Morgan Harris | Staff Writer
After nearly 44 years of leadership as the longest-serving president of Hampton University, Dr. William R. Harvey plans to retire next year. As his longtime tenure ends, Hampton students say they are receptive to the leadership change and await transition.
As a graduate of Talladega College, Dr. Harvey insisted on using his skills to set Hampton University on the path of inevitable success.
Assuming office on July 1, 1978, of what was then called Hampton Institute, Dr. Harvey was elected as the 12th president. While serving as president, Dr. Harvey has implemented a leadership program, M.B.A. program, centers for high-tech scientific research such as the Hampton University Proton Therapy Institute and expanded the Continuing Education Program.
With numerous awards and accolades, Dr. Harvey made history by becoming the first African American owner in the soft drink bottling industry when he and his wife, Mrs. Norma B. Harvey, purchased a Pepsi-Cola bottling franchise in 1986.
On December 15, 2020, Dr. Harvey announced his plans to retire by June 2022, after nearly 44 years of leadership.
“[Dr.] Harvey’s leadership feels very secure,” said Promise Robinson, a junior Music Recording Technology major from Neptune, New Jersey. “You can tell that the priority is the student’s safety even if we don’t necessarily agree with every protocol.”
Anticipating new changes and eager to see what new leadership will bring to Hampton University, students are optimistic that the change could potentially be smooth-sailing.
“With a new president coming in, I can definitely say I’m looking forward to seeing a shift in the culture at Hampton,” Robinson said. “There’s a lot of rules, regulations, departments and buildings that new leadership could possibly look into enhancing. With a new president, I hope to see Hampton shine in a new light that will continue to be enjoyable for the students and staff.”
From the beginning to near the end of his career as president, Dr. Harvey has made it his mission to ensure that students’ voices are accounted for and the No. 1 priority.
During the COVID-19 pandemic, Dr. Harvey made swift changes to ensure that the students’ and staffs’ safety was at the top of the list, deciding to switch to remote learning.
Students looked forward to the promised new scenery throughout the campus hiatus and were even more excited that a new president would bring a fresher look to the campus.
“I hope they will bring more engaging things to the campus that will benefit us, the campus, [and] our education,” said Chauncey Goodson, a junior Interdisciplinary Studies major from Darlington, South Carolina.
Goodson is hopeful the new president will bring Hampton to even greater heights and maybe add more fun to the mixture.
“I think that once we get a new president, some things on campus may be more fun and exciting to look forward to,” he said. “Especially if the new president is younger. I honestly think they might make some things better here on campus because they could bring something new.”
Students expect a new president who will interact with students more, help balance their priorities, and engage more in their student and campus life.
Students believe that new leadership could bring even more beneficial opportunities to the table.
“Whenever there’s a change in authority, no transition is ever going to be perfectly smooth,” Robinson said, “but I have high hopes that this will be the change Hampton University needs in order to become an even finer institution.”