Edward “Ed” Williams, the Henry Gardiner Symonds Professor Emeritus of Entrepreneurship and Professor Emeritus of Statistics at Rice, died Oct. 3. He was 73.
Williams, who retired in 2014, joined the Rice faculty in 1978 after a distinguished scholarly career at Rutgers University and McGill University. He co-founded the entrepreneurship program at Rice’s Jones Graduate School of Business that year with colleague Al Napier, and for the next 36 years he served the university in a variety of roles as a faculty member and distinguished chairholder. He was a driving force in firmly entrenching the Jones School in the top tier of global entrepreneurship rankings.
Williams, who was named one of the top two entrepreneurship professors in the nation by BusinessWeek, received the 2012 Meritorious Service Award from Rice among his numerous teaching honors.
Williams taught economics, finance, statistics, accounting and entrepreneurship during his time at Rice and wrote 13 books and more than 100 scholarly articles. In the 1970s he became known for his criticism of the Efficient Market Hypothesis, a theory in financial economics stating that asset prices fully reflect all available information. This position was initially panned by economists but eventually proved correct.
Outside of teaching, Williams founded several companies and invested in many others. He took a five-year sabbatical from academia in the early 1970s and worked for Service Corporation International, which eventually became the largest funeral home and cemetery business in the world. Under his supervision as an officer and later chairman of the investment committee of SCI’s board of directors, the company’s trust and insurance portfolios grew from less than $10 million to more than $10 billion.
The Houston-born Williams held degrees from the Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania and he earned a doctorate from the University of Texas at Austin when he was only 22 years old.
Williams is survived by his wife, Rice alumna Susan Horowitz Williams ’84, two children and their spouses, five grandchildren, a sister and two nieces.
Visitation is 10 a.m. Oct. 7 at George H. Lewis & Sons, 1010 Bering Drive in Houston; the funeral service begins at 11:30, with a reception to follow. A committal service will be held at Forest Park-The Woodlands Cemetery, 18000 Interstate 45 South.