It was with great sadness that the members of the department learned of the passing of Bernie Williams in late March. The loss, however, also served as a time of reflection–one particularly touching tribute was a recent column in the Scranton Times-Tribune by Attorney Joseph G. Price in which he offers a commemoration of his former professor and mentor.
Professor Williams joined the faculty at the University in 1962. During his service as Scranton’s pre-law advisor, he helped to establish and grow the University’s reputation with and graduate admittance to several prestigious East Coast law schools. He also established the University’s Pre-law Society (1966). He founded Scranton’s chapter of Phi Alpha Theta, the international honor society in history (1967), and pioneered the International Studies major at Scranton (1981). He served the University in several administrative positions, including as director of the University’s office that advised students pursuing post-baccalaureate graduate and professional degree programs, as a member of the University Senate and as vice-chair of the Student Affairs Council. He retired in 1997.
Professor Williams’ numerous teaching awards include the Outstanding Teacher Award from the University’s graduating class of 1966, the Outstanding Service Award from the Middle Atlantic States Region of the U.S. Association of Evening Students in 1972, and the Excellence in Teaching Award from Alpha Sigma Nu, the national Jesuit honor society, in 1973, among others.
In the greater Scranton community, Professor Williams served as a director for the Voluntary Action Center of Northeastern Pennsylvania and on the executive committee of the Volunteers-in-Probation of Lackawanna County.
A native of Philadelphia, Professor Williams earned his bachelor’s degree in history from La Salle College. He earned his master’s degree in history from Niagara University, where he also taught prior to joining the faculty at Scranton.
He is survived by a sister, Mary W. Howells, and a sister-in-law, Marian Williams, as well as nieces and nephews.