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Williams, Charles (Mick) (?–1987)

by Geoff Caldwell

Emeritus Professor Charles (Mick) Murray Williams died on February 3, 1987.

Professor Williams joined ANU as Professor of History from the University of New England in February 1967, and was Head of the Department of History from 1972 to August 1977. He served the University more broadly as Dean of Students for two years (August 1969 to September 1971) and as Chairman of the Board of the Division of Educational Services from May 1983 to December 1984.

This brief description of his role at ANU masks the immense intellectual and personal qualities that he brought to his tasks. In many ways, he was the ideal academic—liberal and humane in the Western tradition. He was an inspiring teacher, especially in seventeenth century history, who repeatedly drew parallels between historical and contemporary trends and events. He cared tremendously about the intellectual development and welfare of students. He was respected by his colleagues for his fair-mindedness, his great capacity to distil the essence of an issue or problem, his refusal to accept arguments at face value, and the articulate presentation of his conclusions. In his judgments about individuals within the University, he was unfailingly sympathetic, and perhaps his most endearing quality was his gentleness.

Mick Williams had a highly developed sense of justice, a cheerful and delightful sense of humour, and a considerable social conscience and commitment—as testified by his work with Pegasus, an organisation aimed at providing opportunities for disabled children to learn to ride horses.

One of his contributions to the University is perhaps not widely known. The Division of Educational Services was created in 1980, composed of a disparate set of University service groups (IRU, ORAM, CCE, CSSU, Counselling, Careers and Appointments, Health Service). Professor Williams filled a host of positions on the Board—foundation member, Deputy Chairman and, in addition, Chairman of the Standing Committee. That the Division has become an effective body is due to his patience, commitment, creativity, even-handedness and good sense.

Mick Williams was a fine academic and a marvellous person. He is missed by a vast number of colleagues, present and former students, friends, and a grieving family.

Original publication

Citation details

Geoff Caldwell, 'Williams, Charles (Mick) (?–1987)', Obituaries Australia, National Centre of Biography, Australian National University, http://oa.anu.edu.au/obituary/williams-charles-mick-1042/text1043, accessed 21 September 2017.

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