Some 400 leaders from business, education, the city and the community turned out to honor Odessa College President Gregory Williams as the Odessa Chamber of Commerce’s Citizen of the Year at the Odessa Country Club Thursday.
Williams has served as OC president since January 2007. He had been a student at the college in 1983. He earned three degrees from the University of Texas of the Permian Basin in psychology with a certification to teach psychology, history and learning disabled students, information from the chamber said.
This was followed by two master’s degrees in education mid-management and psychology. He received a doctorate in higher education administration from Baylor University.
Among many accomplishments since becoming president, Williams has seen a successful 2010 bond election that allowed the college to launch Vision 2015, a $78 million campus-wide building and renovation program.
In 2017, the college won numerous awards, including being named an Aspen Institute Top 10 community college and the Rising Star Award for Community College Excellence, also from the Aspen Institute. The college also garnered the Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board’s 2017 Star Award for its eight-week terms.
In 2016, it was named the first AVID demonstration site in higher education in the country, the information said.
“I’m honored and I’m proud,” Williams said in an interview before the luncheon. “It’s an acknowledgement, I think, of the work that we’re doing. For me it’s always about the work. It’s about the students. It’s about the community. It’s about us moving forward. We know that there’s a lot more that needs to be done and I’m proud to be a part of that, but also tremendously proud to be a representative of Odessa College and all the wonderful work that those people are doing.”
Additionally, during his remarks later, Williams said he would talk about everyone coming together as a community.
“It’s about education. It’s about supporting each other. It’s about acknowledging our board and the work that they’re doing and the work that other boards and entities are doing and we need all of us to pull together if we’re going to have success and I’m all about the work,” Williams said.
Odessa College Board of Trustees President Royce Bodiford said it was great that Williams was receiving the Citizen of the Year recognition. He added that he wants to encourage Williams to continue to advance and for OC to become the No. 1 community college in the country.
“He well deserves this award for all the work he’s done for the community through Odessa College. His leadership has been outstanding over these (11) years that he’s been there,” Bodiford said.
Craig Van Amburgh, president of CVA Advertising and Marketing and a past chairman of the Odessa Chamber of Commerce, said he was asked to serve as emcee of the luncheon by Williams.
This is the 60th year the award has been given.
“I personally think they couldn’t have picked a better choice,” Van Amburgh said. “Dr. Williams has come into this market again and done an incredible job bringing Odessa College up to the level that it’s at. It’s gotten local, regional, national attention for the innovative things that he’s doing.”
“… Greg is a really inspirational person, not only for Odessa College but with everybody that knows him. You’re inspired by him because he’s a go-getter. He loves life and he makes things happen,” Van Amburgh added.