The Ball State University community was saddened to hear of the passing of Allen L. Williams, a proud alumnus and longtime supporter of the University, in December.
Mr. Williams graduated from the Miller College of Business (MCOB) with a bachelor’s degree in Business Administration in 1973 and he made a significant impact on the campus. He founded the Black Student Association, served as the past president of the Alumni Council, and was a member of the Alexander Bracken Library Board of Governors.
After retiring in 2013, Mr. Williams continued to actively participate as a Ball State alum and in his local community. He demonstrated his commitment to his community by being involved in the NAACP Young Adult Council; Michigan City Black History Committee; a board member of H.O.P.E; the local Head Start program; a business mentor for Junior Achievement; and many other organizations.
Through the years, Mr. Williams received numerous awards and recognitions for his contributions, including the Strengthening Community Award from the United Way, the Indiana Black Expos Spirit Award, and the La Porte County NAACP Community Trailblazer Award in 2023. In 2022, he was honored with the Annual Essence Rare Debutante/Master Ball Honoree award for his encouragement of others to persevere in their pursuit of dreams and goals. Additionally, he was awarded the Ball State Outstanding Alumni Award for African American Studies in 2019, a Ball State Benny Award, an Alumni Association President’s Award, and various other recognitions for his service and dedication to the University.
Mr. Williams said in a recent letter: “‘Learning never ends’ has been a pillar belief of this great institution. As students who attended Ball State, we also reinforced the notion that service to others never ends. I’m proud and humbled by these acknowledgments and honors, along with many others that organizations, institutions, and various community segments have bestowed.
“My service, engagement, commitment, and support of Ball State University has been evidenced for 50-plus continuous years, at the undergraduate student, graduate student, and alumni levels,” Mr. Williams continued. “I have participated in a variety of activities, programs, projects, boards, and committees. I am proud to have served this University.”
It was clear that he never stopped being a Cardinal and his commitment to the University was enduring. He often returned to campus to take part in the MCOB Dialogue Days, the Black Expo, and the Ball State Summer Residential Scholars program. Mr. Williams was proud to have participated in the groundbreaking ceremonies of both the Alumni Center and the Multicultural Center. He also remained heavily involved in his fraternity, Omega Psi Phi, where he was a founding member, and later Upsilon Beta, where he was a charter member.
“Brother Allen Williams was an influential leader in multiple ways,” said Kyle Williams (not related), ’00, a member of the Ball State Foundation Board of Directors, Black Alumni Council, and an Upsilon Beta Chapter Advisor. “He was a charter member for my undergraduate fraternity chapter located on the Ball State campus. The charter year was 1971. Brother Williams was also my mentor and a big part of my engagement with the Ball State Black Alumni Constituent Society (currently Black Alumni Council). He was a true bridge builder and will be greatly missed by the Ball State family, fraternity, and the greater Michigan City area.”
Mr. Williams, who was believed to have curated one of the largest private collections of African American history in the country, donated materials to University Libraries Archives and Special Collections and the Multicultural Center as part of a digital exhibit entitled The Ball State University Multicultural Center: Ambassadors of Campus Inclusion and Diversity. The collection consists of Black alumni photos, memorabilia, documents, papers, and videos that document the Multicultural Center’s history as far back as the late 1960s and the cultural and social changes of the time. In addition, he worked closely with the Department of History on its Black Alumni Oral History Project.
A former classmate, John R. Hall, ’72, said: “Allen Williams made sure that at each Black reunion or Homecoming, photos and articles, dear to the hearts of the early Ball State African American contributors, were on display. His dedication and loyalty to the Ball State Cardinals is unmatched. The history he generated that continues to tell the whole story of Ball State will be present 100 years from now.”