Clarence Kelly "Bud" Williamson

Professor Emeritus of Microbiology
January 19, 1924 - August 16, 2013


Dr. Clarence Kelly (Bud) Williamson passed away peacefully on Friday, August 16, 2013. He spent the last few years of his long life under the loving care of his daughter Lisa Creech, son-in-law Marty Creech, and his beloved wife, Bibbi.

Bud was born on January 19, 1924 to James and Loretta Williamson in Pittsburgh, PA. He is survived by his beloved wife of nearly 62 years, Dorothy Birgit (Bibbi) Ohlsson, daughter Lisa Creech (Marty), son Erik (Judy), grandchildren Sam, Hannah, Kelly and Jack, sister Mary Sims, and nieces Lynn Williamson Behling, Teresa Williamson, and Tracy Mac. Bud was preceded in death by his brother William and nephews Guy and Mark Williamson.

Bud was graduated from McKeesport High School near Pittsburgh. Bud was a corpsman in the 3rd Marine Division in the Pacific Theater in World War II where he served proudly at Iwo Jima, Guam and Guadalcanal. He earned a “box full of medals and a bundle of letters” for his WWII service and leadership as a veteran. However, like many WWII veterans, he preferred not to speak openly with the public or family members about those recognitions.

As a returning World War II veteran he used the GI Bill to attend the University of Pittsburgh, earning his BS degree with a bacteriology major and chemistry minor in 1949, a master’s degree in bacteriology in 1951, and PhD in microbiology in 1955. He did research for his doctorate under the guidance of Professor Charles Gainor; the title of his dissertation was “Morphological and Physiological Considerations of Colonial Variants of Pseudomonas aeruginosa.” Throughout his career Bud specialized in studies of pathogenic microbiology and immunology.

Bud received inspiration for teaching and research from Dr. Gainor. He started teaching bacteriology as a graduate student (1951-1955) at the University of Pittsburgh School of Pharmacy. He was an instructor teaching bacteriology to nursing students at the Nursing School affiliated with Pennsylvania State University, and he also worked as a bacteriologist at the E.S. Magee Hospital in Pittsburgh.

Bud Williamson’s tenure at Miami University spanned 34 years from 1955 to 1989. He came to the University on a temporary one-year appointment as an assistant professor to teach several courses in the Department of Microbiology when Professor Orton K. Stark was away on sabbatical leave. This appointment eventually led to Bud becoming a full professor and Chair of the Microbiology Department; he subsequently became Dean of the College of Arts and Science (1971-1982), and then Provost and Vice President for Academic Affairs (1982-1985). He returned to teaching and was appointed Professor Emeritus when he retired in 1989.

Bud’s interest and passion for teaching became evident during his one-year temporary appointment at Miami University. He made a positive impression on his students and colleagues during this year. Bud continued teaching undergraduate and graduate courses in microbiology including General Microbiology, Pathogenic Microbiology, Community Health, Epidemiology, Microbiology for Nurses, and Immunology. He was very particular about laboratory safety and the use of scientific techniques in the laboratory classes for the handling of potentially harmful bacteria long before disposable gloves, plastic Petri dishes and safety transfer hoods became available. He required graduate and upper-level undergraduate students to be immunized against pathogenic bacteria such as Salmonella paratyphi before taking Pathogenic Microbiology and Immunology laboratory classes. He emphasized the value of using laboratory animals in specialized laboratory classes and research projects, but he also made sure that the animals were properly taken care of, housed appropriately, and well fed. Beyond the classroom Bud always had time and patience for his students. He was always available to his students to help with their questions and concerns whether related to his class or not. It should be noted that when Dr. Orton K. Stark’s health declined dramatically during his last semester of teaching, Bud stepped in to take over Stark’s lectures and oversaw his laboratory classes in addition to his full load of teaching and administrative responsibilities.

