From 1991 until his retirement from federal service in 1995, J. Willard Williams served as the U.S. Army’s senior civilian educator and helped develop, manage and evaluate the Army’s voluntary education program worldwide. He formulated policy for the Army Continuing Education System (ACES) and served as representative for the Career Program 31. As the Career Program Manager, he ensured the availability of professional development opportunities for the education services careerists. Also, he committed the Army’s support for the American Association of Adult and Continuing Education military component called the Commission on Military Education and Training. Further, he developed standardized position descriptions, bringing ACES’s Civil Service professionals in line with other civilian professionals in the Army.
Williams received his MS in education administration from the University of Hawaii and his BS in business education from Lincoln University in Jefferson City, Missouri.
While Director of Project Transition for the U.S. Army Pacific, Hawaii, Williams planned, organized, and coordinated command-wide adult education programs to prepare soldiers for transition from military service to civilian careers. He played a pivotal role in the development of the vocational/technical programs, developed curricula for these programs in conjunction with the University of Hawaii Community College System, and led the way for all the U.S. Army with the Project Transition model. With the Vietnam War winding down, this initiative was vital since thousands of service members needed civilian skill training to gain marketable skills following military service. Transition counselors set up on-the-job training in many fields and assisted soldiers in resumé writing and job searches.
Williams’ greatest contributions for Army education came as the workforce was being realigned during serious Army downsizing, and he provided leadership through a rational approach to the application of personnel reductions. Other efforts resulted in implementation of Total Army Quality philosophy within Army education, revision of regulations governing the voluntary education program, uniformity in tuition assistance policy, a stable funding mechanism for Army Learning Centers and Army Personnel Testing, establishment of an automated education information management system, and piloting the Functional Academic Skills Training program for soldiers needing reading and mathematics development.
As Education Services Officer at Fort Gordon, Georgia, Williams planned, scheduled, and supervised the Army education program at the installation level, developing Army learning centers around the post. He and his staff developed and instituted innovative techniques to motivate soldiers to complete courses offered through the learning centers. Fort Gordon learning centers became a model for other Army installations.
As Deputy Director of Education for Headquarters VII Corps, Stuttgart, West Germany, Williams provided technical guidance on fiscal and personnel resources to more than 44 Army education centers and 60 sub-centers in Southern Germany.His single most significant long-term contribution was mentoring Army education services professionals and minorities. His protégés went on to hold significant education and training positions in the Department of Defense, including Director of Voluntary Education. During his term as Senior Army Education Adviser, he traveled throughout the world, demonstrating his commitment to soldiers and their adult family members often under adverse circumstances.
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