BOONE, N.C. — Appalachian State University will welcome students — both new and returning — for the 2019–20 academic year during its 2019 Black and Gold Convocation ceremony.
Chancellor Sheri Everts will give the opening remarks at the ceremony. Appalachian faculty, staff and students, as well as the public, are invited to attend this free event.
This year’s convocation guest speaker is higher education advocate and Appalachian alumnus Dr. Harry L. Williams ’86 ’88 ’95, who was honored with the university’s Distinguished Alumni Award in 2013.
Using examples from his time as both a student and an employee of Appalachian State University, Williams will share a framework during his talk to help students maximize the impact of their college experience on the rest of their lives.
Williams serves as president and CEO of the Thurgood Marshall College Fund (TMCF), the nation’s largest organization exclusively representing the black college community. Williams was named to this position in 2018, making history as the first sitting university president to serve as president and CEO of TMCF.
At the time of Williams’ appointment, then-TMCF Board Chairman Jim Clifton said, “Our Board of Directors selected Dr. Williams because he was the best candidate for the job with a proven track record of raising millions of dollars, bipartisan advocacy and creating innovative partnerships. Harry has a unique appreciation and understanding of TMCF and HBCUs (historically black colleges and universities), as a member of our board and former HBCU president …”
In his work at TMCF, Williams, a first-generation college student, continues his 30-year career of advocating for equal access to higher education. Previously, Williams was president of Delaware State University, where he successfully led the largest five-year fundraising campaign in the university’s history.
Williams has also been a national consultant for higher education and has held notable leadership positions for the University of North Carolina General Administration (now the University of North Carolina System Office), including interim associate vice president for academic affairs and interim senior associate vice president for academic and student affairs. He also served as interim director of admissions for North Carolina Agricultural and Technical (A&T) State University.
He has garnered the National TRIO Achiever Award and TMCF Education Leadership Award, and was named to HBCU Digest’s “Top 10 Influential HBCU Presidents.”
In addition to earning a Bachelor of Science in communication, a Master of Arts in educational media and an education specialist degree in higher education, administration, from Appalachian, Williams served the university in associate director and associate vice chancellor roles in the areas of academic affairs, enrollment and diversity.