From his first years at Miami University Bud established a productive research program funded by different external sources. He published several important research papers in scientific journals on the physiological variations of the pathogenic bacterium Pseudomonas aeruginosa and the virulent characteristics of these variants. He also investigated with his graduate students the role of streptococcal infection in glomerulonephritis in experimental animals. A representative publication with his graduate student S. Elliott is “Renal Localization of Tritiated Streptococcal Polypeptide,” Journal of Histochemistry and Cytochemistry 14:491-494, 1966.

Bud and his students regularly presented their research results at regional and national meetings of the American Society for Microbiology (ASM) and the Ohio Academy of Science. Bud was an active member and scientific contributor to both organizations until 1972 when he became Dean of the College of Arts and Science. For his research and leadership contributions Bud was elected a Fellow of the American Academy of Microbiology and also the Ohio Academy of Science. Bud served as a reviewer for scientific publications, established a “State laboratory” for testing village water supplies, and was a bacteriological consultant for the local hospital.

From the broader point of view and present-day perspective, Bud’s most important accomplishment as the Chair of Microbiology (1962-1972) was the establishment of a doctoral program in microbiology. He also deserves full credit for initiating the Medical Technology program (now Clinical Laboratory Science).

Dr. Phillip R. Shriver, after assuming the presidency at Miami in 1965, proposed to establish doctoral programs in selected departments in order to advance the frontier of knowledge through research, critical analysis of research results, and innovation. He also believed that doctoral programs would enrich the educational experience of the undergraduate students through close interactions with graduate students and their research mentors.

Microbiology was among the ten original departments selected for the doctoral programs. Bud was elated at the opportunity to enhance research and educational learning possibilities in microbiology. The implementation of the doctoral program was, however, more than just a simple challenge. The department, with six faculty members, had no research equipment to speak of and very few physical facilities available as research laboratories. But Bud was a man of positive vision and strong determination; he prepared a formal proposal to go through the approval process within and beyond the University.

With advice and recommendations from ASM consultants he had invited to review the Microbiology Department’s facilities and resources, Bud obtained permission from the University to add two new research-active faculty members. The Department also acquired a liquid scintillation counter, a refrigerated high-speed centrifuge, and several new binocular research microscopes. Consequently, the Department received final approval for the doctoral program and started admitting students in 1970. It was a very happy and exciting time for Bud and the Department.

In the mid-1960s, after the addition of pathogenic microbiologist Dr. Susan W. Rockwood, Bud obtained the approval of the University and the Society for Clinical Microbiology to start a new undergraduate major in Medical Technology. Dr. Rockwood became the director of the new program.

As a result of Bud’s vision and leadership during its modest beginnings in the 1960s, the Department of Microbiology currently has 275 undergraduate Microbiology and Clinical Laboratory Science majors, 25 MS/PhD students, and teaches more than 3,000 other undergraduate students in Miami Plan classes. Seventeen full-time faculty members at three campuses (Oxford, Hamilton and Middletown) offer several areas of modern molecular research and learning opportunities in microbiology to the undergraduate and graduate students. As envisioned by President Shriver and Bud years ago, undergraduate students in microbiology are now conducting original research in the laboratories of mentor professors, presenting results at regional and national microbiology meetings and publishing research papers co-authored with graduate students.

In the 1960s, the Department was located on the second and third floors of the Upham Hall north wing with a few old classrooms converted into teaching and research laboratories, a biology library, and animal research facilities. Physical facilities and research resources were not too different for the Botany and Zoology departments on the south wing and lower floors of the north wing of Upham Hall. It was because of Bud’s persuasion and leadership as the Dean of Arts and Science, President Paul Pearson approved the construction of the Biological Science Building (now Pearson Hall) with state-of-the-art teaching, research and animal research facilities for all three departments. The Microbiology Department had one secretary, an old upright typewriter and a mimeograph machine. The purchase of an IBM Selectric typewriter led to the end of “white-out” to correct typing errors and one Xerox machine in the Dean’s office for the whole college was a “godsend” technology advancement.

