With joy — and a little sadness — Thompson Library hosted the celebration of the life and career of Bill Webb on the University of Michigan-Flint campus. Bill has served in both the Department of Human Resources and as assistant Vice Chancellor for Business and Finance for nearly three decades.
Below are comments from Bob on his memories of their shared time at University of Michigan-Flint, and some of the high points of Bill’s career he remembers most vividly.
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Remarks on the Occasion of Bill Webb’s Retirement
Library Atrium, F. W. Thompson Library
30 September 2015
Bill and I came to UM-Flint nearly 25 years ago. During those two-plus decades, we had lunch most every week. At those weekly lunches, I learned a lot from Bill about business and finance. He learned a lot from me about Thucydides and the Peloponnesian Wars.
I also learned a lot of new words and expressions – Bill’s a U.S. Navy Vietnam veteran, you know. That experience helped me better understand an etymological connection; that “Old Salts” often salt their conversation with “salty language.”
Whether you knew it or not, Bill had a direct hand in many of the most important projects and activities of the campus, noticed and unnoticed. And I don’t just mean inclement weather closings and power outages (I’m sure, Judy, that neither of you will miss those 3:30 am wake-ups to check out the latest weather pattern, and the subsequent phone consultations … )
To refresh memories, let’s go through the litany:
• the acquisition and initial operation of Northbank Center;
• the construction of the William S. White Building;
• renovations to French Hall and the Murchie Science Building;
• the relocation of the School of Management to Riverfront;
• the construction of First Street Housing;
• the reopening of Kearsley Street and the opening up of Wilson Park and its integration into campus;
• all the issues related to parking (including responding at Student Concern Forums), to space allocation, to campus landscaping, to food services;
• the campus Mass Transit Authority (MTA) shuttle as well as its recent expansion to East Village;
• as well as a host of environmental, safety & security initiatives, from improved campus lighting, installation of security cameras & phones, our All-Hazards Emergency Preparedness team, to the Student Update Information Team (S.U.I.T.), the precursor to the current Behavior Intervention Team (B.I.T.);
• right up to the new Zipcar service for students.
Bill had a direct hand, sometimes the lead hand, in all these major projects & expansions.
We’re a stronger and a better campus because of your work, Bill.
But we in the University are better off not only because Bill did his UM-Flint job well.
Though he lives in East Lansing, Bill was consistently active at a personal level in the Flint community. He was to Flint a genuine good neighbor. Thus, Bill served for many years, for example, in the downtown Flint Rotary Club (including each year spending a weekend driving young people to an annual Rotary youth leadership retreat in Canada, and then shepherding them back home across the border – I helped with this worthwhile but harrowing Rotary service project once, Bill did it year after year). Bill spent two years helping the Flint Community Schools develop a long-term plan for school buildings. And he served on a number of City of Flint civic initiatives, including helping create the Safe Homes-Safe Neighborhoods-Safe Community project.
It’s hard to walk around downtown Flint with Bill and not run into some civic, or business, or educational leader who doesn’t know him and want to chat.
Both the campus and the city will miss you, Bill.
But, on the bright side, Bill’s involvement in all these projects means that, I figure for at least the next two years, the rest of us have a ready-made excuse: “Ah, that – that’s Bill’s fault.”
Speaking personally, Bill, I’m going to miss our weekly lunches.
Speaking as a librarian, I’m very much looking forward to your memoirs. At those lunches, Bill didn’t tell even me everything. We’ve got a spot reserved on our Archives bookshelf. Put us down, Bill, for an advance copy.
Finally, despite his 25 years with this University of Michigan campus, Bill, I’m saddened to report, has remained an incorrigible Michigan State fan. (It’s very humbling. I’m not nearly as persuasive as I like to think I am … )
In our hearts, Bill, you will always be one of the true Leaders and Best.
Robert L. Houbeck, Jr.
Director, F. W. Thompson Library
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We’ll miss you, Bill.
Enjoy your retirement — and think of us sometimes. Especially on cold winter mornings when the wind is howling and the snow is 3 feet deep, and still coming down.