Harold Williams helped the Anderson School of Management develop an internationally recognized reputation and emphasized human interaction in the school’s curriculum.
Williams, a former dean of the School of Management from 1970 to 1977, died July 30 in his Santa Ynez home at the age of 89. Faculty at the School of Management remember him for bringing a fresh approach by broadening students’ studies and helping them apply their education in different fields.
John McDonough, a professor emeritus at the School of Management, said in an email statement he thinks Williams improved the school’s direction by consolidating the School of Management’s then 11 Master of Science degrees into one cohesive Master of Business Administration program that is still in place today.
“The Williams era not only put the UCLA graduate business school on the map but vaulted the school into the top 10 MBA rankings in the U.S.,” McDonough said.
Williams, a UCLA graduate, had previously served in the Korean War and spent 20 years working in various corporate positions. After working at UCLA, Williams served in former President Jimmy Carter’s administration and was the founding president of the J. Paul Getty Trust, an art institution.
Lee Cooper, a professor emeritus at the School of Management, said in an emailed statement that Williams created an environment where students and faculty were able to work together to find ways to apply their business studies in diverse fields such as the arts.
For example, Williams helped develop the Management in the Arts program, which taught students about the business side of creative fields, said Cooper, who was a former director of the program. He added the Management in the Arts program produced events such as plays and art exhibits.
“The best leaders create an environment in which such activities flower,” Cooper said. “He was that kind of a dean.”
Williams was also an early proponent of studying human interactions in business rather than just focusing on numbers, said Alfred Osborne Jr., senior associate dean at the School of Management who had worked with Williams as a professor.
“(Williams) introduced the notion of understanding who we are as individuals, who we are as we work in groups, who we are as we work in organizations,” Osborne said. “He was talking like that before it was popular.”
Osborne added that Williams helped create the School of Management’s field studies programs – now the Business Creation Option – that allow students to study real world approaches to business and management.
“(Williams gave) students a chance to be active,” Osborne said. “It’s one thing to learn something, it’s another thing to actually make something happen.”
Although Williams served as the School of Management’s dean 40 years ago, Osborne said he thinks Williams’ contribution can still be felt today. For example, Williams changed the school’s name from “Business Administration” to “Management” because he thought it better reflected the school’s purpose.
“He would smile at the success the school has developed,” Osborne added. “We were fortunate to have him in our lives.”