2004 Administrative Retreat

Back to Basics: Three Levels of Operation
by Dr. William R. Harvey

Hilton Head, South Carolina
Crowne Plaza Resort
August 1, 2004 @ 8:00 PM

Thank you, Dr. Haysbert, for that kind introduction.

To the members of the Board of Trustees, the Administrative Council, other administrative officers of Hampton University, family and friends, good evening. It is indeed a pleasure to greet you on the occasion of the 2004 Administrative Retreat. Your attendance expresses your interest in our university becoming the best that it can be, and your willingness to share and to work to bring about that desired end.


Before I offer a few brief remarks, allow me to introduce members of the Board of Trustees who have come to share this occasion:

- Chairman Frank Fountain
- Dr. Charles Bunting
- Dr. and Mrs. Wendell Holmes
- Mr. Clarence Lockett
- Mr. Curtis Ransom

Thank you for being with us tonight. Your engagement in the success of the University and your continued involvement in shaping its distinguished legacy are noteworthy. Your advocacy is truly appreciated. Thank you for coming.

It is a pleasure for me to introduce the First Lady of Hampton University, my wife, Mrs. Norma B. Harvey.

To all of the family members who are present here this evening, thank you for sharing this occasion with us. Your husband or wife . . . or parent . . . represents a most important part of our organization, and as such, you are an important part of our extended campus family.

You make it easy for your loved ones to contribute on the job through your interest in and support of their careers; through your patience with the sometimes long hours and schedule juggling; through your understanding about short deadlines and crisis management; and through your concern and help as they learn and practice new skills. In all these ways, you offer support and encouragement.

These attitudes say to them, and to us as an organization, that you care and you value our University. Your emotional support – the kind you’ve demonstrated by coming to events like this retreat – make them happier, more productive people at work. That makes you a special person to us, too. I’m sure they, as we do, appreciate your active participation in and support of their professional lives. So, thank you.

There is one more group of people that I would like to especially acknowledge. I want to welcome the newest members of the administrative team to this meeting and to their respective leadership roles. Would those individuals new to their current position since the last Administrative Retreat, please stand as your name is called?

- Dr. Arthur Affleck, Vice President/Director of the Campaign
- Mr. Tony Brown, Dean, School of Journalism and Communication
- Dr. Hugh McLean, Interim Dean, School of Pharmacy
- Dr. Letizia Gambrell-Boone, Program Manager, USAID TAGS Program
- Mrs. Joy Jefferson, Associate Vice President for Development
- Mrs. Barbara LeSeur-Inman, Assistant Dean of Students
- Mr. Pete Peterson, Director, Human Resources
- Dr. Eric J. Sheppard, Dean, School of Engineering and Technology
- Dr. Constance Smith-Hendricks, Dean, School of Nursing

To all of our newcomers, I want to officially say how pleased we are to see each of you entering the University. Thank you for your wise decision to join, or rejoin, a winning team.


This Administrative Retreat is a cherished tradition at Hampton University; it is an event that I view as one of the most important ones on my calendar for the academic year. The retreat offers us an opportunity to work a little, to play a little, to share a little, to relax a little, to laugh a little, to fuss a little, and through it all, to grow a little, to learn a little, and in nothing else, to get to know each other a little bit better.

During the retreat, we draw momentum from our accomplishments over the previous year and channel that energy into positive plans for the future.

Looking back, what a year it has been. When we met in this place last August, none of us could have imagined what lay ahead. Like our friends and neighbors around the city of Hampton, one month after our retreat, the University Family braced for an unprecedented storm . . . named Hurricane Isabel.

The challenges of Hurricane Isabel and other “storms” that followed in her wake were met and overcome by the dedicated cadre of employees, under the expert leadership of the former Acting President, Dr. JoAnn Haysbert. During the year, Dr. Haysbert succeeded in not only battening down the hatches in order to face challenges but, under her direction, the University flourished by making milestones in a variety of areas, including securing a record 55 million dollars in external funding and celebrating the receipt of a Pulitzer Prize by a member of our distinguished faculty. Please join me in saluting Dr. Haysbert, a consummate professional! Please also give yourselves a hand for proving to be the heroes of Hampton.

