Marriott Marquis
San Diego, California
Sunday, March 6, 2022
5:00 P.M.


It is impossible to summarize Dr. William R. Harvey’s remarkable career and his 44 years of service in a brief introduction – it would be volumes.... He is an esteemed educator, entrepreneur, philanthropist – and president of Hampton University in Virginia.

Dr. Harvey’s tenure has been defined by a drive toward excellence, leaving no one in his considerable orbit behind. His caring and leadership have been exemplified by his support of his students and faculty, by the partnerships and programs that make Hampton an indispensable part of the local community – and by his transforming Hampton from a small Historically Black College -- to a leading institution with global reach in research, teaching and service.

His innovative leadership is reflected in the growth of the university’s student population, academic programs, fiscal stability, and physical infrastructure. He has completely revamped the campus by building 30 new buildings. During his tenure, Hampton has introduced 92 new degree granting programs, 12 of which are doctoral ones. The school was classified by the Carnegie Commission as a “High Research Activity” institution, where faculty and students conduct cutting-edge research. Due to Dr. Harvey’s keen business acumen and fundraising skills, Hampton’s endowment has increased from $29 million to more than $400 million. His emphasis on service can be seen by the initiation of the Hampton University‘s Proton Therapy Institute, the world’s largest free-standing proton beam cancer treatment center.

Dr. Harvey also has established Project HOPE, which admits African American men who have potential for college studies but don’t meet the full academic requirements needed to matriculate. He has led his university to be recognized as one of only four institutions in the nation with the distinction of serving as a National Physics Frontier Center ...securing a $92 million dollar grant to launch weather satellites into orbit, making Hampton the first and only H-B-C-U to have 100 percent control of a NASA mission. The university currently has four satellites aloft in space. The first one being a $140 million NASA-funded project as part of the Severe Weather Research Center that can detect storms, tornadoes, and hurricanes - up to 2,000 miles away.

Dr. Harvey led the federal advisory committee on H-B-C-Us during the Obama Administration and in that role, helped a new Undersecretary stay on the right path (at least most of the time). He also has served as a mentor to so many in the current generation of campus leaders and has elegantly laid out the philosophy behind that mentorship in his writings, most notably in the “Principles of Leadership: The Harvey Leadership Model.”

And he has one of my all-time favorite features in a presidential bio: Dr. Harvey and his wife, Norma Baker Harvey, together own 100 percent of the Pepsi Cola Bottling Company of Houghton, Michigan --- the first Black-owned soft drink bottling company in the industry. It’s the cornerstone of a stellar business career, the success of which they’ve shared with their university and community. They have donated some $10 million to Hampton University, including a one-million-dollar scholarship in honor of Dr. Harvey’s father for students from Hampton and Newport News who aspire to be teachers.

Dr. Harvey announced in 20-20 that he will be stepping down in June 20-22 and passing the baton. Knowing that, we’re so pleased that he accepted our invitation before moving on the next phase in his life, which I understand involves spending more time in Hilton Head, South Carolina.

Honored guests, please join me in welcoming, Dr. William R. Harvey.


Good evening. President Mitchell, platform guests, my fellow colleagues in higher education, ladies and gentlemen—it gives me great pleasure to serve as the Robert H. Atwell keynote speaker at this 2022 American Council on Education Annual Meeting. Parenthetically, I knew Bob and interacted with him many times, including at a dinner at his home in Georgetown. I have also had the good fortune of knowing, respecting and admiring Ted Mitchell since he served as the Undersecretary of Education in President Obama’s administration. He was always accessible, helpful and inspirational. Thank you President Mitchell for this invitation.

I was asked to speak on leadership and how or if it contributed to the many successes that we have experienced at Hampton University. Individuals who have witnessed the quality growth and development at Hampton have asked about my leadership style and principles.

First of all, I believe in openness, transparency and the value of input from all constituent groups. From the beginning of my presidency, 44 years ago, I initiated monthly meetings with student leaders and the entire faculty of approximately 350 colleagues. Before the pandemic, I also initiated meetings with local and regional chapters of the National Hampton Alumni Association. There are also periodic meetings held with all staff personnel. At all of these meetings, I begin by providing current and relevant information to the participants. After that, I open it up to unscripted questions from the body. The questions, comments and input have provided my team and me with an invaluable tool to assist in our strategic planning.

When I first arrived at Hampton, the University was in disrepair. Before my appointment, our institution had not balanced its budget in two decades, and the former chairman of the board, who happened to be the grandson of the founder, suggested that Hampton become a boarding preparatory high school. I am grateful that the board did not go in that direction. If it had, the higher education landscape would not have had the privilege of knowing the wonderful institution that Hampton University has become.

