Understanding that institutional budgets tend to reproduce the status quo, the Williamses wanted to create a resource that could have a revolutionary effect on the way the university delivers undergraduate education. They established the Williams Fund and a faculty council to administer it.
There are many factors and funding mechanisms that support the status quo in higher education. We have established something different. We want to support fresh thinking - thinking that will ignite new ideas and get beyond 'just business as usual.' We want to support those professors willing to search for better and more effective ways of learning.
Williams Council members are among the best teachers at UO. Most are previous recipients of a Williams Fellowship or Distinguished Teaching Award or otherwise well regarded for their innovation and thoughtfulness regarding undergraduate education. They serve three-year terms.
The Williams Council uses two programs to meet the challenge proposed by Tom and Carol Williams, Williams Fellowships and Williams Instructional Proposals. Read more about Tom and Carol's impact at the University of Oregon in articles from Oregon Quarterly and AroundtheO.
The success of the Williams Council in inspiring new initiatives led to the creation of the Williams Fellows program. The Council seeks nominees who are excellent teachers and have demonstrated an extraordinary commitment to undergraduate education by challenging their students academically, creating an engaged and inclusive learning environment, investing in their own professional development, striving to improve the learning process through innovation and fostering collaboration. While the Distinguished Teaching Awards celebrate teaching excellence at the level of the course, the Williams Fellowship specifically celebrates excellent teachers who generate innovations and collaborate outside the boundaries of their courses.
A $5,000 award to the recipient acknowledges their outstanding contribution to undergraduate learning at the University of Oregon. In accordance with the goals of the Williams Council, a separate $5,000 award to the recipient's department, supervised by the recipient, shall be used to affect tangibly the teaching and learning experience of undergraduates in the department.
If you wish to nominate someone for a Williams Fellow award please complete the nomination form as well as email two supporting letters and the nominee’s CV to OtP@uoregon.edu with the subject line: Williams Fellow Nomination.
Nominees' necessary involvement in this process is a change from previous years: Nominees now will have the pleasure of knowing you’ve nominated them and be able to speak to some core aspects of their teaching that they know best. Thus, there are always at least three voices—the nominee’s and two letter writers’—that comprise a nomination. Supporting letters should specifically address the nominee’s pedagogical or curricular innovations and/or their collaborations across courses, departments or disciplines.
If the nomination is for a pair of collaborators, they can answer the teaching questions together.
Williams Instructional Proposals
In 1996, the Council made its first call for instructional proposals to faculty who wanted to implement new ways of encouraging learning. This solicitation led to the submission of twenty-five proposals. In the years since 1996, the Williams Council has funded over 100 instructional proposals resulting in, for example:
- innovations within specific courses;
- imaginative new cross-disciplinary courses;
- opportunities to deepen students' engagement with diverse, cross-cultural perspectives;
- new ways of providing peer to peer learning support, and
- new ways of conceptualizing teaching and learning within existing disciplines.
The Williams Council invites proposals from individuals or groups that allow faculty teachers the opportunity to renew, broaden, restructure, or develop classes and curricula that actively engage students in the learning process. As in past years, exciting and creative proposals with any focus will be fully considered.
Please follow this link to view the Williams Showcase (February 2021) where you will hear from a distinguished panel of past instructional grant recipients, learn about their Williams-funded projects, and discuss the selection criteria the Council uses and the types of work the Council has funded in the past.
Williams Instructional Proposals are submitted by completing this proposal form and emailing it to OtP@uoregon.edu by February 15, 2024. We encourage you to read over the proposal form as you begin to generate your ideas. All questions, large and small, are welcome and may be addressed to OtP@uoregon.edu. The Williams Council will evaluate the proposal using criteria aligned to the description above.