Featured Alumni: William Grant ’67

William Grant ’67


William Grant After having worked full time for 50 years, William Grant retired in August 2017. His career experiences included teaching in public and private institutions, and teaching and conducting research at Gallaudet University in their Model Secondary School for the Deaf.

Grant worked as a beltway bandit, was Director of Research for State of Maryland Public Schools, and then was cold recruited into Medical Education at The University of Oklahoma. He spent 35 plus years in medical education, retiring as Associate Dean Graduate Medical Education at SUNY Upstate Medical University, and as Professor Family Medicine and Professor Emergency Medicine (now both Emeritus).

In addition, Grant taught at the Newhouse School at Syracuse University and the New School in New York. He spent time there doing medical device development consulting.

Today, Grant says he still enjoys doing private statistical and design consulting in the medical field. He is married to Gwen Angell (Rio ‘68 ) and this November, they will celebrate 50 years of marriage. Both of his children graduated from Rio, Catherine ’93 and Christopher ’01. He has two grandchildren: Alexandra and Collin.

1.     What made you choose to pursue a college education at Rio Grande?

We have a long family history with Rio, including a past President, past Board Members, graduates (Elizabeth Jones Davis 1914), spouse and children. Boyd Hall is named for my grandfather, J. Boyd Davis.

2.     How were you involved on Rio’s campus?

I was involved with Circle K, and other service activities.

3.     What did Rio offer you besides an education?

At the time, the student population included a large number of students from the East Coast, adding an interesting variety and contrast to the student population. This mix enhanced exchange of philosophies and behaviors that expanded all of our horizons. It also provided the lessons needs to not be afraid of differences, but to learn to embrace and learn from them.

4.    What are some of your favorite Rio memories?

Comradery, traveling to the ‘big city’ (Gallipolis), crossing the Town-Gown barrier to meet great local folks, meeting students from all parts of the country, and of course, meeting my wife, Gwen Angell.

5.    Was there any teacher, advisor, coach, etc. that made an impact on your life? How?

Keith Meske who exemplified the wonder in scientific investigation

Ron Burger who unleashed the power of words and language

Charles Withee who opened the mystery of mathematics

Francis Burdell who love of science was infectious

6.     What did you learn about yourself during college?

One great lesson (only realized later) is best expressed by a great academic philosopher and administrator, Dean Vernon Wormer – “Fat, drunk and stupid is no way to go through life.”

7.     Tell us about life after Rio.

Amazingly, fortunate, and incredibly varied. I have been able to travel and stay all over the world, often with Gwen for both work and pleasure. Those places include China, Tibet, India, Germany, the South Pacific Island nations, Australia, New Zealand, the Netherlands, Belgium, England, Scotland, Canada, and all but two of our 50 states. I also was able to earn a Master’s degree from The American University and a Doctorate from The University of Southern California. I additionally took graduate courses at the University of Maryland in their Animal Sciences program.

8.     How did Rio prepare you for your career?

Do not be afraid of saying ‘no’, especially to new experiences. Learning that ‘I can’t do that’ is very likely untrue.

9.     Why are you proud to be a Rio Alumnus?

It is amazing the successes that have come from Rio. I know and keep in contact with individuals who have quietly made major changes in not only their own lives, but the lives of others and some at the national level, some at state levels, and some one person at a time. There are some incredible stories out there. All of which done with humbleness as if success is simply assumed and a simple thanks is all that is required.

10.  Do you have any advice for current students?

When you wake up in the morning with your nose pressed against the sidewalk, although it feels like it, it is probably not the end of the world. Failure is only failure unless you recognize it and do something about it.

All successful athletes have one thing in common – they all have a coach and have persistence to just keep at it. Find good people who can help coach and advice you through life. “The difference between a master and a beginner is that the master has failed more times that the beginning has tried.” (Author Unknown)

Be true to yourself. You should not be constrained by what others, including family or peers, pressure you to do. While you may not believe it right now, hormones, bullying, trolling and nastiness will not give you long term success. When people lash out, it is because of their fear of what they know about themselves. College is very important but it a very small portion of what is left of your life. Work to understand what it will take to get you where you would like to be in the future. And if you do not know how to get there, ask.

11.  Is there anything else you would like to add?

We have met Rio graduates all over the world, and we are still in touch with classmates; some of whom have unbelievable stories of overcoming hardships and personal tragedy, and others who have made life changes in others. Take the time. It is the people’s backstories that bring out the richness of life and may open new opportunities you had not considered.

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