Tennessee State University Welcomes Honors Program Founder


University Honors Program founder, Dr. McDonald Williams (third from left) recently returned to campus to attend the Presidential Inauguration and to meet with current honors students. Joining his visit was (L-R) Dr. Sandra Holt, the fourth director of the program, Williams' wife, Dr. Jaime Williams, and Dr. Coreen Jackson, current director of the program. (photo by John Cross, TSU Media Relations)

University Honors Program founder, Dr. McDonald Williams (third from left) recently returned to campus to attend the Presidential Inauguration and to meet with current honors students. Joining his visit was (L-R) Dr. Sandra Holt, the fourth director of the program, Williams’ wife, Dr. Jaime Williams, and Dr. Coreen Jackson, current director of the program. (photos by Dr. Lee McGahey, associate director, TSU Honors Program)

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (TSU News Service) – In her recent inaugural address, Dr. Glenda Baskin Glover welcomed many of the special people in her life that helped her become the person she is today and obtain the position as the first female president of the University.

One of those in attendance was Dr. McDonald Williams, the first director of the University Honors Program, who she credited with helping to keep her in school.

Williams stood to a round of applause as Dr. Glover told the crowd that he was one of the many people who gave her “roots and wings.” Dr. Glover, a graduate of the Honors Program, was a student during Williams’ tenure as director from 1966 to 1988.

“Roots and wings are the greatest gift a university can give to its students,” Dr. Glover said, adding that roots can help a student lay the foundation of success, while wings can help them to soar as high as possible.

Williams is credited with helping develop the program after the University saw the need in 1964 to keep up with other institutions, and to offer a rich and challenging set of academic offerings to talented and highly motivated students through special courses, research and a vigorous intellectual community. In 1995, the honors center was named the McDonald Williams Honors Center due to his dedication and commitment to the program.

Following the presidential inauguration ceremony, Dr. Coreen Jackson, the current director of the program, hosted a Meet & Greet reception in Williams’ honor. Those attending the special reception included honors alumni, former director, Dr. Sandra Holt and current honor students. Also attending was Williams’ wife, Dr. Jaime Williams, former TSU Communications Chair, and their daughter, Donna.

“This was history in the making,” said Jackson. “We may never have this awesome opportunity again to have our Honors students celebrate and be inspired by the first director of the Honors program as he recounted history, achievement and success.”

During his visit to campus, Williams and his wife, Dr. Jaime Williams, former TSU Communications Chair, met with current honors program students.

During his visit to campus, Williams and his wife, Dr. Jaime Williams, former TSU Communications Chair, met with current Honors Program students.

Williams shared what life was like as the first director of the University Honors Program with the eager crowd. He recounted the small beginnings, the tenacity of his students, the successes and achievements accomplished.

“He told the current students to appreciate all the opportunities they have today because during his time they did not have the space and excellent facilities they are enjoying today,” added Jackson.

After motivating the students and congratulating the Honors Alumni, his wife, Dr. Jaime Williams, recounted her time at TSU, and shared a unique story about Oprah Winfrey, who at the time was only three hours away from graduating from the Speech & Theatre Department.

“Oprah was offered a job with a TV station in Baltimore which later led to another television job in Chicago,” added Jamie Williams.  “I later contacted Oprah and invited her to be the commencement speaker but told her she needed to complete a documentary to satisfy her three hours so that she could graduate, which she did. The day of the commencement she flew in a private jet to deliver her commencement address and to graduate.”

Jackson also recognized and invited Dr. Sandra Holt, the fourth director of the Honors Program the opportunity to address students and Alumni. Holt, who retired from the program the beginning of the year, expressed her appreciation to Drs. Williams, Dr. Jackson, and encouraged the current students to continue to strive towards excellence.

“I am very happy to know that the Honors Program is in good hands,” McDonald Williams told Jackson as they walked later to the Inaugural luncheon. “I know Dr. Glover will take good care of you and the program. I am very pleased to see the beautiful facility Dr. Glover has given you.”

With a note of assurance in his voice, a twinkle in his eyes and a smile on his lips, Dr. Williams remarked, “the future for Honors is bright.”

 

 

 

 

 

Department of Media Relations
Tennessee State University
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About Tennessee State University

With nearly 9,000 students, Tennessee State University is Nashville’s only public university, and is a comprehensive, urban, co-educational, land-grant university offering 38 undergraduate, 22 graduate and seven doctoral programs. TSU has earned a top 20 ranking for Historically Black Colleges and Universities according to U.S. News and World Report, and rated as one of the top universities in the country by Washington Monthly for social mobility, research and community service. Founded in 1912, Tennessee State University celebrated 100 years in Nashville during 2012. Visit the University online at tnstate.edu.