Back to Basics

The theme for this year’s retreat is “Back to Basics,” and it denotes our need as an institution to recommit ourselves to those things that fundamental to our being. On every level of our organization, we must revisit and reexamine how we address our goals.

Individual Student Level

“ Getting Back to Basics” on an individual level means striving to achieve the true purposes of higher education by focusing on students and learning. While it seems obvious that a university would be focused on students and on learning, too many institutions of higher education pay inadequate attention to providing high-quality classroom instruction and using resources in ways that improve what happens between faculty and students in classrooms. Similarly, too many faculty have low expectations for achievement, and as a result, students are less likely to master the basic skills and knowledge that they need.

I believe that there ought to be a minimum set of competencies that every student should master by the end of each academic year. Such outcomes or competencies would indicate what students should know, be able to do, and believe is important with respect to their chosen fields of study. The Hampton University community will spend the upcoming academic year mapping those core competencies that are essential to student achievement. At the end of this process, every major, in every discipline on campus should encompass a student centered, competency based set of learning outcomes.

This call for learning-centered outcomes is an inside out, not an outside in, process; in that, departments, schools, and areas are charged to identify for themselves those outcomes that are important. Measures of success will not be imposed in a top down fashion, rather outcomes should be identified through discussion at every level of the organization.

“Getting Back to Basics” challenges administrators, faculty, staff, and students to work together to ensure that the richness and relevance of students' academic and social growth is enhanced through all our endeavors. Effective learning is an active rather than a passive process. Learning-centered education requires interactive instruction-placing students in settings in which they are challenged to think critically and to articulate their thoughts and experiences through continual interaction with their peers, their teachers, and their community. So, all of us who are present here tonight have significant roles to play in the facilitation of student learning. Each area, particularly those that do not deal directly with instruction, will have to begin thinking out of the box about how to situate students and learning at the center of operations.

Unit Level

As educators, we must continually scan the horizon of the future and adjust our programs and expectations if we are to indeed prepare our students for the future. We need to insure that our programs are tailored to move our graduates from formal education to the workforce or graduate education, with particular emphasis on the essential skills for continued success and responsible living.

Remember the adage, “Nature does not celebrate the nest; nature celebrates the flight.” “Getting Back to Basics” reminds us that, however well the fledglings do inside our carefully constructed environment, the true measure of our success – and theirs – is how well they fly after they depart.
At Hampton University, we should seek to mold a well-rounded, informed student – one who is not confined by the dictates of experts and opinion leaders, but is capable of making up his or her own judgments about what is happening in wider society. We realize that we are preparing students for professions, activities, and enterprises that may not yet exist. We are charged with the responsibility to give them the tools to shock the future, rather than suffer future shock.

Future Shock is that numbing sense of being overwhelmed by too much change happening way too fast to handle. The term was coined by Alvin Toffler in his 1970 landmark book entitled Future Shock. Toffler has been one of the world’s most influential futurists. In a series of global best-sellers, co-written with his wife Heidi, he anticipated, long in advance, today’s computer revolution, as well as cloning, the fragmentation of the family, cable television, VCRs, satellites, customized products, the speed-up of daily life, niche markets, virtual agents and the rise of the "knowledge economy." Ted Turner has credited Toffler with inspiring him to start CNN.

Like Toffler, we must all become futurists, predicting how changes in higher education or other environments will influence the goals we strive to meet on campus. Every administrative unit at our University runs the risk of suffering future shock if it turns a blind eye to new developments. Therefore, it is imperative that we remain proactive in identifying and responding to impending issues and concerns.

