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Meet the President of Hampton University, Dr. Harvey!

Our narrative matters!

We are proud to amplify the narratives of Black Virginians and topics that matter to us.

This Homecoming season we reached out to the presidents of our beloved Virginia Historically Black Colleges and Universities, and are delighted to share what we learned through their participation in our inquiry. VBLM Village, meet Dr. Harvey, president of Hampton University!

What made you decide to pursue the role of president at Hampton University?

As an HBCU alumnus with an interest in higher education, I want to make a positive impact

Black man smiling in a striped suit, with a grey background.
Dr. William R. Harvey, President of Hampton University

on the lives of students who looked like me. I always thought of the HBCU experience and those who attend them as being special so I committed myself to helping move these institutions forward.

What excites you the most, about Hampton University?

What excites me the most about Hampton University is students. We have some of the best and brightest students in the world. We attract outstanding students with high SAT scores who bring positive national and international attention to Hampton by winning prestigious scholarships and competitions, conducting research, as well as engaging in prominent leadership and service activities. Our students go on to be leaders on the jobs and in their communities.

What have been some challenges you've had to overcome as president of Hampton University?

The major challenge that comes to mind, as you might imagine, is managing the COVID- 19 pandemic. Leading the university during this time has been different than any other time because the health and safety of students, faculty, staff and administrators are threatened by the virus. At Hampton, we make the best decisions that we can for the university with the information that we have at the time. This has always worked for us and we continue to act in this manner during these unprecedented times.

Please share some successes that have been beneficial to Hampton University?

Hampton has had a multitude of successes throughout its history and during my 43-year tenure as president. We are the first and only HBCU to have total control of a NASA mission which was funded by a $140 million contract. With several renewals of $100 million, Hampton has launched 4 satellites which are currently flying in space. Hampton is home to the largest free-standing proton beam cancer center in the world, where we are easing misery and saving lives. Recently, we received a $17.7 million grant from the US Department of Education to establish a state-wide business incubator to assist with economic recovery resulting from the pandemic.

What sets Hampton University apart from the other universities in the Commonwealth of Virginia?

Hampton’s history and its students set it apart from other universities in Virginia. Hampton prepares leaders both inside and outside of the classroom. Leadership development is a part of all of our courses. This is why after five years, Hampton graduates are called “boss.”

At Hampton, we offer a well-rounded education for our students, and we emphasize character. Our founder, General Samuel Chapman Armstrong, stated that he wanted to have good academic program and build character. He said that of the two, character is more important.

What does the future hold for Hampton University?

Hampton’s future is bright. We will continue offer quality teaching, relevant programs and a broad array of research opportunities for our students. We will continue to espouse

character development, the quality difference in a Hampton Education.

Share three reasons why a graduating high school senior should apply to Hampton University:

1. The quality and variety  of academic programs of study available (Top producer of African American Pharmacists in the State of Virginia; Engineering students won the AIME Design Challenge three straight years; 100% employment rate for 5Year BA/MBA graduates)

2. The “Added Value” experiences not offered at other institutions such as the Sailing and Equestrian programs.

3. Diverse offering of NCAA Division I athletic programs to include Women and Men’s Basketball, Tennis, and Track;  Women’s Soccer, Volleyball, Men’s Football, Lacrosse and much more . . .

How has COVID-19 impacted student life at Hampton University?

The pandemic has forced us to reimagine student life. Though our students are not on campus, we continue to engage them virtually in social activities with their peers. We have hosted virtual parties, exercise classes, student elections, SGA meetings, etc. so that

they have some semblance of student life.

Share five notable alumni from Hampton University:

1. Booker T. Washington—Abolitionist, Founder of Tuskegee Institute

2. Mary Jackson—1st African American NASA Engineer—Featured in “Hidden Figures” book and movie.

3. Ruth Carter—1st African American to receive an Oscar for costume design.

4. Wanda Sykes—Popular comedian and actor.

5. DJ Envy—Nationally syndicated morning show personality on the “Breakfast Club.”

Share information about three unique programs offered at your Hampton University:

  • Aviation

  • Architecture or the 5 year BA/MBA program

  • Music Recording Technology

What is one of your fondest memories at your HBCU's (pre-COVID-19) Homecoming?

My fondest memories are seeing the smiling faces of students and alumni as they walk across campus connecting with classmates, fraternity brothers, sorority sisters, fellow a alumni, and friends. I miss watching the Annual Hampton Homecoming Parade with the beautiful floats, lively bands, eager participants, and excited bystanders. I miss the excitement of tailgating, watching the game, attending parties, and enjoying concerts. I miss posing with people for pictures and discussing all of the exciting things taking place at Hampton.

Share any experiences that prepared you for your role as president.

Prior to serving as president of Hampton, I served in administrative roles at Fisk Tuskegee, and Harvard Universities.

Attending a Historically Black Colleges & Universities (HBCU) is an honor and a privilege. Consider earning your next degree from one of our most precious jewels - an HBCU! Learn more about Hampton University by visiting their official website.


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