Hampton University President Dr. William R. Harvey (Photo/BlackPressUSA)

By Lauren Victoria Burke, NNPA Newswire Contributor

He began as President of one of the most storied Historically Black Colleges and Universities in America in 1978. On December 15, Hampton University President Dr. William R. Harvey announced his retirement after 43 years, effective June 30, 2022.

Dr. Harvey is 79 years old. In 1986, he was the first African American owner in the business of soft drink bottling along with his wife. That historic business move solidified his standing as a businessman.

After four decades at Hampton University Harvey is one of the longest-serving leaders in American higher-education. 

During his tenure as President, Harvey led the initiation of 92 new academic degrees – 12 new doctoral programs – the building of 29 buildings and the launch of four satellites. He also increased SAT scores by more than 300 points.  The endowment of Hampton moved from $29 million to $300 million. A release from the university said Dr. Harvey ran Hampton like “a business for educational purposes.” He also ran it on high standards and a deliberate effort to make Hampton on the leading and sought after universities in America.  

“The formula for any success that I have had is based on five priorities: character traits of honesty, integrity, respect, trustworthiness and good personal behavior; high standards and values; a good work ethic; service to others; and appreciating and utilizing the team approach,” Harvey said.

Harvey transformed Hampton University and the university enjoys high enrollment and between 15,000 and 20,000 applications annually and a steady enrollment. There have been over 36,000 students who have graduated from Hampton since Harvey took over. The university is classified as a ‘High Research Activity’ institution. 

Dr. Harvey moved to Hampton with his wife Norma and they have been married to for 53 years and she is known for her service as a board member of the American Heart Association, the Virginia Symphony and Board of Visitors of the College of William and Mary.

He holds degrees from Talladega College, Virginia State University and Harvard University.

Lauren Victoria Burke is an independent journalist for NNPA and the host of the podcast BURKEFILE. She is also a political strategist as Principal of Win Digital Media LLC. She may be contacted at LBurke007@gmail.com and on twitter at @LVBurke