“His master replied, ‘Well done, good and faithful servant! You have been faithful with a few things; I will put you in charge of many things . . . “ (MATTHEW 21:23, NIV)
Congratulations Dr. William R. Harvey!
Dr. William R. Harvey arrived as ‘Captain and Commandant’ of the Hampton University ‘ship’ in 1978. Over the span of 40 years, not only has he become the longest sitting president of any college/ university in the country, he has done so with great vision, passion, fortitude and courage.
His extensive bio records that he is a native of Brewton, AL, and received degrees from Talladega College (Bachelor’s degree), Virginia State University (Masters in History) and a doctorate from Harvard University (College Admin.). Before coming to take over the helm of HU, he served as Assistant for Governmental Affairs to the Dean of the Graduate School of Education at Harvard University and Administrative Assistant to the presidents of two universities– Fisk University and Tuskegee University (Administrative Vice President). He is an Army veteran and serves as a Lt. Colonel in the Army Reserve.
He credits his fiscal expertise and leadership philosophy to the nurturing hands of his educator parents and the home environment they strove to create by opening their home to civil rights leaders like the Rev. Martin L. King, his brother, Rev. A D. King and Rev. Ralph Abernathy.
Dr. Harvey’s record of financial acumen while at HU is a statement of achievement that few can ignore. Under his ‘watch’ HU has gone from an endowment of $29 million to well over $280 million, giving it the distinction of being among the top three HBCU’s with the largest endowments. Further, 28 buildings have graced HU’s landscape and a University owned commercial development consisting of a shopping center and apartment complex are adjacent to the physical campus.
As an unprecedented visionary, Dr. Harvey has established HU as a place of cutting edge innovation. Under his tenure and leadership, HU has built the first proton therapy cancer treatment center in the State of VA and is the first HBCU to be solely responsible for a major NASA mission! Additionally, the University is one of only four schools in the country to have the distinction of serving as a National Physics Frontier Center.
In tandem with his many duties (serving on national profit and non-profit boards, committees and appointments to federal boards by six U.S. presidents), causes and other interests, Dr. Harvey has authored one book, “Principles of Leadership: The Harvey Leadership Model” (2016), chapters in books and magazines, and many other publications. He has had one book, “Dreaming No Small Dreams” (2004) written about him.
He is also sole owner of the Pepsi Cola Bottling Company of Houghton, Michigan.
With all of that going on, Dr. Harvey still found the time in his schedule to sit down with Having Church magazine.
HC: Dr. Harvey, our most sincere congratulations and very best wishes on your and HU’s dual anniversaries! Both are achievements of monumental proportions! God has truly blessed you and HU! Again, congratulations. If you don’t mind, we do have a few questions for you. Drawing on your many years as a University President, in your opinion, what are the top 3 challenges facing American higher education today? And what do you see as solutions to those challenges?
DR. HARVEY: Three things that I could think of immediately would be first, financing costs associated with running a higher education enterprise. Second, maintaining reasonable costs for students and value of degrees and third, producing enough graduates in necessary fields to meet the demands of the American job market.
As far as solutions, one must keep in mind that different institutions require different things. There is no one size fits all.
HC: Again, drawing on your years as President of Hampton University, what are the top 3 challenges facing HBCU’s like Hampton? And again, what would be needed to face those challenges?
DR. HARVEY: Over my forty years, I’ve seen good and poor management of schools. Top priority must be given to secure a top management team for running the institution then securing and maintaining funding. Schools must diversify in terms of funding! During my tenure at Hampton, our endowment has gone from $29 million to over $280 million. HU is one of the top 3 HBCU’s with a major endowment. That has allowed us to use some of the interest from those funds. We have built 4 hotels, a shopping complex and have grown our entrepreneurship programs. Diversified funding is crucial to the future for schools.
Third, would be maintaining and increasing enrollment. It continues to be disappointing that many parents and kids think majority schools are better.
HC: You mentioned diversified funding sources. Many schools believe that on-line education is the ‘savior’ of higher education. Your thoughts?
DR. HARVEY: There is no one ‘savior’ of higher education to use your word. On-line programs are just one part of this. HU has a very robust and important online program but it is not our only source and schools that are thinking that on-line education is the sole answer is a recipe for disaster.
HC: As HU has demonstrated a spirit of ground-breaking leadership and direction w/ the Proton Therapy Center, what other types of cancers is the Center researching?
DR. HARVEY: The Hampton University Proton Therapy Center does not treat just one type of cancer. We treat head, neck, brain, eye, pediatric, breast, lung and prostate. We treat all of those cancers – not just prostate. I’m not sure why so many people think that prostate cancer is the only form of cancer treated at the Center.
HC: There are two commercials that run locally, one featuring an African American man that was successfully know treated at the Center. As a result of the commercial, the gentleman has become pretty well known in Portsmouth where he lives which I suppose has many of us thinking that prostate cancer is all that is done at the Center.
DR. HARVEY: I know the gentleman and know him well. He is a strong advocate. If the thought is that we treat only prostate cancer, our marketing team will have to review our marketing strategies because, again, we treat all kinds of cancers — head, neck, brain, eye, pediatric, breast, lung and of course prostate — and with wonderful results! After proton therapy treatments, many of our patients, men and women, leave and go back to work, shopping, dining, golfing, and the like. The reason for this is that treatments have little or no side effects. Our black community experiences cancer at a much higher rate than the majority and that is for all cancers. The Proton Therapy has shown quick recovery times with few side effects.
HC: As Alzheimer’s disease is slated to be the next major world-wide health challenge, will HU take that on as a research initiative? If yes, when and if no, why not?
DR. HARVEY: HU is already doing Alzheimer’s research. There hasn’t been a lot of publicity about it and yes, Alzheimer’s is of major, major concern to us – to all of us. All of us have relatives that are impacted by this disease. I have a first cousin who was more like a brother to me and died as a result of this disease, so yes, we are very involved in research.
HC: Will HU be conducting its own research trial studies?
DR. HARVEY: Again, I am very hopeful of that so I will speculate and say, yes! As president, I can provide encouragement and hope for our faculty to pick up these kinds of research challenges but I do that from the sidelines. Again, I am very hopeful of that so I will speculate and say, yes!
I always say health is better than wealth! If prostate cancer is found before it spreads it is curable! The prostate cancer rates in African Americans are 70% higher than whites! Our black community experiences all cancers at a much higher rate than the majority commmunity. Prostate cancer can be 100% cured. Men need to be screened — annually! If detected, they can come to the Proton Center and be cured. Therefore, detection is the key. I tell women that they should make their man go for that screening.
HC: On that call to action, Dr. Harvey, we thank you for your time.