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Professorship established in honor of Williams
Princeton NJ — Members of the class of 1965 have joined together with the family of Princeton’s former vice president for development to create the Van Zandt Williams Jr. Class of 1965 Professorship in Chemistry.
Van Williams (in hat) celebrated the creation of a professorship in his name at a gathering in Florida with (from left) classmates Douglas Brady, Kenneth Jensen and John Diekman.
Williams, who majored in chemistry as a Princeton undergraduate, served as vice president for development for 22 years, managing two successful fund-raising campaigns before retiring in 2002. He remains an active University volunteer.
The effort to create the professorship was led by classmates Kenneth Jensen and John Diekman. “When my wife and I thought about making a substantial gift to Princeton, we wanted to honor someone who embodies the Princeton spirit,” explained Jensen. “Van Williams has worked tirelessly for over 35 years to raise money for his alma mater which he so dearly loves.”
Williams learned of the professorship when he arrived at what he thought was a family gathering in honor of his mother in Florida, and was amazed to find his classmates and colleagues waiting to surprise him with their announcement. That element of surprise was particularly satisfying to Diekman.
“Two years ago Van was special gifts chair for our 40th Reunion and told me to ‘back off’ whatever other fund-raising project I was working on and ‘focus on Annual Giving,’” he recalled. “I chuckled when he found out that the ‘other project’ was a gift from some classmates to honor his dedication and great love of Princeton.”