By action of the Board of Trustees in May 1995, the School was named in honor of Ernest Williams II, a member of the Class of 1938, for his devoted service and generosity to the University. The Trustees have also established the Williams Endowment, to strengthen the operations of the Williams School in the areas of faculty development, faculty research, and technological support.
Ernie Williams came to Washington and Lee from his native Lynchburg, Virginia, in 1934. As a student, he was active in a number of organizations, including Alpha Tau Omega fraternity, the Glee Club, The Ring-tum Phi, and the University's first lacrosse team.
After graduating from Washington and Lee, Williams embarked on a successful career in business as an investor and broker. Upon his retirement, he and his wife Marjorie opened an antique shop in Hilton Head, SC.
As regular participants in Washington and Lee's Alumni College program, the Williamses have remained extremely active in University affairs. Ernie served as class agent from 1976 to 1979, resuming that role in 1986, and was chairman of his class's 50th reunion. When the class came together on campus in the spring of 1988 they made a gift of $1.3 million, at the time the largest gift ever made by a class.
The Williamses have been exceedingly generous benefactors of the University. Their gift has been recognized in four ways: the Ernest Williams II Professorship was established in 1992; the Marjorie O. Williams Endowment for Library Acquisitions was created in 1993 to strengthen the holdings of the Library; the Marjorie O. and Ernest Williams II Honor Scholarship Endowment was established that same year; and the William Teaching Endowment has been established at the School of Commerce, Economics, and Politics.