Grambling State University will induct 16 new members into its Hall of Fame on Friday, Oct. 17. The annual award recognizes alumni who have made significant contributions to the university.The biographies of inductees Ira Wayne McConnell and Dr. Allen Williams were unavailable for the Thursday, Oct. 2 issue.
Biographies of the excluded inductees follow.
Ira Wayne McConnell
Ira Wayne McConnell is the Managing Partner for McConnell & Jones LLP, and their affiliate McConnell, Jones Lanier & Murphy LLP, the largest African-American owned accounting and consulting firm in the State of Texas. The firm offers a wide range of business advisory and consulting services.
In addition to his role as managing partner, McConnell functions as a partner in the assurance practice of McConnell & Jones LLP. He earned his undergraduate degree from Grambling State University and Wayne holds an MBA from Louisiana Tech University. He began his professional career with the international accounting firm of Price Waterhouse, now known as PricewaterhouseCoopers.
He became the manager of Acquisitions for Damson Oil Corporation aggressive acquisition-minded oil and gas company. While at Damson, two of his friends from Price Waterhouse invited him to join their accounting firm in 1984. In the late 1980s the firm merged with Touche Ross. Given his desire not to return to the large firm environment, Wayne started his own firm, McConnell and Company, in July of 1987. One partner, Thomas Jones, was added in January 1996 to form McConnell and Jones LLP. In March of 1999, McConnell and Jones, LLP merged with the consulting firm of Empirical Management Services to form the existing practice, McConnell Jones Lanier & Murphy LLP.
He also contributes time to the community. At the American Heart Association, he currently serves as chairman of the Audit Committee at the national, level. He is a board member and Nominating Committee Chair of the Houston Division, and Chairman of the Board of Directors of the South Central Affiliate.
Dr. Allen Williams
Dr. Allen Williams, professor, thespian, academician and author has positively impacted the lives of countless students during his 45 year tenure at Grambling State University. While at Grambling, Williams served as acting dean of the College of Liberal Arts, and head and professor of the Department of Speech and Theatre.
Williams received his Bachelor of Science degree in Speech and Drama in 1956 from GSU; and his Masters and Ph. D. degrees from the University of Indiana at Bloomington in 1962 and 1973 respectively.
A veteran, Williams served in the United States Army and received the rank Specialist 4th Class while stationed at Ladd Air Force Base in Fairbanks, Alaska.
Professor Emeritus and head of Speech and Theatre, Williams not only taught students acting, he also taught them playwriting and set building. One of his most celebrated former students is playwright Judy Mason, who gained national fame for her plays and for the episodes she wrote on the television shows, “Good Times” and “It’s a Different World.”
Another of Williams’ students who gained world acclaim is multi-platinum recording artist Erykkah Badu.
Williams, very active in the National Association of Dramatic and Speech Arts, Inc. traveled with students to venues throughout the country where they performed with stage and screen stars including Ruby Dee, Moses Gunn, John Amos, Greg Morrison, and Cicely Tyson. His contributions to the organization resulted in a play competition named in his honor, “The Dr. Allen Williams One Act Play Competition.”
Among the many contributions Williams made to GSU, perhaps his most visible achievement is KGRM, the 50,000-watt campus radio station. Williams was instrumental in bringing the first five watts of music to Grambling State University which initially piped music into the student union.
In 1989, the station received 50,000 watts, more wattage than any other college or university station in the state of Louisiana.
Williams, the recipient of numerous awards and tributes, reflecting both academic and theatrical recognition within the dramatic genre is the father of two daughters, Alyson Azodeh and Alicia Williams and two sons, Allen Williams, Jr. and Tanner Williams. He is married to Tiffany Williams and lives in Grambling, Louisiana.