Barry Jones | Editor-in-Chief
Hampton University President Dr. William R. Harvey has announced his retirement. Set to retire in June 2022, Harvey would end up serving as the president of the university for 44 years, the longest tenure of any HBCU president and the eighth-longest tenure of any university president in the United States.
Becoming the 12th president of Hampton Institute in 1978, Dr. Harvey arrived on a campus that “was slowly losing ground,” according to a statement released by the university. Over the course of his time at the university, Dr. Harvey managed to expand its academic offering, financial standing and physical uniqueness.
Under Dr. Harvey’s leadership, 92 new academic degrees were introduced, including 12 doctoral programs; the endowment increased from $29 million to over $300 million; and 29 new buildings have been erected.
Through building a reputation of prestige, honor and dedication to Hampton University, Dr. Harvey has maintained a philosophy of leadership centered around teamwork and active listening. He highlighted the fact that a major factor of the university’s progression and success are the contributions of a high-caliber team of administrators, faculty and student-leaders.
“If you look at the team that I have amassed here, I think they are extraordinary,” Dr. Harvey said in an interview with The Hampton Script. “When you look at the fact that I have 17 [administrators] that have gone on to become presidents of other colleges and organizations, when I add in student-leader input, faculty input, the board of trustees input, I think we have a pretty darn good process.”
Dr. Rodney Smith, former HU vice president of administrative services, was appointed president of the College of the Bahamas in Nassau. Former HU Provost Dr. Pamela V. Hammond was appointed interim president of Virginia State University in 2015.
The Harvey Leadership Model has served students, faculty and staff throughout the course of Dr. Harvey’s tenure. In 2016, Harvey published “Principles of Leadership: The Harvey Leadership Model.” The book highlights 10 principles that distinguish leaders. Serving as a culmination of 40 years of result-driven leadership, Dr. Harvey utilized his own personal response to adversity, wisdom from his parents and innovative thinking to pen a guide to obtaining and maintaining an enriching leadership experience.
Through Dr. Harvey’s avid political participation, Hampton University managed to make never-before-seen strides as it relates to the development and expansion of Historically Black Colleges and Universities. The Hampton University Proton Therapy Institute, the largest free-standing proton beam cancer center in the world, was established in 2010. Four satellites launched in 2007 made Hampton University the first Historically Black College and University to have 100% control of a NASA satellite mission.
“I have been in the Oval Office for every single president since Jimmy Carter,” Dr. Harvey said. “I think that has helped us gain federal money.”
Dr. Harvey has not backed down from his bipartisan approach to increasing Hampton University’s favor among political figures. Through Dr. Harvey’s relationship with former Republican president George H.W. Bush, the President’s Advisory Panel on HBCUs, a panel on which Dr. Harvey served, secured $776 million in federal funds in 1989 and $894 million in 1990 — an increase of $118 million in two years.
During the Bush administration, Hampton University secured more than $40 million in federal funding for faculty research, student scholarships and the expansion of academic programs.
“My father said to me there are good people and scoundrels in both major political parties,” Dr Harvey said. “He said, ‘Always support the person, not the party.’ There may be times where alumni, faculty and students don’t particularly like the decision. But I will always do what is right and best for Hampton.”
Dr. Harvey’s adoration for Hampton University has been a motivating factor during his long-standing tenure as president. Students, parents, alumni, faculty and staff have recognized the progress that has been made under his leadership.
“We all know Hampton University is a special place that has grown over the years to be a stellar institution,” Student Government Association President Austin Sams said in a statement to The Hampton Script. “Hamptonions of many generations have been fortunate for Dr. Harvey’s leadership, and I congratulate him on creating a legacy that will live on forever.”
As Dr. Harvey’s tenure comes to a close, the university will soon begin to set eyes on his successor. When asked how big of a role he will play in the selection of the next university president, Dr. Harvey indicated that the Board of Trustees will have the final say-so as to who will replace him.
The announcement of retirement has had no effect on the amount of work President Harvey plans to commit to during the remainder of his tenure. With plans to carry out the wishes of former Virginia Gov. Douglas Wilder, Dr. Harvey hopes to assist in raising funds for the creation of a slave museum in Virginia. He also emphasized an effort to fundraise $50 million to $75 million for minority cancer patients who can’t afford treatment. Finally, Dr. Harvey is focused on providing COVID-19 testing for “underserved rural communities.”
Upon retirement, Dr. Harvey plans to stay in Hilton Head, South Carolina, with his wife, Norma B. Harvey. Dr. Harvey plans to embark on yet another literary journey in an effort to utilize his four decades of experience to serve higher education. Although Dr. William R. Harvey will retire as president of Hampton University, HU will continue to be his “Home by the Sea.”