Whether Larry Williams is entertaining his students with hair-raising biology stories, volunteering in his community or just paddling down some Southern Illinois waterway in his kayak, he is sure to be making a positive impact on everyone in his path. This quality and others have earned him the 2006 Rend Lake College Foundation Faculty Excellence Award.
Williams, a Zoology professor at RLC and Mt. Vernon resident, teaches microbiology and human anatomy and physiology, and he has had a heavy hand in the development of both programs. When Williams joined Rend Lake College in August 1981, he was responsible for developing and implementing the microbiology course and for expanding the anatomy and physiology curriculum into a two-semester offering, both of which were essential for the growth of the nursing and health care programs at RLC.
“As a member of the Math, Science and Education Division for the last 25 years, and as a Professor of Biology, we feel he exemplifies the talent, dedication and performance which define faculty excellence,” said a nomination letter signed by a host of Williams’ colleagues. He will receive the award during the annual RLC Board / Faculty / Staff Dinner set for 6:30 p.m. Friday, May 5, at Rend Lake Resort.
“Larry’s contributions to Rend Lake College and the community have been many over his career,” the letter adds. “He has proven to be an exceptional classroom instructor, active curriculum innovator and dedicated community member. Both RLC and the region have benefitted from his professionalism and academic expertise and through the expression of his varied interests.”
Williams is able to give students real-world examples from his work in area hospitals before he joined the RLC faculty. He continues with professional development through seminars and advanced physiology courses and brings even more new ideas into the classroom.
“His students are armed with the proper knowledge and the ability to use that knowledge in their fields of work,” said his colleagues. Williams formerly served as Chairperson of the former Math, Science, Education, Health and Physical Education Department (now the Math, Science and Education Division), and has been nominated for Who’s Who Among American Teachers by his students.
Williams enjoys promoting science education and bringing science experiences to younger students throughout the college district. He has judged middle school science fairs in Benton and McLeansboro and developed a “Science Saturdays” grant program to encourage grade school students to excel in science and mathematics.
Williams has been involved in the annual Worldwide Youth in Science and Engineering competition for area high school students and has represented RLC at career fairs at Mt. Vernon Township High School. He and former RLC History and Political Science Professor Vincent Cain organized and sponsored the first Scholar Bowl team for Rend Lake College in 1986.
Williams also is no stranger to committee work at the college. He has served on the Academic Council, Social Committee, Biological Science Program Review committees, Mining Technology Review committees and numerous hiring committees. He has served as a mentor for the Americorps Illinois River Watch program and helped refurbish the Independence One-Room Schoolhouse as a member of the Schoolhouse Committee.
In what may be his biggest contribution to the community aside from influencing and educating thousands of college students, Williams is heavily involved in the Kiwanis Club. He is on the Board of Directors of the Mt. Vernon club, where he served as vice president in 1999 and president in 2000, and was instrumental in creating a new RLC scholarship funded by Kiwanis. He has helped with Meals on Wheels, served on the Kiwanis Cycle Committee and volunteered at the annual Kiwanis Christmas Party. He also can be found on hand to mix up a batch of pancake batter for the group’s annual Pancake and Sausage Breakfast or a lemon shake-up at the Cedarhurst Art and Craft Fair.
Williams was named a Kiwanis Fellow for outstanding community service in 2001.
Williams has “developed his fascination with nature and history into projects which have enriched the lives of people in the area,” said his colleagues. He has been a guest lecturer at the Jefferson County Historical Society and the Jefferson County Genealogy Society, and collaborated with Dayna Hartley, part-time photography instructor at RLC, to develop a presentation of “A History of Coal Mines in Southern Illinois” for the My Journey Home project for WSIU. His pictures of abandoned coal mining buildings and equipment were displayed in the Learning Resource Center.
“One of the challenges affecting community colleges is the articulation of courses with four-year universities,” said Williams. Another challenge is accreditation and quality of instruction. As Department Chair, he served on the North Central Accreditation Committee to ensure all courses and curricula met the standards of the North Central Association.
At the Annual Convention of the Illinois Community College Trustees Association on June 9, Williams and nominees from other community colleges throughout the state will be recognized and one will be chosen by the ICCTA as its 2006 Outstanding Faculty Member.
“Faculty Excellence Award”
2005 – D.J. Johnson, Industrial Health and Safety
2004 – Patricia Bennett-Minor, Associate Degree Nursing
2003 – Diane Metzger, Mathematics
2002 – Larry Sidwell, Business
2001 – Janet Miller, Business / Computers
2000 – Sandra Cox, Mathematics
1999 – Ro Hoar, Developmental Studies
1998 – Linda Denton, Science
1997 – Carolyn Stewart, Psychology
1996 – John Howard Fisher, Chemistry
1995 – Dr. Sue Santoro Tomlin, Sociology
1994 – Michael P. Mullen, English
1993 – Joseph Henry Rust, Speech
1992 – William Dill, Mining / Advanced Technology
1991 – Jim Waugh, Health / Physical Education
1990 – David Scott, Agriculture
1989 – Wayne Arnold, Health/Physical Education
1988 – Dr. John Homan Jr., English
1987 – Sarah Capps, Art
1986 – Sandra VanCleve, Allied Health
1985 – Dr. Barbara Luchsinger, English
1984 – Shirley Yeargin, Allied Health
1983 – Gary Wade, Mining Technology
1982 – Dr. Eugene Estes, Science
1981 – Vincent Cain, History / Political Science
1980 – Eleanor Hall, Sociology