Williams was the former Provost and Executive Vice Chancellor of Rutgers University-Newark. With a career in academia spanning over 30 years, Dr. Williams was a trailblazer in the field of marketing. He was also a Distinguished Professor and the Prudential Chair in Business (Marketing Department) and fellow of The Center for urban Entrepreneurship & Economic Development (Management and Global Business Department) in the Rutgers business school-Newark and New Brunswick. Prior to joining Rutgers, he held Endowed Chair positions at four different universities, including the Whitney M. Young, Jr. Visiting Associate Professor in the Wharton Business School at the University of Pennsylvania, the Anheuser-Busch/John E. Jacob Professor at Howard University, the F. J. Heyne Centennial Professor at the University of Texas at Austin, and the Wee Kim Wee Professor at Nanyang Technological University in Singapore. Prior to being on the Howard faculty, he was Penn State University Marketing Department faculty for 14 years. Dr. Williams was the chair of the Board of Trustees of the American Marketing Association Foundation, where the Williams-Qualls-Spratlen Multicultural Mentoring Award of Excellence bears his name. He served on advisory committees for several Robert Wood Johnson Foundation-funded initiatives, including an initiative to reduce childhood obesity, and for Let’s Move!, an effort spearheaded by former First Lady Michelle Obama.
Why did Dr. Williams decide to study marketing?
One of the reasons Dr. Williams decided to return to school was because the company he was working for, The Solar Energy Research Institute, had shut down his division. After he found out it would be shutting down, he made the decision to return to school. His passion for advertising and marketing began at an early age though. Growing up in Levittown, PA (one of the first black and white community neighborhoods), he saw the inequalities of the world. He was curious about how one company could make two different advertisements. This passion for the racial divide in advertising and marketing continued throughout his career and ultimately was his focus for the rest of his research and time in academia.
What work was Dr. Williams most proud of?
Dr. Williams was a leader in his field of marketing and renowned across the universe of business schools as an innovator and advocate regarding the urgency of diversifying the profession. Dr. Williams has been published extensively in the areas of multicultural marketing, internet privacy and public health communication. One project he was particularly proud of was being a member of an Institute of Medicine Committee that authored the landmark report Food Marketing to Children and Youth: Threat or Opportunity?, and he was appointed by the US Census Bureau to Chair the 2010 Communications Contract Academic Assessment Team. He was also proud of the public books he co-authored, including Diversity in Advertising: Broadening the Scope of Research Directions, Consumer Equality: Race and the American Marketplace (forthcoming), Advances in Communication Research to Reduce Childhood Obesity, and two edited volumes on marketing and public policy issues. Although Dr. Williams was proud of his research and published works, he was also an avid mentor to others in the field of Marketing. Dr. Williams used every resource to encourage people of color to pursue a career in marketing, including being a pioneer for his visionary work at The PhD project.
What advice would Dr. Williams give to anyone interested in pursuing a career in teaching and research?
One of Dr. Williams’ favorite quotes was, “Find a Job that you love to do and you never have to work a day in your life.” Dr. Williams would want you to find an area of research that you are passionate about and never let that go.