Celebrating Black History Month: The Leadership of Dr. William F. Bundy

Feb 9, 2021

The first African-American to rise from the enlisted ranks to become a submarine commander, U.S. Naval War College (NWC) Associate Provost Dr. William F. Bundy passed away on Sunday, December 15, 2019 in Rhode Island.

A native of Baltimore, Maryland, Bundy enlisted in the Navy after graduating from Baltimore City College. He later received his associate’s degree from Leeward Community College and a bachelor’s degree in 1973 from the University of Hawaii. Bundy was a distinguished graduate of the NWC, where he earned his master’s degree. In 2005, he received his Ph.D. from Salve Regina University. His doctoral research primarily focused on leadership and governance in technology-focused administrations, work that helped to shape his instruction at the NWC.

During his 30+ years in the Navy, Bundy served on seven submarines; he was Executive Officer of the USS BLUEBACK and the Commanding Officer of the USS BARBEL. Bundy was notably a member of the Centennial Seven – one of the first seven African Americans to command a submarine in the first 100 years of the U.S. submarine force, and the first to rise from the enlisted ranks to do so.

After Bundy retired from active duty, he entered the public service sector, eventually becoming Director of the Rhode Island Department of Transportation in 1994. Bundy returned to the NWC in 2003 and served as the Chair of Warfare Analysis and Research Department. In 2019, Bundy became Associate Provost where he continued to focus on creating technology-centered operational concepts, wargaming, and organizing research exercises on high-end warfare. Bundy also served as an adjunct professor at Providence College and Salve Regina, where he taught leadership and business ethics.

Bundy’s active duty awards include a Defense Meritorious Service Award and a Meritorious Service Award, 1993 Black Engineer of the Year for Outstanding Achievement in the Government, and the U.S. Navy League’s Dalton L. Baugh Award for Inspirational Leadership, in addition to over twenty other personal and service medals.

Bundy was an enthusiastic supporter of both the NWC and NWCF. In November, he presented at the Newport Lecture Series on the Fourth Technological Age and the Future of Warfare. The tremendous turnout was a testament to his reputation in the NWC and Newport communities. NWCF CEO George Lang commented, “Dr. Bundy was a great friend of the College and Foundation. I am blessed to have had the opportunity to work with him over the years. His leadership, inspiration, and love for teaching and learning will truly be missed.”

The NWC will honor Dr. Bundy’s legacy by naming the third deck atrium of McCarty Little Hall after him. McCarty Little is home to the Center for Naval Warfare Studies (CNWS) where some of the Nation’s most advanced strategic and operational research and war games are conducted.

To make a memorial gift to the NWC in honor of Dr. Bundy and his efforts to advance innovation research at the NWC and in the broader military community, please contact the NWCF.


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