Hampton is no longer a small institute. During my tenure, 92 new programs, including 12 doctorates, have been introduced; 30 new structures dot the landscape of the campus surrounded on three sides by water; and the university’s endowment has grown 1,279% from $29 million to over $400 million growing. Hampton University is now a world-class leader in higher education.

Many people ask what has led to Hampton’s success. In my opinion, leadership is the main ingredient in the success of any entity. No matter the field, including business, education, government, politics, organized crime, sports, the arts, healthcare, etc., leadership makes a difference. It could make a positive difference such as building or reviving a great corporation or university. It also could make a negative difference such as building or controlling the drug trade in a particular city or locality. Either way, success is defined by effective leadership. That leadership at Hampton came from the extraordinary talent of the individuals who have been a part of my team for 44 years.

I have been fortunate in my life in many regards, and that includes having a mother and father who were my first leadership role models. The lessons that I learned from them directly started me on the road toward my own leadership development. By his example, Daddy taught me, among other things, leadership lessons of listening, asking questions, seeking input, and analyzing information received. By her example, among other things, Mother taught me fiscal responsibility, and the understanding that in order for a leader to lead others, he or she has to have personal qualities about themselves that inspire followship. Those personal qualities include the character traits of truth, trust, respect for yourself, respect for others, and responsible personal relations. Both my mother and daddy constantly emphasized the importance of helping others.

I took my parents’ lessons to heart, and it is upon those foundational lessons that I built my own leadership model, which I have practiced during my 44 years as President of Hampton University.

When I was elected President, my playbook called for me to set high standards; emphasize the team approach; push for high quality academics, promote character development; create an exciting vision; secure support from a diverse number of individuals; encourage a strong work ethic; inspire innovative aggressiveness by the faculty; employ good management practices; take risks when necessary; promote a culture of fairness; provide support and help to others when possible; exercise fiscal conservatism; and concentrate on results.

What has this playbook achieved? While there are many accomplishments, a few come immediately to mind. Let me enumerate.

We have the largest Proton Beam Cancer Treatment Center in the world. I consider the establishment of the Hampton University Proton Therapy Institute a major highlight of my career. This life-saving cancer treatment center is treating patients who have prostate, breast, lung, ocular, pediatric, head, neck, and brain cancers. The birth of the idea for the Hampton University Proton Therapy Institute (HUPTI) came to me from an alumnus who was a retired pediatrician. After being diagnosed with prostate cancer, her cousin who lived in the state of Michigan began a nationwide search for his best treatment option. After researching various modalities for treatment, the cousin decided that he did not want surgery nor traditional radiation. His investigation led him to proton therapy as a viable option. He then made arrangements to travel to California and the Loma Linda University Proton Center for treatment.

The alumnus explained that the Loma Linda center was an outpatient clinic, which meant that hospital confinement was not necessary. The patients arrived, got treatment and departed every day. Because there were little or no side effects, she said those getting treatment could carry on their daily routines, including such things as returning to work, golfing, shopping, dining, and going to the movies.

A physician being that effusive about a healing modality aroused my interest. Her view was that the great work that our faculty was doing in cancer research and the development of a breast cancer detection device would lend itself very well to the proton beam treatment modality.

Before speaking with her, I knew nothing about proton therapy, but because it was so intriguing, my research began that evening. Over the next several weeks, I immersed myself in data about protons and cancer. In addition to reading everything that I could find on the subject, I contacted the directors of Loma Linda Medical Center, The Midwest Proton Radiotherapy Institute located at the University of Indiana, and the Massachusetts General Hospital in Boston. These were the only existing proton centers operating at that time.

As I continued my investigation, many chilling facts were revealed to me about the devastation of cancer. It was indeed sobering to learn that Hampton Roads, our region of the United States, leads the nation in prostate cancer deaths. I also discovered that cancer is perhaps more devastating to minority populations and that many diagnosis, treatment and morbidity rate disparities exist.

With these statistics, it became clearer and clearer with each passing day that the people of Virginia and the Mid-Atlantic States needed this kind of healing power. As clear as the need was, it became just as clear that the data and ancillary information was too overwhelming for one person. I knew that help was needed and that many challenges would lie ahead. In that regard, I asked Dr. Cynthia Keppel a trained physicist and cancer researcher to assist me in this effort. I will say that without her help, the Center would never have become a reality.

