2023 Spring Commencement Speaker is President and CEO of Thurgood Marshall College Fund

News Date
commencement speaker williams pic


By Hazel Scott/ASU

Alabama State University will hold its in-person 2023 Spring Commencement Exercises on Friday, May 5, at 8:45 a.m. and 1:45 p.m. at the ASU Stadium. The keynote speaker for both ceremonies is Dr. Harry L. Williams, president and CEO of the Thurgood Marshall College Fund (TMCF), the nation’s largest organization exclusively representing the Black College Community.

Dr. Carl S. Pettis, ASU’s Provost and Vice President of Academic Affairs who serves as the Commencement Committee Chairman, said all candidates will be provided 10 tickets for guests.

“The tickets will only be necessary in case of inclement weather, which might cause the ceremonies to be moved to the Dunn-Oliver Acadome. If the ceremony is moved, no guests will be allowed entry without a valid ticket,” Pettis noted.


TMCF’s 47 member schools are the nation’s publicly supported Historically Black Colleges or Universities (HBCUs) and Predominantly Black Institutions (PBIs), educating nearly 300,000 students. Under his leadership as President and CEO, TMCF has created innovative partnerships, increased organizational stability, and advanced bipartisan HBCU support.

As a former HBCU president, Dr. Williams leveraged his relationships with other HBCU presidents to increase cooperation between TMCF member schools, create a supportive network among HBCU leaders, providing a platform for sharing best practices, and acting together to ensure institutional sustainability for all HBCUs.

He has received many awards and accolades for his career in higher education and previously held senior positions at the University of North Carolina General Administration, Appalachian State University, and North Carolina A&T State University.

Dr. Williams earned his bachelor’s and master’s degrees from Appalachian State University and a Doctorate from East Tennessee State University. He was named President Emeritus of Delaware State University and is a member of Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity, Inc.

His wife is Dr. Robin S. Williams, and they are the proud parents of two adult sons, Austin and Gavin. Austin and his wife Reagan both graduated from Howard University, and Gavin, who also is a Howard University graduate, is currently a first-year student at Southern University Law Center. Dr. Williams’s granddaughter is Porter Rae, daughter of Austin and Reagan.


The 8:45 A.M. Ceremony

The 8:45 a.m. ceremony will be held to honor graduates of the following colleges:

The Golden Class of 1973

The Harold Lloyd Murphy Graduate School

The College of Liberal Arts and Social Sciences

The College of Education

The College of Visual and Performing Arts

The University College


The 1:45 p.m. ceremony will be held to honor graduates of the following colleges: 

The Harold Lloyd Murphy Graduate School

The College of Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics

The Percy J. Vaughn, Jr. College of Business Administration

The College of Health Sciences 

Graduate degrees from the Harold Lloyd Murphy Graduate School will be awarded during both Convocations in accordance with the graduate degree offerings of each college.

For more information, visit https://www.alasu.edu/academics/commencement