As a necessary part of the “Back to Basics” effort, we must rely more heavily on measurement and reporting than ever. Measuring performance is not new, nor is it a new idea for administrators to develop targets/goals based on the expected outcome of endeavors. I know this makes sense to you because we have learned something that business people have always known: when we commit to measuring, we focus our attention on performance.

A clear challenge for each administrative unit on campus is identifying operational performance information that is key to their activities. The value of key performance indicators is that they ensure that our activities support the achievement of measurable goals. In this area, I am proud to say, we have been leaders in setting benchmarks, evaluating outcomes, and reporting on our performance. Few higher education institutions effectively utilize key performance indicators.

We have now completed a full, one year cycle of use of KPIs and are poised to evaluate our progress according to these objective measures. With your assessments, a Report Card on the achievement of key performance indictors will be created and shared with the members of the Board. This report card should provide a broad-based and objective assessment of our relative achievement as an institution of higher education.

Strong academic programs and functional institutional departments are essential requirements for preparing young people to make the successful transition from our campus to their futures.

Organization Level

"Getting Back to Basics” on the organizational level combines a focus on the individual student’s learning with the emphasis on work group preparation and performance by directly relating each to the accomplishment of the University’s distinguished mission. It was Carl Jung (Young) who said that, “Each of our acts makes a statement as to our purpose.” In this respect, we ought to view all of our acts as directly relating to the mission of the institution.

Imagine that we, as a team, are in a tug of war. To win, every single member has to give an all out effort in unison – everyone pulling together. There are three kinds of people who will prevent us from achieving our goal. They will be the obstacles on our course towards excellence in the 21st century.

The first are team members who give an all out effort but don’t pull in unison with the rest of us. These are the people who do their own thing. If they were musicians, they would be off-beat, out of tune, or simply out of synch with everyone else.

Second are team members who hold onto the rope but do not pull. These people are team-mates in name only. They take but do not give. They want all of the privileges but none of the responsibility.
Third are participants who pull in the opposite direction. These are people who work against their team-mates and are poisoning the team with dissension.

Each faculty member must be made aware of the mission, and ethos of the institution, school and department. The idea is that persons should fit into and promote the character and culture of the institution, rather than the institution fitting into the character and culture of the person.

This is important because a particular unit may have a promising faculty member who does not accept or understand the history, heritage, or aspirations of his department or institution. The individual may make a contribution on one level, but lack the institutional knowledge and commitment to be a good overall professor.

Retreat Overview

A university is much like a rowboat and everyone associated with it is a member of the boat’s crew. In order for our boat to go forward and move in one direction with maximum speed, all members of the crew must row with the same direction with the same rhythm and cadence.

Therein lies the purpose of this retreat and the kind of people we want on our team. We must devise an institutional compass that will provide direction for all activities, both collectively and individually—consistent with the setting of the university’s compass. The planning activities that take place here should offer each person in this room a clear understanding of not only what we are doing, but why. I hope this retreat will achieve that.

On tomorrow, we will begin at the individual level, identifying and discussing appropriate learning outcomes for each of our students across the institution. On Tuesday, we will move to the unit level of operation and assess our progress according to key performance indicators. We will insure that we are prepared for the challenges ahead by also pausing to discuss upcoming issues of concern. Finally, on Wednesday morning, we will recommit ourselves to the common good of the institution by exploring our interrelated and interdependent contributions to the achievement of Hampton University’s unique mission.

With that as our road map, I have another hope for the activities that take place as a result of our discussions - that hope lies in our ability to move our plans into action. I firmly believe that conscientious thought and intelligent conversation are necessary elements of a strong planning process, but the best laid plans die if those who took the time to devise them, do not have the courage to put them into action.

Therefore, during the retreat, we must plan purposefully and prepare prayerfully, and upon our return to campus, we must take action - making our plans a reality!


I, again, welcome each of you to the 2004 Administrative Retreat. I hope the next three days are as enjoyable as they are productive. Thank you.