Fr. Noonan Distinguished Alumnus

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The Fr. Noonan Distinguished Alumnus Award recognizes and honors the achievements of outstanding alumni. The McQuaid Alumni Association established the award in 1992 in honor of Richard P. Noonan, S.J., principal of McQuaid from 1966-67, and revered alumni director from 1969 until his retirement in 1995.

2018 Honoree: Bill Woityra, '95

Crediting McQuaid for his sense of intellectual curiosity and thirst for learning, William Woityra, ’95 always is looking for where his next adventure might take him. A commander in the United States Coast Guard, Woityra’s most recent adventure took him to Finland, where he spent four months completing a Fulbright Scholarship, studying icebreakers as a representative of the United States and the U.S. Coast Guard.

A career icebreaker sailor, Woityra has served on four breakers. He led the 420’ icebreaking research vessel HEALY on five Arctic research missions, including its historic 2015 expedition to the North Pole, the first time an unaccompanied U.S. surface vessel had reached the top of the world. He served for three years as commanding officer of the 140’ icebreaking tug NEAH BAY in Cleveland, Ohio. While commanding NEAH BAY, he established a cooperative program with Bowling Green State University that led to his crew earning more than 60 college credits for participating in a lake sampling partnership. He previously served as executive officer on the 140’ icebreaking tug THUNDER BAY out of Rockland, Maine and as marine science officer on the 399’ heavy icebreaker POLAR STAR out of Seattle, making one Antarctic and two Arctic deployments.

Shore assignments have included the International Ice Patrol, tracking North Atlantic icebergs over the Grand Banks of Newfoundland, and two years as Coast Guard Attaché to Malta, advising the U.S. Ambassador and Armed Forces of Malta on maritime concerns and teaching search and rescue coordinator classes at the Maritime Safety and Security Training Centre.

Woityra’s personal awards include the Defense Meritorious Service Medal, Department of State Meritorious Honor Award, three Coast Guard Commendation Medals, the Coast Guard Achievement Medal, and four Commandant’s Letters of Commendation.

Woityra graduated from the Coast Guard Academy in 1999 with a bachelor’s in electrical engineering. Advanced degrees include a master’s in oceanography from the University of Rhode Island, an MBA from Chancellor University, and an Advanced Diploma in International Maritime Law from the IMO International Maritime Law Institute. He is a graduate of the Joint Military Attaché School and holds his Joint Professional Military Education certificate from Air University. He is an adjunct instructor for Vincennes University in oceanography and business.

Currently, Woityra serves as the Ice Operations division chief in the Office of Waterways and Ocean Policy at Coast Guard Headquarters in Washington, D.C. He is the program manager for domestic and polar icebreaking policy. His duties further entail service as liaison officer to the National Science Foundation and Joint Task Force Support Forces Antarctica. In this role, he spent January 2017 at McMurdo Station in Antarctica, supporting CGC POLAR STAR in its successful completion of Operation Deep Freeze 2017. In the course of his duties, he became one of only a handful of people worldwide to ever reach both the north and south poles.