July 14, 2003
For Dick and Susan Williams, taking time to serve in a leadership role with University of Tennessee is something they have always done. It's part of their makeup, part of their belief in what the University of Tennessee stands for.
Longtime Vols fans will remember Dick lettering as a defensive tackle for the Vols from 1966-68 and serving as captain of the 1968 Tennessee team that ended up 8-2-1. Over the course of his career, the Vols went to three bowls, won the SEC title his junior season and were 25-7-1 overall. It was a great time to be a Tennessee fan and Dick was part of the resurgence of Tennessee football during those times back in the 1960s.
Since 1990, Dick has been president of the East Tennessee Chapter of the National Football Foundation and College Hall of Fame. During his tenure, the Chapter has recognized and honored more than 200 scholar-athletes and more than 50 persons who have made significant contributions to the success of local high school football and athletic programs. Dick was the Chapter's Distinguished American Award winner in 2002.
For her part, Susan is a member of the Board of Trustees and previously served as head of fundraising for women's athletics. She served in the administrations of Winfield Dunn, Lamar Alexander and Don Sundquist, plus a tenure with Sen. Bill Brock back in the 1970s. She was chairman of the state Republican Party from 1982-85. She was appointed as a trustee in 1995 and again in 2001.
"Susan was instrumental in getting the Lady Vol BoostHer Club upand running," Women's AD Joan Cronan said. "When Susan takes a task on, you can count on it being successful."
Dick and Susan are now serving as the Major Gift Co-Chairs of STEP UP - The Campaign for UT Athletics. In this role, they have served as the prime volunteers for soliciting major gifts from alumni and friends. Much of their spare time has been spent on the road traveling from Knoxville to Chattanooga to Memphis and all points in between to talk to athletic donors about the goals and objectives of the STEP UP Campaign. The results have been outstanding. To date, the STEP UP Campaign is less than $2 million from its goal.
"Dick and Susan have taken a strong leadership role in the STEP UP Campaign and have worked hard to ensure its success," AD Mike Hamilton said. "I'm proud of what they and the other members of the STEP UP leadership have been able to accomplish."
STEP UP - The Campaign for UT Athletic Facilities is a comprehensive capital campaign to raise $44.25 million for new, renovated, and expanded facilities benefiting 17 out of UT's 20 men's and women's intercollegiate teams. These improvements are designed to enable UT to continue competing for SEC and NCAA championships in each sport.
"The Capital Campaign is vital to the continued success of the Tennessee
athletic program, for both men and women," Dick and Susan said. "It's
important to make sure we properly support our student-athletes with continued
Dick and Susan have also been leaders in their giving.
They made one of the early gifts to STEP UP - The Campaign for UT Athletic Facilities. This significant commitment was an important process in getting the campaign started. Recently, they made an additional commitment as part of the football locker campaign that is being done by former football players.
In 1998, they became Nathan Dougherty Society donors, helping to establish an endowed athletic scholarship that will provide a UT student-athlete with a scholarship in their names for perpetuity.
In addition, both of them have been very generous donors to the Lady Vols athletic program and the overall University development program.
Currently Dick is one of the founders and is president and CEO of the Plateau Group, a Crossville firm serving the lending and automobile industry. Plateau has become Tennessee's largest producer of credit insurance. On the national level, Williams served two terms as Chairman of the Consumer Credit Insurance Association, the industry's trade association.
Susan is senior consultant at the Ingram Group, a statewide public affairs company with offices in Knoxville, Chattanooga, Nashville and Memphis, and has other clients as well.
She is a weekly commentator on Knoxville's WBIR-TV show, "Inside Tennessee" and a guest political commentator on WNOX Talk Radio's "Frank Talk."
For Dick and Susan, the University of Tennessee has become a lifetime commitment.
"It's important for all of us who love the University of Tennessee and its athletics programs to become a part of keeping the tradition of excellence alive," Dick and Susan said. "The STEP UP Campaign offers Vols fans a way to ensure that Tennessee athletics stays competitive and competes for SEC, regional and national honors."
It's been a long time since Dick Williams roamed gridirons across the southeast and other venues wearing Orange and White jersey No. 74. But for Dick and Susan, time has not dimmed the commitment they feel toward the University.
The University has been good to us and we believe it's important to support it with our time, talents and contributions," they said. "This is one tangible way we can do so. We invite Vols fans, wherever they are, to join us in the STEP UP Campaign."
Dick and Susan are still a vital part of the life of the University of Tennessee, helping make the STEP UP Campaign go. They're both still very competitive and are working to help build an even better University of Tennessee.
The results, as they say, speak for themselves.
by Tom Mattingly