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.”
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.”
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