University News

In memoriam: Harold Williams, former dean of UCLA Anderson, philanthropist and arts advocate

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Harold Williams

In addition to making a widespread impact at UCLA, Harold Williams also served as founding president and CEO of the J. Paul Getty Trust.

Harold Williams, former dean of the UCLA Anderson School of Management and former UC regent, died July 30 at his home in Santa Ynez, California. He was 89.

When Williams was appointed dean of what was then the UCLA Graduate School of Business Administration in 1970, he was one of the first business school deans drawn from the corporate world. Previously, he had served as president of Hunt-Wesson Foods Inc. and chairman of the board of Norton Simon Inc.

“It was under Dean Williams’ leadership that UCLA was first recognized as a top business school,” said Alfred Osborne Jr., senior associate dean and professor at UCLA Anderson, who was hired by Williams in 1972.

One of Williams’ early initiatives was to replace “Business Administration” with “Management” in the school’s name. “He understood that management education was about more than just business and that practical and experiential opportunities were critical to enlightened professional M.B.A. education,” Osborne said. “Under his leadership, the management field studies program became our first effort at active learning.”  

Williams also streamlined the school’s degree offerings and championed a new program in arts management, which went on to produce a generation of the world’s leading arts administrators.

Osborne also recalled that “Harold understood the human side of management. He always had a kind word for everyone, no matter what their title or position.”

Williams left UCLA in 1977 to serve as chairman of the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission in the Carter administration. When he returned to Los Angeles in 1981, he was named the founding president and CEO of the J. Paul Getty Trust, a position he held until his retirement in January 1998. His vision led to the creation of the Getty as an institution devoted to scholarship, conservation, education and the presentation of the visual arts, and to the building of the Getty Center as a campus for Getty programs.

Born in Philadelphia, Williams moved to Los Angeles with his family at age 6 and grew up in Boyle Heights. He attended UCLA on a scholarship and graduated Phi Beta Kappa at age 18 with a bachelor of arts in political science. He went on to earn a law degree at Harvard University and serve in the Korean War.

Over the years, Williams served UCLA as a founding trustee of the UCLA Foundation, a member of the UCLA Anderson Board of Visitors, a life member of the UCLA Alumni Association, a Jacoby Associate and a James West Center New Founder. In 1995, he — along with Eli Broad and Daniel Belin — was a founding chair of the UCLA Arts Board of Visitors. He has been recognized on campus with the Professional Achievement Award, the Edward A. Dickson Alumnus of the Year Award and the UCLA Medal. He served on the UC Board of Regents from 1982 to 1994.

Williams’ philanthropy toward UCLA has been extensive and diverse, especially to the UCLA College, the Center for Jewish Studies, and the UCLA School of the Arts and Architecture, where he established a scholarship endowment and provided support for the Fund for Excellence, the Visual and Performing Arts Education program, and the Center for the Art of Performance at UCLA, as well as the Hammer and Fowler museums.

A memorial service will take place in the fall.

Related links:
Tribute to Harold Williams from David Roussève, interim dean of the UCLA School of the Arts and Architecture
Harold Williams receives highest honor from UCLA School of the Arts and Architecture

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