The Hampton University Proton Therapy Institute is now treating an average of 60 patients a day, having opened its doors in 2010. There is no question in my mind that we are easing human misery and saving lives.


Another highlight of my presidency is Hampton’s Atmospheric & Planetary Sciences Department. Just like the proton center, this project was the result of a conversation. As a result of that initial conversation, Hampton currently has 4 satellite instruments flying as we speak. The first satellite was a $140 million effort. Other efforts were between $90 and $105 million each.

When I found out that there were two outstanding scientists at the NASA Langley Research Center that were going to leave and go to a higher education institution, I invited Drs. Patrick McCormick and James Russell to visit with me. We had wide-ranging conversations about satellites, space research, building an Atmospheric Sciences Department, and their own futures.

They expressed interest in three things. The first involved academics, as they wanted to establish a Ph.D. program in atmospheric sciences, which would be the first one in the state of Virginia and one of only a couple in the neighboring states. Secondly, they were very interested in research. They wanted to explore the Earth’s atmosphere and beyond. The third area was outreach to the K-12 community.

I marveled at their vision and told them that I would support it financially as it was consistent with mine. I invited them to join our faculty in 1996. They did not disappoint. Since their arrival, their work has been innovative and world-class.

Hampton University made history when it became the first historically black college or university to ever have complete control of a NASA mission. Hampton is responsible for the rocket, the satellite operations, the instruments, the science, and the outreach for the AIM mission. In addition to putting Hampton’s Atmospheric Sciences expertise on the world’s map, there were other dividends from AIM as well. Undergraduate and graduate students benefitted from jobs, tuition, books, fees, insurance and participation in the actual research with faculty on the project, and very importantly, the opportunity to conduct cutting-edge research. There were research collaborations with other Hampton University faculty from computer science, chemistry, engineering, physics, and math. There were also collaborations by Hampton students and faculty with other institutions.

As a layman, I describe Hampton University’s satellite program as being designed to discover and predict. The main objective of the program is to investigate phenomenon in space that will improve society on earth.


We also have a state-of-the-art weather antenna on the tallest building in Downtown Hampton that can detect storms, hurricanes and tornadoes up to two thousand miles away. The antenna provides weather forecasting capabilities that rival most weather channels and meteorologists in the country. It is one of just ten such antennas nationwide and the only antenna hosted by an HBCU.


Hampton received approximately $18 million from the U.S. Department of Education to establish a statewide Virginia Workforce Innovation and Entrepreneurship Center. As the lead institution in partnership with the Virginia Board of Workforce Development and Old Dominion University, the center will help more than 3,000 individuals who either are aspiring to become entrepreneurs, transitioning into entrepreneurship, or expanding businesses impacted by COVID-19. The center’s motto is, “No wrong door” as this effort provides a range of trainings, workshops, advising, mentorship, connection to investor opportunities, networking, and continuing support for participants. Hampton University, to our knowledge, is the only HBCU to lead such a statewide initiative in the nation. All Virginia residents or students interested in entrepreneurship and impacted by COVID-19 are eligible for the program.

In discussing success at Hampton, I must mention that over 38,000 students have graduated from our marvelous institution since I have been president. I am extremely proud of their success and service literally all over the world.


The above-mentioned are but a few of the many successes that Hampton has experienced. All of them came into fruition because of my team and the team approach. There is absolutely no way that Hampton could have had the successes we have had without the team.

I often tell my team that collective competence is better than individual competence, any day. Therefore, utilizing the talents, energy, efforts, and experience of the members of the team is essential because an organization can only be as successful as the team of individuals that oversees its day-to-day operations. Nine times out of ten, the training, experience, and wisdom of a group of people will go much farther and be more productive than that of a single individual. No matter how talented an individual may be, better results are achieved when a team of talented people who work together for a common good.

It is obvious that others recognize the value of Hampton’s team as well. Thus far, 17 Hampton University administrators who were integral parts of my team have become CEOs of colleges, universities and organizations. We could not have had the level of success that has been achieved if it had not been for them. The same is true of our current team members. Without them and the team approach, Hampton University would clearly have faltered. With them, and the team approach, Hampton University continues to excel.

As leaders on your respective campuses, I urge everyone you at this annual meeting of the American Council on Education to give great thought to utilizing the team approach I have espoused. As team leaders, it is important for you to understand the critical role of character in your relationships with colleagues and others. When I speak of character, I am referring to the traits of honesty, integrity, trust, respect for oneself and others, and responsible personal behavior. These go a long way in both professional and personal interactions. As a leader, you should demonstrate good character and you should expect the members of your team to do the same.

