In Memoriam: Rollin Charles Williams, 1922-2012

Rollin Charles Williams, the first African American professor at the University of Connecticut, died late last month in Waterford, Connecticut, after a brief illness. He was 90 years old.

A native of Kansas City, Missouri, Williams was raised in Tulsa, Oklahoma. The valedictorian of his high school class, he went on to graduate from Howard University in Washington, D.C.  After serving in the Army during World War II, Williams earned a master of social work degree from Boston University.

Williams joined the faculty of the School of Social Work at the University of Connecticut in 1957 as an assistant professor. In an interview earlier this year, Williams reported that after affirmative action programs were initiated in the 1960s and 1970s, several universities tried to hire him away from the University of Connecticut. But Williams remembers, “I said no. I wouldn’t take those jobs, because UConn took me when it didn’t have to.”

During his 30-year career at the University of Connecticut, Williams served as an interim dean and director of the admissions office. At the time of his death, he held the rank of professor emeritus.

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