Papers of Sir Alwyn Williams, 1921-2004, Principal, University of Glasgow, Scotland, 1976-1988

Scope and Content

  • Advisory Board for Research Council records 1985-1988
  • Scottish Tertiary Education Advisory Council records 1984-1987
  • Geological records 1986-1988
  • Papers and correspondence concerning University of London Earth Sciences rationalisation 1982-1983
  • Papers and correspondence relating to the Universities Authorities Panel 1979-1984
  • Speeches by Sir Alwyn Williams 1976-1987
  • Research notes on Brachiopods n.d
  • Papers, drafts and correspondence concerning William's publications or contributions to publications 1970-1980
  • Various Ordnance Survey and working maps n.d
  • British Museum records 1971-1981
  • Records of Committee on National Museums and Galleries in Scotland 1979-1983
  • Personal correspondence 1975-1989
  • Records of Williams Inquiry into Scottish Agricultural Colleges 1989
  • Records of Scottish Hospitals Endowment Research Trust 1988-1989
  • Principle's files 1967-1980

Administrative / Biographical History

Sir Alwyn Williams was born in 1921  , in Aberdare, Glamorgan, Wales, and educated at Aberdare Boy's Grammar School. An attack of tuberculosis, in 1939 ended his initial intention to join the Fleet Air Arm, and on leaving hospital he entered the University College of Wales on an open scholarship. He graduated with first class honours in Geology in 1943, and in 1946 gained his Ph.D. In his last year as a student he served as national Vice-President of the National Union of Students. In 1948, he accepted the post of Lecturer in Geology at Glasgow University, but was granted two years leave to take up a Harkness Fund Fellowship at the United States National Museum in Washington, D.C. He resumed his position of Lecturer at Glasgow, in 1950. In 1954, Williams moved to Belfast to fill the Chair of Geology in the Queen's University of Belfast. While at Belfast, he began to become more involved in university administration, and in 1967, became Pro-Vice-Chancellor of Queen's. In 1974, he was appointed to the Lapworth Chair of Geology, at Birmingham University. In 1976  , he accepted the Principalship of the University of Glasgow, which he held for the rest of his career. His tenure as Principal was dominated by financial problems, with constant cuts in the University's income, which at times seemed to threaten the very fabric of the institution. However, Williams was shrewd enough to use the situation to modernise the University and change attitudes to teaching and research. He did his best to continue to attract the best scholars to replace retiring Professors, diverting resources and promoting promising young researchers. He put particular importance in building up the University's computer facilities, creating a second Chair in computing science, with the promise of further appointments and a refurbished building. He grasped the importance of new technology to the future of the country, and it was an issue which he would refer to throughout his time in office. As a result there was a flurry of new technology initiatives across the campus. Williams retired in 1988  , and returned to academic life as a geologist. He was a Fellow of the Royal Society, of the Royal Society of Edinburgh, and of the Geological Society, and was a member of the Royal Irish Academy. Sir Alwyn Williams died in 2004  .


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Acquisition Information

Deposit : Sir Alwyn & Lady Joan Williams : 2001

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Digital file level list available in searchroom.

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Archivist's Note

Fonds level description compiled by Andrew Thomson, Hub Project Archivist, 05 November 2004.

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Reproduction subject to usual conditions: educational use and condition of documents.

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