Endowed Scholarships & Fellowships
Gerald A. Williams Endowed Memorial Scholarship Fund
In 2010, family and friends of Gerald A. Williams, Esq. (1950-2010) established The Gerald A. Williams Endowed Memorial Scholarship Fund to honor his legacy. Gerald A. Williams was born on October 9, 1950, in Pensacola, Florida to the late Fred L. and Ophelia Milner Williams. He received his Bachelor of Arts degree in political science from the University of Tennessee in 1972. Following graduation, he entered the University of Florida College of Law. While at the University of Florida, he was a research assistant, focusing in the area of labor and employment law. He served on the minority student affairs admissions committee, and was active in the Black Law Student Association, having served as president. Mr. Williams received his law degree in 1975, and was admitted to the Florida Bar in October, 1975. He was a first-generation law student who made history as one of the pioneering African American graduates of the University of Florida College of Law. He wore his Gator tie with great pride.
Mr. Williams began his legal career as a Staff Attorney with the Florida Public Employees Relations Commission (PERC). He moved on to serve as Staff Attorney for the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB). In 1978, he joined Dade County Public Schools as Assistant Special Counsel. In 1981, Mr. Williams and his law school classmate, J. Michael Haygood, established Haygood & Williams, P.A. in West Palm Beach, Florida. Haygood & Williams expanded its operations, and with the addition of law school classmate, Jacob A. Rose, Haygood, Williams & Rose became the largest all African American law firm in South Florida. In 1992, the firm merged with the Atlanta based labor law firm of Mack & Bernstein to create Mack, Williams, Haygood & McLean, P.A., a national firm operating in four jurisdictions. The firm's local, regional and national client roster included major public institutions and leading Fortune 500 companies. Mr. Williams served as managing partner of Florida operations.
In 1997, Mr. Williams left private practice and returned to Dade County Public Schools where he served as Chief Labor Counsel and Chief Officer of Labor and Legislative Relations. In 2001, he was recruited by the School District of Palm Beach County to the position of Chief Negotiator and Chief Officer of Administration. Thereafter, the School Board of Palm Beach County appointed him Chief Counsel, a position he held until May 2010. Mr. Williams was a Florida Bar Board Certified labor and employment attorney and a certified arbitrator with the American Arbitration Association. In 2009, Mr. Williams was named one of Florida's Legal Elite by Florida Trend Magazine and selected by his peers as one of Florida's top government lawyers.
Mr. Williams had a passion for the law, education and community service. He served in leadership positions on numerous professional and community boards, including the Executive Board of the Florida Bar Labor & Employment Section; the Florida Bar Committee on Judicial Independence; the Board of the Florida Lawyers' Legal Insurance Corporation; General Counsel for the Virgil Hawkins Florida Chapter of the National Bar Association; the Trustee Board of Tabernacle Missionary Baptist Church; Vice President of the NAACP, Greater Miami Chapter; the Board of the Economic Council of Palm Beach County; Treasurer and Executive Board of the Urban League of Palm Beach County; the Board of the Gulf Stream Council of Boy Scouts of America, and the Board of Good Samaritan Hospital in West Palm Beach, Florida. Mr. Williams was a member of the Alpha Rho Boule Chapter of Sigma Pi Phi Fraternity, Inc. (Henry M. Minton Fellow and James P. Brawley Legacy Award Recipient), Omega Psi Phi Fraternity, Inc., the Pride of Palm Beach Masonic Lodge # 447 and the Ebony Chorale of the Palm Beaches.
In honor of his outstanding contributions, the Gerald A. Williams Esq. Law Academy has been established at Palm Beach Lakes Community High School in West Palm Beach, Florida. In addition, the family has established the Gerald A. Williams Legacy Foundation to continue his commitment to the law, education and service.
Mr. Williams is survived by his wife, Carolyn L. Williams; three children, Monica J. Williams, Esq. (UF Law Class of 2001), Erica K. Williams, Esq. (UF Law Class of 2005) and G. Alan Williams (V. Danielle); a granddaughter, Anyla Danielle Williams; two brothers, a sister, nieces, nephews, and a large extended family.
The Gerald A. Williams Endowed Memorial Scholarship Fund will be awarded to a second or third year law student, who is an active member of the Black Law Student Association (BLSA) or the National Black Law Student Association (NBLSA) with a minimum cumulative GPA of 3.0.
Preference will be given to first generation law students who:
· Demonstrate leadership in BLSA and the law school community at large (recipient(s) must provide evidence of active involvement in BLSA, either in an executive board position or as committee chair, and the law school community. Student involvement in legal clinics and leadership experiences as research or teaching assistant, and/or a member of trial team/moot court will be considered),
· Demonstrate a strong sense of ethics and the desire to use these ethics as a lawyer to serve others and to uphold high standards of professionalism (applicants should submit a one page maximum essay on this topic to demonstrate: 1) an awareness of ethical issues confronting professionals, and 2) an understanding of the interrelationship and importance to ethics and professionalism/defining a professional),
· Demonstrate service to the community at large (commitment to service in law school and undergraduate school community service may be considered).
Contact the Office of Student Services in the Fredric G. Levin College of Law.