REMEMBERING DR. CAROLYN G. WILLIAMS: Dr. Michael C. Gillespie, Associate Dean, Retired

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Near the end of spring term of 1998, President Carolyn Williams sent for me to come to her office. When I arrived, she gave me a hug and told me she needed my help.

It seems that she would be unable to attend an upcoming week-long planning meeting because her daughter was getting married at the same time. She had decided that I should attend the meeting and represent her and BCC.

Ordinarily, I would have been elated by the opportunity — however, the planning meeting was being sponsored by the Ford Foundation and would be held in South Africa! I wasn’t certain I was up to the task, and I immediately told Carolyn I couldn’t do it. Carolyn’s response to me was the following:

“Michael, I realize you have been taught to live your life with humility. However, I know you will represent BCC and me well and you simply have to do it. So, go home and start packing. You leave in two days.”

All I could think about was whether I could make Carolyn proud by doing a credible job among the heavy-hitters I would soon meet. Little did I know that I was helping to initiate a more than decade-long collaboration between BCC and the higher education sector of South Africa. This collaboration resulted in a consistent enrichment of ideas and expansion of educational opportunities for hundreds of South African students.

In the end, I thanked Carolyn Williams for her faith in me and for helping me learn something new about myself, including my talents and capacities for leadership.

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