Longtime Board Chair Brimmer retires, Williams named successor
TUSKEGEE, Ala. (October 18, 2010) —Dr. Andrew F. Brimmer on Oct. 15 announced his retirement as Chairman of the Tuskegee University Board of Trustees. The announcement came during the Board’s annual fall meeting. Retired Maj. Gen. Charles E. Williams, a current member of the Board who led the final steering committee search process for University President, was named as Brimmer’s successor.
Brimmer served as a member of the Board for 45 years — with 28 as its Chairman —making him the longest-serving Board member in the University’s 129-year history.
“My association with Tuskegee is the longest, uninterrupted relationship that I have with any organization or any place at any time in my 84 years,” Brimmer said in his letter to the Board. “As I have said many times to many of you, I have enjoyed every day of my service with Tuskegee.”
Brimmer was the first black to serve as a member of the Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System in 1966, serving until 1974. He is president of Brimmer & Company, a consulting firm based in Washington, D.C. He joined the Tuskegee University Board of Trustees in 1965, and became Chair in 1982. The University’s School of Business and Information Science is named for him.
Brimmer personally identified Dr. Benjamin F. Payton, fifth President of the University, after an exhaustive search in 1981, and guided the work of the Board in support of Payton’s vision during his 28-year tenure. He also fully supported the transition of Tuskegee Institute to University status in 1985.
Brimmer also had the honor of introducing U.S. President Ronald Reagan as Commencement speaker on Mother’s Day 1987. He also supported the historic decision to close John A. Andrews Hospital in 1987. This action was in response to the University losing $1 million, at an expense of the University’s education mission.
In honoring Brimmer for his distinguished service, the Board named him Chair Emeritus and has bestowed upon him the Honorary Doctor of Laws degree. Members also approved the creation of the Andrew F. Brimmer Lecture Series in Public Policy to be held in the business school. Brimmer will be the first lecturer.
“It is an honor to follow Dr. Brimmer as chair,” said Williams, who graduated from Tuskegee Institute (University) in 1960. “He among all the trustees has served the longest tenure and has been a phenomenal Board Chair in supporting the forward movement of the University.”
Williams joined the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers in 1960, beginning his career as a helicopter pilot in Vietnam, ferrying engineers under enemy fire to repair roads and install wells. Later, as a colonel stationed in Germany, he managed the massive modernization of tank ranges to accommodate a new family of fighting vehicles in the Army’s largest troop construction project since World War II. As a brigadier general, he was named Division Engineer-North Atlantic Division. Later, he served as program manager for the $1.3 million reconstruction of Fort Drum, N.Y., and was appropriations director for the U.S. Army’s $21 billion Operations and Maintenance appropriations.
Following his retirement from military service, Williams served as president and CEO of the New York City School Construction Authority, a $4.3 billion public school building program that was the largest in the nation. He became known for his “hands-on” and “level playing field” approach, which recognizably improved the working relationship between subcontractors and the School Construction Authority. Later, he served as the COO of the Toll Road Investors Partnership II and managed the design and construction of the first private toll road in Virginia in 150 years.
An Alabama native, Williams has received many military awards, including the Distinguished Flying Cross and has been inducted into the Alabama Engineering Hall of Fame, and recognized as a “Captain of Industry” by Construction Business Review magazine and as one of the “Top 25 Newsmakers of 2005” by Engineering News Record.
In other Board action, newly named Tuskegee University President-elect, Dr. Gilbert L. Rochon, was granted full professor status with tenure at the historic board meeting. Rochon will officially take office Nov. 1.