HAMPTON, Va. (January 28, 2020) – Hampton University celebrated the 127th Annual Founder’s Day Ceremony on Sunday, January 26, 2020. From the commemorative service for Hampton University Founder, General Samuel Chapman Armstrong, to a wonderful tribute for the same man from President Dr. William R. Harvey, and a moving keynote address from Christopher Newport University President Paul S. Trible, it was a truly wonderful day.
Founder’s Day began at the Hampton University Cemetery where Dr. Harvey placed a wreath on General Armstrong’s tombstone, commemorating all he did for the University.
“Thank you for joining me as we pay tribute to our legendary great visionary founder, General Samuel Chapman Armstrong. We pause here today to remember this great man,” Dr. Harvey said. “Hampton University has a tradition of excellence, which we have had since the moment that General Armstrong set foot on these hallowed grounds. Our tradition of being excellent began with him. Not only did General Armstrong envision Hampton as a haven for the education of African Americans in 1868, but he pioneered Native American education when others didn’t see that need.”
The Founder’s Day Address took place in historic Ogden Hall. The Hampton University Symphonic Choir opened up the day with a beautiful and poignant rendition of “The Battle of Jericho.” Then, President Harvey paid tribute to Hampton’s Founder, and later on introduced the keynote speaker, Senator Paul S. Trible, Jr., President of Christopher Newport University.
“General Armstrong’s genius is just as apparent today as it was in 1868. His vision, courage and determination brought forth to fruition our beloved Hampton,” Dr. Harvey said. “Who was this man? General Armstrong’s Williams College classmate, Reverend Dr. John Denison, said he was a combination of fire and ice. Of hot passion, and cold intellect. In fact, all kinds of opposites united him. He was philosophic, yet combative. Earnest, yet triumphant. Serious, yet ridiculous. Of earth, as well as of the Heavenly Spirit. Restless, yet possessing a depth of his soul. Clearly, his classmate thought that he was a man of all seasons.”
Senator Paul S. Trible, Jr., was appointed Christopher Newport’s fifth president in 1996. Under his leadership, the university has become a top choice for high-ability students across America. He has overseen wholesale improvements to academic offerings and a complete transformation of the campus into a world-class liberal arts and sciences university.
During his address, Trible talked about how each person in this world should take responsibility for making it a better place. “America and this world desperately need more good people like Samuel Chapman Armstrong and William Robert Harvey, who with minds and hearts and great dreams, lead, serve, love and set the world on fire,” Trible said. “Today, I want to speak to the young people but I hope this might be an appropriate message for all. We need young women and men desperately who will pursue excellence in all things, possess a passion for engagement, a moral compass to direct and define their lives, and a powerful sense of responsibility.”
Trible also spoke on having big dreams and the discipline to work hard to achieve them. “Don’t waste your life on modest dreams. Dream large, make your life a great adventure and change the world,” Trible said. “Discipline and hard work are essential. Some people dream of success, while others wake up and work hard to achieve it. The future is with the self-disciplined, the person who will work while others waste their time, who will study while others sleep, and who will pray while others play.”
Dr. Harvey then presented Presidential Citizenship Awards to President Trible; Lawrence Davis, a retired U.S. Air Force serviceman, prostate cancer survivor and graduate of the Hampton University Proton Therapy Institute; and the Honorable Louis R. Lerner, a retired circuit court judge for the 8th Judicial Circuit in Virginia.
Dr. Harvey also spoke about the last three sculptures to gain residence in Legacy Park, which have officially been installed. The three sculptures are of Susan B. LaFlesche, the first Native American to earn a medical degree in this country; Rueben Burrell, Hampton’s official photographer who worked on campus for 66 years; and Frederick Douglass, whom after escaping from slavery in Maryland, became a national leader of the abolitionist movement, gaining note for his oratory and incisive antislavery writings. Douglass visited campus in 1884 and said, “I have seen London, I have seen Edinburgh, I have seen Venice, I have seen the Coliseum, I have seen the British Museum, but I have not seen the world if I had not seen Hampton Institute.”