Inauguration of Dr. JoAnn W. Haysbert

Remarks as Distinguished Speaker
by Dr. William R. Harvey

Langston University
C.F. Gayles Fieldhouse
Saturday, September 30, 2006 @ 3:00 P.M.

Governor Henry, President Haysbert, members of the Haysbert family, members of the legislature, platform guests, members of the Board of Regents, official delegates, friends, faculty, other administrators, and students - I bring you greetings from Hampton University, and gladly share with you my pleasure to be here this afternoon. This installation ceremony recognizes a remarkable human being, and it marks an important occasion in the history of institutions and the lives of individuals. I am proud to be a part of this special ceremony. More importantly, however, I am proud of Dr. JoAnn W. Haysbert. Not just for the heights she has reached in her professional and personal life, but for the accomplished and impressive path she journeyed in order to arrive at this point. Allow me to tell you some of what I know about this remarkable woman.

Dr. Martha Dawson and I invited Dr. Haysbert to join the Hampton family as Assistant to the Vice President for Academic Affairs in 1980. Very quickly, I came to realize JoAnn's tremendous potential. In her determination, focus, vision, intellect and untiring energy, her aptitude for high level contributions and future success were apparent. I knew that she would be an important and integral member of my team.

At Hampton, we believe in multi-tasking. After only one year on the job, I began to multi-task Dr. Haysbert. In addition to being promoted to the Assistant Vice President for Academic Affairs, I asked her to assume the additional responsibilities of Director of the Assessment and Learning Center .

Subsequent to these appointments, she served with distinction as Professor, Director of the Summer Session, Coordinator of the Graduate Programs in Education, Dean of Freshman Studies, Assistant Provost for Academic Affairs and Provost.

One of my proudest moments as a professional was to recommend Dr. Haysbert to my Board to serve as Acting President when I was granted a sabbatical leave several years ago. Proud and pleased because I knew that she could run Hampton in an exemplary fashion while I was away.

While serving as Acting President at Hampton University, she led the University with tenacity and resolve. I commend her for her leadership during that period, as well as her stewardship of the University's daily operations.

Dr. Haysbert, as a result of your many years of good work and partnership with me at Hampton University, you are one of the great contributing causes as to why we have done extraordinarily well over the several decades. You are a consummate professional who has my sincere respect and appreciation. You have vision, a terrific work ethic, are highly ethical disciplined and completely trustworthy. As a matter of fact, as I have said to many people, I would trust you with my life. You clearly are the best of the best.

It is within that context that I tell you that Dr. Haysbert will be an outstanding President of Langston University. For the role of a university president is more complex today than at any other period in the history of higher education. Leadership is the ability to inspire other people to conscientiously work together as a team in order to attain a common goal. The embodiments of good leadership are integrity, honesty, fairness, respect for oneself, respect and support for others, decency, dignity, responsibility, unity and service.

Leaders, however, are humans, burdened with a host of human frailties, and effective leadership is challenging, demanding, and often difficult. But true leaders - successful leaders - possess and exhibit the capability to handle themselves in such a way that they can live with their own conscience and can gain the trust, respect, and even admiration of others. Dr. JoAnn Haysbert is the personification of a successful leader.

She has the extraordinary ability to realize that one cannot be a leader if one is not first a follower - a follower to the extent that one is keenly aware of their surroundings, the trends of their community, and the voices of their peers and constituents. A leader, by mere definition of the word, has a following.

Dr. Haysbert is the possessor of sound judgment. Strong leaders, past and present, have possessed the ability to analyze the individual and minute particulars of an occurrence or situation in order to effectively critique the sum of its impact. This trait, like responsibility, decency, and self-respect - is not easily acquired, for it demands of humans the non-human tendency to evaluate a situation from a broad and other-centered perspective, as opposed to a narrow and self-centered one.

Another of Dr. Haysbert's resolute characteristics is courage - a fundamental component and mandate of capable and visionary leadership. For no matter the purity of one's character, the clarity of their sight, the reason of their ration or righteousness of the cause, if a person lacks the courage to stand up, come forward, and lead, this aspect may be rendered silent. It takes courage to change the status quo, to initiate innovative ideas, to enhance academic curriculum, and create a climate where administrators, faculty, staff and students are eager to excel because of pride in their own performance and love for the university.

Friends, I remind you today of the sentiments expressed in the familiar adage, many are called but few are chosen. Langston has chosen Dr. Haysbert to take the leadership reigns and afforded her the opportunity to share her intellect and guidance with its faculty, staff, the surrounding community, and most importantly, its students - the future leaders of our world. Students, who most assuredly will be inspired to excel in their academic pursuits by Dr. Haysbert's intelligence and encouraged by her tenacity to develop the character, qualities, and traits essential for a successful future.

If I may, I would offer a word to the members of President's Haysbert's team, those whom will work most closely with her in the years to come. Rely on Dr. Haysbert's keen ability to decide an approach to a goal, a solution to a problem, and her ability to pull together the right group of people to get the job done. She is a team builder. She possesses a truly uncanny ability to match cause with capability, people with problems, and groups with goals. This ability, coupled with the myriad of strengths and talents she possesses, will allow her to lead the whole of Langston University to never-before-realized heights. Under her leadership, that is inevitable!

Finally, let me say that the greatest trait that a leader can possess is the desire to serve others. If you can help somebody - do it! If you can alleviate someone's pain - do it! If you can brighten someone's day with a kind word - do it! If you can encourage just one person - do it!

If anyone really wants to be a leader,
If anyone really wants to be great,
If anyone really want to be a person of honor,
They must do as Jesus says,
They must "serve others."

JoAnn, my wife Norma who is with me today, and all Hamptonians are proud of you and we look forward to your successes that are yet to be realized. Also, on behalf of Hampton University, I ask you - Langston University - to take good care of President Haysbert. I want you to treat her right, for she is a gem! And gems like her do not come in bunches like grapes, they come along only every once and awhile. And I will let you know that her appointment as your chief executive officer in no way required her resignation from the Hampton Family! Dr. Haysbert - Langston - yours is a noble cause! Let's get on with it!