Retired Merck Exec. Deese, U.S. Army Official to Keynote N.C. A&T May Commencements


EAST GREENSBORO, N.C. (April 9, 2019) – North Carolina Agricultural and Technical State University has called on alumnus Willie A. Deese ’77 and Marshall M. Williams to serve as keynote speakers for the May 11 undergraduate and graduate ceremonies, respectively.

Deese will address undergraduates at 8:30 a.m., in the Greensboro Coliseum, while Williams will address master's and doctoral graduates at 1:30 p.m. in the Special Events Center at the Greensboro Coliseum complex.

Both ceremonies will be streamed live. Links will be available on the university’s website and social media channels.

Deese is the retired president of the global Merck pharmaceutical firm’s Manufacturing Division, where he oversaw the company’s worldwide manufacturing, logistics and procurement operations. He led a network of more than 55 manufacturing and distribution sites with approximately 16,500 employees in over 22 countries.

He currently serves as a member of several boards including Dentsply Sirona Inc., CDK Global Inc., PSEG Inc., and most recently, G1 Therapeutics Inc. Deese was inducted into the Black College and University Hall of Fame in 2010 and a recipient of an honorary doctorate of humanities from N.C. A&T in 2011.

Williams currently serves as the principal deputy assistant secretary of the Army (Manpower and Reserve Affairs). He is responsible for the supervision of manpower, personnel and Reserve Component affairs for the Department of the Army and is also the principal advisor to the Secretary of the Army for policy and performance oversight of human resources, training, readiness, mobilization, military health affairs, force structure, manpower management, equal opportunity, equal employment opportunity, marketing and other critical matters.

He retired from the U.S. Army after service as the senior enlisted advisor for Secretaries of Defense William J. Perry and William S. Cohen. In that capacity, he reported directly to the secretary and was instrumental in resolving strategic and operational personnel issues that impacted 1.2 million enlisted service members from the Army, Marine Corps, Navy, Air Force and Coast Guard.

N.C. A&T expects to award degrees to more than 1,100 undergraduate students and nearly 300 graduate students completing their studies this spring.