Darrell K. Williams on becoming Hampton University’s next president
Illustration: Chris Gash
Why you should know: It’s a highly coveted position at his alma mater, the nation’s No. 4 ranked Historically Black College and University (HBCU).
Williams recently opened up about his achievements at Leidos and his plans to usher Hampton into what he hopes will be its “next era of greatness.”
On Hampton University:
- “I consider Hampton University not only a great HBCU,” Williams said, “but also one of America’s great universities, period. Hampton offers a superior academic experience, and our alumni network is second-to-none. During my 37-year military career I had many assignments around the world, and I can’t remember one where I didn’t encounter at least one Hamptonian.”
- “Hampton also holds an important place within Virginia’s tidewater area,” he said. “It’s a center of excellence in that community in so many different ways. The opportunities our students have to grow, develop and become leaders in the community are unsurpassed.”
Looking back: When asked what makes him proud about his time at Leidos, Williams said it’s “the company’s great values” including inclusion.
- “I count myself extremely fortunate to work at a highly ethical Fortune 500 company that does it the right way,” he said. “What I’ve seen at Leidos is a wonderful, innovative, forward-thinking defense firm that’s concerned about shareholder value, but more importantly, really tries to get it right for their people and customers.”
Williams said he's proud of the excellent performance of his team's £6.7bn logistics program for the UK Ministry of Defence (MOD).
- “The team continues to significantly increase the financial benefit to the MOD and displays the agility to provide what the customer needs, when and wherever they need it,” he said.
Looking ahead: Williams said he looks to leverage his experience at Leidos in his new role, and that Hampton’s mission dovetails with the Leidos corporate mission to solve some of the world’s biggest problems through science and technology. He said as a lifelong learner he sees many areas of crossover between business and academia.
In his new role, he said he will look to strengthen ties between Leidos and Hampton’s STEM programs, which include many research capabilities in the Leidos technology portfolio like signal processing, machine learning, quantum computing, cancer cell modeling and cybersecurity for unmanned air systems.
Notable: Since 2016, Leidos has been a proud member of the Advancing Minorities’ Interest in Engineering (AMIE) coalition designed to strengthen ties between HBCUs and Corporate America.
AMIE member schools represent 3% of engineering schools in the country but produce 30% of all Black doctoral graduates.
- “There are very few opportunities that would have enticed me to consider leaving Leidos,” he said, “and Hampton was that rare, once-in-a-lifetime opportunity.”
- “At Hampton, we have a phrase within our alma mater that talks about allowing your life to do the singing. For me, going back to Hampton University is part of that. It’s all about giving back. It’s about servant leadership and making a contribution to the world that’s bigger than yourself. I hope to bring all those qualities to our students, faculty, staff and alumni. I offer my whole self and all of my experience to the Hampton Pirate nation.”
- “I also understand the wonderful legacy of the legend of our current president,” he said. “Dr. William R. Harvey was the president when I was a student at Hampton, and he’s done a phenomenal job over the last 44 years. He’s set an incredibly high standard that Hamptonians are accustomed to, and collectively we will raise the bar even further for our students, staff, faculty and alumni. I want Hamptonians everywhere to continue to be proud of their university as we meet the emerging challenges of the next century.”
Background: Williams, who served in the U.S. Army for 37 years, earned his bachelor’s degree from Hampton in 1983.
- He also holds Masters degrees from Penn State, the U.S. Army Command and General Staff College, School of Advanced Military Studies and the U.S. National War College.
- His military career culminated in 2020 when he served as the first Black director of the U.S. Defense Logistics Agency (DLA). There, he led a workforce of more than 26,000 civilian and military personnel that provided $42 billion in global logistics support to all U.S. military services and 42 U.S. government organizations.
- In 2020, he was recognized by the Journal of Black Innovation as one of the 50 Most Important African Americans in Technology.
- In 2018, he received Hampton University’s Distinguished Alumni Award.
Please contact the Leidos media relations team for more information.