HAMPTON, Va. - There will be a changing of the leadership guard at Hampton University for the first time in decades.
Dr. William Harvey plans to retire this year. When he took over in 1978 as its 12th president, the school was known as Hampton Institute and Jimmy Carter was in the White House. His campus office is filled with books, artwork, and photos of politicians and celebrities he has met over the years.
The images convey his span of influence and longevity. Hampton was renamed as a university in 1984 in recognition of its academic expansion. Dr. Harvey inherited a $29 million endowment that he and his team transformed into an endowment worth upwards of $400 million.
He didn’t get there without dealing with detractors both on and off campus. Dr. Harvey has a reputation of being a tough and determined leader.
“A leader is going to have to expect pushback," says Harvey. "But I don’t dwell on that, I’ve had personal attacks, I’ve had attacks on the university but look at where we are.”
Dr. Harvey has met with every sitting U.S. president over the course of four-plus decades — a calculated decision that attracted criticism from students on his own campus. But he does not apologize for his bipartisan approach and points to the results.
Hampton University has the worlds largest proton cancer treatment center, and they have four satellites orbiting the planet. As Dr. Harvey turns the page on this chapter on his life – he says he plans to write several books.
He says the plan is to write two or three novels while he still has the energy and mental acuity. He is also the owner and CEO of a Pepsi bottling company in Michigan. To the question of how he feels about the last 44 years, he says, “It’s been a wonderful journey.”