Oakton dedicates Emory Williams Academy for Black Men

(L-R): Oakton Trustee Bill Stafford, Associate Professor of mathematics Mario Borha, Provost and Vice President for Academic Affairs Ileo Lott, President Joianne L. Smith, Gerri Sizemore, Andrea Lawrence, and Oakton Trustees Martha Burns, Vice Chair Wendy Yanow, and Marie Lynn Toussaint surround the newly unveiled portrait of Emory Williams.
(L-R): Oakton Trustee Bill Stafford, Associate Professor of mathematics Mario Borha, Provost and Vice President for Academic Affairs Ileo Lott, President Joianne L. Smith, Gerri Sizemore, Andrea Lawrence, and Oakton Trustees Martha Burns, Vice Chair Wendy Yanow, and Marie Lynn Toussaint surround the newly unveiled portrait of Emory Williams.

 

Skokie, Ill. (Oct. 17, 2022) - A portrait of Emory Williams now hangs in the halls of Oakton Community College's Skokie Campus. It’s a fitting tribute to the longtime educator who played a pivotal role in creating a vision for Oakton to become an antiracist institution and provide equitable learning opportunities for all students.

The stunning portrait was unveiled during a dedication ceremony of the Emory Williams Academy for Black Men on Oct. 6. Mr. Williams' namesake initiative is designed for historically underserved and underrepresented students at Oakton with an emphasis on providing focused support for Black male-identifying students seeking to advance their education at Oakton.

Oakton faculty, staff and leadership joined Mr. Williams' family, friends and community members to honor the late educator, who served on Oakton Community College's Board of Trustees from 2003-2009. Before joining Oakton's Board, Mr. Williams served in several capacities at Evanston Township High School throughout his four-decade career, including as head of the school's vocational programs.

"Those who knew Emory Williams knew he was a true advocate for the role of education in creating pathways to economic and social mobility," Oakton President Joianne L. Smith, Ph.D., said during the ceremony. "Oakton was incredibly fortunate to have benefited from Mr. Williams' incredible vision and leadership. His work is reflected in our effort to create just and thriving communities within Oakton's District and beyond."

Mr. William's daughter, Andrea Lawrence, Ph.D., was among the family members in attendance.

"He always wanted to make sure that those students who might not have otherwise had a chance, were given that opportunity," Dr. Lawrence said. "He wanted them to know about the possibilities and what they could do if they just got a little more education and the wideness of the doors that would open to them as they increase their knowledge."

The Emory Williams Academy for Black Men was established in fall 2022. The Academy creates a community of scholars who draw upon support from one another and Oakton faculty and staff who understand the unique needs and experiences of students from historically underserved communities. The initial cohort of Emory Williams Academy scholars consists of 28 students aged 18-75. The Academy seeks to help students successfully enter college, navigate their classes, overcome barriers, form meaningful relationships and transition to their next step.

Mr. Williams' portrait was created by Tony Abboreno, a Chicago-based artist and retired Chicago Public Schools studio painting instructor. The portrait is displayed along the main hallway of Oakton's Ray Hartstein (Skokie) Campus, along with a collection of art curated by Oakton’s Koehline Museum of Art. Other artists featured in the collection include Stephanie Erner, a current Oakton student, Hubert Neal Jr., a contemporary Chicago-based artist, and Margaret Burroughs, co-founder of the DuSable Museum of African American History,

Find more information about the Emory Williams Academy for Black Men online.