The Catholic University of America

Doctor of Humane Letters, honoris causa
The Honorable Anthony A. Williams, J.D.
Former Mayor of the District of Columbia

Father O'Connell and Anthony Williams

In 1995 the financial state of the District of Columbia had become so dire that Congress took over management of the city's finances through a federal control board. To deal with the city's $500 million budget shortfall, Anthony Williams was brought in by Washington's mayor to serve as the city's chief financial officer. Mr. Williams excelled in that post for three years, restoring the city's fiscal health ahead of schedule. In 1999 he embarked on the first of two terms as the city's mayor. During that period, his sure and steady hand set the city on a new course, one marked by progress and optimism.

As Mayor Williams prepared to leave office at the end of December 2006, The Washington Post summed up his legacy: "Williams leaves in his wake a city with a good bond rating, sizable cash reserves, a more accessible health care system for the underserved, several promising neighborhood projects, a major league baseball team, a new stadium under construction and a home town that is no longer the laughingstock of the nation. … He lifted Washington from the muck and turned it into a contender. … [He] honored his office with honesty and integrity."

To put Washington, D.C., back on its feet, Mayor Williams drew from a wealth of experience as a public servant. Previously, he had served as chief financial officer of the U.S. Department of Agriculture and had held executive posts in several U.S. cities. When he took over Washington's government, Mr. Williams balanced every one of his annual budgets, delivering a surplus of $325 million in 2006. The city's Standard and Poor's bond rating went from a dismal BBB- in 1995 to its current A+. Downtown D.C. boomed, the middle class started returning to the city, and crime levels decreased. Mayor Williams championed the creation of charter schools: in 1996 there were no such schools in D.C.; today they educate more than 20 percent of the city's students.

In recognition of his indispensable role in ushering in an era of financial stability, growth and confidence in our nation's capital, The Catholic University of America is proud to confer on the Honorable Anthony Williams the degree Doctor of Humane Letters, honoris causa.