DURHAM, N.C. -- Duke University trustee emeritus Morris Williams and his wife Ruth will give $5 million to the Duke Athletics Department, President Richard H. Brodhead announced Thursday.
The gift supports the $3.25 billion Duke Forward fundraising campaign launched last fall for priorities across Duke’s 10 schools, Duke Medicine and a range of university programs. Included in the campaign is a $250 million goal for Duke Athletics to be divided three ways – for facility enhancements and support ($100 million), endowment income ($50 million) and operating funds ($100 million).
The Williams' gift will support Duke athletics, in particular the track and field programs.
“As a trustee, Morris Williams provided wise counsel and moral leadership of Duke,” said Brodhead. “From the Divinity School to medical research to athletics, Morris and Ruth have demonstrated their comprehensive love of this university, and we are grateful that Duke continues to benefit from their generous spirit.”
A graduate of Roxboro (N.C.) High School, Williams graduated Phi Beta Kappa with a bachelor of arts in history from Duke in 1962 and a master of arts in teaching in 1963. His wife, Ruth Whitmore Williams, graduated from Duke’s Woman’s College in 1963.
After teaching for a year in the Durham Public School system, Morris Williams started with the investment division of the trust department at Mellon Bank before joining the investment management firm Miller, Anderson & Sherrerd LLP, where he became a partner in 1975. He founded the investment firm Williams & Company in 1997 and continues to serve as its president.
“We are thrilled that Morris and Ruth Williams have dedicated such an extraordinary gift to Duke University, and specifically to Duke Athletics and the track and field programs,” said Duke Vice President and Director of Athletics Kevin White. “We sincerely thank Morris and Ruth for their amazing support. Their service and contributions to Duke Athletics will be treasured forever.”
The Williams’ gift is the fourth commitment of $5 million or more to the Department of Athletics since last October. Dr. Steven Scott, a member of Duke Forward’s Campaign Steering Committee, and his wife, Rebecca, and Duke Forward Co-Chair David Rubenstein each pledged $10 million gifts in October and December, respectively. Former trustee Roy Bostock and his wife, Merilee, pledged $5 million in February.
“Duke University had a very positive impact on my life so I am delighted to give back to Duke, and especially pleased to support the track and field stadium effort, which will serve both the student-athletes and the entire Duke and Durham community,” said Morris Williams.
For many years, Williams has served the university as a member of the Board of Trustees (emeritus), the Divinity Board of Visitors (emeritus) and the Athletics Advisory and Leadership boards. He has also served on several trustee committees, as well as on other university committees, including the Annual Fund Executive Committee, the Divinity Capital Campaign Committee and co-chair of his class reunion.
Additionally, the Williams family established the A. Morris and Annabel Williams Fund for Parish Ministry in 1983 to honor Morris Williams’ parents, and created the Ruth W. and A. Morris Williams Jr. Professorship in the field of parish ministry in 1988. The Ruth and A. Morris Williams Jr. Faculty Research Prize was established in 2001 through the Duke University School of Medicine in support of researchers’ needs for funding innovative projects.
In 2003, Williams was awarded the University Medal, given annually since 1986 for “distinguished meritorious service to Duke.” It is considered the school’s highest honor for service.
Outside of Duke, they have been heavily involved in philanthropic efforts for the College of Wooster, CARE, the Free Library in Philadelphia, the National Humanities Center, the Philadelphia Scholars Fund, the Pine Tree Family Foundation and the Salvation Army.
Williams’ father, the Rev. A. Morris Williams Sr. (Divinity '32), and his daughters, Susan '85 and Joanne '87, are all Duke graduates.