Team building is one of the principles of what I call The Harvey Leadership Model. The other principles include vision, work ethic, management, fiscal conservatism, academic excellence, innovation, courage, fairness and results. I discuss all of the principles in detail in one of my books, Principles of Leadership, which you can purchase on I have followed these leadership principles for over 40 year, and I can assure you that they work.

While all of the principles are important, I want to highlight the importance of two other principles—vision and innovation. These are critical in today’s rapidly changing society.

As the new president of Hampton, I knew that I needed a vision for the institution. Therefore, during my first couple of months, I met with individuals and with members of various constituent groups. It gave me an opportunity to hear what was on the minds of students, faculty, alumni and others as it related to a whole variety of issues. As mentioned earlier, their thoughts and ideas were so good, that I initiated monthly meetings with student leaders and the faculty so the dialogue about making a better Hampton could continue.

Having discussed Hampton's strengths and weaknesses with faculty, staff, students, alumni, trustees, parents, state and federal officials, three former presidents and others, I could see that the potential for success was limitless. What was needed was a vision that most could get excited about, work toward and take ownership in.

I knew that as a new president, there would be intense scrutiny on my words and actions. As a young president, there would be some who were skeptical. Many simply would wait and see what direction I would take the college. I would either win them over or they would turn against me. I needed a blueprint that was big, bold, doable and inclusive. Therefore, my first overarching vision was to lead Hampton University into becoming one of the best modest-sized institutions in the country. Today, I am proud to see that this vision has become a reality.

As leaders in higher education, we must always have a vision. Look at where you are and envision where you want to go. Stay steadfast on the path that will get you there. Of course, there may be times when a change of direction is needed, but never forget your destination.

In order to make the vision a reality, I had to have an action plan and not be afraid of thinking outside of the box. I had to dare to do something different. I had to be innovative.

Innovation is creative thinking and action that produces new, different, and extraordinary results. In an organization or institution, innovation on any sizable scale does not happen automatically. My strongly held belief is that in order to promote and encourage innovation, a leader has to dream bold new dreams. I speak often of boldness, creativity, awe, and bigness. I tell my colleagues that one has to “dare to be great.” To me, wanting to make life better for others is answering the call of innovation.


In today’s society, too many people think only of themselves and give little or no consideration to others. Throughout my entire presidency, I have always tried to do what is right and best. Doing what is right and best seems like it should be simple, but it is not, as evidenced by all of the divisiveness in our country. America was built on diverse views. Unfortunately, our society is polarized more today than ever before. This polarization, fueled by the partisan divide between politicians, some in the media, as well as some of us in the higher education enterprise, has produced the highest levels of incivility that the country has ever witnessed. Social media is no better as it too has become a tool of division. Those on the left think that they are right in their views and those on the right think that they are right in their views. In many instances I think that both sides are wrong on many many issues.

I urge you to help shrink the divide by positively leading, guiding, and directing, instead acquiescing to every partisan point of view. We need to pull together. There is a way to disagree without being disagreeable. We should try to unite people across political, racial, social, and other divides. I challenge each of you here to, not contribute to the incivility in our nation. Instead, focus on being of service to our nation and to the higher education community.


With members from over 1700 colleges and universities, ACE is the perfect organization to lead an effort to reduce some of the incivility in this nation. As educators, we have a responsibility to contribute to making America and the world a better place. Through research and service, our institutions can address issues such as health disparities, gun violence, poverty, social and racial injustices, gender biases, climate and other environmental concerns, energy conservation and other major problems that we face.

I challenge each of you to do a searing self-analysis. Ask yourself, “What can I do to make this nation and the world a better place?” Identify your own unique way to be of service to others. Be independent! Do not give in to only one doctrine, one party, one dogma, one theory or one view. Study all sides and make a decision as to what is best in your judgement for yourself, your family, your community, and your interests.

I have had a very exciting career as a college president. Along the way, I came to recognize the importance of being of service, and I take my responsibility to serve others to heart. Leading and serving others is a way of life for me. I find great joy in knowing that my leadership and service have made a difference in others’ lives. I am appreciative of my wife of 55 years, Mrs. Norma Harvey, and my children and grandchildren for supporting me and sharing me with others so that I could do the work that I was called to do.

I am thankful that I have had an opportunity to serve higher education and Hampton University.

If anyone really wants to be a leader,
If anyone really wants to be great,
If anyone really wants to be a person of honor,
No matter your religious preference,
They must do as Jesus says,
They must "serve others."

I have been fortunate in my life because I have been given the power to serve. I can think of no greater joy or no greater calling.

Thank you.