Published on January 16, 2015

It is with sadness that we are writing to tell you that Dr. Tom Williams, Emeritus Professor of the University of Washington’s Department of Human Centered Design & Engineering (formerly Technical Communication), died on January 12, 2015. He passed away comfortably at home after a long illness with his extended family around him.

From 1976 to 1984, Tom was the Director of Publications in the UW College of Engineering and during that time, he received 18 awards in regional and international publication competitions sponsored by the Society of Technical Communication (STC). In 1977, the UW Department of Technical Communication asked Tom to teach a course in production editing and his academic career was launched. He transitioned to a full-time academic career in 1988. Tom’s professional life soon became dedicated to teaching and research and advancing the profession and academic discipline of technical communication. Tom earned three degrees from the UW: a BS in Communication, an MS in Communication, and a PhD in Educational Psychology. His dissertation research focused on the effects of advance organizers on retention. Tom’s faculty role at the University spanned 32 years; he retired in 2009. He had an extremely positive and lasting impact on the lives of many students, colleagues, and the greater professional community.

Tom presented at many conferences in the field, e.g., at the STC Annual Conference, the IEEE IPCC, and Winwriters UA. Tom was also a long time Fellow of STC. He served as president of the Puget Sound Chapter of STC. His research and teaching focused on visual information processing and visual media, and he pioneered gaze-tracking research in the department. Tom will be sorely missed.

David K. Farkas, Professor Emeritus, Jan Spyridakis, Professor
University of Washington