Bob Williams has worked a long time at UCLA, starting out as an
undergraduate employee in the residence halls almost 30 years ago.
Now he is the head of Associated Students UCLA, an organization
that deals in almost $70 million in sales annually.
Williams, whose appointment to be the association’s
executive director begins June 1, stepped in as interim executive
director after former Executive Director Pat Eastman resigned late
September 2003. Williams was previously the association’s
director of food service operations.
“I consider it a great honor to have been selected by the
ASUCLA Board of Directors to fill the position of executive
director,” Williams said in a press release. “I look
forward to working with future boards to help move this great
organization forward to even greater accomplishments and to a
closer connection to all members of the campus.”
Williams’ tenure as interim executive director was an
active one. In the past year and a half, the student-majority board
of directors voted to end Taco Bell’s contract, prompting a
petition campaign from students wanting the eatery back. He also
headed the association when undergraduate and graduate students
voted on the SAFE referendum, which increased the student
association fee. The majority of the funds will go to renovating
food facilities on campus.
The board permitted Williams to negotiate a contract to bring
Taco Bell back, and students passed the referendum in this
spring’s student elections. But in addition to the growth
that will be fueled by the fee increase, Williams also has to deal
with challenges such as declining sales and increasing
Charles Harless, a graduate representative on the board and
chair of the personnel committee, said that Williams’ ability
to “think outside of the box” is what ASUCLA needs in
order to adapt to the changes in higher education.
“I think Bob is the perfect person to lead us
there,” Harless said.
The chancellor is also pleased with the Board’s decision
to appoint Williams as ASUCLA’s executive director.
“As interim executive director of ASUCLA, Bob Williams
demonstrated outstanding abilities as an innovator, manager and
leader,” wrote chancellor Albert Carnesale in an e-mail.
“We are fortunate to have him assume the position on a
Hoi Ning Ngai, a graduate representative who will be serving on
next year’s board, said Williams exceeded the expectations of
someone in an interim position.
“The idea (of someone in an interim position) is to
maintain the status quo,” Ngai said.
“I think he’s really moved the organization forward
as opposed to keeping it in a sort of equilibrium.”
Williams has had a long history with UCLA, first as a student
and then as a food services employee. When he was a student,
Williams worked on the Rieber Hall food services team and moved up
to be a student supervisor for the residence hall.
After graduating from UCLA with a bachelor’s degree in
economics in 1980, Williams started his career within ASUCLA, first
as a night manager for the Treehouse, a cafeteria that was located
on Ackerman Union’s first floor.
Williams rose up the ranks and became the divisions manager for
Ackerman’s first floor in 1994, then the associate director
for food services in 1996 and then eventually the director of food
service operations in 1999.
While the past two executive directors, Pat Eastman, who served
from 1996 until 2003 and Charles Mack, who only served for one year
before Eastman, came from outside of the association, Jerry Mann,
the director of the student union and student support services said
that Williams’ experience with ASUCLA is what the association
“He lives and breathes ASUCLA and the ASUCLA mission, and
it’s entirely appropriate … that the (board of directors)
has selected him as executive director,” Mann said.