Williamson family gives $25,000 gift to annual faculty prize at Lyon College

Jim and Carole Williamson have made a $25,000 gift to the Lamar Williamson Prize for Excellence in Teaching, increasing the annual award amount from $2,500 to $3,500.

This increase allows the award to now not only benefit the recipient but also Lyon students.

Man and woman pose together for a photograph
Jim and Carole Williamson

The recipient traditionally wins a silver cup and a personal stipend of $2,500. Now, he or she will also receive an additional $1,000 to conduct a creative project or activity with students, in addition to giving the annual Williamson Prize lecture in the spring. 

The Williamson Prize is awarded annually to a Lyon faculty member whose accomplishments as a teacher and a scholar, personal character and service to church and community make him or her deserving of such an honor. Nominations are solicited from faculty and students, and a Williamson Prize Selection Committee recommends a recipient to the Board of Trustees for its approval at its spring meeting.

Jim and Carole have added funds to the award over the years.

“We feel honored to be able to do so,” Jim said. 

“The Williamsons are a wonderful example of a greater community of people throughout the region who, over the years, have recognized the exceptional quality of the teaching and learning that takes place at Lyon College,” said Vice President for Advancement Dr. David Hutchison, “and committed to supporting ways in which we can both enhance and celebrate that.”

Carole is glad the award will directly benefit both faculty and students now. She looks forward to seeing the new student project component in action.

“It’s nice to see it go directly to the students because it will help their educational goals.”

“Through their generosity, Jim and Carole are providing resources for creativity between faculty and students for generations to come,” said Hutchison.

The Lamar Williamson Prize for Faculty Excellence was established in 1979 in memory of  Lamar Williamson of Monticello. Lamar was a distinguished lawyer, businessman, civic and Presbyterian Church leader and a lifelong friend and trustee of Lyon College, which he attended from 1901 to 1903. 

J. Gaston Williamson of Little Rock originally started the prize and named it for his father. Gaston was a prominent attorney and civic leader, a Rhodes Scholar, and — like his father — a great friend of the College. Gaston’s son, Jim, who lives in Van Buren, is a former member of the Board of Trustees.

Jim said his family has always thought highly of Lyon College.

“The education that Lyon gives is tremendous.”

“And the ultimate results are good,” Carole added. “The students get into where they want to go and what they want to do for the most part.”

“It’s the value of the education that we find so special,” Jim concluded.