Indiana State University Newsroom

Technology instructor finds new calling in the classroom

July 11, 2017

When senior safety management instructor Mike Williamson walks in the classroom and starts teaching, he feels the energy and joy rising in his body.

"I know teaching is what I'm designed to do," he said. "It's the most rewarding and fulfilling career I've ever had."

Williamson earned his master's degree and senior professional certificate in human resources at the age of 55. He spent 37 years in human resource management and is currently in his sixth year teaching at Indiana State University, having recently been promoted to senior instructor.

"Striving to grow as an instructor is what puts the fuel in my gas tank giving me positive energy and motivation," he said.

Each year, Williamson wants students who have taken his class before to see that he has improved from the previous semester. With the mindset and determination to get better every day, Williamson has enrolled himself in a new three-semester professional development course with the goal of receiving his master teacher certification offered by the Faculty Center for Teaching Excellence at Indiana State.

"Teaching is my truest passion," he said. "If you do what you love, you'll never work a day in your life. It is very rewarding to make a difference in students' lives."

During his undergraduate studies at Southern Illinois University-Carbondale, Williamson found his niche for human resources and helping others during a lesson on the Hawthorne study in his industrial psychology course.

"Behavioral scientists wanted to go into a large company and find out what they could do to increase productivity. They tried things like painting the walls different colors, putting in fans, and any other idea they could think of," Williamson said. "The part that intrigued me the most was the lighting experiment. They went in and turned the lights down and measured that productivity increased.

"Then they turned the lights up and measured that productivity increased again. What they found was astounding about people in the workplace. It wasn't the lighting that created the increased productivity, but it was the attention employees were getting from the scientists. From that moment on, I realized I wanted to be in human resources. I wanted to be one of those people in the workplace who helps people be more successful and productive."

Although Williamson teaches courses in safety management, he never forgets his prior experience and all he has learned in human resources. During most of his career in human resource management, a core responsibility was managing the safety function and acting as internal safety consultant for large manufacturing corporations at single plants, multiple plants and corporate headquarters.

In his spare time, Williamson can be found providing career counseling for any student who asks for it. This includes assistance with career selection, resume writing, practice interviews and help with job searches.

"This isn't in my job description, but students see me all the time, at my invitation, to get help writing resumes, doing mock interviews, career counseling and any tips on career development," Williamson said.

Students in the safety management program can be assured their preparation for post-graduation is on point in Indiana State's program, which has accreditations through the Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology (ABET) and the Association of Technology, Management, and Applied Engineering (ATMAE).

"This accreditation is widely recognized and is very prestigious," Williamson said. "Having this program demonstrates that you have a very high-quality program that meets the top standards in the business of teaching safety, and we have achieved that. We are the only safety program in the country to achieve having these two programs, ABET and ATMAE."

Always eager to help others, Williamson hasn't put much thought into his retirement plans. "I enjoy what I'm doing and can't imagine what I would do if I weren't teaching. It gives me a strong sense of purpose and meaning in my life," he said.


Photo: -- Mike Williamson

Writer and media contact: Antonio Turner, media relations assistant, Office of Communications and Marketing, or 812-237-3773