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Founder of Environmental Studies Program Mourned

June 14, 2004

Evan T. Williams, professor of chemistry and founding chair of environmental studies, died May 24, 2004, of a brain tumor.


“Evan made staggeringly diverse contributions to life at Lewis & Clark,” said Elizabeth Safran, assistant professor of geological science. “His actions were borne forward on a kind of tsunami of enthusiasm—about the environment, the liberal arts, the College, and, above all, about students.”


Williams joined Lewis & Clark in 1992 as vice president for academic affairs and dean of the College. In his role as administrator, he conceived the College’s motto: Explorare, Discere, Sociare (to explore, to learn, to work together). As a chemistry professor, he championed the creation of the college’s environmental studies program, which was built upon courses in the natural sciences, the social sciences, and the humanities—what Williams referred to as the “environmental tripod.” The College began offering environmental studies as a major in 1998, with Williams as the first program chair.


Also during his tenure, he spearheaded the successful effort to create a Phi Beta Kappa chapter at Lewis & Clark (he was a proud third-generation Phi Beta Kappa member), led the annual Environmental Affairs Symposium, served as a faculty adviser for various student groups, and taught hundreds of students.


“We will fondly remember his love of nature and the outdoors, his tireless work ethic, his advocacy on behalf of the environment, his keen intellect, his vitality, and his gentle spirit,” said Interim President Paul E. Bragdon.


Williams graduated from Williams College in 1958 and received a doctorate in nuclear chemistry from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in 1963. Before coming to Lewis & Clark, he spent 27 years at Brooklyn College as a chemistry professor, chair of the chemistry department, and dean of undergraduate studies.


He is survived by his wife, Lise, children Elisabeth and John, their spouses Jim Desmond and Sarah Mock, and four granddaughters, Claire, Lily, Louise, and Celeste—all of Portland.


The family requests donations be made to the Lewis & Clark College Tree Walk in honor of Professor Evan T. Williams.


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