NEWPORT NEWS-Hampton University President Darrell K. Williams shared the learning institute’s “Elevating Hampton Excellence” Strategic Plan 2023-2033 with a crowd of more than 90 people composed of community and business leaders, Hampton University alumnae, and other interested citizens at Virginia Peninsula Chamber of Commerce’s IMPACT Peninsula series. The forum was held from 11:30am to 1pm Tuesday, June 20, at the Chamber’s new office in City Center at Oyster Point.
IMPACT Peninsula is a series featuring top level executives and business and community leaders from the Peninsula and Virginia, who share their insight on corporate and organizational strategies and what is shaping their decision-making today. The purpose of the series is to foster dialogue that inspires and motivates excellence in business leadership.
Williams, who graduated from Hampton University in the 1980s, along with his wife, Myra, said the 155-year-old school is committed to delivering the number-one student experience in America. Goals for the university’s ten-year plan are to elevate academic excellence, increase research and innovation, improve operations and enhance infrastructure, increase financial sustainability, enhance stakeholder engagement, and sustain athletic excellence.
“I vetted this plan with members of the business community, members of the academic community, the board of trustees, and other stakeholders,” said Williams. “What I found amongst alumni in particular, was that the thing that brought them to Hampton University to begin with, and the thing that that has made them so successful, was the experience they had at the university as a student.”
Williams, a retired U.S. Army general, took the helm as the university’s 13th president on July 1, 2022, 39 years after graduating from the historically Black university with a bachelor’s degree. Located on the scenic shore of the Chesapeake Bay in Hampton, Hampton Institute was founded by Samuel Chapman Armstrong in 1868. Chapman served his country as a Union military commander of Black troops during the American Civil War before founding the institute, which, at the time, was a vocational educational school.
“Our founder, Brigadier General Samuel Chapman Armstrong always talked about this idea of developing leaders of character and an education for life,” said Williams. “Those things about our university will never change. That’s the foundation.”
Since taking the helm as president, Williams said he’s traveled extensively and met with alumni in New York, NY; Philadelphia, PA; Baltimore, MD; San Francisco, CA; Los Angeles, CA; Houston, TX; Washington, DC; and Atlanta, GA.
“Hampton is a national brand,” said Williams. “It’s a national organization, and we’re very proud to be rooted here in the Hampton Roads area. I think that national reputation, brand, and the quality of people that you’re [business leaders] able to recruit from the university speaks to the diversity that we bring from across the United States, and from some places around the world, is all rooted in the student experience.”
His last 11 years in the Army were spent in executive roles. His military career culminated in 2020 as director of the Department of Defense’s Defense Logistics Agency, where he led a global workforce of more than 26,000 professionals. After retiring from the military, Williams was employed with Leidos for a few years, where he served as vice president and managing director of a $9 billion United Kingdom Ministry of Defense Logistics Commodities and Service Transformation contract, providing global logistical support to United Kingdom military forces.
“One of the things that we’ve always been known for at Hampton University is academic excellence,” said Williams. “Since leaving Hampton University in 1983, I have never, to this day, felt second to anyone. I’ve always felt that the academic preparation that I got from our home by the sea prepared me for each and every challenge that I’ve encountered along the way.”