Walt (Walter) Williams led a full life of public service, with a résumé to match. For 35 years, the Professor of Public Affairs taught at the Daniel J. Evans School of Public Policy & Governance. He also served as the Research Director at the Institute for Public Policy and Management from 1970 to 1983, and as a visiting scholar at the London School of Economics and University of Bergen.
Prior to his UW career, Walt had received an accounting degree and a Master of Business Administration from the University of Texas. He served in the U.S. Army, got married, and started a family. He had appointments at Indiana University (where he earned his Ph.D. and taught) and the University of Kentucky, before he joined the Office of Economic Opportunity during President Johnson’s War on Poverty.
But above all, Walt Williams was a writer.
Walt’s writings explored the development of policy information in presidential decision-making and governing institutions. His works focused on good government, or his view of the lack of it, as the titles suggest: Honest Numbers and Democracy was published in 1998, followed two years later by Mismanaging America. After a return to the Institute for Public Policy and Management, to serve as Associate Dean for Graduate Programs from 1994 to 1997, he wrote a regular opinion column for The Seattle Times. He also contributed to the city’s other major daily, the Seattle Post-Intelligencer.
Then Walt returned to long form, with Reaganism and the Death of Representative Democracy (2003) and The Politics of Bad Ideas (2008). He spent time discussing his ideas about U.S. democratic ideals on radio and television, and frequently contributed to the editorial pages of the Washington Post, Los Angeles Times, Newsday, and Huffington Post.
Walt passed away in 2011, at the age of 78. He was survived by his wife, Jackie (Block) Williams; their sons, Stuart and David; two daughters-in-law; and three grandchildren – all of whom knew him as Buddy.
The Daniel J. Evans School of Public Policy & Governance at the University of Washington is proud of the service of its faculty, past and present.