Professor Fred Williams died 29 May 2010

Professor Frederick Williams, the founding dean of the USC Annenberg School for Communication, died 29 May 2010 in Houston, Texas.

I owe much to Fred, who hired me in 1979 to join the Annenberg School in January of 1980, shortly before he resigned his deanship. There are excellent tributes regarding Fred’s contributions to the field of communication, including those posted by the International Communication Association, and the Anneberg School, and many more will follow.

Frederick Williams
Dean Frederick Williams with Aimee Dorr and Bill Dutton at Annenberg USC 1981

From my own perspective, it must be said that Fred Williams was a major pioneer for the field of communication – helping to lead communication into the digital age. His strong record of high-quality research gave him authority among his peers, but he was distinguished from his colleagues by his extraordinary vision and leadership. From the mid-1970s, he took the Annenberg School, as its Dean, the International Communication Association, as its President, and the field of communication into the study of the revolution in media, communication and information technologies. Never losing his wonderful sense of humor and camaraderie, such as with his long-term associate, Richard Byrne, he had the self-confidence and courage to challenge conventional definitions of the field of communication in ways that inspired his students and colleagues. Fred Williams was right about the communication revolution long before the field recognized the future he envisioned and wrote and spoke to us about in creative and engaging ways.

Bill Dutton

Oxford Internet Institute, University of Oxford


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