Ambassador Howell is the John Minor Maury Jr. Professor of Public Affairs at the University of Virginia where he is Director of both the Institute for Global Policy Research and the Arabian Peninsula and Gulf Studies Program. He joined the General Faculty of the University upon retirement from the Foreign Service of the United States in December, 1992. During 1991-92, Dr. Howell was assigned to the University as Diplomat-in-Residence in the Woodrow Wilson Department of Government and Foreign Affairs. He served as Ambassador to the State of Kuwait from August l987 until December l990, four months after the Iraqi invasion of that country.
Before his appointment to Kuwait, Dr. Howell served as Political Advisor (POLAD) to the Commander-in-Chief of the United States Central Command (US CENTCOM) from January, 1986 to June 1987. His previous assignment was Deputy Chief of Mission of the Embassy in Algiers, Algeria (1983-85). From 1979 to 1982, he was Director of the Office of Iraq, Jordan, Lebanon, and Syria Affairs (NEA/ARN) in the State Department, prior to attending the National War College in Washington, D.C.
Dr. Howell was born in Portsmouth, Virginia on September 14, 1939. He received the B.A. degree with Honors from the University of Virginia in 1961. In 1965, he was awarded the Ph.D. in Government and Foreign Affairs from the same institution and studied Arabic at the Foreign Service Institute in Beirut, Lebanon in 1970-72. Dr. Howell is married to Margie Anne Saunders and they have one surviving son, Wilson Nathaniel III. He speaks Arabic as well as French.
He entered the United States Foreign Service in l965, following one year as Instructor in Government and Foreign Affairs at UVa. His first assignment was in Cairo where he served until 1967 as Executive Assistant to the Ambassador. His subsequent assignments included Political Officer with the U.S. Mission to the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) at Paris and Brussels (1967-68) and as analyst for Egypt in the Bureau of Intelligence Research in the Department (1968-1970). Following Arabic training in Beirut (1971-72) he was Deputy Principal Officer in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates (1972-74) before returning to Beirut as Political Officer. Beginning in l976, he served successively as Country Officer for Lebanon, Deputy Director of NEA/ARN and Special Assistant to the Assistant Secretary of State for Near East and South Asian Affairs.
Ambassador Howell is the recipient of the Presidential Meritorious Service Award for members of the Senior Foreign Service (1991) and has also been awarded the Secretary of State Award for Valor (1977 and 1991), the Department of State Superior Honor Award (1967) and the Meritorious Honor Award (1976). He is also the recipient of the Secretary of Defense Distinguished Civilian Service Medal (1988). During his studies at the National War College in 1982-83, he co-authored a strategy essay which won an award from the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff. In July, 1992, Ambassador Howell was awarded the Kuwait Decoration with Sash of the First Class by the Amir of Kuwait for his actions during and after the Iraqi invasion of that country. Since his return from Kuwait in late 1990, Dr. Howell has lectured throughout the United States as well as in France, Bulgaria, Cyprus, Italy, Austria, the United Arab Emirates, and the ships of Silversea Cruises. He has also spoken at more than 50 colleges and universities.