LYNCHBURG, Va. (August 27, 2019) – Hampton University’s President, Dr. William R. Harvey, spoke at Liberty University’s Convocation on Wednesday, August 23, delivering a powerful message of leadership, service and character, and receiving two standing ovations during his allocution.
Liberty’s President, Jerry Falwell Jr., introduced Dr. Harvey to the large crowd of students, faculty and staff. “Today I’ve been looking forward to for a long time. There’s a handful of college presidents that I got to know when I became president 12 years ago who have become mentors to me and I’ve learned so much from. President William Harvey is at the top of that list,” said President Falwell.
When introducing Dr. Harvey, President Falwell noted just a small portion of the many contributions Dr. Harvey has made to Hampton over the last 42 years he has served as President.
“Forty-two years ago when he became President of Hampton, he told the Board, ‘I promise you, I’m going to run this school like a business and I’m going to do what’s best for the school.’ Let me tell you what that has resulted in. He’s got hundreds of millions of dollars in endowment. The campus has beautiful buildings from every decade since 1868. It’s right on the water, on the Chesapeake Bay. And it’s the most successful, both academically and financially, historically black college in the country, in my opinion, and it’s because of this man right here,” said President Falwell.
Dr. Harvey expressed his appreciation and admiration for President Falwell and their friendship. He also told the audience of his belief in the goodness of God. “I want you to know that the Lord has ordered my steps. I could not have done the things that I have done in my life if He had not ordered my steps,” Dr. Harvey said.
He went on to speak about leadership being the main ingredient for success of any entity, no matter the field. “Business, education, government, politics, organized crime, sports, the arts, healthcare, or the like. It could make a positive difference or a negative difference. Either way, success is defined by effective leadership,” said Dr. Harvey.
Dr. Harvey’s parents served as his first leadership role models. “The lessons that I learned from them directly started me on the road toward my own leadership development. For an example, my Daddy taught me the leadership lesson of listening, of asking questions, seeking input, analyzing information and respecting other folks’ opinions, and respecting them,” Dr. Harvey said.
From an early age, Dr. Harvey had been taught by his parents the importance of being of service. “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. Over 35,000 students have graduated from Hampton since I have been there. I thank God for that. If any of you really want to be a leader, if you really want to be great. If you really want to be a person of honor, then you must do as Jesus said, you must serve others,” said Dr. Harvey.
Lastly, Dr. Harvey spoke about good character. “I recognize that in order to lead and serve, one must not only believe in, but also demonstrate, good character. As members of our society, all of us have a moral urgency to promote character development. There are those who will criticize us on this matter, but I would urge you here at Liberty as I do my students at Hampton, not to abstain from doing what you think is right and doing what you think is best, not just for today, but also for future generations,” Dr. Harvey said.
Dr. Harvey ended his speech with a challenge to Liberty students. “Allow your academic experiences here at Liberty to serve as the foundation upon which you build productive careers. Allow your social interaction with your faculty, staff, administrators, and your fellow students to guide you as you interact with individuals in the workplace and in society,” said Dr. Harvey. “It is my desire for you to live richly satisfying personal lives, filled with love and laughter. To find ways to make your community a better place for yourselves and your neighbors, and to grow and continue to learn for the rest of your lives. Remember, Liberty has made you conquerors, and you have the courage and the strength to overcome every obstacle set before you.”