Williams made worldwide impact on MSU Texas students for decades

Taking MSU Texas vision abroad

Williams made worldwide impact on MSU Texas students for decades

Traveling abroad may have once been connected to having great wealth, but Larry Williams made it his mission to make Study Abroad at Midwestern State University something different. He wanted to provide unique study experiences to as many students as possible.

Williams, who started the Study Abroad program for MSU Texas in 1986 and stayed involved for 30 years, passed away on Nov. 3 at the age of 77.

Williams was hired as an Assistant Professor in the Department of Sociology at MSU Texas in 1976.

“The impact Dr. Williams had on countless students and faculty over the years is immeasurable,” said Michael Mills, Interim Associate Vice President for Enrollment Management and Director of Global Education Office.

“Dr. Williams’ foresight and vision literally opened the world to thousands of individuals and took the Midwestern State University name and brand to countless consortium schools across the United States and all over the streets of London,” Mills said. “I am honored to continue the programs he started and to have built out a new program in Berlin that mirrors the key components of what continues to make the London program successful today. I look forward to sharing the programs Dr. Williams created with thousands of additional students and faculty over my career.”

In 1986, Williams received permission from MSU Texas officials to promote the program. He was able to recruit six students for the inaugural study abroad. By 1989, Midwestern State was the top school for sending students in the consortium outside of Southern Mississippi, the host. That trend continued through the ’90s, and MSU Texas began to send faculty as professors of record. By 2003, MSU Texas had sent approximately 200-250 students via the London program, and realized they were ready to lead their own program.

In 2004, Midwestern State launched its own London consortium program, which is still in effect today as one of the largest university-run study abroad consortiums in the United States with nine partner institutions sending students.  

In the 2010s, Williams helped

the program expand to opportunities in Mexico, Spain and France. In all, MSU Texas has sent more than 1,500 students abroad since 1986. Study Abroad at MSU Texas currently has programs in Spain, France, Grenada, Berlin and London.

Williams received his Ph.D. in sociology from Brigham Young University in 1976 and was immediately hired as an assistant professor in sociology at Midwestern State. He found a home here, receiving tenure in 1981 and promotion to full professor in 1986.

The Williams family has planned a Celebration of Life from 2-4 p.m. Saturday, Dec. 9, in the Lone Star Room of the Bridwell Activities Center at MSU Texas. It is a casual, come-and-go event for people to bring their stories and memories of Williams to share.

The Dr. Larry Williams Study Abroad Scholarship was established in 2022 and the first recipient (Justin Guillory) was named the same as part of a celebration to recognize Williams’ accomplishments.

“We are honored we got the opportunity to celebrate Dr. Williams’s accomplishments at a reception during our London program in 2022, and to present the first recipient of the Dr. Larry Williams Study Abroad Scholarship,” Mills said. “I look forward to continuing the fundraising necessary to endow that scholarship so that Larry’s legacy will live on each year through future students studying abroad.”  

Enriching the lives of students at MSU and elsewhere was his mission. In a 2015 interview with The Wichitan to announce his retirement from Study Abroad, Williams said, “You can’t memorize college, but everybody will remember the time they spent in France. It is a life-changing event, and for me to get to be a part of that, I’m very privileged. Study abroad has traditionally been a rich-kids’ program. I made a conscious decision to go to the office of financial aid first because I knew that the vast majority of the kids at university couldn’t afford the journey.”

Williams told The Wichitan it wasn’t about remembering him, but he wanted his impact to continue. “What I really, firmly believe is that these kids will always remember their time that they went abroad,” he said.

The Larry Williams Study Abroad Scholarship

Larry Williams with Justin Guillory

Participating in study abroad experiences help MSU Texas students develop into dynamic leaders who understand different countries, cultures, and business practices, allowing them to be better leaders in their careers. We’re raising funds to alleviate some of the financial barriers facing MSU Texas students who want to study abroad.

Your support of these experiences will allow our students to become more effective leaders who use the diversity of thought to solve complex issues, have experience tackling international business challenges, and are champions of change in foreign environments.

Why are donations necessary?

Many students need financial support to make such an endeavor possible, and thanks to donors like you we make it happen! We hope you will consider contributing to the Larry Williams Study Abroad Scholarship for current and future MSU Texas students.

The first recipient of the scholarship was Justin Guillory (pictured above with Dr. Larry Williams in 2022). Kolbie Waldrip received the scholarship in 2023.

Related Links

Dr. Larry's Obituary
Larry Earl Williams passed away peacefully on November 3, 2023.