Graduate fellowship continues former professor’s legacy

By By Rochelle McConkie

By Rochelle McConkie

While serving in the Federal Land Management agency and as a U professor, David C. Williams was an advocate of citizen participation in government and environmental affairs.

Now, five years after his death, his wife Kathleen Hom is keeping up his dream through the David C. Williams Memorial Graduate Fellowship for students committed to studying and sustaining the management of public lands.

Since 1979, Williams worked for the Bureau of Land Management in Washington, D.C. He was specifically in charge of all western lands in the United States.

Although Williams’ job was politically sensitive, he tried to incorporate the input of the people into every decision he made, for both legal and moral reasons.

“David (Williams) believed that people should control their lands and government and that every decision made that had to with the country and its resources should be made with citizen participation,” Hom said.

During his time at the Bureau of Land Management, Williams was able to lead the construction of the Escalante monument in Southern Utah.

After 20 years of service, both Williams and Hom decided to retire to receive their master’s degrees and teach. Hom had been working as a civil rights compliance officer for public schools in Washington, D.C.

At the U, Williams taught political science and law. Hom is currently finishing her master’s degree while teaching communication, political science and ethnic/international studies.

“He wanted to teach young people and teach administrators how to care for public lands, to make sure the review processes were respected for what they were meant to do–with citizen participation,” Hom said.

In 2002, Williams died of a brain tumor. Three years ago, Hom decided to set up the David C. Williams Memorial Graduate Fellowship to continue his efforts to educate and involve students in understanding their stewardship over natural resources and public lands.

She said she created the fellowship to reach out to the people Williams wanted to teach and reach out to, but no longer could.

The fellowship awards $5,000 for one year and half of tuition waived to graduate students who have shown an interest in and commitment to the “principles of stewardship and sustainability in the management of public lands.” The scholarships can be renewed.

Two to four awards are given per semester. Usually, 10 to 15 students apply for the fellowship each year, but fewer applied last year. College of Social and Behavioral Science Development Officer Tamara Taylor said she hopes more students apply for the scholarship this year.

Ariana Torrey