HAMPTON, Va. (September 25, 2020) – U.S. Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos visited Hampton University on Friday, September 25 to tour the campus, meet with President William R. Harvey, Mayor Donnie Tuck, and other area leaders, and to announce the winners of The Reimagine Workforce Preparation Grant Program.
“It is a distinct pleasure for me to be able to welcome Secretary DeVos to this historic campus. She has always been very accessible and friendly to me. I’ve been to her office. She’s been to campus, most recently with Vice President Pence as we visited the proton beam cancer treatment center,” Dr. Harvey said. “I appreciate Secretary DeVos’ commitment to quality education, her commitment to entrepreneurship, and her commitment to workforce development. Our founder, General Armstrong, said that his institution required two things. One, a first-rate academic program. Today, that would be called workforce development. Two, he said, the development of character. He said that of the two, the development of character was the more important. I want everybody to know, that as the 12th president of Hampton University, I feel the exact same way.”
Hampton University, in collaboration with the Virginia Board of Workforce Development and Old Dominion University, is a recipient of part of The Reimagine Workforce Preparation Grant, and will be awarded $17.7 million to establish the Virginia Workforce Innovation and Entrepreneurship Center (VWIEC).
“Hampton’s proposal is especially promising. It will establish the exciting Virginia Workforce Innovation and Entrepreneurship Center, a statewide small-business incubator, which will facilitate opportunities for Virginia’s current and aspiring entrepreneurs to help grow our recovering economy. It will synthesize resources of two and four-year institutions, workforce agencies and the knowledge and experience of many folks on the ground. This program is for all students of all ages, especially adult learners seeking new knowledge and skills to grow their own businesses. I’m excited to see how this Center will expand Hampton’s influential role in this community and throughout Virginia,” DeVos said.
Funding for this grant program was made available through the Education Stabilization Fund of the CARES Act, which was signed into law by President Donald Trump. Applications for the grant were evaluated by a panel of independent peer reviewers, and the highest-scoring applications received funding. Dr. Kermit Crawford, Hampton University Avalon Endowed Professor, served as PI for this grant.
“This is such a distinguished honor and awesome responsibility to establish the VWIEC. The last time I used those words was on my appointment as the executive director of the Boston Marathon Bombing Victims Resiliency Center, and I thought how much they were similar in terms of working with victims. Then, of a terrorist bombing, now of the pandemic. We have faith, hope and courage and skill to be able to work with them through their recovery in both cases. We are so thankful for you, Secretary DeVos, honoring us in that way today. We are more than ready to do this,” said Dr. Crawford.
This higher education discretionary grant program is designed to provide students the opportunity to develop new skills, provide innovators and inventors the resources to expand existing businesses, and encourage institutions of higher education to foster business development and innovation as America begins to recover from COVID-19-related disruptions to education and the economy. Other winners of the grant include Nevada, Alabama and Michigan.
During her visit, Secretary DeVos also gave some wonderful remarks about Dr. Harvey’s visionary leadership over the past 43 years as President.
“This institution has such a great history of serving your students in this community. Your commitment to your students’ futures has only deepened in recent months. Hampton’s storied roots and the history of the nation in the African-American experience are remarkable. You’re focused on expanding students’ horizons today with a long-term view toward tomorrow,” DeVos said. “Dr. Harvey may be the longest serving higher education president in the country. I don’t know of another. That is a really important legacy and his commitment to this university and his continued focus on the visionary future for the students here and the university itself is evidence. It was fun to take a driving tour around the campus to see the beautiful setting and the extent to which the campus has grown and continues to have such an important role in this region.”