July 19, 2021
Mel Williams, Jr.

Dear Members of the University Community,

I am happy to announce that Associate Dean of Engineering Mel Williams, Jr., has agreed to serve as a special assistant to the President to coordinate the University’s efforts to promote diversity and combat instances of racism in our community.

Dean Williams will begin in this part-time role on August 1.  He will continue his responsibilities in the School of Engineering, where he has served since 2017. 

As a special assistant, Dean Williams will be accountable to President Garvey for the execution of the Sister Thea Bowman Committee recommendations, as well as the University cognate strategic goals, all contributing to improving the University’s mission performance.

He will serve as a member of the Executive Committee of the Administrative Council, and work collaboratively with the University’s administration, faculty, staff, students and alumni to address matters of race and equality in University operations.

Williams will meet monthly with President Garvey and provide updates to the senior leadership each semester to track the University’s progress and challenges in the areas of race and diversity. He will also work closely with the President’s leadership team to provide strategic input.

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. Its mandate was to study all facets of University operations and make recommendations concerning racial equality.

One of the Committee’s early recommendations was that the University appoint an individual who would be responsible for a sustained focus on diversity and its impact on University performance.

Dean Williams is a retired vice admiral (three star) in the U.S. Navy who, among many assignments, was the commander of the Second Fleet.  He has served as co-chair of the Workforce Development subcommittee of the Bowman Committee, charged with examining, assessing, and making recommendations to measure and improve the University’s efforts regarding recruitment, training, and retention of its staff and faculty, as these decisions relate to race, culture, and faith.  He is one of the U.S. Navy and Submarine Force “Centennial Seven,” the first seven African Americans to command a U.S. submarine in the first 100 years of the submarine force.  He is co-author, with his father, of Navigating the Seven Seas, which is on the Navy’s official reading list.  

Admiral Williams and Mel Williams, Sr. are the only African American father and son in our history who reached the top enlisted rank (master chief/E-9) and the top officer rank (vice admiral/O-9) in the Navy.

Since February 2017 Dean Williams has served as Associate Dean of Engineering (Professional Programs) at Catholic University.  He is an alumnus who earned a Master of Science degree in Engineering in 1984. He received the Catholic University of America 2012 Engineering Distinguished Alumni Award.

I look forward to working together with Mel Williams this year to create at Catholic University a truly hospitable campus culture for all nations, peoples, and cultures.


John Garvey