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Fostering Relationships with Cadets: LCDR Matthew Williams Faculty Spotlight

Stefanie Senkow
September 16, 2021

LCDR Matthew WilliamsSuccesses and failures—LCDR Matthew Williams lays his all on the table when working with students. Why? To build trust. Previously the Weapons Officer aboard USCGC CHASE, Williams draws on his afloat experience to implement this leadership as a Permanent Commissioned Teaching Staff math instructor at the Academy.

“In my first three months aboard CHASE, I did a great job managing my division, but a terrible job of leading it,” said Williams. “My Executive Officer told me that the crew would not trust me if they didn’t know me. He encouraged me to get out of my stateroom and get to know the men and women I was responsible for, and to let me know them. They needed to know that when I asked them to make difficult sacrifices, I knew how it would affect them.”

Like with his division on CGC CHASE, Williams invests in his students in the same way, being open and honest about himself so they can flourish and succeed.

“I tell my students that my leadership philosophy is Fostering Relationships leads to Flourishing and Fulfilling their Purpose,” said Williams.

Despite teaching challenging courses like Decision Models (focused on constructing models of real-world problems) and Multivariable Calculus, Williams keeps his classroom light and engaging.

“Having a bunch of cadets stare at you for an hour is stressful enough, so I engage with them in areas not necessarily related to the material as time allows. I bring in real world examples of the material, either from my research or other courses,” said Williams.

Williams credits the cadets with keeping him young at heart and inspiring him to dream about his own future, which consists of writing his PhD dissertation. His research, motivated by the third class summer assignment process, focuses on developing algorithms that increase fairness, equity, and robustness in the assignment process.

“My hope is that my algorithms can be implemented by the Cadet Training branch at the Academy to lessen their workload and improve the cadets training experience. Ultimately, I would like to work with the Coast Guard to analyze our current assignment process and hopefully offer some ways we can improve overall assignment quality,” said Williams.

Explore Williams’ department and see what an Operations Research & Computer Analysis from the Coast Guard Academy has in store.