In May 1995 the Board of Trustees, in recognition of his devoted service and generosity to the University, named the School of Commerce, Economics, and Politics in honor of Ernest Williams II '38. "The philanthropy of Ernie and Marjorie Williams was based on a true sense of love and respect for the mission and core values of this institution," said Larry C. Peppers, Crawford Family Dean of the Williams School.
"If you spent any time around Ernie when he was on campus, you would immediately feel the intensity of his passion for Washington and Lee," Peppers continued. "The funding provided by Ernie and Marjorie and their children continues to play a vital role in supporting W&L students in 2013."
Williams, who went by Ernie, came to W&L from Lynchburg, Va. As a student he participated 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, he remained involved with the University, serving as class agent and chairing the 50th reunion of his class, which made a gift of $1.3 million, at the time the largest gift ever made by a class.
He and his wife, Marjorie, were also regular participants in Washington and Lee's Alumni College Program. "Their affection for Washington and Lee resulted in their ongoing involvement in alumni activities and Ernie's long service as a class leader and agent. We greatly miss Marjorie's quiet charm and Ernie's passion and presence," President Ken Ruscio '76 recollected. Ernie passed away in 2005, and Marjorie in 2010.
"Ernie and Marjorie engaged with Washington and Lee in substantive ways that brought significance to their lives while advancing the University's priorities," continued Ruscio. "Their extraordinary philanthropy, both outright and through charitable trusts, provided important support for the Williams School of Commerce, Economics, and Politics, and also supported a thriving Annual Fund, established a scholarship, endowed a professorship, enhanced our scholarly resources through the library, and helped make possible Elrod Commons."