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Mel Williams Appointed to Oversee Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Initiatives

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Mel Williams Appointed to Oversee Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Initiatives 

by Jacqueline Jedrych

In a letter to the University community on July 19, 2021, President John Garvey announced that Associate Dean of Engineering, Vice Admiral Melvin Williams would begin a secondary role overseeing Catholic University’s Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion initiatives. 

“With personal humility and mindful respect for everyone in the Catholic University community,” Williams said, “I look forward to remaining a ‘servant’ leader who assists others in our collaborative pursuit of common goals.”

Williams has a rich background in promoting diversity and inclusion. The retired Vice Admiral’s US Navy service included one year as an enlisted sailor, 32 years as a commissioned officer, and about 10 years as Commander of the U.S. Second Fleet.

During his time in the Navy, he earned the top national strategic US Air Force and US Navy award, the Omaha trophy, for being the first African American in history to Command a Nuclear Powered Strategic Ballistic Missile submarine. He was also the sixth African American in the Navy’s 240-year history to achieve the rank of Vice Admiral. After retirement, he went on to serve in the Department of Energy, where one aspect of his role was Chair of the Diversity and Inclusion Council. Williams continues to serve as an advisor to top Naval officials on diversity and inclusion. He has served nine total years in higher education, including in his current role as Associate Dean of Engineering, where he has worked since 2017.

“The Sister Thea Bowman Committee, convened in August 2020, is named for our alumna who championed the dignity of under-represented groups and has been designated by the Church as a Servant of God,” President Garvey said in his announcement letter. “Its mandate was to study all facets of University operations and make recommendations concerning racial equality.”

Williams will be accountable through direct meetings to the President, and will work closely with the President’s Staff to carry out the Sister Thea Bowman Committee recommendations & University Strategic Goals that pertain to Diversity, Equity, & Inclusion.  He will also serve collaboratively on the Executive Committee of the Administrative Council to address matters of race and other inclusion initiatives.

“My approach will be to listen intently, to advise, to add value by performing the needed work in support of cognizant University leaders and our community,” Williams said, “and as President Garvey has indicated౼to help create at Catholic University a truly hospitable campus culture for all nations, peoples, and cultures.” 

Vice Admiral Williams will begin his role in a part-time capacity on August 1, 2021.

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