Retiring North Central College associate professor Thomas Williams was awarded emeritus status at North Central's Commencement ceremonies on June 12. A resident of Naperville, he was named Associate Professor of Biology Emeritus.
Williams came to North Central College in 1981 from Washington State University, where he received a doctorate in zoology. He earned a bachelor's degree in biology from Willamette University and master's in biology from Drake University.
His expertise in zoology focused on salamander anti-predator mechanisms and he ignited a passion for scientific research in his students by including them in his laboratory and field projects, conference presentations and publishing. Many students who went on to graduate school in the sciences were inspired by his research and mentoring. Williams' articles appeared in "The Journal of Herpetology" and "The Journal of Experimental Zoology," and in 1988 he was awarded North Central's Dissinger Award for Distinguished Teaching by his students and peers.
Williams taught a wide range of courses for biology majors, non-majors and graduate students, including introductory biology, zoology, the biology of dinosaurs, landmark discoveries in natural science, evolution and uses and abuses of science. He also served as advisor to the biology honor society Beta Beta Beta, as chair of the biology department and supervised numerous senior honors theses.
About Williams, fellow faculty member David Horner, Harold and Eva White Distinguished Professor in the Liberal Arts and professor of chemistry and physics, said, "Tom is passionate about his subject and passionate about teaching, but what made Tom special is the extent to which he enjoyed his students. He really cared about each student's development as a person, as well as developing their talents as scientists."
Founded in 1861, North Central College is an independent, comprehensive college of the liberal arts and sciences that offers more than 55 undergraduate majors and graduate programming in six areas. Located in Naperville, Ill., North Central is recognized as one of "America's Best Colleges" by U.S. News & World Report, which cites it as one of the top six schools in the Midwest for "Strong Commitment to Undergraduate Teaching"; as "a college for high-achieving students" by Peterson's Competitive Colleges; and as one of "America's Best Colleges" by Forbes.