Fred Williamson Supports New Scholarships
Fred Williamson is optimistic for future generations of tradespeople. To help ensure success for students, he established the Fred C. Williamson HVAC Workforce Development Scholarship, which will grant 10 awards of $2,500 each annually to 10 students in the Heating, Ventilation, Air Conditioning and Refrigeration (HVACR) program. Scholarships will be matched by the State of Minnesota’s Workforce Development Scholarship.
Photo caption: Fred C. Williamson and President Sharon Pierce sign the Fred C. Williamson HVAC Workforce Development Scholarship memorandum of agreement as HVACR faculty member Greg Skudlarek; Maureen Williamson; Beverly Wadsworth, Director of Advancement and the Minneapolis College Foundation; Gail O’Kane, Vice President of Academic Affairs; and Vince Thomas, Dean of Business and Economics and Trade Technologies, look on.
The purpose of the scholarship is to support a student pursuing an HVAC trade credential including the certificate, diploma, and/or A.A.S. degree through their entire time at Minneapolis College – scholarships are renewable for up to two years.
The cost of tuition and fees is the most common reason academically successful community college students withdraw before completing a degree program, according to Vince Thomas, Dean of Business and Economics and Trade Technologies.
“Mr. Williamson’s scholarship donation directly attacks the tuition and fees obstacle,” Thomas said. “It could literally be the difference between a student leaving our college with a HVAC degree and leaving the program before finishing.”
Williamson, now retired, owned and operated NSI Mechanical Contractors in the Twin Cities and worked in the HVAC industry for more than 35 years. He began giving to Minneapolis College last year by making a one-year pledge of $10,000. One reason Williamson chose to give to Minneapolis College’s program is that students have the chance to combine HVACR training with other skills they will need to advance in the HVAC industry —business, entrepreneurship, basic accounting, and information technology.
The $25,000 annual gift recognizes the necessary role technical and vocational education and training plays in improving the lives of people who might otherwise not be able to afford it. His scholarships will be matched by the State of Minnesota Workforce Development Scholarship, dollar for dollar.
Students in the program learn to diagnose and repair HVACR equipment, fabricate sheet metal, copper, plastic, and steel piping, work with advanced electrical controls, heat recovery ventilators, air cleaning devices, sophisticated air measurement equipment and carbon monoxide testing instruments, and solar energy equipment. The HVACR program is one of only three programs in the state to receive the highest-level accreditation from HVAC Excellence. Awards include:
- Two-year Associate of Applied Science degree
- 54-credit, three-semester diploma in residential HVAC
- 18-credit HVAC Generalist certificate.
Williamson’s dream of supporting students for generations may well come true: he has also included Minneapolis College in his planned giving. “Fred’s generous gift is sure to help Minneapolis College train new professionals to meet the HVAC workforce needs in our community, said Beverly Wadsworth, Director of Advancement and the Minneapolis College Foundation. “Additionally, it will help advance individuals from diverse backgrounds to be successful in their careers while creating a better life for themselves and their families.”