Richard Williams ’63, 2013 Distinguished Achievement Award

Richard Williams, Class of 1963, the leadership and professional advice that you have shared with the Cornell College community has influenced students to examine their opinions and inspired them to find creativity and drive to work toward a brighter future for themselves and the communities around them.

Richard Williams '63
Richard Williams ’63 and Cornell President Jonathan Brand.

You received your juris doctor from Georgetown University Law School in 1966 and co-founded Hlustik, Huizenga, Williams & Vander Woude, Ltd in 1968. Your extensive knowledge of law and business matters has benefited individuals, corporations, and partnerships as you’ve advised CEOs and Boards of Directors in matters of ownership and corporate governance. In fact, you have served for many years yourself as chief executive of a large ranch, oil, gas, and agricultural operation in Texas, as well as Chairman of the Board of a privately-held company that is the leader for foodservice disposables.

In addition, you share your expertise as the chair of the resource fund of St. Clement School Board, the Pinnell Foundation, and on the Board of Trustees of the Chicago Academy of Sciences and its Peggy Notebaert Nature Museum.

Cornell College is among those who have most benefited from your knowledgeable guidance. Your service to your alma mater has engendered several important initiatives, including the executive board of the Board of Trustees, the Presidential Search Committee, the founding of the National Council of Advisors, and the Cornell College Club of Chicago.

Your charitable contributions to Cornell have supported many of the college’s highest needs. Most notably, inspired by your experience hearing Martin Luther King Jr. as a Cornell student, you created the Richard and Marlene Williams Special Activities Endowment Fund. The purpose of the Williams Fund is to bring enthusiasm and greater insight to campus via performances the students want to see and hear; the fund has sponsored appearances by the band Walk Off The Earth, Second City, the Capitol Steps, and Rockapella. The Williams Fund has also brought speakers with thought-provoking insight about diverse topics including growing up in the Midwest and inspiring empathy in schoolchildren.

With all your commitments both here and elsewhere, you have not forgotten to take time to speak with and listen to Cornell students by presenting for the Cornell LEADS program and hosting a lunch for pre-law students, where you asked the students their opinions of what improvements were needed at Cornell.

Richard, it gives me tremendous pleasure to award you the highest joint honor of the college and the Alumni Association. I hereby bestow upon you, Richard J. Williams, the Distinguished Achievement Award.