Bud’s human quality, care and concerns for the staff, students and faculty members are best summarized below by Mary Ann Coleman, the only departmental secretary when Bud was chair. “What I most remember about Dr. Williamson was the way he treated everyone. It did not matter if a person was a colleague or part of the custodial staff, he had a good word for all and treated us all with a genuine respect. In return, he was treated with respect. I imagine everyone felt that way. He had a real concern for students. I remember counseling sessions with students who needed some good advice and guidance. I believe these discussions were appreciated and proved beneficial to the students.” Similar expressions of Bud’s kindness and humanity were communicated to his family after his death by students, staff and faculty members from his time as professor and chair.

Bud never intended to spend a significant part of his career in academic administration. He relished his time in the classroom and laboratory and viewed administrative tasks as necessary but largely intrusive responsibilities and something to be minimized. When reflecting on the eleven years he spent as Dean of the College of Arts and Science and his three years as Executive Vice President for Academic Affairs and Provost, Bud ascribed these career detours to two things he found mostly beyond his control: his outspokenness and his impatience. Indeed, few found Bud indirect or indecisive and fewer still doubted where they stood after interacting with him. Only half-jokingly, Bud claimed to be of the administrative school of “do and then ask.” But it was these very traits that were valued by his colleagues who encouraged and supported his appointment to senior administrative posts.

Bud served as Dean of the College of Arts and Science during a decade of growth and relative prosperity. He worked tirelessly to encourage and support the fledgling doctoral programs then developing in the College and in strengthening the climate for advanced graduate education. At a time when the College was hiring as many as 35 to 40 new faculty members annually, Bud personally interviewed nearly every candidate for a faculty position to be sure each understood clearly the strengthening standards for promotion and tenure he was determined to realize. This effort paralleled his years-long, incremental collaboration with department chairs to develop better metrics by which to measure faculty teaching performance, document scholarship, adopt and standardize external evaluations, ensure mentoring and establish more useful and timely performance evaluations. The success of these efforts within the College did not go unrecognized and were later incorporated in Provost-Elect Williamson’s charge as a matter for implementation in every academic division of the University.

It was during Bud's tenure as Dean that Miami replaced its Common Curriculum with the University Requirement, moved away from the quarter calendar to the early semester format, and also adopted significantly changed accounting and reporting standards. As each of these potentially onerous and contentious mandates was forwarded to the College for implementation, Bud would gather the department chairs, present the charge, promise all reasonable latitude and support, and send them off with his advice to “embrace the challenge, get on with it, and get over it.” The College seemed to survive the challenges quite well and in so doing coincidentally strengthened its advising system, better deployed its resources and fostered new curricular collaborations across departments and divisions.

To know Bud was to appreciate his self-deprecating humor, his generosity, his compassion and his humanity. As formidable as he sometimes seemed on the job, Bud was a gentle soul. Always the gentleman, he was intolerant of coarse language and rudeness of any sort. He was genuinely interested in the well-being and success of those around him and generous to a fault in responding to those seeking his assistance. Bud was also a fervent believer that those who worked together would be more effective colleagues if they had unstructured opportunities to meet together. In this spirit, he organized regular breakfast and luncheon events, rotated meetings of department chairs in family homes, held annual retreats, and continuously advanced occasions for faculty and staff to interact informally and across organizational and positional barriers. Likewise Bud used similar strategies in promoting networking and inter-institutional site visits among members of the Ohio Council of Arts and Science Deans and the nationally organized Council of Colleges of Arts and Sciences, groups to which he was elected chief officer. Bud seemed to leave an indelible impression and usually a smile upon the face of all whom he met.

