Michelle J. Howard, Admiral, U.S. Navy, Retired, will be the keynote speaker for Salus University’s 124th commencement at 2 p.m. Thursday, May 26, at the Kimmel Center for the Performing Arts in Philadelphia.
michelle howardAdmiral Howard, who became the first African American women to command a ship in the Navy in 1999, served 35 years. In 2014, she was the first woman to become a four-star Admiral in the U.S. Navy and the first woman to be appointed to the position of Vice Chief of Naval Operations (number two in a Military Service). She is the first African American woman to reach the rank of three-star and four-stars in the Armed Forces.
“We are extremely honored to be welcoming Admiral Michelle Howard to Salus as our May commencement speaker and honorary degree recipient,” said Salus president Michael H. Mittelman, OD ‘80, MPH, MBA, FAAO, FACHE. “I have known Michelle for many years as we were both in the same Flag Officer indoctrination class. Clearly, she’s gone much further than I did!”  
Admiral Howard led sailors and Marines multiple times in her career as the commander of a ship, an Expeditionary Strike Group, Task Force, and in a Naval theater. Her last command was from 2016 to 2017 as U.S. Naval Forces Europe and U.S. Naval Forces Africa. She simultaneously led NATO’s Allied Joint Force Command Naples with oversight of missions from the Western Balkans to Iraq. Operations in her career include NATO peacekeeping, West African Training Cruise, Indonesia Tsunami Relief operations, and the rescue of cargo ship Maersk Alabama from Somali pirates. She is a Desert Storm and Operation Iraqi Freedom veteran.
“Admiral Howard brings years of operational experience as well as tremendous insights into events affecting today’s geopolitical and national landscape. I am looking forward to seeing her again and hearing her remarks at the ceremony,” said Dr. Mittelman.
Admiral Howard was the Shapiro visiting professor at the Elliott School of International Affairs, George Washington University from 2018 to 2020. She taught courses on cybersecurity and policy. She is on the board of directors for IBM, the board of directors for the Stimson Center, and on an advisory panel to the U.S. Institute of Peace. She is a 1978 graduate of Gateway High School in Aurora, Colorado. She then went on to graduate from the United States Naval Academy in 1982 and from the Army’s Command and General Staff College in 1998, with a master’s in military arts and sciences.