Weimer K. Hicks Award

Melanie Williams

2023 Recipient

Melanie Williams is the 2023 recipient of the Weimer K. Hicks Award.

Read about Melanie Williams

There’s a modern poem about the nameless brave, about unsung heroes—in this case the Trojans who fought and fell with Hector, a renowned hero in Homer’s Iliad. The unsung were as courageous as him, and even though they are forgotten, without them he wouldn’t be remembered. 

Though college operations may sometimes resemble the chaos on the plains of Ilium, few bards sing of administrative assistants. They could, and perhaps they should. Imagine, for a moment, a K-IIiad, wherein the Melanie Williamses are the Hectors.

For 23 years Melanie served as assistant to the president and assistant secretary to the board of trustees. She was a member of President’s Staff, Community Council, the Founders Day Committee, and numerous search committees and task forces. To the countless discussions that took place in these formal groups, as well as the informal conversations Melanie had with colleagues and students, she brought a concise and common-sense perspective that is occasionally uncommon in the rarefied air of academia.

All new jobs begin in talk, more so maybe at K where interviews can be day-long affairs during which the candidate meets with multiple individuals and groups. Interestingly, the talking that most influenced Melanie during her interview didn’t take place in the interview. “I was working at Western Michigan University and had applied for the K job mainly just to see what the ‘college across the street’ was like,” she explains. “Halfway through the interview day, while walking from Mandelle to Hicks with the Dean of Student Development I was struck by all the students who came up and chatted with the Dean,” Melanie adds. “That didn’t really happen at WMU. It was then and there I decided I wanted the job.”

 Her fondest memories of it? “Working alongside three presidents and their spouses,” Melanie says. “Each had a very different leadership style, so with each new president it was like I had just started a new job. All of them made K a great place to learn and to work.”

Melanie also cites the dedication and involvement of the many members of the College’s board of trustees. “Not a lot of employees or students get the chance to know trustees, but I can tell you they’re a fun group of people.”

Melanie’s been retired for only two months—her time from retirement to the Hicks award might be the shortest on record, which says a lot about the quality of her service to K—so her retirement plans are evolving.

She and husband, Joe, have been married 48 years. They have two children and five grandchildren. “I love spending time with family, especially the grandchildren,” says Melanie. “And one of my big passions is Halloween. It’s a year-round quest for just the right decorations. And if I can’t find what I’m looking for, I’ll make it.”

About the Weimer K. Hicks Award

The Weimer K. Hicks Award honors a current or retired employee of Kalamazoo College who has provided long-term support to the College programs or activities beyond the call of duty, or who has provided excellent service in the performance of his or her job, making a significant contribution to the College in ways that have advanced the goals of the Alumni Association. This award is typically given to an employee upon retirement or conclusion of a specific period of special service.

If you know someone like this, please nominate them today!

Past Recipients

The name of the honoree is listed alphabetically, followed by class year (if applicable) and the year the award was bestowed.


George Acker (1999)
Rolla L. Anderson (1997)
Marigene Arnold (2008)


David Barclay (2018)
Laurence N. Barrett (1997)
Tom Breznau (2014)


Wen Chao Chen (1994) #
Ruth L. Collins (1996)
C. Kim Cummings (2010)


Al DeSimone (2021)


Billie Fischer (2009)
Donald C. Flesche (2001) #
Joe Fugate (1998) #


Gail Griffin (2017)


Conrad Hilberry (2005)
Marilyn Hinkle ’44 (1995) # ^


Marilyn LaPlante (2004)
Letitia “Tish” Loveless (2002)


Paul Manstrom (2015)
John R. McFarland (1994)
Ed Menta (2022)


George M. Nielsen (1995)


Paul Olexia (2007)
Sally Olexia (2007)


Bernard S. Palchick (2006)
Romeo Phillips (2003)
Eleanor Humphrey Pinkham ’48 (1993) ^
Thomas M. Ponto (2011)
Marcia Price (2000)


Joellen L. Silberman (2013)
T. Jefferson Smith (1993)
Paul Sotherland (2016)
Richard T. Stavig (1993)
Kathryn N. Stratton (1993)


Babette Trader (2002)


Jim VanSweden ’73 (2019)


John Wickstrom (2012)


Ruth Ziegelmaier (1994)

# Received Distinguished Service Award
^ Received Citation of Merit Award