- School of Nursing Distinguished Alumni Award (1989)
Margaret Aasterud Williams held nursing service and faculty positions at several schools, including University of Minnesota before joining the faculty of the University of Wisconsin-Madison in 1976. She retired as Professor Emerita from UW in 1991. She also developed the Management and Education Services for Healthcare (MESH) program at UW Health in the 1970s.
Prior to becoming a nurse, Williams was an elementary school teacher. She earned a BSN from University of Minnesota, a MSN from UCLA, and a Ph.D from UC-Berkeley. After obtaining her degrees, she began her clinical work at Minneapolis General Hospital. Her foray into academia began with an assistant professorship at University of Nevada, co-directing a NIH-funded leadership unit at the school. In 1976, she joined the faculty at University of Wisconsin. At UW, she led the effort to establish the doctoral program at the School of Nursing.
Williams is known for her leadership in nursing research, especially for her work in the 1960s and 1970s. At that time, she conducted a series of studies examining women’s experiences of surgical procedures, including studies of cultural patterning of the feminine role and its influence on responses to hysterectomy. In addition, Williams conducted a careful sequence of studies that moved from first describing the predictors of delirium to then testing an intervention designed to reduce the incidence of this potentially life threatening condition. Her studies in this and other related areas resulted in her being considered the preeminent scholar of the effects of the physical environment on patient care, with particular recognition for her expertise in
understanding the impact of the hospital environment on the frail elderly.