Midway through his first year in office, President Paul Pearson invited Dean Williamson to serve as Executive Vice President for Academic Affairs and Provost commencing in July 1982. Unfortunately, the 1982-1983 biennium proved to be one of severe fiscal contraction and Bud was almost immediately tasked with reducing and reallocating resources. Fiscal retrenchment, reorganizations and program eliminations, including closure of the McGuffey Laboratory School, dominated the Provost’s time and the University’s agenda. Following a long and contentious debate over the future of the School of Interdisciplinary Studies, difficult rounds of budget negotiations, and his privately acknowledged distaste for the isolation he felt from students and faculty in his central administrative role, Bud announced that it was past time for him to return to the classroom and laboratory duties he cherished and that had first attracted him to the University. With the Academic Affairs Division in good order and with the gratitude of his colleagues for his selfless service in their behalf, Bud resumed his duties as Professor Williamson, resolved to finish his career as it began.

Locally, Bud was a dedicated volunteer to Miami University and to the Oxford community where he worked, lived, and raised his family. He generously supported many University activities, sports (especially basketball), and academic endeavors beyond his official duties, including membership on the President Search Committee. In Oxford, he was a Charter Member and President of the Rotary Club, he volunteered at McCullough-Hyde Memorial Hospital in the evenings even when he was Provost at the University. He also served on the hospital’s Board of Directors. Bud was a volunteer for Meals On Wheels, Hospice, the Southwestern Ohio and Northern Kentucky Chapter of the National Multiple Sclerosis Society, the Butler County Torch Club, the Indian Creek Pioneer Church and Burial Ground, and he was a Science Day judge for twelve years. He also took special training and served as volunteer and mentor for the Adult English Literacy Project.

Bud enjoyed summer vacations sailing at Lakeside Chautauqua Community on Lake Erie – first, his yacht named Bibbi, then the Bibbi 2 and finally the CT34 Bibbi 3 – with family, neighbors, and friends.

Bud received wide professional recognition and many awards for his outstanding leadership and service. He served on the Board of Governors of the American Institute of Biological Sciences, Board of Directors of the Council of Colleges of Arts and Sciences, National President of the Phi Sigma Biological Honor Society, Vice President of the Medical Science Section of the Ohio Academy of Science, Charter Member of the Miami Chapter of Sigma Xi, and member of the American Association for the Advancement of Science, to name just a few. Bud was honored by Phi Kappa Phi, Beta Gamma Sigma, Omicron Delta Kappa, and Rho Chi Pharmaceutical Honor Society. He was recognized for his distinguished service to Miami University with the prestigious Benjamin Harrison Medallion.

Bud will be remembered for the love of his family and friends, loyalty and service to his country and Miami University, and a long life filled with community service and humanity. He will be missed, but his memory and many legacies will be cherished by his family and his friends. The members of this memorial tribute committee feel honored to have known and served with their colleague and friend, Bud Williamson.

J.K. Bhattacharjee
Anne Morris-Hooke
David B. Stroupe
Joseph T. Urell

University News Service

Clarence Kelly "Bud" or "C.K." Williamson, 89, former provost, dean and professor of microbiology at Miami University, died Aug. 16.

Williamson joined Miami in 1955 and chaired the department of microbiology for nine years. He served as dean of the College of Arts and Science from 1971-1982 and as provost and executive vice president for academic affairs from 1982-1985. Williamson retired in 1989.

While at Miami, Williamson was awarded the Harrison Medallion in 1982. He earned several grants to research nephritis, identify bacteria and study the complex carbohydrates known as polysaccharides. He was a member of numerous honor societies, the Ohio Academy of Science and the American Academy of Microbiology

He taught at Pennsylvania State University and the University of Pittsburgh before coming to Miami. Williamson also served in the Marines during WWII.

He is survived by his wife, Bibbi; daughter, Lisa Creech (Marty); son, Eric (Judy); grandchildren and other relatives.

A celebration of life is planned at 2 p.m. Friday, Aug. 23, at Oxford Bible Fellowship, 800 Maple St. with visitation beginning at noon.

In lieu of flowers, the family requests donations to the Miami University Scholarship Fund, 725 E. Chestnut St., Oxford, OH 45056 or to the Lakeside Association, 236 Walnut Ave., Lakeside, OH  43440. Condolences may be shared online at