President news: 3-star military leader ‘returning to serve’ at HBCU

Hampton University hires retired U.S. Army lieutenant general.
Darrell Williams

After spending nearly a year vetting 300 candidates to replace longtime leader William Harvey, the Board of Trustees at Hampton University decided to name one of its own as its next president.

Retired three-star Lt. Gen. Darrell Williams, a graduate of the Historically Black College and University in 1983 who has spent his career serving the nation in his role with the U.S. Army and leading in the private sector, officially accepted the position last Friday.

The selection of Williams, who brings a breadth of experience running military operations as well as helping direct the Fortune 250 company Leidos Holdings, came after several rounds of interviews and the whittling down of the potential pool to three nominees. Choosing an alumnus with wide-ranging credentials, including a strong business acumen, appealed to Hampton’s board.

“Running a university is complex, as was made evident by the global pandemic. When President Harvey told us of his decision to retire, we knew we wanted to build upon what he has accomplished,” Board Chairman Wes Coleman said. “We embarked on a search for a proven strategic leader. The skills Lt. Gen. Williams is bringing to Hampton encompass what institutions of our size need. In a global world increasingly dependent on technology, this kind of strategic leadership expertise and knowledge can only help to move our institution forward over the coming decades.”

Williams, who will begin in his new job on July 1, was humbled to be “returning to serve” and to replace Harvey, who spent 44 years as Hampton president. During that time, Harvey boosted enrollment, led explosive endowment growth and built up Hampton’s academic programs and campus infrastructure. It currently has a little more than 3,500 students, 95% of whom are Black.

“I love Hampton, and I am thrilled to have been selected as the next president,” Williams said. “I will work tirelessly with students, faculty, staff, alumni and the broader community to prepare our graduates for today and for the continuously evolving, technology-driven workforce of tomorrow.”

President Series stories from UB

Well-respected by the Hampton community – Williams was its commencement speaker in 2019 – he spent 37 years in the Army, becoming the first Black director of the Department of Defense’s Defense Logistics Agency, where he was responsible for more than 26,000 employees. It was the DLA that provided more than $1 billion in aid to the Department of Defense and federal agencies during the pandemic. He left the position in 2020 and was hired by Leidos as vice president and managing director of its Logistics, Commodities and Services Transformation program that serves military forces in the U.K.

Originally from West Palm Beach, Fla., Williams received his bachelor’s degree from Hampton, where he was senior class president, a cadet in its ROTC program and a member of Phi Alpha Fraternity. He then earned three separate master’s degrees – in business administration from Penn State; in military art and science from the Army Combined and General Staff College in Fort Leavenworth, Kan.; and in national security strategy from the National War College at Fort McNair in Washington, D.C

Chris Burt
Chris Burt
Chris is a reporter and associate editor for University Business and District Administration magazines, covering the entirety of higher education and K-12 schools. Prior to coming to LRP, Chris had a distinguished career as a multifaceted editor, designer and reporter for some of the top newspapers and media outlets in the country, including the Palm Beach Post, Sun-Sentinel, Albany Times-Union and The Boston Globe. He is a graduate of Northeastern University.

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