Professor James H. Williams Jr. of the Department of Mechanical Engineering and Vaughn Crayton of the Department of Facilities have been named as MIT's winners of the 1998 YMCA Black Achiever Award.
The Black Achievers program recognizes African-Americans in the Boston area as well as regions served by 75 other YMCAs around the country. Recipients are nominated for their professional accomplishments and their volunteer community service with young people. As part of the program, they agree to commit at least 40 hours with youths in the Black Achievers Community Service Program.
Dr. Williams is the SEPTE Professor of Engineering and a Charles F. Hopewell Faculty Fellow. He received the SB (1967) and the SM (1968) from MIT and joined the faculty in 1970 after earning the PhD from Trinity College at Cambridge University. Professor Williams, who is an internationally recognized expert in nondestructive evaluation and has won many honors for his teaching skill, served as the first faculty resident at New House from 1975-82.
In nominating him for the Black Achiever Award, Professor Nam P. Suh, head of mechanical engineering, noted Professor Williams's dedication to teaching and advocacy for undergraduates. He has held the School of Engineering's Professorship in Teaching Excellence since 1991 and was named a MacVicar Faculty Fellow in 1993. He received the Everett Moore Baker Award for outstanding undergraduate teaching (1973) and the inaugural J.P. Den Hartog Distinguished Educator Award in the Department of Mechanical Engineering (1981).
Professor Williams is also known for his commitment to minority student development and to increasing the presence of minority faculty at MIT.
"His support of all undergraduates, not only minority students, has been of immeasurable benefit to the department and the Institute over the years in terms of not only increased retention rates but also happier and more productive students," Professor Suh wrote. "The YMCA Black Achiever Award will be a much-deserved acknowledgment of his superb work--past, present and future--for the quality of life for the MIT undergraduate student body."
Mr. Crayton began working for Physical Plant in 1987 as a utilities designer, later winning promotion to engineering assistant and to his current position of engineering, construction and environmental coordinator. His work involves troubleshooting, engineering and construction management for underground utilities.
He serves as MIT's representative to the Massachusetts Water Resources Authority and works with the Cambridge Wastewater Division on permits for food service areas on campus. He has been a member of the team charged with addressing concerns of the Environmental Protection Agency and has assisted in area efforts to clean up the Charles River. Mr. Crayton is also a past member of the Committee on Campus Race Relations.
Mr. Crayton "is truly a man who contributes to his profession here at the Institute as well as to the Cambridge community," wrote Facilities Director Victoria Sirianni in nominating him for the award. A North Cambridge resident, he has served hundreds of Cambridge youths as a coach and referee in the Cambridge Youth Soccer League and as a coach in the Cambridge Pop Warner Football League. He received the 1995 MIT President's Award for Community Service, given to MIT employees and local volunteers in recognition of their volunteer and leadership activities in the Cambridge community.
A version of this article appeared in the March 3, 1999 issue of MIT Tech Talk (Volume 43, Number 21).